Author: Marc Secchia
Series: Dragonfriend #1
Genre: YA Fantasy
Stabbed. Burned by a dragon. Abandoned for the windrocs to pick over. The traitor Ra’aba tried to silence Hualiama forever. But he reckoned without the strength of a dragonet’s paw, and the courage of a girl who refused to die.
Only an extraordinary friendship will save Hualiama’s beloved kingdom of Fra’anior and restore the King to the Onyx Throne. Flicker, the valiant dragonet. Hualiama, a foundling, adopted into the royal family. The power of a friendship which paid the ultimate price.
This is the tale of Hualiama Dragonfriend, and a love which became legend.
Source: Review copy via NetGalley
As a teenager I probably would have loved this book, and if you’re a fan of traditional Fantasy then you most likely will too. Lia is a blonde, beautiful and brave teenager who also happens to be a royal ward – ticking the mysterious foundling box as well as the misunderstood princess, since the king is an abusive drunk. She’s also small and beaten at the start of this book, gets rescued by and befriends dragons, isn’t afraid to flout a few rules, dreams of flying and somewhere along the line learns how to be an amazing fighter, while hoping to rescue both her family and a certain tourmaline dragon.
She’s a compelling lead character, though I do wish she hadn’t been quite so genre standard, good at everything she does and attractive to most people she meets – including the dragons, which was quite frankly weird and a little uncomfortable. However, I did like Lia and her numerous adventures are interesting.
There are also dragons! Which is always a good thing, especially when they include Flicker, the cute dragonet who was a mixture of arrogance, vanity, intelligence and caring that I couldn’t help but love. He’s great fun, and I loved how weird and ugly he thought Lia at the beginning. Their relationship was wonderful and I fully understood how their bond grew so deep – although as I’ve already said I could have done without him finding her attractive as the story progressed. Their love really didn’t need that extra element to be believable. Love does not always equal sex or sexual attraction, and I think that’s an important lesson that people – particularly young people – should be given multiple opportunities to learn.
The world it’s all set in is an intriguing, well-developed place – but the descriptions could have been better. It took me a while to realise the islands aren’t in a sea but are actually mountaintops rising above a permanent cloud layer. Which does explain the airships, but left me a bit confused as to why Lia couldn’t cross from one island to another, until I figured it out. And I’m still not convinced about those twenty-five league high mountains, because that’s over seventy-five miles high, which… well, Everest is five and a half. I found it hard to fathom. So although a lot of thought has clearly gone into this world, the story itself relies much more heavily on characters and action than on setting the scene. Which is kind of a shame.
And okay, if I’m completely honest there were times when this book felt too long, dragging Lia from one thing to the next, with serious injuries and bouts of violence, without ever giving any context as to why these things were happening. Her father is clearly a terrible man, and I don’t believe he was any good as a king either, but why does Ra’aba act when he does? What’s the catalyst? Why don’t more people care about this issue!
Also, it took me a few tries to get past the first chapter because of the na’mes wi’th ran’dom apostro’phes. That is one old Fantasy trope that I am not sorry to see the back of. Unless you have a real genuine linguistic need for that ‘ to be there, take it away! They’re disruptive and annoying. I might be the only person who loathes this kind of thing, but I’m pretty sure I’m not.
So, overall, it’s not perfect. There could have been more female characters beyond Lia and her temporary plot-useful handmaiden. A bit more background as to all the events occurring throughout the book wouldn’t have gone a miss either, and a description or two about the surroundings is always welcome. However, beyond that what this is is a character led tale of daring, danger, rule-breaking, love, friendship and striving to do what’s right, even when it’s difficult and the odds are stacked against you. With dragons. And a prophecy – sort of. If you love a good epic fantasy that leads you on a merry dance before leaving you at a (quite frankly infuriating and really loose) temporary ending, then this will deliver that and a little bit more. Teenage me would have devoured it and gone hunting for more, but even adult me can see that there’s plenty to enjoy here.
Dragonfriend is Out Now!
Visit Marc Secchia for more details.