Book Review: The Summer Dragon by Todd Lockwood

Title: The Summer Dragon

Author: Todd Lockwood

Series: Evertide #1

Genre: Fantasy

Rating: 2/5 stars

The Overview: The debut novel from the acclaimed illustrator—a high fantasy adventure featuring dragons and deadly politics. Maia and her family raise dragons for the political war machine. As she comes of age, she anticipates a dragon of her own to add to the stable of breeding parents. Her peaceful life is shattered when the Summer Dragon—one of the rare and mythical High Dragons—makes an appearance in her quiet valley. Political factions vie for control of the implied message, threatening her aspirations, her aerie, her entire way of life. The bond between dragons and their riders is deep and life-long, and Maia’s desire for a dragon of her own to train, ride, fly, and love drives her to take a risk that puts her life at stake. She is swept into an adventure that pits her against the deathless Horrors, thralls of the enemy, and a faceless creature drawn from her fear. In her fight to preserve everything she knows and loves, she exposes a conspiracy, unearths an ancient civilization, and challenges her understanding of her world—and of herself. -Goodreads

The Review:

I wasn’t sure about the book at first. I started out on audio and had a hard time with the narrator (when she did adult male voices it came across like a kid making fun of her dad’s voice) so I switched to physical format and immediately things improved. It’s a switch I didn’t mind because the physical copy is gorgeous. Lockwood is an illustrator by profession and did all the work on this book himself. The images definitely added to the story, however all of them were placed a good dozen pages before the actual events, giving spoilers, which was annoying.

In any case, part 1 of this book was completely dragontastical. They played a huge role in the plot, most of the scenes involved them, and I loved how much the main character loved them. Although the plot was fairly simple and straight-forward, there were a lot of great action scenes and the villains introduced were compelling and unique. Had the book stopped after just part one, it would’ve been a solid 4-stars.

And then I got to part 2…

This section of the book just did not work for me. It went from dragon centric to this weird theological debate. Not my favorite topic for sure, but this one in particular lacked a lot of substance and depth. Add that to a bunch of retellings by the characters of what happened in Part 1, and I found my attention waning by the page. I pushed on for another 100 pages, hoping it would get good again, before finally getting fed up. From there I basically skimmed for major plot points through the end of the book. It’s not something I normally so, but I figured if something caught my interest again I’d jump back in fully. After getting the gyst of what the rest of the story had to offer, I’m glad I didn’t spend any more time on it.

I’d seen a few wary reviews for the book indicating it felt YA, and I can’t say I totally disagree. Especially if you caught the audiobook version. I think the simple plot was the reason for this. Granted, it was slightly more sophisticated that that, but overall when recommending this book I’d probably have more success handing it to a YA crowd than a SFF one. It was a bit darker and more violent than most YA, so in a way it would be a great transition novel between the genres. Note: it didn’t have any of the typical YA tropes, so my assessment is more from an overall presentation and “feel” standpoint.

Recommendations: if you love dragons and are in the mood for a pretty straightforward fantasy novel, this might fit the bill. Because I liked the illustrations and didn’t care for the narration, I’d suggest going the print route with this one.

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