Since childhood, stories about dragons—either as a force for good or evil—have fascinated me. While I am perhaps biased towards stories where these massive, fire-breathing, dangerous flying reptiles are closer to benevolent than malicious, I do enjoy a traditional world-against-dragon story. A.N. Miller’s Through Dragon’s Fire is a perfect example of this sort of story.
1. Thoughts on the plot
This story reminds me a lot of the Tamora Pierce books featuring Tortall; the protagonist is a girl trying to find herself and her purpose. Our main character Amara flees from a home that ostracises her, and discovers a past that she didn’t know she had. In trying to understand this past, she joins the BouldAras, a rank of elite warriors charged with protecting the kingdom. The only thing is that there is far more to becoming a BouldAra than simply learning how to wield a weapon. Amara must face her forgotten past and the monster that set her on her past before she can truly become who she was meant to be.
I think the plot is well done and well thought out. There is a decent amount of time spent on each of the important pieces of Amara’s journey and you can easily see how each piece of the puzzle fits together to create something new. The story is entertaining to follow and I think it works very well.
2. Thoughts on the characters
Amara is a good main character to follow. She has mysteries to solve, not the least of which is discovering who she is and what her purpose is moving forwards. I think that she reacts very well to the various challenges set in her path and I like her overall. She is definitely worth reading about.
The other characters, though, I think could use a bit more exploration. Primarily, her mentor in the BouldAras. You see some of his personality and motivation, but most of it is simply left as a sort of standoffish person without any real reason why until the very end of the book. While the ending scenario does explain his motivations nicely, I think the pieces leading up to that point could have been expanded just a touch more, giving more of a clue as to why, rather than just presenting the information at the end.
Otherwise, I like the characters; they’re not stereotypical and they are perfect for the story, acting more like real people than sometimes is presented in traditional-style world-vs-dragon stories.
3. Favourite part
I think, actually, that the whole situation regarding Amara discovering her past and figuring out where she was meant to be, as well as reconciling what happened, is my favourite bit. It is a thread that winds through the whole story, interspersed with pieces of other events that temporarily distract Amara. However, it is not the entire world that Amara involves herself in, just a significant piece, which I think works really very well.
I think my only real critique for this book is that some of the secondary characters (see point 2) need just a touch of further exploration, in regards to motivations or personality. This is not really a huge thing, as Amara does not require this for her journey, but it would serve to really illustrate the story very well. As it is, though, I think this story does well with characters; I just want a touch more.
Overall, I would say that Through Dragon’s Fire is a story remnant of those I read when I was younger, with characters trying to discover themselves and the world, trying to right the wrongs of the past, and taking a stand with what abilities they possess. It was an entertaining read, and I would say that it is a good book.