It’s safe to say that I’m obsessed with Novice Dragoneer. The dragons talk, the world has an intensely developed history, and the central character is the kind of badass hero I wanted to root for. Check out my four favorite things about this wonderfully done novel!
First and foremost: TALKING DRAGONS!
I realize there are probably hundreds of books out there featuring dragons who talk to humans. For some reason, I haven’t read much dragon fiction and man, do I love it! This is a world that reveres dragons and those who train to ride them. There’s a whole dragon culture underlying the history of mankind and it’s just fascinating to read through the eyes of a young protagonist who doesn’t know much of the world. We see the awe and excitement of joining this elite group of dragoneers. We see how wise and insightful dragons can be with each conversation and interaction. It’s an exciting ride, to say the least.
Second (and I was obsessed with this guy): the ancient, worldly wise dragon, known as the Lodger.
As I’ve said, I’m all about the dragons in Novice Dragoneer. They’re deeply developed characters with their own society and belief system that’s ingrained through centuries. The Lodger is introduced fairly early in the book and he’s a delight. Picture the most ancient being you can imagine and add a thousand years. Ileth forms a special bond with him, leaving her with a rare introduction to the dragon world. It’s like becoming best friends with Yoda and just casually getting to hear the history of the entire world. Yes, she’s cleaning wounds and feeding him enormous livers, but he’s just too worldly wise not to love.
Third: Ileth, a protagonist whose journey of growth inspires from start to finish.
Ileth makes the perfect focal point for our introduction to this fascinating world. She’s an orphan from meager beginnings who risks her life to get to the Serpentine and train as a dragoneer. From the start, things seem impossible for her, but she overcomes every hurdle. People try to bring her down but she says ‘nope, out of my way fools’ and gets the job done. I quickly became fully invested in her character and was excited to see her epic story progress.
And finally: the Serpentine itself.
Fantasy novels featuring schools and academies are plentiful, filled with teenage angst and drama. They can be quite predictable, though still a good time to be had. Novice Dragoneer goes beyond the formula, presenting a tough-as-nails fortress that treats rich and poor the same. Amenities at the Serpentine are few and far between, and a novice learns through hard, back-breaking work that weeds out those unwilling to toil for a future atop a dragon. Ileth meets more than her fair share of hardships and dirty jobs, all of which she takes head on with determination and grit. You can just feel the thousands of years of history with each action taken inside these ancient walls.
NOTE: I was provided a free copy of this book via NetGalley in exchange for my honest, unbiased review.