Dragon Champion: Book 1 of The Age of Fire
by E.E. Knight
Review by Paul Haggerty
Roc Book ISBN/ITEM#: 0451460472
Date: December 1, 2005 List Price $14.00 Amazon US / Amazon UK /
Dragon Champion by E.E. Knight is the first in a new series called The Age of Fire. The book is told from the point of view of Auron, a young black dragon who we meet as he cracks open his shell and discovers the world. From the first pages, Auron is plunged into a battle against the world. In this case literally as the male dragons of a clutch instinctively seek to kill their brothers until only one survives. After that the young dragon has little time to learn from his parents and to grow large enough to defend himself. For there are killers in the world who will not rest until all the dragons are dead.
Driven from his cavern by dwarf and human slavers, Auron is taken captive and hustled away from what remains of his family. Through escape and wandering the young dragon begins to learn about the other races of the world and where a dragon can fit into it. Auron's tale is told in a series of quests starting with trying to find out what happened to his family. As with most quest books, Auron accumulates enemies and allies along the way. But unlike many others, Auron is a dragon with a rather long life span. And so instead of gathering friends to him, Auron journey is a set of meetings and departures. The dragon grows mentally, physically, and emotionally along the way learning many a hard truth.
While it is possible to identify with Auron on his journey, the author slips in plenty of strange and disquieting reminders that our hero is not human. Auron is rather perplexed by the intensity of the anger from the village folk when he plucks a young human child off the beach and eats her. After all he was hungry and she was food, right? And yet he's outraged when fishermen try to net a pod of dolphins who had helped him earlier. The concepts of right and wrong as we understand them are a hazy shadow to a dragon.
But time passes, Auron grows up, and the problems of the world cannot be ignored no matter how aloof a dragon might like to be. Especially when he learns that someone is assembling a host of the dragons to wage war on the rest of the world; a world containing the only friends he has, even if they are small two legged creatures who can't breath fire.