War is breaking out in the draconic lands. For the first time in many generations humans have invaded. With their advanced weaponry, the forty-two dragon clans are going to have to put aside their differences and work together to survive. If they can retrieve the stolen Axinstone – a powerful magical talisman – from the humans they may manage it.
Haeraig Anzig is chosen to lead the expedition, and several clans offer dragons to undertake it with him. Though he has been leading his own clan since his father left to battle in the south, he is not confident that he can keep his small group under control. Keeping different clans in line will be difficult enough without expecting them to follow the visions of a seer that no one else trusts.
Dragon books are not something that I’ve read much of. Don’t get me wrong, I love dragons, I just haven’t gotten around to that section of the fantasy genre yet. Despite not knowing much of the genre, it’s easy to deduce that Coates’s dragons are quite different to the norm. They’re small, for one. More the size of a dog than a mini-van. Like most reptiles, they need sunlight to heat up and are lethargic without it. The different dragon clans are also interesting, with some built for fighting, some for magic and others for tough terrain. The thought and effort Coates has put into how the dragons function goes a long way to making the world-building work.
Having the story told from three different first person perspectives is probably the most jarring aspect of the novel. The voices are not distinctive enough to be able to identify the sections by tone alone, so I was regularly flicking back pages to remind myself who I was reading.
Information trickles rather than flows into Axinstone. As the story is told from the perspective of the dragons, it’s hard to tell what stage humans are at technologically. As the novel progresses, it becomes clear that this isn’t the traditional medieval dragon novel that we might have been expecting. Assumptions are often wrong in Axinstone, and it’s a lot of fun to see where Coates turns dragon lore tradition on its head.
Axinstone is a great transitional novel for teens who are moving into high fantasy. It has a lot of those trade-marks; epic quests, political intrigue and magical artefacts, but is accessible and a little simpler.
Axinstone – J.F.R. Coates
Jaffa Books (December 19, 2013)