Zephyr’s Flight (The Dragon’s War, Book 1) by Ray Strong
Hey guys, welcome back to Bookish Beyond.
I hope you’ve been having an amazing week so far.
Today, I’m excited to be reviewing Zephyr’s Flight (The Dragon’s War, Book 1) by Ray Strong.
So, if you’ve got your favourite drink to hand and are all settled in, let’s begin.
Astrid is taking part in a village ceremony when she has a sudden vision. Due to her vision, her father departs to investigate distant lands. Two years later and Astrid’s father has still not returned. Meanwhile, having made a promise to the dragons in exchange for her life, Astrid rescues a little dragon who cannot fly named Zephyr. However, Astrid is unsure of what she has promised.
Astrid seeks to become a rider, to help find her father, however, the village council has other plans and opposes her at every turn. There is talk of chaos and ‘the darkness’, and one who can talk to the dragons (as Astrid does) having once led their people into slavery.
Rumours circle Astrid’s village about her possibly being this dragon-speaker, while the mystery of Zephyr not being able to fly thickens. One day, this mystery is finally solved. However, Astrid soon finds herself banished to the wilds, her dream of becoming a rider seeming more distant by the day. While an outcast, Astrid soon learns that a new foe lurks, preparing to infiltrate her home of Invernell. Now, an alliance must be made with men from the North, to help protect her people from harm.
Will Astrid once more be a citizen of her village, free to come and go as she pleases?
And can anything be done to keep this new enemy at bay?
For the purposes of this review, I’ve chosen to focus on the following four characters: Astrid, Zephyr, Skye, and Lance.
Astrid Sannfjaer has spent most of her young life dreaming of becoming a rider, like her father. However, she has a difficult path ahead of her. With a talent for sketching and the ability to communicate telepathically with dragons, Astrid makes for an intriguing protagonist. With her time in the wilds, her sense of bravery is demonstrated as she learns to defend herself from beasts that would kill her at a moments notice. We also see how inventive and resourceful she can be, to survive in harsh climates. In addition, I found Astrid’s stubbornness and strong sense of will to be admirable traits: while they initially got her into trouble with the elders of her village, they are also what enabled her to make it through many difficult situations. Overall, I loved every facet of her character and found her to be truly memorable.
Zephyr, Astrid’s dragon companion, initially starts the story being unable to fly. There is a sadness to him at first, a sense of weakness that I thought reflected Astrid’s inability to gain her dream role of rider, in a way. Not only could Zephyr not do the one thing all other dragons could, but Astrid was the only destined rider who was not permitted to follow her true calling. Over time, we see Zephyr’s sense of inquisitiveness as he follows Astrid around, interested to see what she gets up to. He also shows himself to be fiercely protective of Astrid, which I found understandable since she had saved him from drowning in a river. When Zephyr does finally learn to fly, there is a sense of majesty to his being that cannot be properly conveyed in words: it is an exhilarating experience to read about. Furthermore, the bond he and Astrid share is a profoundly strong one: when either one of them feels pain or despair, the other feels the same pain, as if their souls are somehow linked.
Skye, Astrid’s mother, was another interesting character. She was a kind woman, who was always mindful of keeping up appearances. She always considered how certain words or actions could have certain consequences within their little village. I felt bad for Skye at times because she always seemed to be caught between a rock and a hard place, so to speak. While she wanted to support her daughter’s dreams of becoming a rider, she also knew that doing so would upset the council, of which she is a part. Not wanting to jeopardise her own position within their village, she at times sides against Astrid, which – while it seemed like a cold and unloving thing to do from one angle – actually demonstrated just how difficult of a situation Skye often found herself in. I admired her for having the courage to continually try and balance her position in their village with her duties as a mother.
Finally, we come to Lance, a young Northman officer, who becomes Astrid’s love. At first appearance, Lance seems chivalrous and kind, helping to protect Astrid from the clutches of a fellow soldier’s lecherous appetite. Over time, we see how dedicated he is to his own duty as a soldier, along with his growing romantic duty to Astrid. He proved to be a good-hearted man, one who would happily give up everything for what he believed in, and to keep those he loved safe from harm.
There were many things which I ended up liking about Zephyr’s Flight, some of which are listed below.
- Firstly, the world-building was fantastic. You get an immediate sense of the intricacy of the world, its key cultures, and their core beliefs.
- I loved the writing style. It proved to be very detailed and created vivid pictures in my mind’s eye.
- The tension-building was well executed. You really do feel like you’re sitting at the edge of your seat at times, needing to know what happens next.
- I also really liked the mythology included, of the old legends about Astrid’s people and the dragons.
- In addition, I thought the bond between Astrid and Zephyr was sweet and profound from the start. They can share each-other’s emotions and pain, as if they can communicate between their souls.
- The story unfolded gradually, exploring Astrid’s adventures as she endeavours to search for her lost father, and to become a rider. Every chapter furthered the story along nicely, with not a single scene wasted.
- Finally, the relationship between Astrid and her mother Skye was complicated, with Skye wanting to support her daughter, but also wanting to abide by the rules if their village council. With that in mind, it was interesting to watch their particular relationship dynamic play out over time.
While there was plenty to love about this book, there were some things I noted which I feel could be improved upon.
- Firstly, there were points where it seemed as though a good chunk of time had passed (months or years), with no clear indication. One example of this is in chapter six where Astrid thinks of a new fertiliser combination to help the berries for the dragons grow. The next thing we see are riders tending to lots of well-growing plants, as if there has been a sudden time-jump.
- Secondly, there were points where Astrid is dreaming and this is not made clear, leaving the dream fragments to get muddled in with the story’s main events. A simple indication of when Astrid is dreaming would clear up any confusion here.
- Finally, I feel that the story could use a good proofread, to catch any pesky errors or typos which have made it through to the final copy.
While reading Zephyr’s Flight, I made note of four quotes that stayed with me, each of which is listed below.
1) ‘It’s often better to hope than to know.’
2) ‘If we need a master to tell us what to do, then we still think like slaves.’
3) ‘All alliances are temporary – only love is eternal.’
4) ‘I understand now. There’s no life without love.’
Overall, Zephyr’s Flight was an imaginative tale about finding one’s purpose. I especially enjoyed the lore of the world and the mixture of characters.
Themes included life purposes, friendship, promises, love, loss, and war.
My Rating: 5 stars.
Recommended to: lovers of gripping fantasy novels with strong female protagonists.
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Have a wonderful week,