Book Review: Dragon Fate by E.E. Knight

Book Review: Dragon Fate by E.E. Knight
Buy Stealing Freedom
The cover image for this book was taken from its Amazon buy page for review purposes under Fair Use doctrine.

Spoiler Free Summary:  Dragon Fate by E.E. Knight is the final story in the Age of Fire series. War has cost every species, and ancient magic is now being used to take the war to a new, terrible level. The age of dragon rule has become a desperate fight to avoid extinction, and now the three must unite, or everything will fall.

Character:  I think this is where a good series is separated from a great or amazing series. In Wheel of Time or Mistborn or Dragon Riders of Pern, the final books of the series culminate a growth that leads to an added level of fulfillment. I felt the three met their growth in the fourth (arguably the fifth) book. While there was a lot of great action and cool stuff going on, the characters journeys had ended. When a character’s magic dies, the story dies with it. Now that sounds like I hated this book, and that’s not true. I very clearly remember enjoying this story. It felt like bonus footage, but I don’t for the life of me remember anything that happened. That’s because I remember things (and I think most readers remember things) in relation to the characters. Oh! I couldn’t believe it when Character let go of his fear/hate/bias/ego and did that thing! This may have been much better as a visual medium (anime/movie). You see, the visuals take over, and it’s still enjoyable. However, in the written medium, the storyteller has no real power to maintain the wonder. I suppose there are some who want to read pages of fights and action. I’m just not one of those people. I love it in a movie or anime, but it’s still more powerful when the peak action aligns with the peak of the character’s arc. This is why I remember liking Age of Fire, but it’s not anywhere near my top favorite sagas.

Exposition: Again, the above section may feel like I hated it, but that’s not true. The story still flowed beautifully. There wasn’t any drag or long blocks of exposition. Knight is a real pro at balancing content with information.

Worldbuilding: Knight may be a pro with exposition, but he’s a master world builder. I will say that fans of meticulous world building and lore will love this saga even more than I do. This story completes the “history” of this world, and that gives it a value that (even if I don’t appreciate it) I have to acknowledge. In fact, if you’re a writer and you want to pursue sagas like those of Tolkien, Jordan, or Sanderson, you should definitely add this series to your list to study and emulate.

Dialogue: This is probably Knight’s weakest area. That’s not to say he doesn’t have his moments (book 3). But I don’t remember any of those charming moments or powerful conversations. The dialogue just sort of moved the story along without really impacting it. That’s good in that it didn’t drag the story down, but it’s bad because it didn’t elevate the story either.

Image by Ebert Studio taken from the Penguin Random House website bio for the author. This image was taken for review purposes under Fair Use doctrine.

Description: Knight is great with landscapes, scenes, and fight sequences. He provides a set and lets your imagination fill it in, which is exactly what I look for in description. He probably leaves more to the imagination than some readers would prefer, but I was more than satisfied.

Overall: As I started thinking about this series, I remember how I enjoyed it and that the ending satisfied me. I’d compare this series to a visit to my favorite fast food place. The meal wasn’t better than anything I’d ever had, but I was satisfied, and I know I can always go to it if I’m feeling the desire. While I view this as a compliment (and not even a back-handed one), I can acknowledge that it’s not the resounding praise I’d want if I wrote a six book saga. But we can’t all write Harry Potter or Lord of the Rings. By comparison, a great many other stories would be found lacking or (in my opinion worse) derivative. However, on it’s own merit, there’s nothing wrong with a book series that was just “good” rather than “great.” That’s what this series is. I’d certainly recommend it to any who haven’t read it, and I’d especially recommend it to aspiring authors who want to study world building and point of view writing.

Thanks for reading

Matt

Buy The Journals of Bob Drifter

Book Review: Dragon Rule by E.E. Knight

Book Review: Dragon Rule by E.E. Knight
Buy Stealing Freedom

Spoiler Free Summary:  Dragon Rule by E.E. Knight is the fifth story in the Age of Fire series. Dragons have taken dominion over the upper world. Three sibling dragons have three very different views on how humans should be dealt with. One brother would ignore them. The other brother would isolate from them. Only the sister sees a third option. Can she help humans and dragons coexist?

Character:  This book handles a lot of the same tones of the last book. In fairness, it continues to develop the new relationships that began when the three siblings reunited. This book is harder for me to remember than others. I think it’s because the book was building to a climax. I didn’t mind the anticipation so much because I was already in love with the characters.

Exposition: Since I don’t remember much about the book, it means that not a lot of really great things happened, but it also means the exposition was fine. I absolute remember boring books. Knowing the end and knowing the first three books more familiarly, I think this book was set up, so it falls short of the books around it. What made this book easy to read was the relationship between these characters.

Worldbuilding: Just when one thinks Knight couldn’t be more imaginative, he takes a rich world full of creatures and characters and flips it around, writing a story that is much more about the new dynamics and polities of a new empire. This keeps the worldbuilding (the most awesome aspect of this series) fresh.

Dialogue: I’d be lying if I said I remembered any one conversation. What I can say is I remember how the conversations made me root for reconciliation and peace between the siblings. There’s no doubt how much each character had grown, so I found myself wanting to see that in their growth, they found some way to come together.  

Image by Ebert Studio taken from the Penguin Random House website bio for the author. This image was taken for review purposes under Fair Use doctrine.

Description: The vague memories I have of this book dwell on the political themes, which doesn’t leave a lot of room for vivid descriptions in action, which I tend to prefer in my stories. However, I know that I fondly remember the series as a whole for having simply amazing detail intricately woven into solid prose.

Overall: I remember this book least, which I suppose makes it my least favorite in a series, but in this case being my least favorite is like getting Chips Ahoy! when I wanted homemade cookies. It was still pretty great; it just doesn’t compare well with others in the series. Take that with a grain of salt, though. If you like political intrigue and drama, you’ll love this book. I don’t actually like either of these, but I still liked this book.

Thanks for reading

Matt

Buy The Journals of Bob Drifter

Book Review: Dragon Strike by E.E. Knight

Book Review: Dragon Strike by E.E. Knight
Buy Stealing Freedom

Spoiler Free Summary:  Dragon Strike by E.E. Knight is the fourth story in the Age of Fire series. Three dragons separated shortly after hatching are reunited as the coming human war causes them to pick sides. Once more the copper finds himself at odds with his siblings, but is he really on the wrong side this time, or are they?

Character:  This book probably won’t make any sense before reading at least one of the previous three. You see, the brilliance of writing three individual timelines is now balanced in that this story is strongest when one has read the three previous books. Only by doing so can one truly appreciate the growth and development of these characters. I happened to have read all the other books first, so this book felt like a fulfilled promise to me. I highly advise new readers to do the same. This book picks up expecting readers to have connected with each dragon, and that’s a disadvantage. At this point, I was particularly interested to see how far the dragons would take their childhood rivalry. More interestingly is the other biases these dragons developed as they grew. Each had become a main character in their own book, but when their values are put at odds with those of their siblings and the world in which they live, things get interesting.

Cover image for this title was taken from the book’s Amazon buy page for review purposes under Fair Use doctrine.

Exposition: A part of me feels like this book needed a bit more exposition. I only say that because I feel this book depends on readers having enjoyed at least one of the other books. A touch of exposition would have absolutely slowed the pace of the book down, but it would have given new readers more context. I can’t necessarily say it was a bad thing; I only affirm that I even I, someone who hates exposition, would have understood a bit more exposition in this book.

Worldbuilding: What knight loses in his exposition and character, he regains in his worldbuilding. Again, this book felt like a fulfilled promise. We’ve spent three books watching these dragons grow and find some sort of path, and Knight then puts them right back at odds with each other just as the world is in a terrible state of it’s own. It really was cool to see everything come together.

Dialogue: I’d say Knight finds a consistent rhythm in this book. It’s still not as good as the dialogue in book 2, but it is good. Each dragon has a distinct voice (even other characters). So while I know there’s better work from Knight out there in this regard, the quality of this story’s dialogue is still entertaining and informative.  

Image by Ebert Studio taken from the Penguin Random House website bio for the author. This image was taken for review purposes under Fair Use doctrine.

Description: When we have a book with more action, this tends to pick up as well. This is true of this book. Strike is a set up story, but even in that regard the description comes to life in a way that captures the imagination.

Overall: I still say the third book is best, but that doesn’t make this book bad. I just think the reason I love this book so much is because of the job Knight did in book 3. This story gave me everything I wanted it too, so it holds a special place in my heart because Knight used this book to fulfill all the potential the first three books offered. Again, if you love coming of age stories and dragons, you’ll absolutely love this story about dragons coming of age.

Thanks for reading

Matt

Buy The Journals of Bob Drifter

Book Review: Dragon Outcast by E.E. Knight

Book Review: Dragon Outcast by E.E. Knight
Buy Stealing Freedom

Spoiler Free Summary:  Dragon Outcast by E.E. Knight is the third story in the Age of Fire series. It’s the story of a hatchling who betrayed his whole family and seeks to find some way to redeem himself.

Cover image taken from the book’s Goodreads page for review purposes under Fair Use doctrine.

Character:  The Copper is one of the greatest story arcs I read. He does some terrible things, but then he starts working toward being something better. The more one hates a character, the more rewarding it is when you see that character truly change, and this story has that.

Exposition: This might just be my favorite book in the series. It’s paced so perfectly, and the emotion of the story just has you riding a perfect literary roller coaster. If you read the series just to read this book, you’ve made a wise decision.

Worldbuilding: Just as with the last two books, this book starts out much the same. Naturally, this book is told from The Copper’s point of view. In doing this, Knight takes one rather typical story of a young dragon hero and turns it into a whole world filled with deep characters, who are all main characters in their own right. Each character also takes you to different places to see different races and creatures. This story is no different. The coolest part here though, is we get to see an earnest dragon society.

Dialogue: The dialogue of this book isn’t as good as the last one. I don’t necessarily mind. Once we see a huge cast like this begin to expand, it has to get pretty hard to have people stand out. That’s not to say the dialogue is bad by any means, it’s just not as awesome as it was in the last book because not all the characters sounded unique in my imagination.  

Image by Ebert Studio taken from the Penguin Random House website bio for the author. This image was taken for review purposes under Fair Use doctrine.

Description: This, however, is probably the best in the series as well. There are just more cool places and more cool characters to meet. Seeing more of the world in which this story takes place just activates the imagination more.

Overall: I say again, this is probably my favorite book in the series. It’s just amazing to see how The Copper starts in bitter anger and evolves to become who he becomes (trying to avoid spoilers). The beauty of it is one doesn’t have to read the other stories to enjoy this one. Readers can actually start with Books 1, 2, or 3 and still get a grate stand-alone story. However, I’m of the opinion that if you read this one first, you won’t be able to stop yourself from reading the rest.

Thanks for reading

Matt

Buy The Journals of Bob Drifter

Book Review: Dragon Avenger by E.E. Knight

Book Review: Dragon Avenger by E.E. Knight

Spoiler Free Summary:  Dragon Avenger by E.E. Knight is the second story in the Age of Fire series. It’s the story of a hatchling whose family is murdered, and now she must find her own way in the world. When the dragon hunter who killed her family returns, she seeks vengeance.

Cover image taken from the book’s Amazon buy page for review purposes under Fair Use doctrine.

Character:  Wistala is Auron’s sister. I hated her in a good way in the beginning. She was a pampered daughter who expected everything to come easy. That allowed her arc to shine. Who she is at the beginning of the story is nothing compared to who she becomes, and it’s very cool to see. Some readers dislike female characters who start out pampered, and I can understand that. I just don’t think it’s as overdone as some may feel. Then again, I wrote Sojourn, which has a similar character.

Exposition: I read this book right after the first book, which was still years ago. But based on the fact that I burned right through the whole series, I have to think the story is too compelling and fast-paced to have bad exposition.

Worldbuilding: So this is where the saga will get polarizing for some. The first third of this book contains the same events as the first. The difference is the reader sees the events through Wistala’s point of view. I personally found this fascinating. Sure, I knew what was going to happen, but it was interesting to see how other characters perceived the events. The other important thing to note is while a third of the book is old data, it’s only a third. The rest of the story takes us from when Wistala and Auron are separated to see what happened to her. I think more stories could follow this example, but I wouldn’t want to see everyone do it.

Dialogue: This is where the creativity of the worldbuilding described above shines brighter. Wistala is very different from her brothers. That shows in the dialogue. Knight develops the characters by crafting their dialogue to show their habits, thoughts, and tone.  

Image by Ebert Studio taken from the Penguin Random House website bio for the author. This image was taken for review purposes under Fair Use doctrine.

Description: As with the first story, I was perfectly happy with the description in this book, but others who are more energized by elaborate description will probably be left wanting. .

Overall: This was the story that showed me the potential this saga has. It took a pretty darn good stand alone story and expanded what it could be. Where some authors would have written a million-page story switching from character to character, this approach gave us qualities tories in smaller chunks, and that was awesome!

Thanks for reading

Matt

Book Review: Dragon Champion by E.E. Knight

Book Review: Dragon Champion by E.E. Knight

Spoiler Free Summary:  Dragon Champion by E.E. Knight is the first story in the Age of Fire series. It’s the story of a hatchling who must battle simply to survive and become the head of his family, but when dragon hunters seemingly kill everyone else in his family, he finds himself on a journey that will reveal more about his kind than he could have imagined.

This cover image was taken from the book’s Amazon buy page for review purposes under Fair Use doctrine.

Character:  I like Auron. He’s a very sympathetic character. This is a wonderful take on the hero’s journey from a dragon perspective, and Auron is a great character to do that with. He’s just a character trying to carve out a life, and every time he has the chance to feel like his life is beginning, that life gets turned upside down.

Exposition: Full confession, I read this book years ago. My reading speed isn’t nearly as fast as my blog schedule, so I’m going into my back catalog. That said, I wouldn’t have read the whole series if this story was dragged down. This story moved well, and Auron is such a great character, you find it impossible to stop reading.

Worldbuilding: This is where Knight shines. This book reads like a great stand alone hero’s journey, but it actually opens up an incredible world populated by a variety of creatures. It’s just amazing to see how it all comes together. On its own, this book has great detail and history. I’d recommend this for readers who like the idea of Tolkien’s work, but don’t want that much history.

Dialogue: This was better than average. Even now I can remember particular conversations (not the words but the tone and point of them). Those conversations helped connect me to the characters and understand them better. They were witty or dramatic as needed, but they were always memorable. I’d love to see an animated version of this book.  

Image by Ebert Studio taken from the Penguin Random House website bio for the author. This image was taken for review purposes under Fair Use doctrine.

Description: Readers of the genre will probably want more than description than this story has, but I thought it was great. I got the exact amount of detail I wanted without getting bogged down. I could imagine the characters and scenes, and that’s all I want a book’s description to do.

Overall: This was a fantastic introduction to an absolutely wonderful series. It’s imaginative. It’s exciting. It has all the drama and power of a human story, but it’s populated completely by dragons. Fans of fantasy can’t miss this chance to read a great story.

Thanks for reading

Matt