Fledgling by Nicole Conway
Fledgling by Nicole Conway, the first book of the Dragonrider Chronicles, is a book that swarms with clichés. That is not in itself a bad thing, but the story doesn’t elevate this book to a level where the reader could enjoy the tropes, or feel like the author uses the tropes in a new and unique way. This overuse of common clichés makes the book feel like a chimera of already read books instead of a new book in its own rights.
Interesting is that you can read the story to about halfway into the book in the blurb already. And let me tell you, there is not much you miss that’s not already mentioned in the blurb. The beginning starts with the half human half elven Jaevid Broadfeather and his oh-so-horrible life. Because of his mixed heritage, everyone hates him, and when his mother dies, he’s carted off to his father. His father and his new family hate him too and his step siblings torment him. He follows his father to the Blybrig Academy, where the craftsman is a sought after artisan. The academy trains dragonriders, but someone like Jaevid has no chance to ever get in. Normally, at least. The boy can somehow communicate with animals (a gift that is only in its infancy even at the end of the book and emerges whenever danger looms) and he bonds with the captive wild dragon that no one else could ride. What follows is a cut short training sequence with only the bare tropes (like everyone hates him for his heritage, but he does find a friend in the end), and not much about the actual training. Or actual character development. Did I mention that he becomes really good at riding his dragon near instantly? The rest of the story seems awfully far-fetched and some foreshadowing in the early parts could have done wonders to prepare the reader for the strange turns of the book’s storyline.
The problem of this story is not that it is riddled with tropes, but rather that there is neither development nor anything except the barest minimum of necessity. The book jumps from one things to the next without ever taking time to stay with something. This means the reader can’t develop any kind of relationship to anyone. That the book is in First Person doesn’t help, but rather hinders the reader. First person is very close to a protagonist, but it hampers the immersion if the protagonist feels very bland. The other characters are even less interesting. That introduces another big problem, and that is a lack of tension. You don’t fear for anyone, and you know from the start that you don’t need to anyway. And until the very end of the book, there is no sight of an antagonist or even of an agenda of the protagonist. He kinda just lives his life, and that’s not that interesting. You don’t even have to feel sorry for the protagonist, because the problems his heritage introduces are slapped on so heavy it feels forced.
While reading this book, all these things were not my main concern, but rather the feeling of regret I had. This book could have been very interesting. If the author had taken time to tell the story instead of rushing it, if she’d taken the time to develop the characters, the world, and the story, this would have been a much more enjoyable read. This book is a good example to everyone that thinks editors aren’t needed; not only would a proofread have done wonders for the many errors, a content edit could have eliminated many of the problems I saw with the story.
At the moment the book is not available anymore. I hope that the author has taken it down to rewrite it and wish her success with it, but I cannot recommend this book in the state it is at the moment.