Review: Dragon Trials by Ava Richardson

About the book:

High-born Agathea Flamma intends to bring honor to her family by following in her brothers’ footsteps and taking her rightful place as a Dragon Rider. With her only other option being marriage, Thea will not accept failure. She’s not thrilled at her awkward, scruffy partner, Seb, but their dragon has chosen, and now the unlikely duo must learn to work as a team.

Seventeen-year-old Sebastian has long been ashamed of his drunken father and poor upbringing, but then he’s chosen to train as a Dragon Rider at the prestigious academy. Thrust into a world where he doesn’t fit in, Seb finds a connection with his dragon that is even more powerful than he imagined. Soon, he’s doing all he can to succeed and not embarrass his new partner, Thea.

When Seb hears rumors that an old danger is reemerging, he and Thea begin to investigate. Armed only with their determination and the dragon they both ride, Thea and Seb may be the only defense against the Darkening that threatens to sweep the land. Together, they will have to learn to work together to save their kingdom…or die trying.

Cover of Ava Richardson's Dragon Trials

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Review by Katy Haye:

Dragon Trials uses familiar tropes, but deals with them competently. We have opposites in collision with high-born Thea, who needs to be the best at everything to show she’s the equal of her illustrious brothers, clashing with Seb who has little idea about the world he’s just stepped into; there’s the isolated school for dragon-riders, with classmates who will also do anything to be the best; there’s a growing threat that will pull the students out of their studies; and best of all, there’s dragons!

There’s nothing remarkably new, but the description and world-building were very well done, and I enjoyed watching the relationship between Thea and Seb evolve.

I was frustrated that determined and ambitious Thea suddenly assumed that they both needed to fit into tired gender roles – why did it not occur to her that they would work to their (pretty obvious) strengths?

And there were some threads that were started and not finished – Beren’s bullying went nowhere, and Seb’s dragon affinity was mentioned between the students but not explored fully. Of course, it’s the start of a series, so I’m sure there will be time for these to be picked up, but they felt unfinished as I was reading.

Overall, if you like dragons, Dragon Trials is a sound dragon yarn – but I’d recommend you read Sarah K Wilson’s Dragon School first!

Katy Haye writes speculative YA fiction. Check out the first book in her new YA fantasy series, Awakened by Magic, while it’s just 99c/p. Kyann only wants to save her sister, but a greater destiny of myth and magic awaits her in the Empire of Charnrosa.

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