Dragon of Ash and Stars, H. Leighton Dickson – Readalong

Hello Humans! I’ve had some free time and some books to read so this readalong is coming slightly sooner than I had planned – lucky you! (This is me optimistically writing that at the start of the book so it could be a complete lie and I could be finishing the book after being in a coma for six years – but it seems wise to be optimistic).

I was intrigued by the idea of a Dragon Autobiography when this popped up in one of the many ‘books on sale on kindle’ emails that I get on a daily basis. These books tend to be a little hit or miss so it’s safe to say I’m not going in with overly high expectations – but I’m perfectly willing to be pleasantly surprised!

Goodreads Summary:Dragon of Ash and Stars

Stormfall is a dragon born with a coat the colour of a starry night. When a violent storm strikes his island aerie, he is carried on hurricane winds into the complicated and sometimes cruel world of men. There, his journey takes him from fisher dragon to farmer, pit-fighting dragon to warrior, each step leading him closer to a remarkable destiny. But war is coming to the land of Remus and with it, a crossroads for the Night Dragon and the young soul-boy he allows on his back. How far is Stormfall willing to go in a war that is not his own?

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Chapter One – Five

I was trying to work out what this book reminded me of, the tone was really familiar. It took until around chapter three for it to click. War Horse. There’s something about that autobiographical animal voice that is really reminiscent of the horse in Michael Morpurgo’s well-known story. Of course, this is far more of a fantasy perspective than the WW1 epic but it’s interesting how similar they are.

It’s always interesting to see how authors approach having a protagonist who can’t communicate with other characters (it doesn’t seem like even the dragons can communicate particularly effectively at this stage), though Stormfall can understand his human captors, they can’t understand him. So far it hasn’t been too much of a bother – but we’ll see how that progresses.

I really hope this isn’t as sad as War Horse, I don’t know if I have the fortitude…

Chapter Six – Ten

Well, I can’t say it’s been an entirely positive time for our young Stormfall. Plagues and pits and a short farming interlude. This is managing to balance out some of the more negative moments with pockets of calm which is something I always appreciate (it helps to add contrast and it makes the book not feel like you’re constantly being punched in the face with negativity). I will say, this isn’t a ‘you see the world changing from the perspective of this one animal’ (yes that is still a War Horse comparison), at least they haven’t done that in these first ten chapters. I’m hoping that a plot will come together soon, rather than this feeling like a series of vignettes – but who knows?

Chapter Eleven – Fifteen

Look at me checking in every five chapters like some kind of organised human!

Well, I won’t spoil anything but let me just say that something quite predictable happened in this section that I think is the harbinger of PLOT. Since I’m not at 51% through the book I would possibly have expected this a little sooner but perhaps the preamble will be relevant in later chapters.

I will say, the way that dragons ‘work’ in this world is pretty cool. I mean that both in the sense that they are a part of everyday life for the humans (or ‘stick people’ as they are called in this book) pulling carts and fishing, but also in the mechanics of firebreathing and breeding and all such things. You’re not getting the ‘scientific’ descriptions of A Natural History of Dragons, instead, it’s far more instinctual in its description.

Chapter Sixteen – Twenty

Now things are moving more towards a Temeraire kind of direction – which I am most certainly here for. That was probably the more obvious comparison from the start but get’s overshadowed by that autobiographical style.

But we’re very much at war now – though with only 25% or so of the book left I’m not totally sure how satisfactory an ending can be at this stage. I feel like, other than Stormfall and Rue we haven’t really been encouraged to invest in any other characters, settings, issues or anything. So where this is going to go is something of a mystery.

Chapter Twenty-One – End

*Wipes away a single tear*

Ok fine, you got me. That was quite good.

Final Verdict

This is a great book if you like dragons. I love dragons and I had a great time. It’s a nice quick read, it won’t take anyone reading it very long but it takes you on a journey from start to finish. My main criticism would be that it feels like the plot only really comes in towards the last third of the book – but I suppose that comes down to this being written as an autobiography as opposed to a fantasy novel per say.

I would recommend this to any dragon fanatics such as myself. It is fun, fast and the ending might leave you a little bit weepy…

My rating: 3/5 stars

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What will the TBR jar choose next?

Monsters of Men

Amazing! So soon after I read The Ask and the Answer it’s time to read the final book in this (so far) wonderful trilogy! Stay tuned for a readalong soon!

What say you? Will you be reading Dragon of Ash and Stars? Let me know in the comments below!



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