Title: The Color of Dragons
Author: R.A. Salvatore & Erika Lewis
Genre: YA, Fantasy
Published: October 19th, 2021 (HarperTeen)
Synopsis: Magic needs a spark.
And Maggie’s powers are especially fickle. With no one to help her learn to control her magic, the life debt that she owes stretches eternally over her head, with no way to repay it.
Until she meets Griffin, the king’s champion infamous for hunting down the draignochs that plague their kingdom.
Neither has any idea of the destiny that they both carry, or that their meeting will set off a chain of events that will alter every aspect of the life they know—and all of history thereafter.
Thank you to the publisher, HarperTeen, HCC Frenzy, and NetGalley for providing me with an eARC of this book in exchange for an honest review.
Maggie, a young orphan, is assistant to a traveling magician who has little skill beyond some sleight of hand tricks. But when she encounters a draignoch that has been captured by the cruel king’s soldiers and is being taken to his Walled City, something within her awakens and she soon realizes that she is the one with actual magical powers. Maggie knows she has to keep this hidden, but she also needs to learn how to control it. When she meets Griffin, the king’s champion and famed draignoch slayer, the two of them must work together to figure out her abilities, even as Griffin participates in a gladiatorial style tournament to defend his title from his latest challengers.
It’s no secret that I adore books about dragons, so when I heard about this book, I knew I had to read it. This story is reminiscent of traditional fantasy novels in the best way, with a pre-Arthurian style setting and a kind of Merlin origin story. The world building, beyond some of the history mentioned, was pretty minimal and most of the emphasis seemed to be on explaining how cruel the king and his enforcers were. As a regular fantasy reader, I’m more accustomed to this medieval kingdom type of setting and didn’t require the elaboration to imagine it, but for those who are not, it might seem quite vague.
Maggie and Griffin were both interesting characters and realistic ones. Having alternating POVs definitely helped with character development in the presence of so much else going on. Maggie’s abilities and the magic connected to the moon, while intriguing, could have used a lot more development. While Maggie was arguably the main protagonist, I found that I liked Griffin’s arc better as we got a much more thorough idea of his past and how he rose from a foundling in the poorest part of the city to become the king’s champion, now dealing with the dangerous politics that are part and parcel of being close to the throne. The romance was very much in the background and I rather liked it, despite there not being too much time to focus on Maggie and Griffin’s relationship.
My biggest issue with this book was the pace of the plot. While things remained interesting throughout and the narration was sufficiently paced to keep the reader’s interest, this book took far too long to get to the point. If at the 50% mark, I still can’t tell you where the main plot of a standalone novel is heading, that’s a problem. The way this story unfolded was more along the lines of what I’ve seen for first books of trilogies, but in a standalone, it was extremely frustrating, especially when it turned out to be much more simplistic than expected.
The eleventh hour twist was definitely a good one, and very unexpected at that. There were some hints throughout that something about a couple of the characters felt off, though not nearly enough to predict the scale of the reveal. But I think the efficacy of that twist was reduced largely by how abrupt it was, and also how abruptly it was resolved. A few more chapters to draw out the climax would have definitely helped, not to mention answer some of the immediate questions that arise in the aftermath, especially with the last sentence of the book. Overall, this was an enjoyable read and there is potential for a spin off at the very least, so I’m interested to see if one will be written. I would definitely recommend this book!
The Color of Dragons releases on October 19th, 2021.
Do you plan to read this book? Let me know in the comments below!