Middle Grade Fantasy by Susan Fletcher
Series: The Dragon Chronicles #2
My rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
Since I was only lukewarm about the first book, I was a little hesitant to read this one, but I had it right in front of me and I had the time in front of me as well, so I just dove in. So glad I did! This book was not only better written by an order of magnitude, it was also more my cup of tea.
In the first book, Kara the dragon-sayer is introduced as a sort of figure of legend. I think she was only mentioned/discussed by people who were friendly to the dragons, so she was always depicted as a positive force for good. So it was interesting to see her as she was viewed by both sides of the issue.
Kara contracted vermilion fever and was left in a cave, presumed dead. She returned mysteriously a month later, healed but with green eyes and a blossom mark that came to be known as a sign that a person had survived vermilion fever. She also came away with the ability to communicate with and summon birds, called kenning.
This talent attracts the attention of the king, who has made a vow to kill all the dragons because his fiancée’s brother was killed by a dragon. It’s a bit dumb, but politics often are. His vow is actually the result of a condition set by the bride’s father, and of course the marriage is necessary to expand the wealth and owning of the kingdom. Much more important to the king than a bunch of living creatures. Birds are apparently “well-known” to have an affinity with dragons, and they haven’t had any luck flushing them out so far.
Prince Rog, the king’s brother, is resentful of the intention to use Kara, and it’s pretty obvious why. He’s a grasping, nasty little toe rag. He is contrasted (if not sharply) by the king’s ambitious sister Gudjen, who can see visions in steam. Using Kara is her scheme. In all this, Kara doesn’t believe she can summon the dragons like birds. She makes friends with a little boy named Rath and the king’s falconer Corwyn, thanks to her bird kenning. She makes the first impressive effort to tame a large bird called a gyrfalcon, and the king gives it to her as a gift. The kind of gift with strings attached.
When the time finally comes for Kara to pay the piper, so to speak, she quickly realises the full impact of the king’s vow and her part in it.
The shift to first person and the use of much more natural language made this book a joy to read in comparison to whatever was going on with the awkward stilted voice in the first book. Kara is awesome. She’s constantly in over her head, but always seems to have a plan, considerate of others, and even though she’s remorseful when something bad happens because of her, she doesn’t whinge on and on about being at fault and tries to make up for it as best she can.
Technically, there’s a romance, but there isn’t really much time or effort devoted to it, so it just ends up being another Ending Reward for the main character. Which is fine. But if you’re looking for a good younger audience romance, I’d recommend Searching for Dragons instead.
But overall, this is a great book, and it was nice to see such an improvement. This one is my favourite in the series.