This was such a great book; I read it in two days (while at work)! I’m in awe! This is Lockwood’s first novel and it’s terrific. Lockwood, as you may or may not know is a professional illustratorand this book is filled with wonderful maps and drawings. (A recently illustrated novel was Marie Brennen’s “In the Labyrinth of the Drakes.”)
The Summer Dragon is set in a land called Gurvaan where dragons are raised in various aeries. They are used for flying and defense. They have a language that humans have a rudimentary understanding of and they can communicate in very basic English. They are affectionate, intelligent, brave and awesome.
One day, in the aerie of Riat, Maia and her brother Darian go out beyond their home to wander in the ruins of an ancient civilization. It’s a holiday and everyone is in high spirits. The remains of a huge city named Cinvat is nearby to wander through. As they walk through the hilly wilderness, they see a HUGE dragon---much, much bigger than what they have currently, a beautiful green gold creature they both recognize as one of the High Dragons, specifically the Summer Dragon named Getig. A sighting of such a creature is extremely rare. Both are transfixed by seeing the creature and Darian tells Maia it is a sign of great change. He runs back to their compound but Maia is transfixed by its glance. For her, the appearance of the dragon has a very personal resonance. It eventually takes off, leaving Maia overwhelmed by its appearance. This event is the catalyst for extreme transformation and the world as Darian and Maia know it convulses with it.
The military are coming to take as many of the baby dragon qits possible. An aerie far to the north has been attacked by terrible constructs of human parts and dragons simply called Horrors. (and later on, “crispies” by a soldier.) A shaman of the Harodhi has created them by unknown means. They do not speak but eat everything living in their path. They fight ferociously and between their poorly stitched together parts they glow an acid green as do their dragons constructed in the same manner. Their touch is freezing. They sound like zombies made up of parts. And they visually look as if they’ve been burned and charred (hence the “crispies” name).
They are a nightmare creation and Lockwood should be proud of them. They are terrifying and relentless.
Religion comes into play in this novel. A younger faith believing High Dragons are avatars of a central god clashes with a much older, simpler religion (which has pretty much gone into hiding); more of a philosophy based on Truth. One of its tenets is “Your religion is revealed in the way you live your life.” And another precept is: “The things we hold in reverence reflect our own nature.” These are the lessons Maia and the others have to learn when confronted by the destruction and ravening of the Horrors as their normal world is upset and what was is being changed violently into what will be.
The Riat dragons become property of the emperor and an elite military force called the Juza come to commandeer the aerie. They show up after Maia’s father leaves to search for the missing Darian who could not cope with the fact that his sister became the center of the stormand everyone’s attention. Not only for seeing the High Dragon first but because she engineered a spectacular rescue of Darian in these amazing caves (a part of the ancient site of Cinvat) carved with incredible sculptures by the long-gone race. They were in these caverns because Maia went to find her own dragon qit. She had hoped to bond with one from her own aerie but the governmentunsettled by her seeing Getig---decides only one dragon qit can be sparedand Darian got it. Maia, determined to have her own dragon, rescued a wildling qit from the Horrors who have been using these caves as a place to stage an attack. Maia discovered a little female she named Keirr (hawk) being held by the Harodhi and during her harrowing struggle to escape the Harodhi and their Horrors, the baby dragon is released to her care in a terribly moving scene by her brave father who has doggedly fought to keep the Horrors from taking his child. The scenes, the ongoing fight in these ornate caverns are just fricking awesome and so intense...I couldn’t put the book down.
The story barely takes a deep breath when the aerie itself, now over-run with the military building barracks and constructing defenses to keep the Horrors away is finally attacked.
Another ferocious battle takes place and we lose a lot of astounding, intense characters here.
The book is simply riveting. The battles tended to go on a bit long for my taste…but it still made for compelling reading.
I can’t recommend this high enough. Lockwood has created extremely satisfying personalities with depth and dimension. The bad guys and the good guys are well-thought out and the action and settings are vivid. The real Horror here is realizing it will probably be at least another year for the second book! ~~ Sue Martin