The Coming of Dragons by A.J. Lake

It really is a different world when it comes to books these days.  Example: I actually picked up The Coming of Dragons (the first book in the Darkest Age trilogy) at the grocery store.  They had a large stack of what I assume were remainders that they were selling for highly discounted prices.  The cover art caught my eye and I decided to buy given the reduced price.

It turned out to be a good choice.  I will certainly be reading the rest of the series.

Here is the plot blurb:

Edmund, a king’s son in disguise, and Elspeth, a sea captain’s tomboy daughter, are the only two survivors of a terrible shipwreck. They just want to go home, but fate has other plans as they are drawn into the fight against an evil warlord terrorizing their homeland. Accompanied by a mysterious minstrel and haunted by magical powers they did not seek, Edmund and Elspeth journey across a savage land of wild boars, fierce rogue knights, and black magic.

Lake does a couple of things well.  First, she does a great job of mixing action and plot development.  There is an element of suspense that she carries right to the very last page and yet she fills in the details and develops the characters need to build the series.  You are trying to figure out the history and motives of the surrounding characters as well as what Edmund and Elspeth will do next.  It gives it a real page-turner quality.

And having a boy and a girl as the central characters gives it a nice balance as well.  Some readers like to have a protagonist they can relate to and Lake gives us both.  Plus, there unique gifts, personalities, and backgrounds make for an interesting friendship and even some tension.

The other thing that stood out to me was the way Lake develops a rather dark and troubling story without going over-the-top towards depressing or too dark.  It has the medieval feel and setting but also characters that aren’t clear cut; there is an element of brooding – of distrust and secrecy to go along with the mystery and fantasy aspects.

All of this combines for a unique YA fantasy fiction story.  Despite being a quest trilogy with magic and dragons it felt fresh and unique.  Which is much harder than it looks.

I look forward to reading the next two books and finding out what happens to this young duo.

Kevin Holtsberry
I work in communications and public affairs. I try to squeeze in as much reading as I can while still spending time with my wife and two kids (and cheering on the Pittsburgh Steelers and Michigan Wolverines during football season).

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