HOME SCHOOL BOOK REVIEW
Book: Wings of Fire #1: The Dragonet Prophecy
Author: Tui T. Sutherland
Illustrator: Joy Ang
Publisher: Scholastic Press, 2012
Language level: 2
(1=nothing objectionable; 2=common euphemisms and/or childish slang terms; 3=some cursing or profanity; 4=a lot of cursing or profanity; 5=obscenity and/or vulgarity)
Reading level: Said to be for ages 8 and up, but I would say more for ages 12 and up
Rating: 3 stars (FAIR)
Reviewed by Wayne S. Walker
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Sutherland, Tui T. Wings of Fire #1: The Dragonet Prophecy (published in 2012 by Scholastic Press, an imprint of Scholastic Inc., 557 Broadway, New York City, NY 10012). The dragon world of Pyrrhia is at war. Queen Oasis of the SandWing kingdom has been killed by one of the human-like scavengers, and her three daughters, Burn, Blister, and Blaze, are fighting it out to see who will succeed her. The MudWings, under Queen Moorhen, and the SkyWings, under Queen Scarlet, have sided with Burn. The SeaWings, under Queen Coral, are allied with Blister. The IceWings, under Queen Glacier, have joined with Blaze. The RainWings under, Queen Dazzling, and the mysterious NightWings are not involved in the war. As a result of Morrowseer the NightWing’s dragonet prophecy, a secret movement called the Talons of Peace determines to bring an end to the fighting by collecting five dragonets to fulfill the prophecy and stop the terrible war.
Clay, a MudWing, Glory, a RainWing, little Sunny, a stunted SandWing, Tsunami, a SeaWing, and the scholarly Starflight, a NightWing, are being raised and trained for the Talons of Peace by minders Kestrel, Webs, and Dune in a hidden underground cavern. However, the prophecy doesn’t include a RainWing, Glory having been substituted for a SkyWing after the SkyWing egg was crushed, and when Morrowseer tells the minders to destroy her, the five escape their captivity to look for their original homes but are captured by Queen Scarlet of the SkyWings. What will happen to them? Will they survive, fulfill the prophecy, and bring a close to the war? Or will they be killed? As to language, there is nothing worse than some childish slang and a few common euphemisms (pigeon poop, gosh, gee, heck). The main objections that I can see would be the confusing nature of the plot and the violence. With all the various names and the different dragon tribes, it is sometimes difficult to remember which dragon is which and who is at war with whom.
One might consider this a parallel form of Hunger Games in the dragon world. Scarlet forces her captives to participate in gladiator-like competitions for her amusement, not to mention some of the brutal battle scenes. And there are other rather explicit descriptions, which some might think are a bit gratuitous. “An orange SkyWing dragon, slightly bigger than Clay, landed soundlessly in the clearing behind the scavenger. Wreaths of smoke coiled around her horns. As the scavenger shrieked again, she bent down and bit off its head. ‘Blech,’ she said, spitting it out again immediately. The head bounced across the grass as the body slowly toppled over, blood pouring out of its neck.” Many parents object to the ever-intensifying violence aimed at younger and younger readers. The book is intended as middle-grade fantasy fiction, for ages eight and up, but it might be more appropriate for ages twelve and above. This is not to say that the story is all bad. It has a lot of page-turning excitement and adventure, and emphasizes such admirable themes as loyalty to friends, the need to be sympathetic toward other’s points of view, and the uselessness of war. Older readers of fantasy who have a high tolerance for violence will probably like it. Wings of Fire #2: The Lost Heir is due to be released on January 1, 2013.