- Book Review
- Tui T. Sutherland
- Adventure, Fantasy
Readability Age Range
- 9 to 12 years old
- Scholastic Press
- #1 New York Times Bestselling Series
The dragon Luna wants to help shape a better world, and a prophesy suggests she can. But all of the evil in the world has something to say about that.
Ever since the fiery Scorching, the world of dragons and humans has been going through many changes. And seemingly, all of them have been bad.
Luna—a rare SilkWing dragon who not only has the ability to spin silk from her wrists, but fiery flamesilk as well—wants to make things better. She wants a world where dragons can love whomever they want; where they can create art; where they can take care of one another and be happy instead of hurtful. She wants to weave a beautiful tapestry of life where dragons and those tiny creatures called humans can get along.
Yes, Luna knows exactly what she wants. She’s just not sure how to make it all happen.
A prophesy suggests all of Luna’s world-saving desires can be fulfilled. But given the awfulness of the world (and that the prophecy seems to suggest that she, a mere dragon, has something to do with it all) feels so difficult and impossible. And she has a hard time believing any of it.
There is also something happening in the world that Luna can’t quite grasp.
You see, the dragon queen, Queen Wasp, has been using a special plant to capture the minds of dragons and make them her slaves. But in truth there’s an even greater mind-capturing power that’s moving the queen herself like a chess piece on a board.
All of that evil and all of that manipulative power is centered in a deep, deep hole in the earth that some humans worship and make sacrifices to. It’s a place called the Abyss.
And as Luna and a small group of dragons move to rescue some friends, they themselves don’t realize that they’re being manipulated. They’re being pushed and shoved about without even knowing it. And inch by inch Luna is being pulled to that Abyss … and to a prophesy that’s about to unfold.
Luna mentions that she must “pray” that something goes a desired way. But it only seems to be a figure of speech and not a reference to any faith.
Other Belief Systems
A group of humans worship a hole in the ground that whispers to them. They toss people into the hole as a sort of sacrifice. We eventually learn that there is an “othermind” entity in that deep abyss that was accidentally created during a power-hungry human’s experiment. This person somehow blended with the “minds” of two other creatures to create this god-like othermind that can absorb other’s memories and take possession of thousands of physical creatures.
Luna’s dragon world embraces magic—not only the magical prophesy that she refers to, but other magical items as well. A dragon has a pair of magical bracelets, for instance, that can turn several compatriots invisible. And another possesses a magical gem that allows the user to visit someone in their dreams.
Luna travels with nine other brave dragons. Each has his or her own personality and emotional quirks. But they are all traveling together to bravely challenge wrongdoing in the dragon world. They fight for one another against forces much greater than themselves, putting their lives on the line.
Luna also takes a young orphan dragonette named Dusky under her wing. She cares for him and protects him like a mother. And together they encourage another young dragon to see her world through a better, more loving lens.
Profanity & Violence
Luna cries out, “By the Silk!” at one point. And that’s the closest the book comes to a possible negative declaration.
There is quite a bit of warring here that goes on between dragons and dragons, and dragons and humans. Dragons are stabbed, slashed, knocked unconscious and burned. Some are mind-controlled and sent to attack innocents. One dragon has poison/acid spit in her face and she screams and writhes from the resulting pain. Humans are gobbled whole and thought of as a food source.
Early on in history, the dragons mostly ignore the little humans as being almost pet-like in their simplicity. But then one power-hungry man decides to try and control a dragon to dominate other humans and begins to steal dragon eggs. This eventually causes a full-out war between the two species. Called the Scorching, it is known as the deadliest war in human and dragon history as cities and forests are vengefully burned to the ground.
On a more intimate level, Luna and Dusky are caught by thorned vines and choked at one point. Their captor promises that they will eventually die, decay and feed the plants they’re trapped by. The pair are also emotionally tormented over the course of several days. Luna discovers the corpses of a human and a dragon that have been enveloped by vines, the ropy growths impaling both skulls.
The Flames of Hope is very comfortable with contemporary fluid-gender and sexual sensibilities.
We don’t encounter any graphic sensuality, but Luna expresses her full acceptance of a fellow dragon’s attraction to another male dragon (we see the two multicolored dragons snuggling intimately in the same hammock). The dragons also encounter a group of “non-gendered” humans. Luna asks if a certain human is male or female, for instance. And her friend replies: “Neither? Both? We’d have to ask them They use the they and them pronouns.”
Luna also mentions that she has two mothers. But Luna herself is attracted to a dragon of the opposite sex. They hug. Several other dragons hug as well.
Do you sometimes feel like Luna, like you’re not quite good enough or strong enough? What do you think this story is saying to you?
Luna thought her one special attribute, her flamesilk, was the only advantage she had in life, but she saved the day with something completely ordinary. Are there ways that our “ordinary” gifts can help those around us?
What do you think changed Lizard’s mind about her lot in life? Why did she make a sacrifice?
How important is kindness and love to those around you? Do you show it often enough? Take a look at Matthew 7:12. How does that verse apply to Luna?
Get free discussion question for books at focusonthefamily.com/magazine/thriving-family-book-discussion-questions.
The Wings of Fire series is a very popular and successful series of fantasy books for younger readers. And the Flames of Hope story is a good (if fairly slow) entry that focuses on being brave even when you feel weak. Parents of younger readers should note, however, that some later books in the series (such as this one) add elements designed to normalize same-sex and non-gender sensibilities.
You can request a review of a title you can’t find at [emailprotected].
Book reviews cover the content, themes and worldviews of fiction books, not necessarily their literary merit, and equip parents to decide whether a book is appropriate for their children. The inclusion of a book’s review does not constitute an endorsement by Focus on the Family.
Review by Bob Hoose
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