Firestorm (Dragon Orb) by Mark Robson
|Dragon Orb (Firestorm) by Mark Robson|
|Category: Confident Readers|
|Reviewer: John Lloyd|
|Summary: A boy and his dragon – and new-found friends – have a globe-trotting quest to start in this first of four in a new series by the teen fantasy writer. An intriguing start that bodes great use of future mysteries|
|Buy? Yes||Borrow? Yes|
|Pages: 320||Date: August 2008|
|Publisher: Simon & Schuster Children's|
Elian is quietly hiding from the village bullies when something more threatening appears to him – a fully grown dragon. Luckily, perhaps, the dragon, Aurora, is quick to (a) save his life, and (b) tell the boy he is her own unique dragonrider, and that they have a shared destiny, with a psychic and spiritual link that will only break upon death.
Contrast this with Nolita, elsewhere in the world, being made aware of similar by her own dragon. She's brick scared of anything bigger than a dog, is completely phobic about dragons, and cannot bring herself to think about heights… Something a dragon could only despair of – its one destined rider being scared of flying.
However the next pairing Elian will encounter will not be Nolita and Firestorm, but Kira and her dragon. The two children and their mounts will be forced to act fast by some particularly nasty dragon hunters, and just when they allow us a way into knowing what's what with this world's four types of dragon, Kira's will do something that will immediately make you think 'no, never!' but will also allow the book to lurch into a very different background. One that the with-it might have been able to guess at with the familiar-seeming maps provided, but all the same…
After this the book will settle upon the pattern of four the series (of four books) will rely on – a four-stranded quest plot, with four different dragons and their different riders. With this being fairly standard it's nice to report there are enough stand-out features of the book to make it well worth considering.
Mark Robson has used his knowledge of flying to provide a great edge to the dragon-back scenes, with all the rolls, loops, G-forces – and turbulence – detailed in great, vivid style. The dragons' characters, along with the human ones and other descriptions may be a bit perfunctory but only help to keep the book soaring along.
In fact there is hardly anything to fault with the writing – one may ask why it takes a couple of pages too many after the quest has been revealed to focus on Nolita's reluctant part in it, especially when the writing regarding her anxieties has been so compelling and realistic so far. The bitchy tetchiness provided by the older boy character is a little unwanted, but evidently is destined to be greatly important. It's also a pity the thanks credits and inspirations are at the front of the book, when they only help to give the game away a touch.
There's a small imbalance in the book in that the first of the four quests is so easily won, despite the heroes not knowing anything about their combined fates until two thirds of the way in. Also I am not sure I could go the whole five star hog until I know just how the second world thread is going to pan out over the series, but the author has more confidence than me and has got the series off to a great and mysterious start.
Mark Robson has scaled the age of his audience back a year or two from that for his Imperial trilogy – say to the nine- to thirteen- year olds, and perhaps has written his most successful book so far. The world of the quest is finely realised, and the writing action-packed enough to really appeal to the target audience. It's not all implausible roller-coaster action, however, as the reluctance Nolita has to even consider her dragon shows how well Robson can create distinctive and vivid characters for his fantasy worlds. I for one will return to this one promptly to read on, and I doubt very much if I am alone.
My thanks to the publishers at Simon and Schuster for sending the Bookbag a copy, but drat them for it being so early – I now have an unearthly wait for part two!
You can read more book reviews or buy Firestorm (Dragon Orb) by Mark Robson at Amazon.co.uk
You can read more book reviews or buy Firestorm (Dragon Orb) by Mark Robson at Amazon.com.
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