The Color of Dragons

HarperTeen. Oct. 2021. 416p. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9780062915665.
Gr 8 Up–Maggie is nothing more than a magician’s assistant until the day she stumbles across a dragon and is drawn into its magic. King Umbert’s soldiers have captured the creature and are taking it to the Walled City, where Sir Griffin, the King’s champion, will face it in the final battle of this year’s tournament. The King is desperate to find and control a source of magic that will fulfill prophecy; Maggie and her adoptive father soon learn that they had better succeed in demonstrating their magical ability, or it will be their last failure. Maggie, haunted by thoughts of the captive dragon, convinces Griffin to take her to its keep; there, more of her innate magical ability is revealed, along with flashes of the backstory that ties her to the creature. Time is running short…will she come into her full power in time to save herself, her romance with Griffin, and the dragon? The story is filled with action, violence, and romance, although the worldbuilding is sketchy; the Walled City would be an interesting construct if more time were spent on it, but as it is, the city and indeed the entire country could be any generic medieval fiefdom. Although the ending is rushed to make this into a stand-alone novel, avid readers of dragon-themed fantasy will enjoy the plot-driven adventure and may not care that the characters are fairly standard-issue types.
VERDICT Buy where fantasy stories about dragons are popular. For those short on budget money, however, Cinda Williams Chima’s “Shattered Realms” novels are a better purchase.

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