My next read is a three-book bundle from Eileen Mueller’s Riders of Fire series. In this post, I’m reviewing the first book in the series.
The book has a hasty start, with a skirmish between Ezaara and her brother, both villagers in a place where dragons are seen as evil, and just having a positive opinion about them is a problem. The two siblings live a simple village life, full of everyday tasks – and it’s one one of them when Ezaara is approached – at quite high speed – by Zaarusha. And she’s not just any dragon, but the dragon queen.
On a side note, when I first saw this book, I thought Ezaara will be the dragons’s name.
In a mixture of emotions, Zaarusha and Ezaara form a mental bond typical for dragon fantasy, and speed towards the seat of dragon riders. There, Ezaara is tested and this very first moment sets up a setting that carries the book by a great deal: the general mistrust between various groups of riders. This touches not just the council, but also the other trainees.
Ezaara – since she’s not thrown out after the first test – needs to find her way through a group of people who not only don’t trust her, but the mutual mistrust between the various groups makes it hard for Ezaara to see who’s someone she should avoid for her own good. The fact she seems to have a fair bit of poor luck – such as twisting her ankle the first day. And her poor luck continues during her training. The mistrust grows as Ezaara – who’s been raised as a healer – interacts with the other riders.
And when it seems she may be getting better, an untimely death of one of the masters turns things from bad to worse… Ezaara is blamed (and tried) for his murder. When someone takes the blame for her and is banished, she embarks on a journey to get justice done – which won’t be easy.
And while the main traitors are eventually dealt with, the damage is done, and the trust between the dragon riders is probably forever eroded. Not to mention that there may still be spies lurking around…
Read date: 2.-7.5.2022
Goodreads/Amazon rating (for book one separately): 4,37/4,5
My rating: 90%
Length: 382 pages (standalone Kindle edition of book one)
My highlights (shared link for the box set)
One of the strong parts of the book was the fact that the reader – despite a couple of extra PoVs – had little more knowledge about the events among the riders. For me, it was hard to guess whether someone is just overconfident, incompetent, or intentionally sabotaging the effort.
Another thing to note is that the fantasy elements, so far, are more subtle than I tend to expect for this subgenre. The riders don’t have major magic skills, most of the magical elements are tied to plants and potions. And, finally, the riders don’t inherit the dragons’ long lifespan after bonding.