Dragon Outcast: The Age of Fire (Book Three)
by E.E. Knight
Cover Artist: Paul Youll
Review by Paul Haggerty
Roc Paperback ISBN/ITEM#: 9780451461858
Date: 04 December 2007 List Price $14.00 Amazon US / Amazon UK / Show Official Info /
There were four surviving hatchlings from the last clutch of AuRel and Irelia. Unfortunately, two of them were males, and per the laws of dragons, only one would be accepted. Although the copper dragon and his gray brother teamed up to defeat and kill their other brother, when it was over, the copper was maimed and driven away, leaving only the gray dragon as champion. And in the darkness and shadow the copper lurked, waiting for his chance at revenge. And when at last it came, the copper was the betrayed as much as the betrayer. And so, crippled and bereft of family, the copper was forced to slip deeper into the underworld.
Dragon Outcast is the third novel in the Age of Fire series. It also features the third and final surviving member of the dragon's family. Painted as unrepentant villain by his brother Auron in Dragon Champion, and despised, even while begging for forgiveness and understanding, by his sister Wistala in Dragon Avenger, the copper dragon (deliberately unnamed by his parents) proves to be a bit more complicated that his siblings supposed.
All events are colored by their viewers, and the slaughter of the dragon family is no different. While the copper is by no means innocent, his participation takes on a whole different meaning once seen through his eyes and colored by events unknown in the first two books. Now no longer the vile betrayer in the eyes of the reader, the copper outcast becomes, after the fact, a victim of his own desires, and is forced to try and eke out an existence with nothing but what nature gave him. And despite being a dragon, which most people would think is a pretty good starting point, the copper is crippled, still very tiny, bereft of the teachings of his parents, and dependent on the mercy of creatures that have no mercy. His scales and claws are a very poor substitute.
The world of Age of Fire is not very kind to dragons. Despite their raw power, their numbers are dwindling before the onslaught of the short-lived but far more prolific races of the world. While Auron searched for answers on his own, and Wistala applied all her time and energy to avenge her family, the copper simply searches for a place to belong and a way to survive. And despite everything, the copper is possessed with basically a decent and fair outlook on life. Perhaps he repents for what he's done. Perhaps being a runt and a cripple, he's figured out that only by cooperating can the whole thrive. Whatever the reason, the copper becomes the only dragon that others can trust not to stab them in the back. And so by not seeking power and status, he gradually has them thrust upon him, much to the displeasure of others that now see him as an obstacle to their own advancement.
Following the same sequence of the first two books: hatchling, drake, and dragon, Dragon Outcast spans decades of time, miles of territory, and a host of philosophical precepts. It also puts the story into place for the three clutch mates to meet up again, having all, in a way, conquered a small part of the land, defeated their enemies, and learned a part of the wave of change that is sweeping across their species.
I must say that I'm really looking forward to the fourth book in the series, Dragon Strike, coming in December 2008, where, the author promises, the three will meet each other again.