Rise of the Earth Dragon

by Tracey West
Series: Dragon Masters 1
Reviewed date: 2017 Nov 19
90 pages
Book 1 of the Dragon Masters series
cover art

Eight-year-old Drake is digging up onions in the family farm when King Roland's soldiers come for him. He's whisked off to the castle where Griffith, the King's wizard, gives Drake a Dragon Stone. "This Dragon Stone told me you have the heart of a dragon," Griffith tells Drake. "And those with the heart of a dragon become Dragon Masters for King Roland."

Griffith explains that the dragon stone will help Drake connect with his dragon. His dragon? Yes, he is assigned his very own dragon: a long, brown, snake-like creature with dull scales and green eyes. It's an earth dragon, and looks rather like a large worm. Drake names him Worm.

There are other dragon masters, also young children, and they've been doing this much longer than Drake. Ani trains her Sun Dragon, Kepri. Bo has his water dragon Shu, and Rori trains her fire dragon Vulcan. Griffith takes everyone and their dragons to the Training Room for target practice. The others show off what they can do with their dragons--Vulcan shoots two streams of fire from his nose and hits the bullseye, setting the target aflame. Shu aims a waterjet at the same bullseye and puts out the fire. Kepri shoots a beam of light and creates a rainbow. Drake tries to get Worm to do something, but he can't even figure out how to communicate with Worm. He's discouraged. "I'm only an onion farmer. I don't belong here," he thinks.

Drake meets King Roland, who is gruff and mysterious. Drake doesn't see it yet, but King Roland is clearly a bad guy. Kidnapping young boys and forcing them to train dangerous dragons is a strike against him, for one. And as Drake learns to communicate with Worm, he learns that Worm, too, has been kidnapped by King Roland. "Maybe he isn't such a good king after all," Drake thinks.

One night, the kids decide to sneak out of the castle with their dragons for some fun. They slip past the snoozing guard and enter the tunnel that leads out of the dragons' cave. But a strange red glowing orb meets them in the tunnel. It's magic. "But it is not Griffith's magic," says Bo. "It feels... scary." The orb triggers a cave-in, and the tunnel collapses, trapping them underground. Water, Sun, and Fire dragons can't help. But Worm rises to the occasion. The earth dragon concentrates on the rock, using the power of his mind to turn the stone into dust. Everyone is saved.

Later, Griffith is very interested to hear that the children encountered a red ball of light. "This is serious," he says. "Danger may be headed our way."

But for the rest of the story, we must read the sequels. This book just sets up the story that will be continued through at least nine more books.

We still don't know why King Roland wants trained dragons in his service (presumably for military purposes) or why only certain special children have the Dragon Master talent. We don't know if King Roland will turn out good or bad (I'm guessing bad.)

Overall, the book is rather thin on plot and characterization. The writing is simplistic. It compares poorly to the Secret Rescuers series, but my son still enjoys it. It's aimed at a second grade reading level, so it's not surprising a second grade boy enjoys it.

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