Monday, June 14, 2021

REVIEW: Wings of Fire, Book 1: The Dragonet Prophecy (graphic novel) by Tui T. Sutherland, art by Mike Holmes

Wings of Fire: The Dragonet Prophecy is the first volume of a graphic novel adaptation of Sutherland's Middle Grade fantasy book of the same title. 


There is a mysterious prophecy that says five dragonets will be born who are destined to put an end to the war between the dragon tribes. In order to fulfill the prophecy, several eggs are acquired: Mudwing (Clay), Sandwing (Sunny), Nightwing (Starflight), and Seawing (Tsunami). The only egg that doesn't really fit the prophecy is Glory's - she's a Rainwing and they really needed a Skywing. The five dragonets are raised in secret to eventually carry out their role, but they're treated like prisoners and eventually decide to escape in the hope of finding the parents they were stolen from. Unfortunately, that's when Scarlet, Queen of the Skywings and one of the many threats to their existence, finds them.

My mom picked up an ARC of this for me at a conference a few years ago. I went into it blind - it's based on a Middle Grade book I haven't read. It's a Chosen One story, but starring dragons instead of humans, so even though the basic premise has been done to death, I was still excited to give it a shot. (FYI, this is not a human-free world, although it's tough to tell, this early on in the series, whether humans will eventually get a larger role in the story.)

Clay and the other dragonets were essentially sheltered and raised in isolation from the rest of their world, but they weren't exactly coddled or well-loved. Their caretakers made it plain that they weren't impressed with them - Clay was too much of a peacemaker for their tastes, Starflight couldn't read minds like Nightwings were supposed to be able to do, Sunny was too sweet, and they just assumed Glory was lazy and stupid because they considered all Rainwings to be lazy and stupid.

The dragonets' journey away from the caves where they were raised was somewhat interesting, and I especially enjoyed the revelations about Clay, but found myself having more and more problems telling all the dragons apart. There were lots of yellow/orange/red dragons, and although efforts were definitely made to differentiate them (Clay had a blunter face, Peril had blue eyes, etc.), it wasn't quite enough for me. It didn't help that Glory could literally change color. There was one scene I had to reread because I initially assumed she was a new character.

The action scenes could also have been a bit better. I kept thinking about shounen manga and the ways in which good series depict motion and speed, and I found that I missed seeing those elements here. The artwork felt static by comparison.

I did enjoy the bright colors and all those dragons, but I don't think I'll be continuing this graphic novel series. If I decide I want to read more of this story, I'll go with the original novels instead.

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