It’s never easy to crush stereotypes, but that’s what Aurelia will need to do if she has any hope of becoming a Defender.
The monsters Aurelia encounters during the competition made my skin crawl. Some of them were introduced without any explanation at all of what Aurelia was facing. This made figuring out why they were such a threat even more intriguing. Their abilities – magical and otherwise – are a big reason why the age recommendation is 14+. Some of the scenes that describe them would definitely not be appropriate for younger readers, although older teens and adults will find a lot of creepy stuff between these pages.
It would have been helpful to have more world-building as the plot progressed. The glimpses into Aurelia’s society were fascinating, and I hope they will be more fully explored in the full-length sequel that will be published early next year from what I’ve read. I understand why the author wouldn’t want to give everything away so early, but there were a few times when I really could have used slightly more detailed explanations about exactly how their institutionalized discrimination affects the daily lives of everyone who isn’t born with magical powers.
While I’m looking forward to seeing what Aurelia does next, I was quite pleased by how well everything was wrapped up in her first adventure. The Firedragon is most definitely a standalone story, and that’s something that matters a lot to me when I’m debating whether or not to continue on with a series. My appetite has been whetted for more!
I’d heartily recommend The Firedragon to anyone who loves science fiction that’s set in the distant future.
Editor's note: This article was originally published at Long and Short Reviews. It has been republished with permission. Like what you read? Subscribe to the SFRB's free daily email notice so you can be up-to-date on our latest articles. Scroll up this page to the sign-up field on your right.