To Shape a Dragon’s Breath, by Moniquill Blackgoose

Thanks to NetGalley and Random House Publishing Group – Ballantine, Del Rey for providing a galley copy of this book

In this fantasy world, the Anglish have overtaken the lands of an indigenous people, and are bent on either exterminating or civilizing them (depending on political party). Anequs is an indigenous girl who lives peacefully on her island – isolated from the Anglish. Then she sees a dragon lay, and abandon, an egg. She brings the egg back to her village, where it hatches. The hatchling chooses Anequs as its person.

Anequs is pressured into going to a school for dragoneers run by the Anglish. There, she learns to shape her dragon’s breath, but has to deal with racism and culture shock.

This was a fantastic first book. The story was typical of the school-for-magic sub-genre, but is really impactful in its depiction of how indigenous peoples were/are treated when entering “civilized” culture. Instead of being a super special someone, Anequs is just an average indigenous girl, struggling to find her way amid the politics of a foreign culture.

I felt that there were some improvements that could have been made – things that will likely correct themselves as the author becomes more seasoned. For one, she spends too many words describing the intricacies of the science/magic she has developed. It is beautifully organized and inventive, but uses a lot of words that are not English, and therefore make some heavy reading.

However, I really loved this book despite that shortfalling. It was creative, fun, and culturally sensitive / informative. I appreciated the characterization. It is also an LGBTQ+-friendly book on top of all that. I am certainly going to watch out for the next book in the series.

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