cover image The Color of Dragons

The Color of Dragons

R.A. Salvatore and Erika Lewis. HarperTeen, $17.99 (416p) ISBN 978-0-06-291566-

Monsters called draignochs terrorized the four lands until King Umbert nearly eradicated them. Now, the only draignochs most folks see are bred in captivity and killed for sport by men aspiring to be Umbert’s champion. Winning the title last year lifted Griffin, 17, out of poverty, and he’s determined to keep it, even if that means slaying the rare wild draignoch caught for this year’s competition. When Maggie, also 17, encounters soldiers transporting the drugged beast, she touches it, awakening powers that later emerge while she’s onstage with her guardian, traveling magician Xavier. Xavier believes the magic is his, as does spectator Prince Jori, who invites the two to perform before the tournament. Though Maggie fears that Xavier will be revealed as a fraud and executed, she signs on in hopes of finding the draignoch and obtaining answers. Salvatore (Starlight Enclave, for adults) and Lewis (Game of Shadows, for adults) make their YA debut with this uneven but enjoyable pre-Arthurian fantasy. Maggie’s first-person narration alternates with third-person chapters from Griffin’s perspective, romance blossoming despite their conflicting goals. Setup encumbers the start, but the book’s second half is breathless, blood-soaked, and brutal. All characters are cued white. Ages 13–up. (Oct.)