This first book in the Dragon Speaker trilogy introduces Jacob, a young man from a small village, who is far from considering himself a hero. Jacob has a crippled leg, the result of having been trapped in his burning cabin when his village was attacked by the evil Lord Manning and his wizard Kain, an attack in which Jacob’s mother and older brother were killed, as they had some traces of magic. Jacob survived the attack, but has carefully hidden his own magical secret: that he is able to understand and communicate with birds.
One day, he becomes aware of a great upheaval among the birds around his village, and when he investigates, he finds thousands of birds being killed by the wizard. One of the dying birds appeals to Jacob as the “Chosen One,” who has the ability to speak to both birds and dragons. He asks him to stop the killing, and reveals that Kain is doing this to call out a dragon that has been in hiding. The bird reveals that Kain has killed all the male dragons, and now seeks the last dragon, to kill it and assume its powers. He appeals to Jacob to find the dragon and help it, as Jacob will be able to speak with it.
Jacob and his friend Orson set off on a quest to find the dragon, and succeed in reaching it, only to learn that it is a female dragon, and that its egg, containing the last male dragon, is being held captive by Lord Manning. Jacob promises to rescue the egg from Lord Manning, help the dragons to restore their line, and bring just rule back to the kingdom. With the help of Orson, an elf named Lia, and a mysterious healer named Aldous the boys meet while they are captives in the dungeon, Jacob succeeds in rescuing the dragon’s egg and presiding over the hatching of the last male dragon.
This fantasy series, featuring teen age heroes and high level action, should appeal to all those students who love fantasy, but struggle with the reading process. In the wake of the Harry Potter phenomenon, many fantasy novels, even those aimed at younger children, are expanding into several hundred page epics that are intimidating to a struggling reader. These slimmer books will be a perfect offering for those students who love a good sword and sorcery read, but are put off by other oversized offerings. The simplified plots and sparse background development are largely overshadowed by the non-stop action, and the characters, though minimally developed, are likeable and believable. Offer these to your students who are carrying Harry Potter or Eregon around as prop books, and they should be able to achieve some true reading success.
Recommended by Linda Lucke, Learning Center Director, Illinois, USA