From the incredible world building to the magical dragons that are bonded with their riders, Munda’s debut does a fantastic job of setting up a series that will definitely satisfy those fantasy palates.
Annie and Lee are in the competition to become the next firstrider of the dragonriders; the coveted position saved for the dragonrider leader. They’ve known each other since they ended up in the save orphanage together as kids. Their beginnings couldn’t be anymore different from one another. Annie is from one of the lowest class systems, and her family was brutally executed with dragon fire. Lee is one of the last surviving aristocratic dragonriders, but he refuses to let anyone know his true identity…not even Annie.
The competition is cut throat even though this new regime “allows” for riders from all classes. This doesn’t stop people from making repulsive comments to Annie for her lowborne status as well as the fact that she’s a female. She’s told to throw the contests and let Lee take his rightful place. I honestly don’t know how Annie does it without unleashing any rage. From the horrible flashbacks of the abuse she endured from her peers in the orphanage to the discrimination she faces in the competition, Annie has so much to overcome and prove her worth. I couldn’t root hard enough for Annie.
I’ll be honest, for quite a bit of this book, I really disliked Lee. It’s not that he’s a bad character because he’s not. The affluence he’s accustomed to definitely surfaces at several points and his preconceived prejudices got under my skin. However, I loved watching Lee with Annie because she made him question every single thing he knew…down to his core beliefs. I think that the metamorphosis that he goes through is one of the best character arcs in this book, and that would not have been possible if it weren’t for Annie challenging him along the way.
This book was so much more than what I was bargaining for. There was world building, dragons, magic, war, betrayal, complicated politics, and even a little romance. I truly appreciated the amount of layers that this book offered, and by the end, I was left with a whirlwind of emotions. This debut is not one to miss.
Thank you to Penguin Teen & Bookish First for the ARC. Thank you to Penguin Teen for the finished copy. This did not influence my review. All opinions are my own.