by S. Kaeth.
Fantasy tales and dragons go hand-in-hand just like dragons and dragon riders, and Windward by S. Kaeth is a wonderful fantasy tale which delves deep into the relationships between dragons and their bonded humans.
In this world, dragons and humans coexist in an almost symbiotic way. Both benefit from a mutual relationship – the dragon finds a companion in their human friend, and the human gets to ride on a freakin’ dragon – but this relationship comes with some caveats. For one, humans have to give up their old way of life, including their family, their village, and actually go live with the dragons in their nest. And for two, the bond between human and dragon means that the humans must adapt to life among the mountains and skies by slowly becoming part-dragon themselves, down to their instinctive reactions and the irrational desire to collect and hoard shiny objects.
Living in a community of massive dragons does not sound easy, and actions which affect one dragon affect the whole nest. Palon is the dragon rider of Windward and star of the show, and she’s been lumbered with apprenticing a new dragonbonded who has decided they definitely don’t want this cool dragon life. Unfortunately, none of them have a choice. Palon’s rebellious new apprentice is the least of her problems, however, as she is accused of stealing from the dragon’s cache of shiny trinkets. As the humans and dragons fight amongst themselves, can Palon clear her name whilst keeping her apprentice out of trouble?
What I’ll whine about:
The story was a little predictable for me as I could see where the ending was going – I’d say the story was less about figuring out who set Palon up, and more wanting to see justice done and the bad guy punished. At times, I was frustrated at certain characters being stubborn! But that’s dragons and dragonbonded for you.
I’d also love to see more about the outside world which is hinted throughout but not really shown, if only to see how the rest of humanity feels about the various dragon clans. Though I believe the human clans are explored in S. Kaeth’s other series set in the same world; Children of the Nexus.
What I’ll gush about:
I loved that this book explored the relationships and dynamics between humans and dragons and what it means to be a very squishy human living amongst very massive stomping dragons. In so many dragon stories I’ve read, the dragons usually take a background role for the human riders, which Windward avoids.
It’s especially interesting to see how the humans manage their human side against their more draconic side, and to see how these changes affected Palon’s younger apprentice. Whilst there is some action and chase scenes in Windward, the focus spends time on these character relationships and the shifting line between human and dragon politics.
If you’re looking for a unique take on dragon stories, which is less about dragons battling and more about dragon culture, then give Windward a look!