Book Review: The Summer Dragon by Todd Lockwood
A review copy was provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.
Mogsy’s Rating: 4 of 5 stars
Series: Book 1 of The Evertide
Publisher: DAW (May 3, 2016)
Length: 512 pages
Todd Lockwood is one talented guy. Not only is he a professional illustrator and a painter of beautiful dragons, with his art gracing a number of science fiction and fantasy covers, apparently he’s one hell of an author too. For years I’ve been an admirer of his work as an artist, so when it was announced that DAW was going to be publishing his debut novel my interest was immediately piqued, especially when I found out that his book is about—what else?—dragons!
And so we have The Summer Dragon, first book of the Evertide saga. In a world where dragons are used as mounts in war, Maia and her family are breeders who supply the army with young dragonlings. For as long as she can remember though, Maia has wanted a dragon of her own to love and train and ride, but as Brood Day draws nearer it seems once again the army will be demanding their entire stock this year. A new threat is emerging, and it has already destroyed another one of the Dragonry’s most productive aeries. To fight the enemy, the army is going to need every single dragon they can get their hands on.
That is why when the mythical Summer Dragon suddenly appears to her and her brother Darian in the woods one day, Maia believes with all her heart that this is a sign that her luck is going to change. She was correct, as it turns out…though perhaps not in the way she expected. Determined to prove to everyone—herself included—that the appearance of the Summer Dragon means something greater for her future, Maia decides to risk it all and take matters into her own hands. She will get her dragon, or die trying.
At its heart, The Summer Dragon displays many characteristics of your classic girl/boy with her/his loyal companion creature story, but nevertheless I was beyond impressed. Lockwood’s writing style feels very smooth and polished, making it wonderfully easy to get into. It’s hard to believe this is his first novel, since he takes to storytelling like he’s been doing it for years. The plot is balanced with lots of action, intrigue, and even some gut-wrenching family drama, and of course we mustn’t forget all the dragon-y goodness.
No doubt dragons are extremely valuable in this world, but while the some in the army may regard them as nothing more than useful mounts during times of war, others recognize the importance of these creatures in all other areas of life. Dragons are deeply ingrained in this culture, featuring prominently in the mythology and religion. For example, the Summer Dragon is seen as a manifestation of one of the great aspects, and the sighting of any of these High Dragons is said to be a sign of great changes to come. People form deep bonds with dragons, and for breeders, they’re more than just a livelihood; they are friends and family.
Clearly, Lockwood has shown he can write dragons as well as he draws them. And speaking of which, he has also included about a dozen illustrations in this novel, each one gorgeously rendered and insanely detailed. That’s already enough for me to recommend picking up the hardcover to admire the artwork in all its glory; for me, it’s like an extra bonus to an already fantastic story. The Summer Dragon has the added benefit of feeling like the perfect coming-of-age tale that I think will appeal to adults and young adults alike. The story hooked me immediately, with a conflict that is straightforward but intriguing. Themes like friendship and family are explored in unique ways, and the action and adventure keeps the story moving at a quick and absorbing pace. Maia is a great protagonist, supported by a vibrant cast of characters who each have their own motivations and secrets, so that you can never really know for sure what might happen. Plus, who can say no to the dragons? Their personalities are absolutely enchanting, and I see them as the stars of this novel in their own right.
The Evertide is now poised to become another one of my favorite fantasy series featuring dragons, putting it up there alongside Marie Brennan’s Memoir by Lady Trent. I’m looking forward to the next installment with great excitement! If you enjoy fantasy and adventure and dragons, you definitely won’t want to miss this.