If you haven’t ever heard me ramble on about Bryan Davis, the author who wrote one of my favourite book series of all time, go read my posts and/or take my word for it now that he’s an amazing author. His writing workshops and his books are mainly what inspired me to become the writer I am today!
And now, I’m beyond excited to be able to write a review for his newest book, Search for the Astral Dragon. I’ve been waiting for this book for years, ever since I used Facebook, which was…quite a while ago. I remember seeing Davis’ posts about the book and going crazy because it would be his first sci-fi series to take place in outer space! Knowing Bryan Davis’ love for Star Wars, I just knew this book was going to be good, especially when he said that it’s a series that very closely resembles the heart of Dragons in Our Midst.
I can’t even begin to explain my excitement when I pulled the book out of the packaging and held it in my hands. I beamed as I saw the font was the same as in the Dragons in Our Midst books; that font tells me that nostalgia, excellence, and adventure await.
Okay, okay, you get how excited I was. Let’s get to the book itself.
The story follows Megan Willis, a preteen girl convicted of piracy by the Alliance (the main governing body in this part of the universe) due to her family’s acts of piracy all across the galaxy. Her deeds merit execution, but Captain Tillman of the Nebula Nine shows her some semblance of mercy. He takes her onto his ship as a mechanic, though Megan’s status as a prisoner is still clear with a shock collar around her neck, a pirate brand on her skin, and a promise of a swift death if she doesn’t reveal the location of her family’s fabled “dragon’s eye” by her thirteenth birthday.
But things get even worse for Megan as the Nebula Nine is attacked, leaving her as the lone survivor. She lands on a strange planet called Delta Ninety-eight where Captain Tillman planned to search for his kidnapped son. With a damaged ship, Megan has no choice but to go into a dangerous city among unfamiliar and volatile aliens. She uncovers a startling child slave trade—by becoming a slave herself. As Megan sees the reality that these children face every day, she has a choice to make. Does she continue to look for her parents’ ship, the Astral Dragon, or does she try and help the slaves? Can she even escape from the planet? And what about the mysterious deity, the Astral Dragon himself, who keeps appearing to her?
In her search for justice and belonging, Megan finds herself on a wild ride through space, encountering different planets, allies, and enemies. Not only does she need to figure out how to face an entire vein of devious corruption within the Alliance, but also quell the moral war raging within her own soul.
As in all Bryan Davis books, this story’s strongest draw is its heart. The themes of the book are unmistakable. I’m especially interested in Megan’s primary moral dilemma; though her parents always justified any killing they did, Megan isn’t so sure that bloodshed is the best way, even when facing enemies. She struggles with this concept throughout the book, battling anger and the things she thinks she knows to be true against the teachings she learns from the Astral Dragon. I’m excited to see how this moral conflict is resolved in upcoming books.
The setting of the book screams “sci-fi” right from the very first sentence. However, I think this book is rather unique in that it has a very focused scope for a sci-fi novel. Megan only visits two different planets in the story and encounters just a few different kinds of aliens, though they are all fleshed out very well. This allows space for the story to focus on the characters and their goal to end the horrendous slave trade. That being said, as someone who loves to read about wildly creative places and people that are vastly different from the ordinary world we know, I would have liked to see some more “exoticness” in this book. The aliens and planets are all fairly close to normal, with some unique elements here and there. I hope that the following books explore some really amazing new places!
As far as the storytelling goes, Bryan Davis is, as always, a master. I’m still amazed at how quickly he makes you care about characters and causes. After finishing Search for the Astral Dragon, I was ready to go take on the slave trade, too! I wanted to be right on that spaceship with Megan and her friends. (Not gonna lie, I kinda wanted to get the awesome dragon pirate brand too, but…ouch. That would hurt.)
I think that the strongest part of this book is how Davis sets up the universe, the main drive of the trilogy, and the characters so well. Yes, Search for the Astral Dragon was very enjoyable on its own, but it made me really excited to see where the series takes the story! There are lots of mysteries yet to be solved, and I can’t wait to see what happens with Megan and her crew next. All in all, I give this book a wonderful four out of five stars.
You’ve gotta check out Search for the Astral Dragon and Bryan Davis’ other books here! In addition to being a phenomenal writer, I can also tell you after meeting him many times over the years that he’s a wonderful man who cares deeply about the souls of young people. His mission to inspire people through fantastical stories is what made me realise that I have the same passion living within my heart. I really hope you’ll take the time to look through his books. If you want some examples of great storytelling, there are few authors I could recommend that do it better than Bryan Davis!
Click here if you want a free book, insider info about my upcoming works, and even more writing tips!
Photo by Greg Rakozy on Unsplash
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