Published: May 3, 2016
Series: The Evertide #1
Pages: 496 (Hardcover)
My Rating: 4.5/5.0
A copy of this book was provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.
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.
The Summer Dragon is the first foray into novel writing by acclaimed illustrator/artist Todd Lockwood. You may have seen his work gracing the covers of Marie Brennan’s Lady Trent series as well as Magic: The Gathering cards and even art for World of Warcraft to name just a few things. With The Summer Dragon you not only get to enjoy Todd’s beautiful cover art, but illustrations scattered throughout the interior AND his fantastic storytelling and world building skills.
I missed out on The Summer Dragon when it was released in 2016, but the paperback release came around this year and I jumped at the chance to check it out. I’m VERY glad I did because this was an awesome book. Maia is the daughter of Broodmaster Magha, the man responsible for breeding their province’s dragon pairs each year to provide qits for the military (Dragonry). This year is more important than most because of a continuing war with the Harodhi- a pale people that use dark arts to create arcane horrors that ravage and devour everything in sight. The Harodhi have just destroyed the Cuuloda aerie and the Dragonry has suffered losses. This utterly dashes Maia’s hopes for receiving a dragon qit of her own this year and possibly for many years to follow… until she catches sight of the harbinger of change – Getig, the Summer Dragon who hasn’t been seen for countless years.
Maia’s sighting of Getig sets off a cascade of events that takes things far out of her control. I won’t go into great detail, but needless to say, Getig brought about much change. Maia proves her bravery and worth time and again, but religious interpretation, politics, and the lingering ‘curse’ from her mother continue to weigh her down and cause strife both internal and external. The exploration of her relationship with her family, several townspeople, and the visitors from the Dragonry is well done and believable. Maia is a solid character and her singular perspective in the narrative was adequate, though I think a second POV would have made the Dragonry/religious group’s motives somewhat clearer to the reader. I thought the reason behind their defamation of Maia made sense in a superficial way, but things were vague and didn’t get explained until the end.
Overall, I thought this book was great – my few quibbles were minor and probably just me. A sequel is in the works, though I haven’t been able to find a set release date as of yet. Here’s to hoping that I don’t have to wait as long for this sequel as I have for a few other favorite fantasy series! The Summer Dragon is something I would highly recommend to fans of dragon-centric fantasy like Marie Brennan’s Lady Trent series and Naomi Novik’s Temeraire series. Todd Lockwood is a fantasy author that I’ll be keeping my eye on in years to come thanks to this memorable novel.