The Summer Dragon by Todd Lockwood

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“A dragon handler with her head in the clouds is cursed. Those were my mother’s last words to me.”

— Todd Lockwood, The Summer Dragon

    Illustrator Todd Lockwood has decided to jump into the story-telling business with this debut novel featuring the one thing he’ll never fail to draw magnificently: dragons. Known for his artistic talent and his artwork in The Memoirs of Lady Trent series, The Summer Dragon is his first venture in the fantasy world. This novel is marketed as a a high fantasy novel with dragons and deadly politics but I’d rectify that and say it felt a lot more like a young adult fantasy novel with dragons and a discourse on the foundation of religion. There’s nothing wrong with that, as even adults can find this debut novel engrossing, but a warning beforehand would definitely have been highly welcome! Todd Lockwood delivers a very fluid, straight-forward and easy-to-picture story that puts Maia, a young women who will do anything for what she believes is right for her aerie, in the center stage. The plot develops very smoothly and never falters, diving here and then in questions of belief and faith with a unique dragon lore/mythology to envelop Todd Lockwood’s world.

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    The story is centered around Maia and her unquenchable thirst to receive her very own dragon. The day that she can finally keep a dragon and secure a magical bond with it grows closer, but things don’t go as smoothly as she would have wished. Maia and her family live in an aerie where they raise dragons and every year they deliver their flock of baby dragons to the Dragonry in hopes of contributing to the peace through a an increase in potential dragons for wars. This year the war has reached a dangerous status and a need for dragons has become so extravagant that the hopes of Maia in keeping a dragon seem slim. Things however become a lot more complicated when Maia and her brother suddenly run into a rare, mysterious and mythical High Dragon, known as the Summer Dragon. The encounter of this majestic creature propels everyone into rumors of its meaning for Maia, her brother and everyone in the community; similar to crossing paths with a God. This event immediately integrates a political and religious facet to the story and plunges the world into a battle of interpretations. Todd Lockwood hence makes readers ponder the ability of individuals to control the future through individual actions instead of leaving it to superstitions and uncontrollable forces. The idea is sleekly introduced and never felt overwhelming, making it hard to complain about.

    The writing is beyond reproach. Todd Lockwood does a magnificent job at bringing life to his story and at delivering a vivid and tangible experience. His grasp on dragons is flawless and detailed. He goes deep into the purring, the rumbling and the growling of these creatures, you just can’t help but believe that dragons are real. He gives them a lifelike description and doesn’t ever flounder with giving them a strong and powerful presence. It’s the interaction with humans that makes them even more hypnotizing and convincing. The authors ability to play with emotions and to develop bonds between dragons and riders is impeccable. You quickly realize this when the first scenes that tackle the ability of dragons to fly is presented. This sends you feel chills and forces you to embrace with joy the experience that the characters go through. While the story unfolds at its own steady pace, a huge chunk of The Summer Dragon is focused on taking care of dragons and building the relationship between Maia and dragons, as well as Maia and her family. But you should note one thing. You will be learning a lot details about grooming and feeding dragons.

    While Maia turns out to be the center of attention in this story and gets all the development you’d want in your hero, the same could not be said about the supporting cast. Unfortunately, there’s a strong chosen one trope that hovers over this tale. It’s not a bad thing since Todd Lockwood does a wonderful job in making Maia’s adventures and discoveries entertaining, but it does deprive us from being able to thoroughly enjoy the experience. The problem that arose is that every character around Maia ended up feeling like their existence only had one purpose and that it was inevitably related to Maia. Most of the characters rarely ever had the opportunity to show more of themselves and to construct more dimensions to their personalities and motivations. Maia’s brother does fight to prove that he isn’t a cardboard cutout character, but his struggle to succeed at that colossal task was apparent and ended up reinforcing this idea that Maia is the one that causes everything and everyone else to gravitate around her. It would have been nice if the first person narration didn’t take control and that the author took more time in building the rest of the characters.

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    The Summer Dragon is an excellent full-fledged and dragon-filled debut novel. It is a surprise that Todd Lockwood has only just released his first story. I suppose that it was only a question of time when you realize that each of his drawings conveyed a story of their own. Speaking of which, even if he decided to endeavor in story-telling, he does also integrate pictures at the beginning of chapters to help visualize his story; not to say that this was even needed though. It was always refreshing to see the artwork here and then. Anyhow, even if the tale that he unleashed upon us was forthright, it never wavered in uncharted and incomprehensible territories. Withal, the best part of this book is definitely the relationship between humans and dragons. It is genuine, natural and charming. You can’t help but connect with your own emotions and feel joyous or pained for these over-sized puppies with wings. Todd Lockwood definitely masters his understanding of pet companions and the immutable bond between riders and dragons. The Summer Dragon is a wonderful debut for Todd Lockwood first outing into the writing world. But fans of fantasy novels should be warned that there’s a slightly strong hint of young adult in this dish. The adventures, the characters and the protagonist-centered story heavily contribute to that vibe and I wish they’d have marketed it with that optic.


THANK YOU TO PENGUIN RANDOM HOUSE FOR SENDING ME AN ADVANCE COPY FOR REVIEW!

Are you interested in The Summer Dragon?
How about you read this book for yourself!
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MY OVERALL RATING: ★★★☆☆/

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50 thoughts on “The Summer Dragon by Todd Lockwood

  1. Beth (Reading Every Night) says:

    This sounds like an interesting book, and even the fact that you felt this was more YA than anything is a plus for me because that’s the genre I read the most as well (which you can probably guess based on the books I review on my own blog!) 😀
    It sounds like the writing and the story were brilliant developed, it’s just a shame this didn’t extend to some of the secondary characters in this book. Still I’m glad you enjoyed this book Lashaan, and great review as well! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • Lashaan (Bookidote) says:

      Hahah it definitely is a plus for you! 😛 Honestly, I would have really enjoyed this slightly more if I knew it would feel more YA since I thought I was diving into a pretty epic and adulty story from the get go. In the end, it wasn’t so bad since it was indeed really well written and fun. 😀 I wouldn’t even mind checking out his second book when he gets around to write and publish it. 😀 Thank you so much for checking out my review and for all the kind words, Beth! 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

    • Lashaan (Bookidote) says:

      Oh man, thanks for the compliment. I actually rarely ever get feedback regarding the pictures. I just do them out of habit at this point and because I like how it looks… Although I don’t have a sophisticated camera to capture super high quality pictures to give me more freedom in editing though. Appreciate you stopping by and for the kind words though! 😉

      Liked by 1 person

        • Lashaan (Bookidote) says:

          I find pictures are great for reviews. Oh, another reason why I put pictures is to spotlight the edition that I read, since not everyone has the same edition of the book and sometimes (rarely) the edition can also play on your reading experience! You should definitely try it out if you feel like it. Everyone has their own style for pictures anyways hahahah 😛

          Liked by 1 person

              • fictionbookdude says:

                Ahh life. I am enjoying the TV series and am in love with the show because it’s very chilling and brilliant. I wanted to get a copy of the book but there’s not a single shop to buy it from – it’s all sold out. I might borrow it from the library and read it (hopefully they’ll have it). I also might wait for your review (which will likely happen) and then read it. 😀

                Liked by 1 person

                    • fictionbookdude says:

                      Definitely agree! Even though I never read any of his works but watched a few adaptations of his books 😀 This one just sounds so good 😀 Okay, no more spamming the comment section haha 😀

                      Liked by 1 person

                    • Lashaan (Bookidote) says:

                      Hahaha don’t worry about the comment section! 😛 It’s made for discussions, even if they’re massively off topic! 😀 😀 I haven’t ready anything by him too, except the first book in the Dark Tower series (The Gunslinger) which I really enjoyed and can’t wait to continue. It’s not even a horror story too. Talk about a first experience of Stephen King’s work hahah I do want to go through more of his books though. They all sound amazing.

                      Liked by 1 person

                    • fictionbookdude says:

                      Haha true that! This new one just speaks to me somehow, it’s so intriguing to me because it’s controversial and I have no idea if they will do it right. I’m not usually a scifi/horror/dystopia genre reader..

                      Liked by 1 person

  2. Books, Vertigo and Tea says:

    Being a fan of dragons, I actually would not mind some grooming tips for when I finally obtain one of my own 😉 This book looks magnificent! I have to admit though, I would struggle a bit if I went in not knowing it would read more like YA. Did this alter your experience in any way?

    Liked by 2 people

    • Lashaan (Bookidote) says:

      Hahaha I really liked the dragons in this. The whole grooming, feeding, taking care of them spread throughout the book wasn’t so bad, but if people are looking for dragon vs. dragon bloody in-the-air battles, this won’t be enough to satisfy their cravings. 😛 This is definitely a fun read, but I feel like if people knew that its not that dark or complicated, much more YA-esque, they’ll enjoy it even more. As you might have noticed, I’m trying to satisfy my craving for epic adult fantasy stories and I really thought this debut novel might go on that list. Unfortunately, it felt more like a trap, but not a trap that tortured me. More like something I didn’t exactly want for right now (wanted something bigger, darker, a bit more adulty?). Still a fantasy debut novel that people should give a shot if curious enough though! 😀

      Liked by 1 person

      • Books, Vertigo and Tea says:

        Yeah, I have had a few titles pull that little trick 😉 What sort of epic fantasy are you currently craving? Are you wanting something darker or a series? Have you continued on with the Gentleman Bastard series by any chance. I picked up the second book on deal with Kindle. I also have Glen Cook’s Black Company here to finish. It is a fun, old school sort of read that it pretty straight forward 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

        • Lashaan (Bookidote) says:

          I plan on continuing the Gentleman Bastard series during the summer, with more time in my hands (hopefully)! 😀 I was hoping to finish the series before the release of the next book in September (might be highly ambitious with all the other books I also want to read during the Summer). I also have Black Company (got that because of y’all too hahahah). Does Black Company have dragons though? :O

          Liked by 1 person

  3. theorangutanlibrarian says:

    Oh wow those illustrations look amazing!! I do love dragon stories- they’re actually my favourite mythical creature- but that always makes me so exacting of the books about them *sighs*. It’s a shame this had such a strong chosen one vibe, cos I find that so off-putting at the moment- but if I’m looking for a bit of a fun YA fantasy, I’ll check this out- awesome review!
    Also, off topic, but I’ve had a chance to watch a couple more Legion episodes and it has such a cool “what is real” vibe going on- I love it!!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Lashaan (Bookidote) says:

      The illustrations are pretty sick, they contextualize and sharpens your imagination regarding the events that unfold. I also just like seeing the dragons he draws. 😛 I have to say that I want to read more stories with dragons cause they’re just freaking amazing. This was probably my “first” dragon-filled story and it turned out to be a.. well.. as you say.. a fun YA fantasy! 😀 It has me super excited to see what other dragon stories are out there that are worth checking out (recs by any chance?).

      I knowwwww oh my god. I love that vibe, and it just gets even more surreal when it plunges deeper into the mind. There’s a pretty strong psychoanalysis angle to the whole show, while controversial in some ideas, the show sure knows how to make the best of it! 😛

      Liked by 1 person

      • theorangutanlibrarian says:

        Yeah I love that style 🙂 Cool!! 😀 haha unfortunately for me, I’m so fussy that I pretty much only like Smaug 😉 Oh and Pratchett of course. And I like the sort-of-but-not-really dragonish creatures in Neverending Story. Other than that my brain just fills up with books to avoid 😉
        Ahh that’s so cool. Yeah I really like that vibe, though I can see why some things would be controversial, but I agree!

        Liked by 1 person

  4. Zezee says:

    “it felt a lot more like a young adult fantasy novel with dragons and a discourse on the foundation of religion.” <<– I'M SOLD
    And I love a chosen one trope sooo SOLD there too!! And Dragons??!! WHATT!! All me man!
    I'm mad curious to read it.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. yaykisspurr says:

    Hmmm… great review, I can see why you gave it three stars despite feeling it well written. I love dragon books especially when a character binds with one… I detest politics and religion bashing though… I’m really split here, lol! What an odd combination to have a heavily YA vibe yet pair it with such heavily adult subjects. The pictures in the beginning of the chapters sounds really awesome…. I find expectations play a huge part in how I feel about a book in the end.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Lashaan (Bookidote) says:

      Oh thank you so much. It’s a hard sell indeed. It doesn’t exactly bash politics or religion, but it does want to make us ponder the big ideas that usually come with politics and religion (i.e. taking big decisions for bigger causes or questioning what faith really is), all in the a dragon lore. Having a young adult as a protagonist gave the author the opportunity to make her question all these bigger things through an “innocent” point of view. It’s why the book isn’t so bad for an adult audience. It just has more YA to it, in my opinion. I totally agree about expectations though. It’s one of the reasons why I was only able to give it 3 stars. I came into this book thinking it would feel bigger, deadlier, more adult-y and much more epic, but was given something else instead. It’s still a nice and fun read, and anyone curious about it should give it a shot. Definitely a nice debut novel for Todd Lockwood. 😀 Thank you again for reading! 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Sophie @ Blame Chocolate says:

    Oh I’m so adding this one to my TBR! This sounds exceedingly awesome, with the exception of the chosen one trope and lack of development with side characters. But, I mean, dragons, a great storyline *and* an amazing heroine? I’m in!
    Thank you so much for the rec, Lashaan! And lovely review, as always 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • Lashaan (Bookidote) says:

      Hahahha I’m glad to hear your interest in this! It’s a really nice debut novel by Todd Lockwood too. But man… dragons? That’s definitely the selling point here. 😀 😀 Hope you enjoy it whenever you get the chance to read it! 😉 And thank you for your kind words!!!

      Liked by 1 person

      • Sophie @ Blame Chocolate says:

        Yes, I was totally sold on the dragons part! I mean, you made it sound so amazing, like a mature How to Train Your Dragon, which I’m absolutely into hahaha (I still see the dragons as gigantic, scaly cats – or puppies – to this day)
        Thank you, I hope so too! ^^ And you’re very welcome, they’re all true 😛

        Liked by 1 person

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