Next up: “Dragon’s Milk”, “Flight of the Dragon Kyn”, and “Sign of the Dove” by Susan Fletcher.
This is a children’s book series, with four books, actually. I haven’t ever read the fourth; didn’t even know it existed until I sat down to write this review. I read these when I was a kid, and the fourth book’s copyright date is 2010… the year I graduated college. So, yeah, missed that one. This review will be for the first three books, which were published in the early-mid 90s.
The books are a loose series, without much overlap of characters. Each one has a new lead, but there are some connections between them. Primarily the connection is dragons. In each book, the main character is a young woman who has had some previous interaction with dragons. They all have unnatural green eyes– a sign that they can speak to dragons– and can call down birds– another sign, as birds and dragons are ancient relatives.
“Dragon’s Milk” follows Kaeldra, a young woman whose little foster-sister has fallen ill. Kaeldra must go to the dragons to ask them for their milk, which has strong healing properties. She is the only one who can do this, since she is the only one who bears the signs of one who speak to dragons. She strikes a bargain with a dragon to get the milk, but when that dragon is killed, she finds the dragon’s orphaned draclings in her care. And the people responsible for killing their mother want to finish the job…
“Flight of the Dragon Kyn” is a prequel to “Dragon’s Milk” and follows Kara. As a child, Kara had fallen ill with vermillion fever, and her parents had abandoned her in a cave. They hadn’t expected her to come walking back home days later, completely healed, and with green eyes instead of blue. As Kara grew up, it became clear that she had the power to call birds down from the sky– she was a dragon speaker. Once the king hears of her abilities, he takes her from her home, intent on forcing her on pain of death to call down the dragons so that his soldiers may slay them. Kara must fight to save not only her life, but the lives of the dragons.
“Sign of the Dove” follows Lyf, Kaeldra’s foster-sister from the first book. Lyf’s life was saved by dragon’s milk, but she now bears the signs of a dragon speaker. This is dangerous, since the Queen’s soldiers are killing dragons for their hearts and imprisoning anybody who tries to stop them. Lyf is caught up in the conflict; bound to the dragons and pursued by soldiers and bounty hunters, she struggles to find the courage she’ll need to save the dragons.
I loved dragons as a kid– not the typical ‘bad guy’ dragons, but more nuanced and complex dragons… Fletcher’s dragons are interesting in that they are sentient, thinking creatures that unfortunately have some characteristics desired by humans, in the same way that tiger fur or rhino horns are desired by humans in the real world. It’s different from the way a lot of other dragons are portrayed, which is fun to see.
The characters are interesting. Susan Fletcher has said that what she really wanted to do was to write young female characters who have a lot of grit and courage. I think she’s succeeded, and I like the way she addresses this in the third book, with Lyf. Lyf doesn’t really start out as courageous, but she finds herself and her courage through the actions of the book. And it isn’t that they are fearless, any of them, but rather that they are scared but still do what needs to be done (which is the best kind of courage, in my opinion). It is a good theme for children’s books.
As children’s books, the prose is kept pretty simple, and the plots aren’t too involved. However, the content can be kind of heavy for children’s books– there’s some gore, and Fletcher isn’t afraid of killing characters. I was actually kind of upset at a couple instances, so if these books are for a particularly sensitive person (child, teen, adult, I make no judgements here!), you might want to either warn them or rethink this.