A young girl’s journey from servant to rebel leader.
In Paerolia, human, elven, and mixed-descent male children are chosen to bond with dragons to become Riders, although true political power is held by judges. Half-human, half-elf Andra is an indentured servant in the Hall of Riders—where she one day accidentally interrupts a Pairing ceremony, preventing a hatchling dragon from bonding with its match. Andra is sent away to the Chief Judge’s manor, where she endures a year of torment before being kidnapped by a team of assassins led by their alluring leader, Kael. On her journey to the rebel camp, Andra meets Tiri, a young dragon whose mind speaks directly to hers, and she learns that she has magic of her own. Swan’s debut has enough material for an entire trilogy packed into a stand-alone novel. Andra’s off-page rape and on-page torture as well as her unfettered rise to become the most powerful magic yielder, fighter, and rebel leader, as well as a Rider, are all dealt with superficially. The potentially complex political background of the story is glossed over in exchange for two stereotypical villains. The main character is assumed white, and some secondary characters, including the romantic interest, Kael, are described as having golden-brown skin.
A formulaic and simplistic high-fantasy adventure that never truly lives up to its potential. (Fantasy. 14-adult)