Today’s my turn to shout about ‘Rise of the Shadow Dragons,’ the gripping follow up to Liz Flanagan’s award-winning ‘Dragon Daughter.’ Make sure you read Liz’s special piece about some of the main themes in this gripping epic.
Joe wakes up smiling with the lingering memory of a dream where he was riding on the back of a dragon. His dragon! Then he remembers that today was not only his twelfth birthday, but also Hatching Day – surely that’s a good omen? Today’s the day when Joe just knows he’s finally going to bond with a hatching of his own to become a dragonrider.
But when things don’t go quite to plan on Hatching Day, Joe finds himself in a self-imposed exile, fighting for survival with Winter, another outcast. An amazing discovery deep in the caves and tunnels below the island could set Joe on a new path – if only he were brave enough to step out and take it.
This glorious story is ALL about the dragons. Oh, the dragons! From tiny hatchlings to majestic beasts soaring through the skies! They sing from the pages and form the fiery heart of this story – driving life in the island of Arcosi and driving Jowan to feats of bravery he had never imagined. You can tell that author, Flanagan, has a deep-rooted love of them.
I got completely caught up in this epic fantasy adventure and think it would perfect for fans of Eragon or Inkheart. I loved the vivid world created on the pages and felt Joe’s pain and confusion as he fled his home.
Rise of the Shadow Dragons: Themes of Anger & Reconciliation
I didn’t realise when I was writing Dragon Daughter that I would eventually write another book set in the same place. I thought I’d tied up all my threads at the end of that story. But I couldn’t quite leave Arcosi behind. Certain questions kept niggling at me.
If Dragon Daughter ends with what is basically a revolution and things turn upside down, what happens to those who used to be in charge? Ten years on, how would they be feeling? Where there are winners in a situation, there will definitely be someone who feels hard done by. Things might have been neatly resolved at the end of book one, but quite soon they start to unravel.
And if you’ve been living in Britain over the last few years, it won’t be hard to guess what gave me the idea for an island which is bitterly divided; where both sides believe theirs is the right one and will argue passionately for their cause. However, I wanted to make sure that it wasn’t as simple as that, especially when it came to characters. I feel very strongly that readers need characters who are complicated, flawed and changing, as we all are.
One reader told me that she felt Milla in Dragon Daughter was a bit too perfect. So this time I set out to create a protagonist, Jowan Thornsen, who shows us that he is far from perfect! The story starts on Joe’s twelfth birthday, which also happens to be hatching day, and he goes along to the ceremony feeling pretty confident that one of the newly hatched dragons will choose him and bond with him for life. After all, this has happened to all the other young people in his family, so why not him? He wants a dragon of his own more than anything: surely that will be enough?
This is where authors sound like not very nice people, because we put our young characters under so much pressure. We are mean to our characters, we test them, we don’t give them what they want –and I hope it makes for a much more interesting story!
After all, don’t we all sometimes get angry, make mistakes and do things we regret? I know I do. But I think the important thing is always what we do next. I have to believe in the possibility for hope, change and reconciliation –especially now, in our deeply divided times. I wanted to show that Joe isn’t a bad person, just because he makes one mistake.
Equally, I started off writing a supporting character who I thought was going to be one of the bad guys, but he just swaggered right off the page and surprised me by becoming one of the story’s surprises and one of my favourite characters to write.
Another idea I was interested in is what happens when people have to face an external threat, something so massive that all divisions suddenly become less important and everyone has to work together (again, thinking of some real-world similarities here!).
So, at the end of the story, the island of Arcosi faces something much bigger than any human argument, and suddenly everyone’s life is in danger. This is when Joe and his shadow dragon find they have a special role to play. I hope readers will enjoy Rise of the Shadow Dragons–and its ending! This time, I must say, I left a few threads dangling, ready to be continued in a third story…
*Many thanks to David Fickling Books for sending me this title to review. Be sure to visit some of the other stops on the blog tour too*