Like many other kids, I had a dragon phase when I was younger. I still enjoy dragons to be clear, but dragon phases… they are DRAGON PHASES. All I ever drew around the time was dragons, and people even recognized me as that one girl who could draw dragons.
The books that kicked off this love of dragons was the “Wings of Fire” series by Tui T. Sutherland. (Major and most minor spoilers will be avoided in this post.) I was looking through my middle school English teacher’s bookshelf when I found the winglets book “Assassin.” Winglets are side stories centered around side characters from the main series.
The cover was composed of beautiful green shades and curious spires, completed with a purple title with a dragon emblem underneath. Curiosity piqued, I picked up the book and flipped it over, read the description, then began the first pages. Yes, this was the second Winglets book. My younger self would read things out of order if a book was missing.
I loved the book. I don’t remember much of it now, but it got me hooked enough for me to ask for the rest of the series during Christmas. Little me didn’t realize that winglets were only side stories, though, and I didn’t specify that I wanted the winglets specifically. I face palm at this memory, but it turned out great. Christmas came around and I opened up the entire first series of the main wings of fire series. I read the first and fell and love. This series holds a special place in my heart, but as I grew older I remembered less and less of it. Recently, I decided to reread the whole first two arcs, courtesy of my collection. I was able to appreciate the writing more now, and though I knew major plot points I still had fun. The perspective switching between books is done well, in my opinion. The main character of each book has a plotline surrounding them, but the other characters are still included and the story stays on track to the ultimate goal. Though both arcs have their ups and downs, the second arc has to be my favorite. The main antagonist is such a cool idea, and I especially liked all of the characters, their struggles, how the characters dealt with said struggles, and the setting. Sutherland also brought back side characters from the first arc and expanded upon them in the second, namely with Peril, Anemone, and Kinkajou. Peril had some great potential in the first arc, so I was especially happy to see her get her own book. While I do love the first arc main characters, the main characters of the second arc were more fun for me to read. I don’t even think I can pick a favorite from the second arc. I will say that I liked the dynamic of the first arc group- there was clearly ‘favorite friends’ and frustrations between the characters, which I felt highlighted how relationships would be strained under their circumstances, having been trapped under a mountain for years with only each other. Despite their arguments, the first group still loved each other, even if their desires conflicted. I also found the plot twists included in both arcs to be satisfying.
There’s one thing I forgot about, though- these books are extremely violent. The first arc takes place during a war, but there’s no sugarcoating any of the violence and gore. Eggs get crushed, dragons die horribly, and more. There’s plenty of examples I remember, but I don’t think they’d be allowed to be mentioned on this blog. I don’t know how these books get into middle schools, but I don’t remember younger me minding the violence, and current me loved it. I wonder if I reading these played any part in the darker aspects of my stories… There’s also a lot of side-romances in these books. They didn’t impact my experience harshly, and I did like some, but for me side romances aren’t always my thing. I remember one that was discussed, but it wasn’t ever expanded upon, nor did the mentioned characters interact “on-screen.” At least give me some tasty material if you’re gonna propose a ship. However, surprisingly, I didn’t mind the main love triangle included in the second arc. Said love triangle did fall into my category of ‘would have been better as a poly-pair’, though.
At the end of the day, I still do love these books. If dragons are your thing and you don’t mind reading something of a lower age level, I’d recommend them. Yay for dragons!