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Fiction Friday is a series where I talk about what I’ve been reading. Short Stories (and sometimes Novellas) are featured as in-between posts and the first Friday of the month will feature a new novel review. Today, I review Dragon Sea: Mage Reborn by Brian Ference and Chris Turner
You know what I love? Dragons.
You know what’s missing from this blog? Dragons.
You know what this book has? That’s right: Dragons.
And also pirates. Put them all together and you have the book dreams were made of.
Today’s story is Dragon Sea: Mage Reborn by Brian Ference and Chris Turner. You can find it here. It’s a sea-faring adventure like a cross between Pirates of the Caribbean and How To Train Your Dragon. A boy with nothing to lose and everything to gain, stumbling upon an adorable dragon. Let’s have a ride, shall we?
To Be a Dragon Rider
The story follows a young lad named Darek, a slave of a band of pirates heading to who knows where when a vicious sea serpent attacks their ship. In desperation, Darek controls a dragon whose rider rests unconscious and fights the creature. However, he violates a sacred law and must be punished by a literal trial by fire, courtesy of a volcano god. However, a chance encounter with a dragon egg allows Darek and his draconic friend to escape.
I love this story because it’s not the typical dragon plot, where some dragon is out to raze a village and the heroic knight and his merry crew slay him. It’s a world where dragons and humans are one and magic exists in full force. It’s the story that’s truly fantasy to me. It checks off pretty much all of the boxes and contains a fun story to boot.
And like my upcoming series, it has a brother/sister dynamic that feels fresh to me in a sea of love interests. Their relationship is the stuff I love where they care for each other, yet have this sibling rivalry to them. It reminds me of my own characters. One’s a hot-head, the other is an arrogant know it all.
A notable issue I have is how closely it follows the Hero’s Journey plotline. It starts with a call to action (Him riding a dragon), the mentor (Agrippa) and so on. So far, it’s following too closely and ends up being a bit typical at times. The mentor doesn’t add anything new to the story, but I do love the idea of a pirate-themed dragon story, which I don’t see much of in fantasy (or pirate fantasy in general).
Come to think of it, it kinda reminds me of Star Wars, which followed the Hero’s Journey plotline to a T. I’ve seen other stories (Eragon for example) follow this type of story closely, and I’m not sure how to feel. It’s not exactly like Star Wars, the hero isn’t a farmer and there’s no empire, but the similarities are there.
Moving on, I love his relationship with Silver Eye, his new dragon. Having half-blind pal gives him an interesting disadvantage, but I haven’t seen it come into play (almost as if they forgot it was there). It could have added to the character’s flaws and could have made use of the dragon’s disability, but I don’t see much use of it besides it being half blind since birth.
One noticeable thing is how jarring the perspective changes are. A common POV tactic is to change viewpoints for each chapter, or if not, each scene. Changing them during a scene is called head-hopping. The story is heavily focused on Darek for the whole story. Ten chapters in, we get a POV from Agrippa, who goes off to fight his old apprentice. It’s so far in that it left me confused. Since most of the story is from Darek’s POV, suddenly getting another viewpoint is a bit surprising.
If Agrippa had been in the story from the start, it would be fine, maybe as far as chapter five, but for him to appear basically halfway into the book is a huge surprise. And it was somewhat unclear who it was since it was sudden.
And it doesn’t seem to happen again throughout the story. I wondered how this couldn’t have been through Darek’s POV somehow since the rest of the story was. I couldn’t have imagined a reason for it. The story was fun to read through and it’s nice and short for a fantasy story, but I wondered why this was needed in a story told through one character. Basically, we went from Limited to Omniscient. It’s such a basic mistake that I’m kinda surprised to see it in a story so well written. It’s basically my only issue with this story.
Dragons and Pirates and Sea Serpents (Oh my!)
I do like the whole theme going on here. It’s rare we see any pirate fantasy, let alone those that take place on islands. One of my favorite games was Legend of Zelda: Wind Waker, and I absolutely loved the serene peace of riding your boat and gazing out into the vast openness, traveling from island to island with classic Zelda music playing.
I’ve had a fondness for those types of exploration. So seeing a seafaring fantasy story with dragons made me interested right away. I don’t see those stories often and this loving blend of sea, dragons, pirates, and magic is a unique take on the fantasy genre that I really want to see more of. I think the authors have something going for them here.
I’d love to see more of this series, assuming the issues can be fixed. I’d love to see this adapted to film and have it be a huge hit. I can easily see the appeal of such a thing, considering how popular Pirates of the Caribbean is as a series. Jack Sparrow is an iconic character (even appearing in Kingdom Hearts) and I wouldn’t be surprised if Darek became one of those popular book characters. Only time will tell.
This was a good read for those who are fans of dragons, magic, and pirates. While things can be simple and cliched, it provides enough uniqueness that it balances out a bit. It checks all the boxes that I look for in a fantasy world. I have a fondness for pirate and seafaring fantasy and I’d love to see more of this universe. If you want a different slice of fantasy, then this one is worth a look.
That’s all for today. Take care, and remember, the inn is always open.