Putnam. (Aurelian Cycle: Bk. 1). Oct. 2019. 448p. Tr $18.99. ISBN 9780525518211.
Gr 7 Up–Nine years ago, First Protector Atreus led the poor of Callipolis in a bloody revolution, overthrowing the aristocracy and slaughtering the dragonborn rulers and their families. What followed was to be a new regime in which one’s place in society would be based on merit rather than noble birth. However, in the chaos of the revolution, one dragonborn heir was spared and soon forgotten in an orphanage: Leon Stormscourge’s son, Leo. There Leo, known now as “Lee,” bonds with fellow orphan Antigone over their shared grief and the need to survive. What Lee cannot bring himself to confess to Annie is that his father was the one who murdered her family. Soon the two find an escape from the orphanage as trainee dragonrider guardians of Callipolis. But after years of training together, trust and loyalties shift as they find themselves vying for the same position of power and are further strained when Lee’s exiled cousin reappears and asks him for help reclaiming their birthright. Thought-provoking and full of social and political intrigue, this book is a pleasure to read. The author deftly interweaves the stories of Annie and Lee through flashbacks and contrasting inner monologue, demonstrating the complexities of their friendship, their growing rivalry, and the bitter secrets that threaten to tear them apart forever. Readers should find Annie an especially satisfying heroine as she fiercely refuses to give in to the prejudices stacked against her gender and lowborn heritage.
VERDICT Recommended for both teens and adults who enjoy a mentally stimulating novel and for those who wish to lose themselves in a world full of dragons.

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