Reviewed by: E
The debut novel from the acclaimed illustrator—a high fantasy adventure featuring dragons and deadly politics.
Maia and her family raise dragons for the political war machine. As she comes of age, she anticipates a dragon of her own to add to the stable of breeding parents. Her peaceful life is shattered when the Summer Dragon—one of the rare and mythical High Dragons—makes an appearance in her quiet valley. Political factions vie for control of the implied message, threatening her aspirations, her aerie, her entire way of life.
The bond between dragons and their riders is deep and life-long, and Maia’s desire for a dragon of her own to train, ride, fly, and love drives her to take a risk that puts her life at stake. She is swept into an adventure that pits her against the deathless Horrors, thralls of the enemy, and a faceless creature drawn from her fear. In her fight to preserve everything she knows and loves, she exposes a conspiracy, unearths an ancient civilization, and challenges her understanding of her world—and of herself.
This blurb came from Goodreads
I happen to have a thing for Dragons, a good thing I think but a thing nonetheless. I think I can trace the origins of my “thing” to my mother, often referred to as Ninja_Mom, read The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings to me as a child. Then it grew stronger when I discovered Anne McCaffrey’s Dragon Riders of PERN series. What I loved about those books was the partnership between human and Dragon so reading the blurb for The Summer Dragon hit every aspect of my dragon “thing”. I am super glad to take a chance on Lockwood because when I finished reading all I could think at first was WOW. Then I made a few more synapses work and I thought INTENSE. Even after moving around some to get the blood flowing, the subject line of my email to a few fellow reviewers and dragon lovers was a bit incoherent.
The blurb is accurate but leaves out the emotional highs and lows not to mention the mental and physical struggles Maia encounters as she finds herself in the middle of epic change. One of the things I really enjoyed about this story is that it didn’t “happen” to Maia but her choices, words, and actions really made a difference in what occurred. As a character she was part self-centered with a teen’s hormonal induced everything was her fault if bad and someone else’s if good but she also had a strong sense of loyalty to dragons, to her family’s way of life, and to people she cared about. This combination meant she sometimes spoke when an adult would have remained silent, or was pushed to do something when others would have laid low. I also think her place in the family was a factor in how others behaved towards her – protective, dismissive, envious, frustrated, or frightened. It was fascinating watching initial attitudes change or deepen as the story progressed.
I started off this review talking about how much I like Dragons and I found them equally as fascinating here. Their varied personalities, intelligence, dedication, and emotional capacity were fun to discover. I also liked how different types of dragons came from different geographic areas or family lines. Lockwood provided a nice amount of information on the raising, training, and riding of dragons. I still have some questions about some aspects of the dragons and if there are ever conflicts between Wild and Tame dragons. There also appeared to be some substantial differences between the majority of the dragons bred and raised for the war machine and the few kept separate for use by the dominate religious order. I really enjoyed the role the dragons played and how critical I think they will be in this series to come.
The Summer Dragon is told through Maia’s eyes so I gained an understanding of the complexity as she did and felt her frustrations as nothing seemed straight forward. Her words, actions, questions, even her accounts of things she saw were disregarded or twisted by others to justify their particular ends regardless of the cost to Maia’s family, the dragons, or even the war effort. I thought Lockwood did a great job of showing how religion can be blind, and some believers can help the enemy unknowingly. As I realized this I started really wondering what caused or started this war, which appears to have lasted for generations, and seems to have taken a very ugly turn.
I really enjoyed reading The Summer Dragon. I have missed epic fantasy and to have a new epic fantasy series with a heroine front and center is even better. Add in Dragons and as I said at the beginning I am certainly interested. This isn’t a light read and a few times I found myself wiping away tears while other times I caught myself cheering for Maia and realizing I was holding my breath during tense scenes. I do have a few minor quibbles with the world-building but I really can’t wait for the next installment.
I give The Summer Dragon an A-