Week 8, Book 6: Age of Fire Book One: DRAGON CHAMPION by E. E. Knight

Age of Fire Book One: Dragon Champion by E. E. Knight
Goodreads Rating: 5/5 – “it was amazing”

Where I Got This Book: I bought this book at the local Chapters-Indigo store up in the mall. I had a couple of gift cards for the chain (which is headed by Indigo but out here we only get Chapters stores and the smaller Coles stores), so I went on a book buying spree a few weeks ago, to load up on books for coming weeks. It was hard to finally limit myself down to what I could buy with the gift cards! But one of the books that made the cut was this one, by E. E. Knight with some gorgeous covert art of a dragon (I suggest following the link above to see it).

The Book and Me: Aaah, dragons! I have a more than minor obsession with them. I adore any incarnation, from classic maiden-eating knight-fighting unintelligent (or at least, not sentient) beasts to the talking, immortal magical beings of High Fantasy. But there is always a special place in my heart for versions of dragons that are different from the normal tropes. And the promise of not just intelligent, sentient being-dragons in this series, but the fact that it is from their own point of view had me hooked the moment I read the back-cover blurb. I have never, as far as I know, read anything by E. E. Knight before though I know I have heard the name somewhere.

My Rating: My first 5 out of 5 on Goodreads for the year! I would have loved it anyway, being dragons and all, but like all the best books it was addictive and nigh impossible to put down. The writing is excellent, the characters are well-written and interesting, and I was completely absorbed by the depths of the Drakine culture, indeed, the presence of background to all the various cultures the reader comes across. And it proved to be a version of dragons as novel as I was expecting – in other words, a very refreshing take on old tropes with wonderful new aspects thrown in, such as the importance of song to dragons.

Why You Should Read It: Because dragons! No, seriously, if you’re a dragon aficionado like me, this is a series you must read. I certainly plan on buying the rest of the books in the series, in lovely paperback matching this one so they can sit on my shelf in place of honour with my beloved Naomi Novik and Tolkien and Tamora Pierce, their spines creased with love and appreciation. But it is not a gimmicky book, it is solidly plotted, fascinating, engaging, and features interesting, likable characters set in a well-developed fantasy world.

Potential Spoilers Beneath Cut

What I Love About This Book: Well, the dragons, obviously! I looked over the other books in the series when I bought this one and it seems to be that each book will follow one of the four dragons from the clutch (which was originally five, but one is killed very early on). In Dragon Champion we follow Auron, who is a scaleless grey dragon – rare, in a world where most all dragons are scaled and the females green and the males various hues of red and copper and bronze and gold and black (and maybe more). I love the way Knight writes the dragons – they hoard & eat metal because it is what supports their scale-growth. They age, but very slowly, they aren’t born with their wings but develop them later. Their dragon fire – foua – is cleverly made in a rational way (there is no pure and obvious magic in evidence in the book, though its existence is hinted at).

And I loved Auron. He was the point of view character and as such, was gratifyingly interesting, clever, intelligent and most definitely grew and evolved as a person in a believable manner. But the whole time, he is never simply a human in dragonskin – he is most definitely a dragon and Knight doesn’t excuse this, with the dragons feeling superior to the hominid races (blighter, human, elf, and dwarf – and the elves are brilliant, they turn into TREES to age and “die”!) and Auron at turns befriending some and killing others (who are often sacrifices) without so much as a twinge of conscience.

I could go on, but that covers the most important bits, I think. There was one other small bit that I absolutely loved – the dwarven trade caravan that crosses the eastern steppe into the lands in the east where a great trade fair is held. It’s very Silk Road-esque, and made me quite happy! And there is also a detail that is, in the sweep of the book, fairly small but important to me: there is mention and acknowledgement of humans (and elves and dwarves and probably blighters – the reference says ‘hominids’) coming in more colours than just White. And though I haven’t sat and done a counting, out of the various hominids who are important to Auron’s story several of them are women. I’d reckon perhaps half. One in particular is a small girl child (who from the description of her sounds like she’s probably brown, not white) who he ends up adopting and essentially raising for a number of years and of whom he is very fond.

What I Can Critique in This Book: I think the one critique I can think of is that the climactic battle, and I shall try to avoid major plot spoilers here, but I felt that the major battle could have been written better. The reader is sort of left in the dark about AuRon’s plans (that isn’t a typo – male dragon names change when they become adults) until he puts them into action, with only a hint or two ahead of time, but then the progress from start of the battle to the resulting outcome is sort of… not written. It was a bit puzzling, how did they get to the point of winning? It isn’t readily noticeable at the time, and part of the reason is that AuRon himself is absent from the area for a good portion of the time, but it is a bewildering bit of writing in an otherwise thrilling book.

Next Week: I have a start on it already, and next week’s book is American Gods by Neil Gaiman. It will be the first Gaiman book I’ve ever read, though I’ve heard much of him. It is a book I’ve heard tell of now and again, though only in vague but very interesting mentions. I’m enjoying it thus far, though it took a bit – perhaps 70 pages or so – before I really finally figured out what was going on!

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About C/J

I'm a queer university student in Atlantic Canada, studying the liberal arts with a particular interest in history, linguistics, and (physical) anthropology, as well as any language I can get my hands on and anything else that strikes my fancy. I live my life by two words: question everything. (Including that notion itself.)

Posted on February 25, 2012, in 52 in 52 and tagged , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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