Title: House of Dragons
Author: Jessica Cluess
Publisher: Penguin Random House
Published: 16th June 2020
Synopsis: Five royal houses will hear the call to compete in the Trial for the dragon throne. A liar, a soldier, a servant, a thief, and a murderer will answer it. Who will win? Think THREE DARK CROWNS meets THE BREAKFAST CLUB with DRAGONS.
When the Emperor dies, the five royal houses of Etrusia attend the Call, where one of their own will be selected to compete for the throne. It is always the oldest child, the one who has been preparing for years to compete in the Trial. But this year is different. This year these five outcasts will answer the call….
THE LIAR: Emilia must hide her dark magic or be put to death.
THE SOLDIER: Lucian is a warrior who has sworn to never lift a sword again.
THE SERVANT: Vespir is a dragon trainer whose skills alone will keep her in the game.
THE THIEF: Ajax knows that nothing is free—he must take what he wants.
THE MURDERER: Hyperia was born to rule and will stop at nothing to take her throne.
Etrusia is in turmoil following the death of the Emperor, and the five royal houses have come to the Games to find out who will take over. Each family has had a child selected to take part in the trials. Yet this time, the five are not the ones expected.
Emilia, whose dark magic has caused chaos and havoc, is forced to hide this from everyone lest she be killed immediately. Lucian is a soldier, whose past has forced him to loathe fighting. Vespir is a servant from one of the houses, a dragon trainer. Ajax is a thief and is prepared to steal what he needs to reach his goal. Finally, Hyperia is determined to do whatever it takes to win.
Each is not the destined competitor, yet they’ve been chosen somehow. Now they must compete to see who takes the throne … and to determine who survives.
House of Dragons has a sense of antiquity and mythology about it. There are echoes of Ancient Greece and Ancient Rome, but with dragons. The challenge felt a little bit like the Hunger Games, but on a different, more concentrated and calculated level. It wasn’t a free-for-all; each challenge was destined to speak to the strengths and weaknesses of the competitors. The short, choppy chapters made the action move along swiftly, and ensures the reader stays engaged in the action.
As the challenge moves along, the competitors get to know each other, and form a bond that sees most of them wanting something better, something different. They don’t want to play the games anymore and find a new way to do things. But can they, and can they change things for the better?
A high-stakes, fast-paced novel about a kingdom seeking a ruler to see them through a new and different time, and about unity in diversity, and the power that comes with working as a team rather than having one person having all the power. Young adult and fantasy readers will find this exciting and engaging to read.