The Dragonet Prophecy is the first in the new series WINGS OF FIRE, by Tui T. Sutherland. It’s set in a world where dragons are the dominant species; humans are present but are called “scavengers” and seen as an occasionally dangerous nuisance. The prophecy concerns five young dragons who, it is foretold, will end a long and ruinous war. The five are hidden away and raised by a small rebel underground.
Sutherland quickly takes this plot in a couple of unexpected directions that hooked me right away. The rebels are not particularly good people — er, dragons — and don’t necessarily have the dragonets’ best interests at heart. And one of the five dragonets thought to be mentioned in the prophecy was killed in the egg, so another was substituted: Glory, who comes from the much-despised RainWing tribe. These two factors come together to pose a deadly threat to Glory.
It’s this threat to Glory that inspires the dragonets to defy their guardians for the first time, and sparks the coming-of-age adventure of Clay, the MudWing who is our point-of-view character and protagonist. The dragonets must escape and save Glory — and if they manage that, they will find themselves in the outside world and in the midst of the dragon war.
The Dragonet Prophecy is pretty violent for a middle-grade book; it depicts war and gladiatorial combat without pulling a lot of punches. For this reason, I think it’s best suited for the upper end of the middle-grade range. However, the dialogue and humor feel “young” in a way I’m hard-pressed to put my finger on, and so I don’t think WINGS OF FIRE is going to be one of those kids’ series that gains a huge cult following among adults.
Which is kind of a shame, actually, because Sutherland spins a good plot with lots of twists and betrayals and shades-of-gray morality. It felt kind of like reading A SONG OF ICE AND FIRE for kids, though of course much shorter and with dragons in the speaking roles. So far I’m really intrigued, and I plan to look up the second book, The Last Heir, when it comes out in January.