The Summer Dragon - Todd Lockwood's first novel
I've been holding off writing this review - I finished the book about a week or so ago and I've just been ruminating on it since. I didn't want to just blunder through the review of OMGSOGOOD - because that's what it would have been. I wanted to give it a little bit more, because it deserves it.
I'm very critical of books these days. I cannot help it. I've read a ridiculous amount of books - far more than the average, and that's simply because I've had the luxury of staying home with my children all their lives and so, I have had the time. I cherish it - the time with my children, but also, the life I've spent reading. It has given me a very particular taste and an extreme standard. I'm not a book hipster by any stretch - I still flip through Martin's ghastly writing in A Song of Ice and Fire because the story is just that good.
But it's a rare treat when a new Fantasy writer debuts, writes incredibly well, writes a female hero (exceptionally well) and then writes about Dragons - in the detailed Pern sense of Dragons, not as just some ephemeral plot point.
Todd Lockwood absolutely nailed it. His world building is fleshed out - but not TOO much. So many writers make the amateurish mistake of throwing too much at you at once. Not Lockwood. His world is fully realized and you see the corner you're meant to see. And that's it. It's mostly about the characters - which is the brilliant stroke! You're with Maia from the start. Along for the journey. She's not so blank you insert yourself into her (I just detest that kind of writing, it's lazy and easy) no, you hover over her shoulder and experience everything alongside her - just like excellent fiction is supposed to do.
There are some really great and unusual subtleties in this book that normally are seen in regular fiction, not high Fantasy like this. Rivalries, disagreements, bruised egos and feelings. All the negative emotions are not always directed at the "enemies" and this kind of subtle nuance is really welcomed in the genre, which is typically one-note in this regard.
The pace of the book is quite good - and I found myself dragging the book with me wherever I knew I'd have to sit for a bit, so I could read. I finished it faster than most books I read because I couldn't wait to see what happened next. The action was really exciting too, and visual. I still remember what everything looked like, so clear it is almost like a memory. But then my imagination is probably the most exercised muscle in my body ;)
It is at points charming, laugh-out-loud funny, exciting and heart-wrenchingly emotional. Yep, this book managed to get me to choke up and cry, too - in a couple places. Hard to do that these days, I'm such a cynic. Thing is - I'm really NOT - and my emotions can easily be teased out of me by excellent fare.
And The Summer Dragon is just that.