Erroll and Benfro are two young boys, living wiith their mothers. They don’t live far from each other and both are curious, talented and have a knack for getting themselves into trouble. But they are very different: Erroll is a human and he wants to become a fighting priest. Benfro is a dragon, the last male dragon to be born in Gwlad. And dragons are watched with suspect from humans, who used to kill them in the name of their God. Both of them are going to face the world outside their quite villages, a world full of enemies and magic.
I enjoyed the concept of this world a lot. If I’m not mistaken, it draws quite heavily from Welsh folklore and culture, of which the names are just the most visible feature. The lessons of magic presented are not much far from what I read in more than one (pagan) book myself, and that was particularly appealing and satisfying. However, I feel like the world building could’ve been done in a much more concise way. It seemed to me that many things were mentioned, but few where explained in depth. Despite it all, there are no elements missing that affect the understanding of the story, so I will call my personal taste on this one.
What really put me off and gave me a hard time going through a third of the book is the fact that the story is very slow. When you start reading it’s not a problem, as you still have to enter the world completely and there is more than one aspect of life in this fantastical world that requires an explanation: the society, the magic, the political situation and the political schemes, the religion. Progressing through the reading, however, it really slows down the reading process and the story seems to be prolonged endlessly without really nothing happening. I also found the change between story lines (that of Erroll and that of Benfro) to be too abrupt sometimes, as the scene is cut and there is a switch back and forth between the two stories.
I don’t believe the storytelling is bad, however, and I must say that I enjoyed it despite its flaws. What I think is that maybe this book serves more as a prologue to give the backstory of the two main characters in the series, instead of being the beginning of the story as one usually understands it. I’m probably going to pick up the next book – as soon as I can put my hands on it – and I’m curious to see where the story goes. Most of all I want to witness the encounter between Benfro and Erroll and the merging of the two main narrative paths of the first book.
A special mention goes to the beautiful cover of this book, which is carton-like, has a beautiful design and it’s also sparkly. One shouldn’t judge a book from its cover, but in this case it is a real work of art!