“Marielena ran as the world shattered around her. The ground cracked and crumbled beneath her feet. The roar of dragons and gods rent the air. It was the end of times, and it was Marielena’s fault. … It was Marielena’s magic that had built the gruesome portal, powered the gate, and provided the key. She’d done as they’d demanded, and she had doomed them all. …
“Then Marielena saw it, a small glow like a shard of sunlight trapped within the rubble. … The glow belonged to the burgeoning aura of a tiny dragon, uncurling its round body and serpentine tail from the remains of an eggshell held within a broken box. It looked up at her and blinked its violet eyes. It mewled again. Marielena sank to the ground, and the baby dragon climbed into her lap.”
All this, and much more in the first two pages of Chapter 1.
For years, Marielena wanders, determined to protect Sinnie from other dragons and from any members of the Cult of Solendar who might have survived the catastrophe Marielena caused. Desperate to know more about dragons so she can raise Sinnie properly, the two journey to the Academy of Magic, where Marielena meets two other young misfits, Jayce, a powerful talent who can’t control is own powers, and Katreen, whose true skills lie undetected by the mages of the Academy. Together, they end up having to battle forces far stronger than they are, individually or together, even after Jayce and Katreen discover and learn a little of how to use their powers. Help comes from unlikely sources, including Lord Valon, a centuries-dead battle mage whom the Archmage of the Academy had resurrected and then lost control of, and Valon’s mechanical golem. Valon, too, is not what he seems.
Trombley weaves together multiple storylines as the three teens, Valon, Sinnie, and others, are thrown together, then torn apart, then thrown together again. Each character is distinct and well-rounded. Even Valon turns out not to be the villain the historical documents at the Academy make him out to be, and he discovers a softer side he never knew he had. (Being dead for a thousand years will do that for you, I guess.)
In the end, all of these characters, and a few others, work together, at extreme peril, to triumph over the destroyer-god Solendar. Or do they? Light of the Dragon is billed as the first book in a series, and Trombley certainly left the hooks in place for more stories to follow.
If I have a quibble, it’s with the prologue. The opening scene of Chapter 1 absolutely rocks, but it’s buried behind a prologue that I feel didn’t add anything, and in fact might take away from the end of the book. At the very least, it has little connection to the first 250 pages, and what connection there is is confusing at best.
Some readers may also stumble over a few of the terms Trombley uses: “rota” for day, “cycle” for year, “sunbirth” and “sundeath” for sunrise and sunset, respectively, but she’s consistent about using them and they give this story world a special twist that distinguishes it from similar ones.
Light of the Dragon is a Young Adult book that will appeal to young and not-quite-so-young adults alike. An engaging and enjoyable read. Where I can give it 4.5 stars, I do. Where I can’t, that’s a shame because this book deserves more than four.