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Todd Lockwood is well known as a fantasy illustrator, but it turns out he’s also a talented writer. The Summer Dragon is the first volume of his series, The Evertide. Based on its exploration of seasons and political fortunes, I suspect future books will feature dragons associated with autumn, winter and spring.

Certainly this is an ambitious work, nearly 500 pages in trade paperback. It combines a coming of age story with religious philosophy, political machinations and grisly warfare against arcane horrors. All this juxtaposed with domestic scenes of life raising dragons. Quite a tapestry!

One of the most interesting things here is the detailed life cycle and descriptions of the dragons, both aerie-bred and wilding. These are not mere animals, but intelligent beings with a limited ability to communicate with their human friends. Baby dragons, or qits, are bonded with human riders in a complicated series of rituals, including matched tattoos on dragons and riders. There is some emotional/empathic connection, although not to the extent as in series like Dragonriders of Pern. 

The main character, Maia, is a teenaged girl who was born and raised in a dragon aerie. She and her brother, Darian, are both of age to receive dragons of their own. However, the aforementioned war against arcane horrors isn’t going well. They are crushed to learn that neither of them will be getting a dragon this season — the empire they serve demands every qit for the war. As they struggle with this decision, both siblings witness an amazing vision: the mystical Summer Dragon, Getig, appears before them! A powerful omen, but of what?

This visitation spurs the plot into its complex web of loyalty and betrayal. The dominant Rasaal faith views Maia and Darian as heretics to be crushed, but they still need the family’s aerie to breed more dragons. Thus the priests cast layers of deception to get what they want. Lockwood drew this out very well.

I was a bit more frustrated with the main characters. Maia is very typical of protagonists in these stories, a downtrodden youth who gets blamed for everything by her overly stern father. Darian is her closest friend, yet he’s all too happy to let her take the blame for shared mistakes, even when people get seriously hurt. After Getig’s visitation, he’s equally happy to take the credit and rewards while Maia is ignored. Near the end of the book, he’s furious that she doesn’t trust him. Gosh, why could that be?

Maia herself is brave and follows her heart toward what she believes Getig is telling her. She speaks her mind when the adults stand fumbling. Yet, even after a harrowing experience, she continues to sneak off alone and get into more trouble. Miraculously, every escapade reveals some new important discovery. Then she wonders why those overly stern adults don’t want to trust her, either.

Yes, Maia and Darian are both kids. But they’re in a world where you’re expected to grow up fast. What else does it mean to be “of age?” I felt like all parties at times were being intentionally blind in order to keep the plot going. There were also some running battle scenes, which were effectively told but went on longer than necessary. Less is more, as they say.

So is this Game of Thrones with dragons? Maybe. (Although nobody ever got into a torrid sexual affair, so perhaps it would be Games of Thrones with dragons and a PG rating.) I did enjoy this book and will look for more of Maia’s adventures.


Wyrmflight: A Hoard of Dragon Lore — $4.99 e-book or $17.99 trade paperback. Available at Amazon or Draft2Digital.

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