Title: House of Dragons
Series: House of Dragons #1
Author: Jessica Cluess
Genre: YA, Fantasy
Published: May 12th, 2020 (Random House BYR)
Synopsis: When the Emperor dies, the five royal houses of Etrusia attend the Call, where one of their own will be selected to compete for the throne. It is always the oldest child, the one who has been preparing for years to compete in the Trial. But this year is different. This year, these five outcasts will answer the call….
THE LIAR: Emilia must hide her dark magic or be put to death.
THE SOLDIER: Lucian is a warrior who has sworn to never lift a sword again.
THE SERVANT: Vespir is a dragon trainer whose skills alone will keep her in the game.
THE THIEF: Ajax knows that nothing is free–he must take what he wants.
THE MURDERER: Hyperia was born to rule and will stop at nothing to take her throne.
Emperor Erasmus is dead and the fight for the throne is about to begin. One representative from each of the five royal houses of Etrusia will be selected to compete, and traditionally, the eldest son or daughter is chosen. This year though, the unforeseen is about to happen. Emilia of the Aurun hides her ability to wield chaos magic which would spell a death sentence for her. Lucian of the Sabel has had enough of war and death and has vowed to never lift a sword again. Vespir, who is chosen for the Pentri, is not even of the family, and is their dragon trainer, but these might be the very skills that will keep her alive the challenges to come. Bastard born Ajax of the Tiber is chosen over his true born brothers and thirsts to prove himself. And Hyperia of the Volscia will stop at nothing to claim the throne and ruthlessly removes all obstacles in her path – even her own sister. These five unlikely candidates must participate in four challenges, knowing that the price of failure is death.
It has been a while since I’ve read a book by this author, and come to think of it, it’s about time I went back and finished the Kingdom on Fire series, but that aside, I had very high hopes for this book. Forbidden magic, a deadly tournament of sorts, some really intriguing characters and well, you can’t really go wrong with dragons in a fantasy novel! House of Dragons definitely lived up to my expectations. It doesn’t waste too much time in the beginning with explaining the setting, but the world building comes in pieces through the perspectives of all five characters, which actually made it much easier to follow. Despite the dramatic background of the four Trials and the competition for the Throne making this more of a plot driven novel, and I was very impressed with how well five POVs were balanced, not to mention how distinct their voices were as, despite being competitors, they begin to reluctantly bond and start to work together.
While this did feel like a rather long read, it was entertaining right from page one, where the selections of the competitors deviates from the accepted script, choosing contenders who are in one way or another, outcasts in their own homes. The dragons were absolutely fantastic and it was wonderful to see how each of the characters, despite how different they are, has such a lovely bond with their dragon (with the exception perhaps of Hyperia, who despite having a weird sense of honour is still all kinds of messed up). That one scene with Ajax’s dragon towards the end was absolutely hilarious, and fits him perfectly. Finally, a book that promises dragon action and actually delivers!
While I was not particularly shocked by any of the twists, they were nonetheless enjoyable – although I have to say, I felt that the ending was a little too convenient in some ways and I wonder just how long this new balance will hold. Overall, House of Dragons was a fast paced and exciting read. I can’t say I was surprised by that epilogue at all, and I had half guessed that we hadn’t seen the last of that character yet, though their final actions did seem quite out of character. I’m quite interested to see where this story is going next – it certainly has a lot to live up to! I would definitely recommend this for fans of the fantasy genre, and of course, dragons.
Have you read this book? Let me know in the comments below!
Other reviews in this series: