Tuesday, December 10, 2013

The Wings of Dragons by Josh VanBrakle - Book One of The Dragoon Saga - Cool YA, Adult Fantasy!

"When the session ended, however, all those thoughts came flooding to him at once. Slamming the mop on the floor, Iren shouted. "It's not fair! Everyone else in the whole kingdom is right-handed. Why am I the only Left?" Grasping the rock Balear had thrown at him, Iren whipped around and launched it, not bothering to aim or even care what he hit.
"In truth, he could damage little. His chamber had little adornment: a hard bed with three discarded blankets and a dresser with the few outfits he'd fished from the trash. The only object of merit was a large painting hung on the wall beside the dresser. As if guided by fate, the rock struck its frame, and the artwork clattered to the floor.
"The harsh sound yanked Iren from his temper. He knelt and retrieved both the stone and the fallen painting. They were his finest treasures. The stone, little more than a black pebble, had come from the ocean. The surf had tossed it until it had worn perfectly smooth. Years ago, one of the castle children had brought it home, but his mother had commanded him to get rid of it. Iren swiped it that night, his only possession that had ever touched the sea.
"As for the painting, while he couldn't truly claim to own it, he still considered it his. It had hung in the tower since long before he arrived, yet it apparently held such low value that no one bothered to remove it when he took up residence. Still, he could help feeling a deep attachment to it, the only thing in his room he hadn't stolen or pulled from the garbage. Iren surveyed it closely. "No harm done," he whispered with relief.
"Returning the painting to the wall, Iren stepped back and took in the splendid image: a serpentine dragon. Though unsigned, the painting's remarkable realism made the great beast almost come alive. Blue streaks and hairs off its spine accentuated its gleaming white body. Its wings stretched beyond the paintings borders, so that they appeared to extend forever to the heavens. Though its mouth opened wide in a silent roar, its expression invoked not terror but majesty. The painting's frame held a small plaque that read, "Divinion, the Holy Dragon." 

The Wings of Dragons:
Book One of The Dragoon Saga
By Josh  VanBrakle

Ok, listen up everybody! Until I read this book and started working on my review, I knew nothing about what is out there on the subject... So if you are a gamer and some names might be similar --I don't do games and have no knowledge about whether there is any correlation to the gamer sites I just found through a search for pics... My review is based solely on what Josh VanBrakle has written in Book One... It's a fun book I enjoyed reading and would recommend it to all those who love fantasy and, in particular, dragons! Pics were selected as close as possible to the descriptions of those identified...

Now there were a couple of things that I was impressed with... the left-handed differentiation of what must have been a species that looked like humans, except that they were left-handed... Seems everybody is afraid of people who are different! Geesh! This poor guy, Iren, was placed in a tower to live when he was found and taken to Haldessa as a baby. Even now, after living there all of his life, everybody shunned him except the soldier who had first found him...He had to steal food or eat from what he could find in the garbage. Stealing was the only way he could have any kind of life. He even turned to playing tricks on others to get attention, even negative, that most of us covet... But the last time, he went too far!

"As he reached the doorway out of the men's bath,
though, a shadow passed the corner of his eye.
Reflexively, he turned, watching intently, but the
only movement came from torchlight playing off
the pool's surface and the shiny tiles.
"The feast must have started already," Iren said to
the empty quad...This was great. He could sneak in
without noticing, all the better for pilfering a bite
 or pulling someone's chair out from under them...
"Iren nicked some food off the tray of a passing
servant and took up a standing position along the
back wall, searching for easy victims to prank.
The ideal candidate, of course, had to be King
"In the place of honor immediately to the king's
right sat the man of the hour: Captain Amroth
Angustion, leader of the Castle Guard...
"Amroth," the king continued, "I know of no
mightier warrior in all of Lodia, and your talents
extend off the battlefield as well. I cannot in good
conscience allow you to remain merely a captain.
No, for the first time since taking the throne, I
will formally offer to someone the position of
king's chief advisor. I offer it to you, Captain
Amroth Angustion. Do you accept?"
Amroth, the soldier who had originally saved him years ago was being honored at the Castle. If it had been anybody else--and if it didn't mean a huge meal that he wouldn't have to steal, Iren wouldn't have gone. But finally he talked himself into going, knowing that the first thing he would have to do was take a bath...

This was a fun scene to read as he shared his thoughts! Specifically, since he was shunned, everybody ran when he entered the public pool...
"The moment Iren began walking across the courtyard, the girls
stopped talking and stared at him with cold, empty eyes. Most
everyone in the castle looked at him that way, with eyes that
saw past him, a thing so contemptuous the senses rejected it...
"Undressing, Iren stifled a chuckle. He never tired of what came
next. Grabbing a towel and washcloth from the pile, he slammed
open the door facing the pool and paraded forward, grinning
broadly. As the noise, several faces turned and initially disregarded
him as just another bather, albeit a noisy one. A few seconds later,
their heads snapped in a double take as they realized the bather's
identity. Shouts filled the bath, and the furious splashing of water
as everyone rushed for the edge only added to the din. In less than
five minutes, the uproar ceased. The chamber had emptied
"Sliding into the water, Iren laughed. "How luck I am!" he shouted,
a little louder than he'd intended. "Nobody else gets to bathe in

Please note, I know this female wouldn't be in the men's bath,
but she looked soooo comfortable, I had to use! LOL
But even as the speeches were going on, Iren was looking for some type of prank to pull. Of course, Amroth was watching him while he was sneaking around, although he didn't show it! Little did Iren realize that he was playing right into Amroth's hands!

And Amroth almost was killed by announcing right then and there, in front of his world, that he was choosing Iren Saitosan and Sergeant Balear Platarch to go with him on a special, secret mission! Well, actually, he was almost killed because he spooked Iren in the midst of his prank! And, of course, the king immediately said--off with his head! No, no, LOL...that's another story...! Anyway, King Azuluu was furious and did command that he be killed but Amroth talked him out of his fury and into understanding what may be a death mission for the boy--for all of them--anyway. But something had to be done to get rid of the Quodivar!

So Iren was placed together with a trained Sergeant, who was NOT happy about it, and the three prepared to find the Quodivar. Iren had, of course, never been permitted to train with the regular soldiers, although he had sometimes watched from his tower home and tried to learn their moves. Now he was being given a sword and expected to fight enemies! The only reason Iren was going was he didn't have a choice! And he did have a debt to pay to Amroth.

About this time, readers will begin to wonder... You should! Why would a young man who had been ostracized his entire life be taken on a special secret mission? Then, it really gets strange, because the woman to whom he'd first been given when a baby, declared she was going with this group! 

Well Amaroth confessed some of his past actions, one of which was to apologize for suggesting Iren be kept in the Tower, which led to his being treated so badly. Now, he wanted Iren to be able to prove himself...and to also avenge his parents, telling them about the night they had been murdered... Hearing the word Avenge immediately caught his attention and he really started listening... Iren had one goal now--revenge!
To Iren, she probably lookedliked this--but his image of her
changed greatly by the end!

Rondel was one of my favorite characters--looking like an old hag who was constantly drunk. She had watched and kept track of Iren since he had been moved into the Tower. So, upon hearing the news, she had immediately packed and prepared to go with them. From Rondel Iren learned to fight and oh so much more! Let's just say that she knew what had happened when Iren had been given his sword, and it had immediately...accepted...him! None of the three men knew how much they would need Rondel as they began riding out on their mission! Loved her!

Lots of mysticism, strange characters and magic in this book that I'd love to go ahead and tell you about but I'm not going to so I won't give anything away, other than to warn you: Be on the alert when you reach forest lands... and...Look out for the "Red" Dragon!

There is even a potential love interest for Iren which hopefully will continue into the next book!

There are some underlying principles for living that I appreciated and enjoyed for differentiation of good and evil--because we all know that all dragons are not evil! This is a wonderful, well-written story, while at the same time, the author has given sufficient enemies for us to hate and fight against. Mainly, I just loved the mysticism and use of magic the most! Some really creative images for us to visualize... Highly recommended!


My name is Josh VanBrakle, and I'm an author of the perfectly logical combination - to me, anyway - of epic fantasy novels and environmental non-fiction.

Born in Altoona, Pennsylvania, I spent most of my life in Hershey, PA. Before you ask, yes, it really does smell like chocolate there! In the past few years, I've shed the suburban life for a rural one in the Catskill Mountains of upstate New York with my wife and two ill-behaved cats (excuse me a moment; one of them is chewing on an electrical outlet).

I grew up with a passion for both reading and the outdoors. My parents claim I learned to read using dinosaur books, because all the dinosaur names had phonetic spellings after them. I was introduced to fantasy the way many of you likely were - through The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings. From those first few pages, I knew I wanted to write a novel someday.

Unfortunately, this little thing called life intervened. It was a dark time, but I somehow graduated from Lebanon Valley College with a degree in Environmental Economics and from the State University of New York - College of Environmental Science and Forestry with a Master of Science in Natural Resource Management.

I might never have gone back to writing had it not been for a serendipity moment. A local author, Shannon Delany (awesome woman - author of the 13 to Life series and theWeather Witch series), held a free writing workshop series. I just happened to see it advertised in the newspaper and decided to attend.

It changed my life. If that sounds like exaggeration, it's not. I dove back into old manuscripts, refined my characters, built a whole new world and narrative to go along with them, and revised, revised, revised. Thanks to the help of some great friends, The Wings of Dragons was born.

While I continue to grow my writing career, I also work a day job at a local environmental nonprofit promoting rural land conservation. In my "spare time" - as if I had any - I enjoy hiking, kayaking, nature photography, and generally being outdoors wherever and whenever possible. Check out my photo gallery below for some examples of my wanderings in the Catskill Mountains and the rest of my site!

1 comment: