Dragon Flight

dragonflight By Jessica Day George [LibraryThing]

Creel thought that with the Dragon War over, life would return to normal, but all that changes when the kingdom of Citatie declares war on her homeland – led by an army riding on dragons. As the leading expert on dragons, Creel heads off to Citatie to find out how to save her home, but that may be easier said than done, especially when her friend Shardas the Dragon King turns out to be intimately involved in this new war.

My biggest problem with this book was probably the pacing. Shardas defeats the villain! Yay! But then they still have to stop the actual war. So Marta stops the war! Yay! But then the king of Feravel, where Creel lives, banishes the dragons. So Shardas finds the dragons another place to live, and now we’ve finally reached the end. I know it’s a trilogy, but you’re supposed to spread the three endings out over all three books, not put them all in a row. Astute readers may also notice that Creel, the protagonist, doesn’t actually cause any of these triumphs to come about, which was really disappointing. I don’t expect her to fight a dragon (although she wouldn’t be the first human protagonist to do so), but I wanted her to do something.

I was also really annoyed by the structure of the dragons’ society. The queen is the hereditary ruler and the center of their culture, while the king is pretty much just the consort. Logically, then, the queen should be the more powerful and important of the two, and take point on governing. And yet, as one of the dragons describes it:

Our queens are, you might say, the spiritual rulers among us. When the queen is strong, dragons prosper. We go to her when there is illness or injury, she blesses us when we mate, and sings the mourning song when we die. The king takes command when there is danger: wars, rogues like Krashath, mountains erupting, earthshakes, and the like.

So the queen has an almost entirely passive role as a symbol, save for the typically female-coded activities of healing, mating, and death rituals, while the king does all of the active stuff. All of this, of course, matches human behavior, but there’s no reason a bunch of magical lizards should follow it, especially since that’s not how the animal kingdom works. And quite frankly, Velika does almost nothing for her people in this book; it’s Shardas who defends them, and Shardas who gives them hope. If the king was supposed to be the center of draconic society, it would be merely disappointing; as it is, it’s contradictory and annoying. Plus, the fact that all of this death and destruction turns out to be because Krashath is trying to steal Shardas’s woman is infuriating.

Otherwise, it’s a decent story, and I still like Creel well enough as a narrator. The real strength of the book, though, is the dragons. Dragons are pretty much my kryptonite, and George’s are wonderfully varied, eccentric, and simultaneously majestic and grumpy. Despite the book’s flaws, I can’t ignore the part of my brain that spent the entire time going “Dragons dragons dragons!” They are a delight.

Thus Dragon Flight skates by on a middle-of-the-road three cupcakes. I’ll still be picking up Dragon Spear to see how the trilogy ends, but George is otherwise not on my “must buy” writer list.

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