An offbeat and engaging story of a mythical creature.


From the The Dragon in the Whites series , Vol. 1

Modern New Englanders go up against an ancient, fire-breathing dragon in Baird’s debut fantasy series starter.

Tryggvi Brynjarson is a young Viking who loves to explore. While on the island of Vestmannaeyjar with his father and others, he goes off on his own and discovers a unique stone. He keeps the rock with him throughout his life, including during a grueling journey in search of new land; he eventually marries, and his wife has a child. Centuries later, Tryggvi is reborn as a dragon, which emerges from the stone that he’d discovered. The dragon is perfectly content to live alone in caves, but the humans that it periodically encounters are frightened of it and attack it with weapons. About 1,000 years later, in the modern day, 17-year-old New Hampshire native Liam Tryggvison visits his grandfather in Maine. While hiking in the forest, he’s excited to find a cave full of gold coins. But Liam also awakens the aforementioned dragon, from which he narrowly escapes. Once the dragon is outside and takes flight, it confronts aircraft and gunfire. Surprisingly, the winged creature then vanishes almost as quickly as it appeared. Liam, feeling guilt over how the dragon endangered people’s lives, is determined to track it down—although the beast may be ready to hunt. Much of Baird’s tale doesn’t feature the titular creature. The lengthy initial section, however, is utterly engrossing, as Tryggvi faces harsh cold at sea as well as land-based perils such as bears and wolves. The early part of the book also offers the perspective of the sympathetic dragon, who has hazy memories of its previous life and wants humans to leave it alone. The author’s straightforward prose clearly establishes the regularly changing settings and delineates the passage of time. Baird also delivers brisk action scenes, as when the dragon battles the aforementioned “metal birds” that are capable of hurting it. The ending offers resolution but also incentive for readers to check out the next published installment.

An offbeat and engaging story of a mythical creature.

Pub Date: April 13, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-5204-1250-4

Page Count: 273

Publisher: Self

Review Posted Online: April 30, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2020

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

A celebration of fantasy that melds modern ideology with classic tropes. More of these dragons, please.

Reader Votes

  • Readers Vote
  • 52

Our Verdict

  • Our Verdict
  • GET IT

  • New York Times Bestseller


After 1,000 years of peace, whispers that “the Nameless One will return” ignite the spark that sets the world order aflame.

No, the Nameless One is not a new nickname for Voldemort. Here, evil takes the shape of fire-breathing dragons—beasts that feed off chaos and imbalance—set on destroying humankind. The leader of these creatures, the Nameless One, has been trapped in the Abyss for ages after having been severely wounded by the sword Ascalon wielded by Galian Berethnet. These events brought about the current order: Virtudom, the kingdom set up by Berethnet, is a pious society that considers all dragons evil. In the East, dragons are worshiped as gods—but not the fire-breathing type. These dragons channel the power of water and are said to be born of stars. They forge a connection with humans by taking riders. In the South, an entirely different way of thinking exists. There, a society of female mages called the Priory worships the Mother. They don’t believe that the Berethnet line, continued by generations of queens, is the sacred key to keeping the Nameless One at bay. This means he could return—and soon. “Do you not see? It is a cycle.” The one thing uniting all corners of the world is fear. Representatives of each belief system—Queen Sabran the Ninth of Virtudom, hopeful dragon rider Tané of the East, and Ead Duryan, mage of the Priory from the South—are linked by the common goal of keeping the Nameless One trapped at any cost. This world of female warriors and leaders feels natural, and while there is a “chosen one” aspect to the tale, it’s far from the main point. Shannon’s depth of imagination and worldbuilding are impressive, as this 800-pager is filled not only with legend, but also with satisfying twists that turn legend on its head. Shannon isn’t new to this game of complex storytelling. Her Bone Season novels (The Song Rising, 2017, etc.) navigate a multilayered society of clairvoyants. Here, Shannon chooses a more traditional view of magic, where light fights against dark, earth against sky, and fire against water. Through these classic pairings, an entirely fresh and addicting tale is born. Shannon may favor detailed explication over keeping a steady pace, but the epic converging of plotlines at the end is enough to forgive.

A celebration of fantasy that melds modern ideology with classic tropes. More of these dragons, please.

Pub Date: Feb. 26, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-63557-029-8

Page Count: 848

Publisher: Bloomsbury

Review Posted Online: Dec. 23, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2019

Did you like this book?

A masterful debut from a must-read new voice in fantasy.


Twin princesses—one fated to become a queen, the other a martyr—find themselves caught up in an unexpected battle of dark magic and ancient gods.

Four hundred years ago, a Valleydan princess facing a loveless betrothal sought refuge in the Wilderwood with her lover, the Wolf. The legendary Five Kings—including her father and her husband-to-be—pursued them only to be trapped in the Wilderwood. Now, according to legend, the only hope of restoring the Five Kings to power lies in the ritual sacrifice of every Second Daughter born to Valleyda's queen. There hasn't been a second daughter for 100 years—until now. On her 20th birthday, Redarys accepts her fate and walks into the Wilderwood to become the Wolf's next victim only to find that the stories she grew up on were lies. The handsome man who lives in a crumbling castle deep in the forest is not the original Wolf but his son, and he wants nothing to do with Red or her sacrifice. Afraid of her wild magic abilities and the danger they pose to her sister, Neverah, Red refuses to leave the Wilderwood. Instead, she clings to the new Wolf, Eammon, who will do whatever it takes to protect her from the grisly fate of the other Second Daughters. Meanwhile, in the Valleydan capital, Neve's desperation to bring her sister home sets her on a path that may spell disaster for Red, Eammon, and the Wilderwood itself. Whitten weaves a captivating tale in this debut, in which even secondary characters come to feel like old friends. The novel seamlessly blends "Little Red Riding Hood" and "Beauty and the Beast" into an un-put-down-able fairy tale that traces the boundaries of duty, love, and loss.

A masterful debut from a must-read new voice in fantasy.

Pub Date: June 1, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-316-59278-9

Page Count: 448

Publisher: Orbit

Review Posted Online: April 14, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2021

Did you like this book?