I was initially drawn to The Dragon Round because of its amazing cover. It is a beautiful image of a dragon over a ship on the sea, and very fitting for this book. I will say that this is not a feel-good book. It’s an interesting book, but there is a lot of darkness in it and it often made me really depressed or disgusted. At the same time, I really enjoyed most of the book… up until the end.
At first, I had a very hard time reading it. It is written in the present tense, which I absolutely hate and had a very hard time getting used to (I did eventually get used to it). I also initially had a very hard time understanding what was really going on in the book. There were a lot of names being thrown around, and a lot of references I didn’t initially understand. I decided to continue reading it though, and am glad I did. About halfway through the book, I re-read the first chapter and it made much more sense and cleared some things up for me. Warning: my review does contain spoilers, but it’s the only way I can really talk about the book.
This book is set in another world, where two moons exist and dragons are real. In the beginning of the book, a ship called Comber is at sea en route to deliver much needed medicine for a plague that is killing people rapidly. A dragon appears in the distance, and the captain Jeryon has to make the choice whether to run (which he knows will not be successful) or to stay and try to fight the dragon. Only about one in a hundred ships face a dragon and survive, so he knows the odds are not good. He also knows that if the ship is ruined by the dragon, countless people will die because the medicine he is carrying will not make it to its destination.
While the crew is preparing to fight, the second mate is plotting against Captain Jeryon, hoping to find a way to become a Captain of the ship himself. He preys upon the First Mate’s weakness – his love for a woman back home, trying to convince him that he needs the elevation of being a “hero” in order to secure her father’s approval and his place in the world.
Against all of the odds, the dragon is killed and the ship survives. The crew wants to render the dragon because its hide and bones are worth a fortune, but Jeryon declines their request because every hour means more people will die. The second mate convinces the first mate to rebel against Jeryon.
Another member of the crew, Tuse, knows that he cannot go against the men or he will risk being killed. However, he convinces them to give Jeryon “the captain’s chance” and put him out to sea with no food or water. The poth (healing woman) named Everlyn, is also put out to sea with Jeryon because they know she will not go along with their plan without reporting their mutiny to the authorities.
Starving and almost dead, Jeryon and Everlyn finally manage to survive long enough to be shipwrecked on an island. Once on the island, they are separated but eventually manage to find each other. The island is where the author’s creativity comes to life. It’s not a normal island… there are giant crabs on it which actually hunt humans (a point that I found super interesting and unique). Both Jeryon and Everlyn have close calls where packs of crabs are actually hunting them, and they barely escape with their lives.
Eventually, they find two dragon eggs which are beginning to hatch. Here, you see some of the darkness in this book. I expected magic and beauty from the dragons, but the first one to hatch ends up violently and slowly killing the second one. It was excruciating to imagine and very difficult to read. However, despite the viscous nature of the dragon, I ended up falling in love with her as the story progressed. They named her Grey, as she started out white and darkened in color with age. She reminded me of my dachshund and parrots as far as her personality goes…. very stubborn and head strong, but also eager to please and adorable.
Jeryon quickly learns that he can train her and tame her, and realizes that they can eventually use her to get off the island. While Jeryon seems to think of Grey as just an object to get back home, Everlyn shows an affection for her that I really loved. There is very, very little character development in this book. You get almost no backstory from any of the characters, and it’s one of the aspects of the book which I felt was the most lacking. That being said, you do see a glimpse of Everlyn’s personality shine through by how she interacts with Grey.
Years pass, and eventually Grey is large enough to ride.
At this point, the story began to remind me of The Count of Monte Cristo, but only a pale shadow of it. Jeryon discovers that the authorities he had been counting on to make things right are not going to be able to help him. He takes matters into his own hands and exacts his revenge — often very violently — on his former crew members who wronged him. The second half of the book covers this plot line, and mostly focuses on different people (a LOT of new characters are introduced which makes it very difficult to follow the story line) within the city… or is it a nation? It is very difficult to understand the actual government or hierarchy system in place since it’s never truly explained, yet constantly referenced to.
Jeryon really went from being a likable character to one I did not care for at all when he ends up killing many people who don’t deserve to die. Tuse is his first victim, and is the one who convinced the others to give Jeryon a chance to survive. He never wanted the mutiny to happen to begin with, but had to go along with it to save himself. Down the line, he continues to kill. Some deserve it, others really don’t.
I don’t want to give too much more away, but let’s say that I was very unhappy with the ending of the book. It does end on a cliffhanger and I’m really interested to see what direction the story will take in future books. I was really horrified when Grey the dragon ended up eating one of the main characters after they died (I won’t say who). The first half of the book where Grey’s personality is sort of shaped… it was beautiful. That final act reduced her to a mindless animal, which I don’t think a dragon would be. That’s really where the book lost me and made me not want to read anymore. I did end up finishing the book, however (there wasn’t much left), and found the cliffhanger of the surviving main character to be interesting. Yet another character is introduced in the epilogue, which leaves even more questions unanswered… and rather than enticing me to want to read a sequel, it just frustrated me.
All in all, I’d say that the first half of this book makes it worth reading. I really wish more attention had been paid to developing some character backstories, and I wish that there had been a much better explanation of the nations and hierarchy systems, as well as a proper introduction to each new character that was introduced. It made it very difficult to follow.
I do hope that the remaining main character will be reunited with Grey eventually and they will find a happy ending.
Holly has a Bachelors degree in Environmental Science and owns a small business with her husband selling fleece and hand-spun yarn. When she is not spinning yarn, she does freelance work as a graphic design artist and is highly involved in animal rescue.
Review copy was provided free of any obligation by Simon & Schuster. No monetary or any other form of compensation was received.