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“It is true, two are always braver than one,” Bellacurx. –Rise of the Dragons
Rise of the Dragons
by Angie Sage
Joss and Allie have always feared the Raptors and the wave of death caused by the vicious beast. When Joss finds a dragon egg, he never imagined the love he could feel for the Silver dragon or the danger the dragon would bring into his life.
The Lennix’s are a cruel and power-hungry family who wish to rule over all dragons and humans. They have trained their Raptors to follow commands and prey on unsuspecting humans. But some of the raptors are questioning the Lennix’s rule. They are convinced that possessing the Silver dragon is the key to their continuing rule.
Sirin lives in the Lost Lands, where dragons no longer live. Most people have forgotten the dragons and no longer believe they existed at all, but Sirin hopes that she will one day meet a dragon. While Sirin dreams of dragons, her real life is full of grief. When her mom is hospitalized, Sirin is forced to live with several different families. Sirin wonders if her life will be filled with grief forever.
Rise of the Dragons weaves together three stories—Joss and Allie, the Lennix family, and Sirin—and eventually ties the stories together. Most of the story focuses on Joss and Allie, the indentured servants who find the Silver’s egg. When the Lennix family tricks Joss and Allie into going to their compound, life only gets worse for the siblings. Readers will be engrossed in the unique, but cruel, dragon world.
Even though the reader knows that Sirin’s story will eventually connect to Joss and Allie’s story, readers may have a hard time connecting with Sirin’s story, which is realistic fiction. The chapters about Sirin pop in at unexpected places and slow down the plot. The conclusion brings Sirin and a dragon together in a fun, unexpected way and clearly sets up a sequel.
The story contains detailed, concise descriptions, as well as short chapters that often focus on one character. However, some readers may struggle with the difficult vocabulary, such as “ensconced,” “undulating,” “lugubriously,” “cantilevered,” and “soporific.” Rise of the Dragons may best suit middle school readers because younger readers may be frightened by the raptors’ cruelty; several of the characters’ parents are killed by raptors, and the characters are then enslaved by the Lennix family.
Sage creates an interesting dragon world, where death and violence are everyday occurrences. Although the characters are not well developed, the story has enough action and suspense to keep the pages turning. Rise of the Dragons has plot twists, truly evil villains, and a protagonist with whom readers will sympathize.
- Joss thinks about his parents, who died when raptors “dived onto his mother and father, and the shine of their sharpened talons, curved and lethal, as they emerged from their sheaths for the kill.” Later Joss again thinks about his parents and how “they had been attempting to escape a Lennix roundup, and it hadn’t worked. He remembered Raptors diving down, taking his parents hundreds of feet up into the sky, and then dropping them into the sea.”
- When Joss is riding his dragon, Lysander, they are chased by a group of dragons. As Joss and Lysander try to flee, “Joss felt a burst of heat as a spume of dragonfire hit Lysander’s tail. The flames fell away from Lysander’s silver scales like water from oiled feathers, but the shock of it caused him to shoot rapidly forward. . .” Joss and Lysander fly through a portal and are safe.
- Lysander frightens a flock of sheep, and they run into an old quarry. Joss tells his sister about how he “climbed down into the quarry and they were piled up. Dead on the quarry floor. Well, they weren’t all dead. Some were injured and bleating. So . . . so I had to hit them on the head. To put them out of their pain. It was. . . Oh, it was horrible.”
- When Joss trips, D’Mara “Grabbed Joss’s arm and pulled him roughly to his feet, gripping him so hard he could feel her nails digging into skin.” When Joss and Allie try to run, D’Mara “threw herself at Joss and caught his neck in an armlock. Allie hurled herself at the traveler, but a well-aimed kick sent her sprawling to the ground. . . The traveler jerked her arm hard against Joss’s throat, making him gasp for breath.” Armed guards appear and they shoved the sack over Lysander’s head. “At once he lay down upon the ground in defeat. . .They pulled her (Allie) arms behind her back and roughly tied her hands, then threw a net over her and wrapped her up so tightly that she could hardly breathe. Allie began to gasp in panic. . . As Allie took a shuddering gulp of air, Tamara kicked the back of her knees and Allie fell to the ground.” Joss is also tied up, and the two were taken to Fortress Lennix to be prisoners.
- When Sirin and Ellie are walking home from school, some girls bully them, telling them they must pay a toll to pass. One girl grabs Sirin by the collar. Later, the same girls corner Sirin and her foster mother, Mandy. Mandy tries to help, but “Mandy looked down and saw the point of a jagged knife pressing into her all too thin cardigan. . . but the pressure of the knife point reminded her to keep quiet.” One of the girls “pulled out a knife, drawing the tip of the blade across Sirin’s stomach.”
- The Lennix twins take Allie to a notoriously violent raptor and have her thrown into his room. They giggle as they hear the dragon roar and they assume Allie is being eaten. However, the dragon does not injure Allie.
- When the Lennix’s catch a Green dragon, the other dragons punish the Green. “Bellacurx sent a short burst of flame flickering across the ground, so that they curled around the delicate feet of the Green and sent her hopping from one foot to another—much to the amusement of the other Raptors. . . In a sudden movement, the red dragon brought her wings down in such a way that their sharpened barbs gouged deep grooves through the scales of the Green and tore into her wings.” The Green is then imprisoned.
- The Lennix’s raptors go on a raid, attacking the Greens and “demolished their nest.” D’Mara’s husband tells the raptors, “The free Greens are finished. But the Reds, Yellows, and Blues remain . . . Raptors, tonight we shall go in for the kill. We go to the Islands of the Blues where they hold their eggs deep in caves beneath the ocean. From them we shall take a tribute: a living infant that we shall tear to shreds before their eyes, and then we shall leave them in grief. We shall return again and again and again until the Blues show us their hiding places of their clutches and beg us to take them.”
- The epic battle between the Lennix’s raptors and other dragons takes place over three chapters. During the fight, “Wave after wave of firestiks rained down from Flight Vengeance. Bellacrux and Lysander ducked and dived. . . And then a firestik found its mark—on Lysander’s left wing tip. Lysander pitched to one side and sent the weapon bouncing off his armored silver scales. The sudden lurch sent Joss sliding out from the rider’s dip.” Joss is able to rebalance, and the fight continues. One aggressive raptor named Valkea goes after Bellacrux. “Valkea let loose a long, focused spume of fire. It caught the tip of Bellacrux’s tail but did little damage, for the tail-thrashing doused the flames and the burn alerted Bellacrux to her pursuer . . . Bellacrux sent a long, thin steam of brilliant orange flame straight into Valkea’s face. The Red wheeled backward and the flames shot down the soft and vulnerable front of her neck. . . In agony from the burn, she thrashed her neck to and fro, trying to cool the burn. . .” During the battle, one dragon is injured when someone throws a firestik, and the raptor’s “tail exploded into flames,” causing the raptor to fall to his death.
- When a burning raptor falls to his death, he hits a dragon’s wing. When the raptor’s tail hits the dragon, “there was a snap like a pistol shot, and suddenly her wing was hanging down, useless. Herlenna screamed. . . She keeled over to one side, and with a crashing and cracking of branches, she disappeared through the canopy of trees like a drowning swimmer beneath the waves. Lysander and Joss heard a deep thud, and then all was silent.”
Drugs and Alcohol
- D’Mara calls her husband a “spineless little liar” and “slick of dragon slime.”
- D’Mara calls a dragon an “idiot.” Later she calls Joss an “idiot.” Several other characters also call someone an “idiot.”
- Kaan calls his brother a “dumbo” and then tells him, “Oh, go boil your stupid fat head.”
- D’Mara tells her husband, “And I always thought that Lock of yours was a bit of a bonehead.”
- A girl tells Sirin’s foster mom, “Bleedin’ Nora, you’re effing crazy, you are.”
- Humans can lock with dragons. “Some people were lucky enough to become so close to a dragon that they stayed together for life. They even understood each other’s thoughts.” Once a dragon and human have locked, they can communicate through thought.
- A silver dragon is able to travel through a portal to the Lost Lands. “All Silvers can travel through the invisible portals that link our two worlds. And if a Silver touches its tail to another dragon, they can both go through. Indeed, you can have a whole chain of dragons going through.”