Hi there! Today I’m sharing a review for a brand new LGBTQ YA fantasy adventure from Alex Powell. FAR PATROL takes us on a journey of right versus might in a land where dragons and their human companions have big troubles in a rigid society.
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About the book:
Will war tear their family and their country apart?
Ignius Lockden and their companion Kathely are ready for adventure. Joining Far Patrol was only going to be the beginning—they were right, but in all the wrong ways. Suddenly, there’s a war on the horizon and the two of them are stuck in the middle. Ignius wants to do what’s right, but it isn’t easy to tell what actions will lead to the correct ending. How is one young dragon supposed to change the course of history?
How about a little taste?
The first thing the dragon remembered seeing was the golden light right beyond the shell in front of them, flickering and lighting up tiny red and silver specks on the surface of their chamber.
It must be time, then.
They scrabbled at the curved inside of the shell, scratching away and scoring the surface. They felt the little nubs of their claws catch on the roughened inner surface. The dragon stopped, waiting to regain their strength. It was tiring work, and presently, the dragon fell asleep again.
They repeated this cycle in longer and longer increments, scratching away at the inside of their chamber. Waiting was over for them, and it was time to emerge. Sleep, wake, sleep.
Again, the light woke them, brighter this time. There were voices outside, and with some excitement, the dragon heard the voice. The one was here. It was definitely time now, and the dragon would stop at nothing to finally greet that voice.
It was a high voice, and it penetrated the shell unlike all the other voices outside. The dragon didn’t care about those ones. They needed to reach the one. Kathely.
The one. Their one.
That voice had started coming a long time since. The moon had cycled countless times, and the dragon knew it well, the voice of the one who spoke to them from outside. That one whispered things to them, told them all about life on the outside. The dragon liked these stories, and even though they couldn’t yet make complete sense of them, the outside called. Kathely was calling, right now.
The dragon rocked against the wall of their chamber, pushing as hard as they could. The shell, weakened by their earlier efforts, gave a little under their struggles. It was tiring, but Kathely was there, calling.
“Ignius, you have been Named. It is time to come forth.”
Ignius coiled their tail, lashing it against the weak spot of the shell. Then they struck again as they felt the shell fracture above them. The spikes on their tail made short work of breaking through, and once again, Ignius clawed at the shell, finding the opening. They forced it farther open, lifting their snout to the hole in the shell, taking their first deep breath of air.
They couldn’t see yet, but after a few sneezes to clear their lungs of fluid, they could smell those around them. The nearest person was Kathely, and their one smelled divine, like home.
This is the first book in an expected series, as it’s not fully resolved by the end.
Ignius is a dragon who is bonded with his Chosen human, Kathely. Both of these individuals are from the upper class of society and Kathely had talked to Ignius nearly all the days of the seven years it took them to hatch. For the past twelve years Ignius and Kathlely (now 19) were together always and trained on the daily so that Ignius could learn to read, converse and have proper court manners. They are now considered grown enough to find their own path in the world. This world is mainly ruled by upper class dragons, and their human Chosen, but it is run by the smaller middle- and lower-class dragons who maintain the backbreaking underpaid labor that keep the upper class folk in steaming baths, delicious food, and beautiful clothes. These lower-class dragons, and most of the mids, do not have human Chosen, and live in abject squalor, not that the upper class dragons much care. Ignius does not question his place in society, because he’s an upper class dragon and all of his superiors believe themselves to be superior, based on size, color, and lineage.
Ignius’ lineage is one of several in the upper class caste, and his aunt is the head of the Dragon Council that governs their land. Ignius wishes to follow his mother’s lead and be selected to Far Patrol, guardians of the borders of their land. His race of dragon is almost never selected to the North post, due to it’s extreme cold, but Ignius is proud of their placement until he experiences the bitter cold, and their first solo mission becomes a trap for themself and Kathely. Rebels from the lower class wish to raise the hue and cry of their plight, and Ignius is their first pawn in a strategic plan to gain equality.
Ignius is at first outraged, and wounded by Kathely’s frustration with the situation. They need a rescue but the Council is reluctant. It’s a daring situation, that leads Ignius and their friends into peril and punishment. Being sent back to the capital city gives Ignius an unprecedented look into the lives of the middle and lower class dragons, and their sympathies begin to waver. However, the dangerous ideas they are experiencing are nothing compared to the power play their aunt is hatching. It’s clear that politics is not Ignius’ strength, however their sense of right and wrong, their morality, is not undeveloped, and Ignius’ sure the recent political issues will lead their society into war. They want to stop it, but can they?
This was an interesting read, and I think it will be very much appreciated by fans of non-binary and ace fiction as well as lovers of high fantasy. I will admit to struggling at times with the pronoun situation, as Kathely is addressed as “they” like all the dragons were, and that was an anomaly which caused confusion for me. Also, there are SO MANY names and dragons and pairs of dragons + Chosen and names of the dragons houses and the human houses and ACK! It became really hard to keep them straight. Ignius seems to be asexual, as well as non-binary, and has underdeveloped social skills as well. They struggle to manage even the smallest of interpersonal interactions without double-thinking or consulting at least two others. The indecisiveness got a little wearing, especially as the stakes kept growing. It becomes clear that society is unraveling in ways that Ignius and their friends cannot abide, with ancient rites being adopted and cruelty on the regular. It’s time to stand for what is right, and Ignius and their friends position themselves in opposition to their families–for the first time ever. I liked Ignius, but I had not expected this story to be fully narrated by a dragon–not a dragon shifter. It was a bit of a switch for me. If you like fantasy and adventure without a romance arc this is probably a good read for you.
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About the Author:
Alex is an author of LGBTQ+ romance. They live in northern Canada where it snows six months of the year. Currently, they are pursuing a PhD in English, but that won’t stop them from writing about space vampires or cyberpunk hackers or whatever else pops into their head. Mostly a SFF writer, Alex sometimes dabbles in other genres including contemporary romance.