Title: Dragon Trials
Author: Ava Richardson
Series: Return of the Darkening #1
Genre: MG/Teen Fantasy
High-born Agathea Flamma intends to bring honor to her family by following in her brothers’ footsteps and taking her rightful place as a Dragon Rider. With her only other option being marriage, Thea will not accept failure. She’s not thrilled at her awkward, scruffy partner, Seb, but their dragon has chosen, and now the unlikely duo must learn to work as a team.
Seventeen-year-old Sebastian has long been ashamed of his drunken father and poor upbringing, but then he’s chosen to train as a Dragon Rider at the prestigious academy. Thrust into a world where he doesn’t fit in, Seb finds a connection with his dragon that is even more powerful than he imagined. Soon, he’s doing all he can to succeed and not embarrass his new partner, Thea.
When Seb hears rumors that an old danger is reemerging, he and Thea begin to investigate. Armed only with their determination and the dragon they both ride, Thea and Seb may be the only defense against the Darkening that threatens to sweep the land. Together, they will have to learn to work together to save their kingdom…or die trying.
Source: Review copy via NetGalley
Agathea Flamma is a snob. She’s also quite a brat. I tried very hard to give her the benefit of the doubt at the start of this book, since she’s high born and has probably never mixed much with hardworking commoners and all – but she kept on with her haughty thinking, believing Seb stupid and slow and dirty long past the point when she should have known better, and I wanted to push her off a dragon, quite frankly. Especially when she is exceptionally slow on the uptake herself at times.
Luckily for the sake of this book and my reading enjoyment, Seb is lovely. He’s a nice guy, he loves and appreciates his dragon, he works hard and he never gets too upset with all the awful, brattish kids around him who act more like they’re thirteen than eighteen. Which is a bit of a problem in this book. None of them act their age, so this is a book more suitable for Middle Grade readers than YA.
Beyond that this story is about what you’d expect with this description and this genre. There are dragons, there are people learning to ride them, there are some myths and legends, there is an ancient enemy, there are trials, social issues and of course a few enemies here and there. It’s all in here and it’s all fun and interesting, if a little irritating at times (Thea).
However, Seb and Thea are both lacking in back story and development. They don’t really change much throughout this book, except that they suddenly start working together at one point. It would have been lovely to have known a bit more about both their pasts in proper detail, rather than Thea pouting because her parents want to marry her off and Seb being a work horse to his alcoholic father. The plot is also pretty fast moving and there are some time jumps. I would have preferred a bit more detail on their actual training – away from the fighting and the first few flying lessons there isn’t any – and I’d have loved to have seen the reaction when they returned after helping another dragon during a trial.
So it’s not perfect or particularly unexpected. I would have loved a bit more from the dragons (but then I will always say this because I love dragons) and the world was a bit too generic for me (the north is simply called the north – but how far away is it? What’s the climate like here? What are the other countries like that don’t have dragons? And why don’t they have dragons too?). The characters have potential and the old enemy seems like one that will keep recurring long enough for a series. In all I enjoyed reading it, there was nothing about it I really didn’t like, but then there was nothing I loved either. I’d be happy enough to read more, if I happened upon the next book some day.
Dragon Trials is Out Now!
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