Darkness of Dragons

September 13, 2017

Review by Marietta.

Wings of Fire #10. Author: Tui. T. Sutherland.


Qibli knows Darkstalker must be stopped. And he knows he could stop him — if he had magic. With even a sliver of the ancient dragon’s all-powerful scroll, Qibli could rewrite history the right way: end war forever; make every dragon happy; perhaps even cast a very small spell so that everyone would like him . . .

Instead, as Darkstalker’s dangerous influence spreads across Pyrrhia, entrancing or killing every dragon in the seven tribes, Qibli can only grasp the small animus objects he’s borrowed from Turtle. With some clever thinking, Qibli’s talons finally hold the power to make a difference.

But prophecies are not easy to rewrite. Can Qibli be the magical force Pyrrhia needs, or will he be the one to bring Jade Mountain — and his family, his friends, his whole world — crashing down?

(Published Summary)

My Thoughts:

2.5 stars which I rounded up after a fierce deliberation.

I’m so sick of being disappointed by books that I’ve really looked forward to.
In general it wasn’t so bad – I would have liked a more epic ending, and maybe a little bit less of the whole flying-across-the-continent-without-a-definite-plan thing, but it really wasn’t so bad…. until these lines came along:

“Ha!” Winter barked. “Indeed! Ha ha ha! Don’t believe a word he says! I can’t stand him!”
“We’ll probably end up married one day.” Qibli said.
That one shocked me. For a second I didn’t believe it was actually there, that someone (Qibli, no less) had actually said that. But then there was a short conversation about how that might be good for clan relations, an IceWing prince marrying a SandWing soldier.

But maybe I could have forgiven that (maybe). Until we have Kinkajou (!!) describing Anemone’s crush on Tamarin as “adorable”.

*clears throat*
I’m not going to argue or lecture about the moral side of this whole thing – there are better people than me on both sides of the ‘gay’ conflict. (Just so everyone knows, I’m Catholic and I oppose gay relationships for moral reasons, but that’s beside the point.) I’m not going to get into that. Instead, I’m going to prove what a terrible marketing and writing decision it was for Tui Sutherland to put those lines in her book.

Firstly, the marketing side. I assume she put the lines in either because she herself supports gay relationships, or because she thought it would increase her popularity following. If she supports it then that’s another thing entirely.
But if she thought it would increase the popularity of Wings of Fire? Simple logic will tell you that’s not the case! Maybe half of her fans will be delighted that she’s chosen a side, and that her characters have started mentioning this kind of thing, but that still leaves the other half who’s now put down the book and stalked away in disgust! Before, she had 100% of her fans loving the series wholeheartedly – now she has about 50%. And last time I checked, we were going for a greater percentage of fans, not a lesser percentage.
And did she really have to put it in? Everyone, everywhere, is fighting about this all the time -can we please keep it out of the middle-grade dragon fantasy series? Is that too much to ask? What kind of escape is that, when you dive into a book to get away from all the fights and turmoil, and then run right into them?

Secondly, it was an absolutely terrible writing choice. Maybe if she’d built up to this revelation. Maybe if ‘gay rights’ had been an ongoing struggle in the dragon tribes, and this was a final decision. Maybe if it had simply been a part of dragon culture from the beginning. (I wouldn’t have been reading it, but it would have made more sense.)
But adding it in now? That just show’s that Tui Sutherland’s writing is being heavily influenced by current pop culture! And that’s the opposite of good worldbuilding and good writing! It’s like Qibli suddenly starting to wear skinny jeans with rips in them, or Winter having a fondness for One Direction! It’s absolutely ridiculous and unlike anything that we’ve been taught about these characters! If she’d planned from the very beginning to put this aspect of our culture into the world of the dragon tribes, then it would make sense and maybe she’d be able to state her opinions on this subject in a subtle-yet-forceful way as so many writers have done on so many different topics through the centuries.
But putting it in now? That’s just bad writing.

Content Review:

Sexual Content: Some attraction between young dragons.

Language: None.

Violence: Dragonet thrown into walls, bullied. Dragon’s tail cut off. Dragon wearing tattoos which indicate the number of dragons he’s killed. 5 dragons killed with flying metal devices/disks. Numerous fire-bombs blown off. One battle between two dragon clans, in which numerous dragons are killed.

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