Today's book review is Dragon Champion by E. E. Knight.
This is labeled as "Book One of the Age of Fire". There are three other books in the series that I know of. It starts at the beginning and comes to a reasonable ending place.
I think this book is the definitive proof that I am a hopeless sucker for dragons. I believe I would have found this book terrible if the characters had been presented as humans and the stuff they did modified only the minimum necessary to call them that. But label the protagonist a dragon, with some suitable description to back it up, and I find that I tolerate world building that seems unpolished, a plot that seems like a series of episodes that don't really mesh, and a whole lot of pain and nastiness done to characters I'd just begun to appreciate much more than I really should. I did enjoy reading it, but it's not as tight a package as the Vampire Earth books.
6 out of 10.
**** PLOT SUMMARY -- MASSIVE SPOILERS ****
Auron is a gray dragon. (This means he has no scales, but (it will develop) instead chameleon skin that can blend with the surroundings. Colored dragons eat gold and gems which become scales; being gray means Auron has no urge to eat valuables and isn't weighed down with scales so he's very fast, but he's also fragile.) He survives the fight with his male clutch mates with luck and determination. His red brother took a leg off his copper brother, but as the red was coming to take him, the copper got in enough of a lick to let Auron win that fight. Then Auron pushed Copper off the ledge. Not a very touchy-feely start to life, but it seems that it is normal for dragons. Auron starts to grow up and learn to be a dragon, but the exiled Copper leads killer dwarves into the lair. His mother and one of his sisters die there; he escapes with Wistala but Father apparently dies when he returns to the cave. Auron and Wistala are separated. Auron is caught by a dragon slaver, the elf Hazeleye who actually likes dragons enough that she lets him escape. He meets Djer, an honest dwarf, and becomes his friend when Djer cuts the slave collar off. He agrees to work for Djer as the guard for a caravan's treasure wagon, and forces the other dwarves to make Djer a partner in the company. Auron learned of a legendary black dragon NooMoahk from Hazeleye. Hazeleye said that dragons had a fatal weakness which she learned about from NooMoahk. Auron went off questing and befriended wolves, who accepted him as a pack. He then called on the wolves when he was beset by the sadistic Dragonblade. Then he rescued a little orphan girl, Hieba, who accompanied him until he found NooMoahk. NooMoahk is so old his mind is going, and after an episode where NooMoahk forgets himself, Auron decides that Hieba isn't safe and drives her off. Auron's wings come in while he's learning from NooMoahk, so he become AuRon. Then NooMoahk loses it again and AuRon ends up mortally wounding him. Then he finds out about the Wyrmmaster, a paranoid human who enslaves dragons and seeks to use dragons reduced to animals as weapons to destroy the other non-human races. AuRon joins the Wyrmmaster as a spy, hoping to find Wistala. He doesn't find Wistala, but Nasatach, who was a hatchling on the slave boat, is now a nubile dragonelle. AuRon saves her, kills the Wyrmmaster and Starlight, the tame dragon who actually believed Wyrmmaster's lies, though he loses his tail in the fight, and survives to become a father.