Dragon Avenger: The Age of Fire, Book Two
by E.E. Knight
Review by Paul Haggerty
Roc Trade Paperback ISBN/ITEM#: 0451461096
Date: 05 December, 2006 List Price $14.00 Amazon US / Amazon UK / Show Official Info /
Dragon Avenger, book two of The Age of Fire series, is not so much a sequel as a parallel story to its predecessor Dragon Champion. The beginning of both books (although much shorter in this one) tells how a small clutch of four dragons is born in a lonely cave in the mountains. And how hunters storm the cave and destroy the family. In Dragon Champion, Auron believed himself to be the only survivor, and now in Dragon Avenger, the same events lead Wistala to believe that she is alone in the world. But from there the stories diverge widely and, in fact cover widely different time scales and points of view. While Auron sought knowledge and power to save dragonkind, Wistala seeks revenge for the wrongs done to herself and those she loves (both dragon and other races).
And it's a tough assignment for a little hatchling. The slayers of her family are of dwarves of the Wheel of Fire, a very powerful group, numbering in the thousands, and exerting influence over a wide area. Wistala learns quickly that these things take time, and that means she first has to survive. This is a vast challenge all by itself, and to do it she needs allies. An elf, a cat, and an old horse are the best she can do, and yet in the end, the world would find it difficult to find true heroes to equal them. The challenges to be faced are both small and large, the small are fought and the large are avoided until they can be fought. The villains range from those whose might stems from the muscles of their arms, and those whose strength comes from the power of ink on paper. And unfortunately, the latter are usually the more dangerous.
I've really enjoyed both this book and its predecessor, and really look forward to the third, as yet unnamed and unscheduled novel. Knight has a fascinating ability to understand the psychology of a creature that has never existed, and yet is somehow familiar to us all. As details on dragon physiology, culture, and behavior very wildly from Tolkien's Smaug to McCaffrey's Mnementh, to Gannett's Boris, an author has to pick and choose what to keep, what to toss, and what to make up from whole cloth. And yet Knight's dragons resonate with me. Somehow these mythological creatures just feel natural, normal, and real, no matter how logically impossible and culturally alien they may be.
Of course there is the third survivor of the clutch, the maimed copper dragon that led the hunters in. While Dragon Champion paints him as a vile traitor, Dragon Avenger includes a scene which leads you to believe that even those events aren't quite what they appeared to be. I'm guessing that the third book will feature this final member of the clutch and will hopefully wrap up some of the over reaching world events.