Dragon Airways by Brian Rathbone

Dragon Airways by Brian RathboneI don’t remember when I chose this book originally or why, but I noticed it on my extensive to-be-read list and decided to give Dragon Airways a try. It starts slowly with so many points of view (POV) it’s a little overwhelming at first, but here’s the thing. Each POV offers another piece of the puzzle, revealing a complex world full of people both with good and bad intentions, but none of the characters are simple.

The downside of so many POVs is while the reader is never left in the dark, sometimes the tension is cut because there are few unanswered questions. On the other hand, the seeding was excellent so when later events unfold, the solutions don’t come out of nowhere but rather are founded on events we already know.

Once we’re more familiar with the main cast, the focus narrows a bit. The story demonstrates the devastating costs of war to all sides and the dangers of a brutal megalomaniac. It does this through the eyes of those with decision-making power and those without.

The readers take a few harsh blows in this lesson, but at the same time, there are some wonderful reconciliations and new discoveries. These act as gifts in the face of tragedy, whether it’s a character stepping into a leadership role or finding a new artifact of legend to aid their cause.

I’m speaking generally to avoid spoilers. The essence of the story is a sister’s love for her unusual brother and a bad king’s desire to use those like Emmet to increase his magic hoard.

Emmet can sense magic. He is the equivalent of an autistic child with time sense as his overwhelm. His character is a real strength in an already strong cast in part because we see him through his sister’s eyes and his own.

Riette hates herself for not being better at caring for Emmet, all the while unaware he is cognizant of what’s going on around him if unable to articulate it. That’s just one complexity the characters struggle with, and it’s well written even when the actual writing has rough sections and sometimes repeats concepts more than once.

Then, of course, there are the dragons themselves who play a critical role and are fully realized even though they don’t exactly communicate with people in words. There is no question the strength of the bond between rider and dragon, but who is in command might not be so clear.

Bottom line, the book creates a fascinating world peopled with characters to love and hate. It then places them inside a harrowing story with powerful insights into long wars and those who wage them. A big story told from the middle of the battlefield with the characters growing understanding along with the reader. It’s well worth holding on through the slow beginning, and I’m glad Dragon Airways caught my eye.

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