Tagged: pip

The Onyx Dragon by Marc Secchia

the-onyx-dragon-by-marc-secchia

(Cover picture courtesy of Goodreads.)

The battle is won, but the war has just begun. Evil stalks the Island-World as the Marshal of Herimor and his Dragon-slaying hordes put nation after nation to the sword. The haunting cry of the Nurguz summons all Dragonkind to their doom. None can resist.

But Marshal Re’akka and his all-conquering Dragon Assassins are not the only trouble on the horizon. For there is a new Dragoness finding her wings, and she will stop at nothing to protect her loved ones. She is Pip the Pygmy Dragon, jungle-born, survivor of seven years in a zoo. She dreamed of being Human. She is more. Much more.

Now, Dragon wings darken the dawn. Diminutive. Sassy. Full of fire and great heart. As Pip and her friends chart a perilous path in search of the secrets of her heritage, they will find a power of old reborn in the smallest of Dragons.

One will stand against evil.

She is Onyx, mighty of paw and deed. She is the laughter of starlight, and she will never allow evil to prevail. Let Dragons thunder! Let the battle commence!

[Full disclosure: I received a free ebook from the author in exchange for an honest review.]

After the end of The Pygmy Dragon, Pip was nearly assassinated and the man who was her enemy, Silver, confessed he’s attracted to her. I honestly didn’t think The Onyx Dragon could end on a bigger cliffhanger than that, but it does. But truly, the cliffhanger is just representative of the entire novel: it’s a rollercoaster. And it’s not just a rollercoaster in terms of plot; it’s definitely an emotional rollercoaster as well.

Pip is a great character and here in this second book we see a lot of the good characteristics that led her to succeed in the first book: determination, honesty, loyalty and, most of all, her fierce love for her friends. She really will do anything to protect them and that’s demonstrated in quite spectacular fashion in The Onyx Dragon. I can’t really go too much into plot details without spoiling so many of the twists but let’s just say that the ending was both jaw-dropping but very much in character. One of the parts of the book I liked the most in terms of character development, however, was when Pip had to go find Pygmies near her home island in order to uncover some ancient lore pertaining to her words of power.

Of course, like with the rest of Marc Secchia’s books, the secondary characters are very well developed as well. I’m a huge fan of Silver because I like the whole ‘tortured turncoat’ trope when the turncoat in question goes over to the good side. Although he’s gone over to the good side, Silver still keeps his cards close to his chest and when some secrets he didn’t tell are revealed, his relationship with Pip is tested almost to the breaking point. Speaking of characters, it was also nice to see a young Nak and Oyda and how their relationship progressed because by the time we get to Aranya, they’re already an old couple.

If you loved The Pygmy Dragon, you will adore this sequel. It’s fast-paced, filled with plot twists and great character development and the ending is incredibly emotional. You’re going to need some tissues nearby when you read it, trust me. Honestly, you can’t ask for a better sequel than this. Although Pip’s story seems to be over for now, the choices she makes in this book will definitely play a huge role one hundred and fifty years later in the third book in The Shapeshifter Dragon series, Song of the Storm Dragon. I can’t wait to find out what happens!

I give this book 5/5 stars.

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The Pygmy Dragon by Marc Secchia

The Pygmy Dragon by Marc Secchia(Cover picture courtesy of Goodreads.)

Yesterday, a Dragon kidnapped me from my cage in a zoo.

Stolen from her jungle home and sold to a zookeeper, Pip knows only a world behind bars, a world in which a Pygmy warrior and her giant ape friends are a zoo attraction. She dreams of being Human. She dreams of escaping to the world outside her cage.

Then, the Dragon Zardon kidnaps her into a new life. Pip rides Dragonback across the Island-World to her new school – a school inside a volcano. A school where Humans learn to be Dragon Riders. But this is only a foretaste of her magical destiny, for the Dragon Assassins are coming. They have floated an Island across the Rift and their aim is nothing less than the massacre of all Dragons.

Now, the courage of the smallest will be tested to the utmost. For Pip is the Pygmy Dragon, and this is her tale.

[Full disclosure: I received a free ebook from the author in exchange for an honest review.]

I have to say that I fell in love with Marc Secchia’s writing just a few pages into the first book of The Shapeshifter Dragons series, Aranya.  So when he took me up on my open submission announcement, I was so excited to begin the spin-off series, Shapeshifter Dragon legends.  In Aranya we heard passing tales of a pygmy dragon while Aranya was learning about dragon lore in general, but the story of that singular occurrence was never fully fleshed out.  In The Pygmy Dragon, we get to see the Island World several decades before Aranya’s birth, when dragons roamed free and shapeshifters were respected.

Into this totally alien world to the readers of the original series is Pip, a Pygmy girl taken from her home island at a very young age to be placed in a zoo with dangerous apes that she eventually befriends.  The squalid conditions, the dehumanizing behaviour of the ‘people’ that come to the zoo to see her are all horrific and Marc Secchia shows that horror without belabouring the point.  We get a very, very clear picture of her suffering and desperation until a regular person begins to talk to her to learn about the Pygmy culture.  He treats her like a real human being and they learn from each other until the dragon Zardon whisks Pip away to a new life as a dragon rider.

You really can’t help but cheer for Pip the whole way through.  From her horrible treatment in the zoo to the bullying and tormenting she finds at the Dragon Rider Academy, you’d have to have a heart of ice not to feel for her.  Despite everything, she works so hard to prove herself every bit her fellow students’ equal and in some ways, surpasses many of them.  It’s there at the Academy where she discovers a secret that she never expected she had: she’s a Shapeshifter Dragon.  A Pygmy Dragon to be exact.  And because of her hidden power, she’s now flying around with a giant target on her back.  All of the dragons are as a war begins to brew between the different factions.

As always, Marc Secchia’s world-building is second to none.  The Pygmy Dragon can absolutely be read as a stand-alone novel, but for those of us that read Aranya before reading the spin-off series, it expands upon what we’ve learned.  We even meet some of Aranya’s friends, the unrepentantly lecherous Nak and the love of his life, Oyda.  I love how Marc Secchia finally let us see the mysterious gigantic original dragons that created all of the regular dragons.  And how he gave Pip the special power that would make her a legend.  I don’t want to give too much away, so I can’t gush as much as I would like, but needless to say you won’t find any better world-building out there in YA right now.

He also includes some pretty powerful themes without beating his readers over the head with a stick.  The theme of freedom is so central to the whole story and it makes you really appreciate just how good you really have it.  No matter how bad your life gets, you’ve never been locked up in a zoo, treated like an animal and forced to befriend animals that were once your natural enemies.  There’s also a theme of redemption throughout the novel.  Not everyone who appears to be evil is and sometimes truly bad people can be redeemed.  The little subplot with the Silver Dragon Pip meets is just one such example of that.

Marc Secchia has a beautiful writing style.  He’s able to write highly emotional scenes without getting too sappy and he can describe things beautifully without going overboard.  His descriptions of the dragons and the flourishing dragon culture at the Academy made me both happy and sad because so much of that is lost by Aranya’s time.  His characters are so vividly sketched out that you expect them to just come up and walk off the pages.  And the amount of thought he put into dragon anatomy and the descriptions of their powers, language and emotions is just amazing.

Basically, if you’re going to read any book about dragons, read The Pygmy Dragon.  I seriously can’t recommend it enough.

I give this book 5/5 stars.

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