Book Review: Firebolt

2 May

Firebolt (The Dragonian Series I)

– Adrienne Woods

Firebolt was recommended to me by someone who read Schooled In Magic, which is why I was reluctant to pick it up. There are, I should admit, some surface similarities between the two books, but thankfully both the plot and background are very different.

The series takes place in a world – its more of a hidden country, rather than an alternate world – called Paegeia, where humans and semi-dragons co-exist. Dragons are capable of shifting between human- and dragon-form, to the point where a dragon isn’t always recognisable as such when in human form (and can even have human children). Each dragon is supposed to have a human rider, who bonds with them and helps keep them stable. The fact that one particular dragon – a very powerful dragon – has no rider is a major plot point. Dragon children (teenagers, really) go to a school where they study with humans who can become riders (or pay the fees). Ideally, they will bond with their riders before they grow too old to be easily controlled.

The heroine of the story is a fifteen-year-old girl, Elena Watkins, who has spent most of her life following her (dragon) father as he moves from place to place, trying to avoid an unseen threat. She has no idea her father is a dragon until they are attacked, leaving him dead and her badly injured. When she recovers, she finds herself at the school – and expected to take lessons, which she finds very hard, while she tries to find her place in her new world. As you might have expected, Elena finds herself drawn into a plot against the entire kingdom …

Overall, I have mixed feelings about the book. While Harry Potter can be read by all ages and The Worst Witch is clearly for children, Firebolt is very definitely for teens. There is a considerable focus on teenage romance, which is about as hideously cringe-worthy as you might expect. (Most teenage romance novels are cringe-worthy because most teenage romance is cringe-worthy.) At the same time, there are more adult elements that are hinted at, even if they’re not brought into focus.

There are some elements that are quite neat, in my opinion. The world itself is a jumbled mess that is actually quite fascinating, although we don’t learn as much about it as I would have liked. (An appendix discussing the various types of dragon would have been very helpful.) Elena does not become an instant expect in anything, but has to work to learn how to do everything from learning to fight – with swords and axes – to cast spells. She’s quite intuitive, as a person, but I would unhesitatingly describe her as ‘book dumb.’ But then, this is actually quite realistic – very few people in our world learn Latin in school, which means she effectively needs to learn a new language right from the start.

On the other hand, there are problems. Elena is pretty much a stereotypical teenager, although one who has been though a nasty rough patch (and is trapped in another world, to boot.) She spends a great deal of time whining, crying, admiring boys and generally acting like an idiot – and some of her so-called friends aren’t much better. She gets feted for solving a number of riddles, but none of them are particularly complex – and one was lifted directly from The Hobbit. I’m even surprised she made the connection towards the end of the book … because, given what she knew, plenty of other people should have been able to make it too. Really, I don’t find her a very likable person, which is something of a weakness. Perhaps she gets better.

A more meta-point is that Firebolt is not a complete story in itself, unlike Harry Potter or .,. well, Schooled in Magic. I’m not generally fond of starter-books that don’t leave me feeling satisfied at the end, even if there are threads that can be picked up later in the series. I tend to feel short-changed when that happens, particularly if there are more than two further books to come.

Overall, I’m probably not the target audience for this book. But it was a fairly light read for an hour or so.

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7 Responses to “Book Review: Firebolt”

  1. Elodie May 2, 2016 at 10:38 pm #

    Try the green rider series. The characters are very fleshed out and believable and her world building is amazing

  2. Dustin May 3, 2016 at 1:05 am #

    I agree with what you say about The Dragonian series. The writing isn’t terrible, but it felt as if it was written by a teen girl for other teen girls.

  3. Mike Morrow May 5, 2016 at 5:42 pm #

    It bends my mind when people talk about reading a 392 page book an an hour….

    • Anarchymedes May 6, 2016 at 3:01 pm #

      …and then criticise it to death. 🙂 Ah well. Holy Feedback. What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.

    • Chance May 13, 2016 at 12:21 am #

      I’ve read the entire Harry Potter series in eight hours

  4. Veraenderer May 6, 2016 at 2:02 am #

    “The cutest guy around may be an evil dragon, a Prince wants Elena’s heart, and a long dead sorcerer may be waking up to kill her. ”
    A thumb rule of me is, if a book has a sentence like that as description, than half of the book will be about a romance and I know only a few fantasy authors which are able to not kill a book with a “big romance” (either because the character gets stupid, the romance is pointless for the story or the character starts to think at EACH site about his love etc. ).

  5. Chance May 13, 2016 at 12:20 am #

    I read the book, and it made for an alright read until the last few books became unbearable whiny and the characters started to not act like teens anymore (to me at least, and I am still in high school). I do like the magic part about it but we don’t see nearly as much as I want to in the book. Its an okay book if you’re just reading it while waiting for the new SIM book to come out

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