City of Thieves (Battle Dragons #1)

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City of Thieves
Author(s)
Age Range
8+
Release Date
September 21, 2021
ISBN
978-1338716542
In a modern mega-city built around dragons, one boy gets caught up in the world of underground dragon battles and a high-stakes gang war that could tear his family apart.
Once, dragons nearly drove themselves to extinction. But in the city of Drakopolis, humans domesticated them centuries ago. Now dragons haul the city’s cargo, taxi its bustling people between skyscrapers, and advertise its wares in bright, neon displays. Most famously of all, the dragons battle. Different breeds take to the skies in nighttime bouts between the infamous kins―criminal gangs who rule through violence and intimidation.

Abel has always loved dragons, but after a disastrous showing in his dragon rider’s exam, he's destined never to fly one himself. All that changes the night his sister appears at his window, entrusting him with a secret...and a stolen dragon.

Turns out, his big sister is a dragon thief! Too bad his older brother is a rising star in Drakopolis law enforcement...

To protect his friends and his family, Abel must partner with the stolen beast, riding in kin battles and keeping more secrets than a dragon has scales.

When everyone wants him fighting on their side, can Abel figure out what's worth fighting for?

Editor reviews

2 reviews
Great Adventure Novel
Overall rating
 
5.0
Plot/Characters/Writing Style
 
5.0
Illustrations/Photos (if applicable)
 
N/A
Alec lives in the futuristic city of Drakopolis, which has some dystopian problems but is a thriving city. Alec's family struggles a bit: his father has scaly lung, his mother works in a dragon food plant, and his sister Lina is working at a cafe to help the family with money. His brother Silas is doing okay, and has been accepted into the Dragon Riders, which serves as a police/military entity to protect the citizens, but always seems a bit questionable. Alec failed his entrance exam to the Dragon Rider Academy, which was a bit of a relief. While he and his best friend Roa (who is nonbinary and uses they/them pronouns) like reading comics about the daring exploits of Dr. Drago, dealing with ACTUAL dragons sounds dangerous. When Alec finds out that his sister has a secret life of crime and is herself riding dragons, he's leery of being asked for help, but follows her directions. He uncovers Karak, a dragon his sister has stolen, and with the help of a teacher at his school, Ally, as well as Roa, he learns how to take care of a dragon and starts to ride Karak, who bonds with him. Drakopolis is run by kins, which are like gangs, and it turns out that Lina is aligned with the Sky Knights, which have a revolutionary, Robin Hood vibe to them, but Roa is surprisingly aligned with the Thunder Wings, as is Ally. There is also a Red Talon kin, and they are threatening Alec's family because of Lina's activity. The kins have what amount to "rumbles"; battles that are "equal parts race, heist, and duel". These battles determine who has control of different neighborhoods and their resources, like dragons. Because Alec has a dragon, he is the center of a lot of activity to win his dragon over for a kin. He's not sure which one he should align himself with, and when a big battle is planned, he has to decide. Will he side with his sister, his best friend, or his brother, or forge his own path?
Good Points
Action and Adventure is the easiest way to draw in middle grade readers, and has a lot right at the start, and reminded me a bit of the first scene in the 1980s television show Voyagers! Watching the dragons setting fire to trash on the skyline and then having your sister pop into your bedroom window? Perfect! Academy settings, where students have science fiction, spy, or fantasy curricula are always in demand, and this is a mixture of all three. Roa is a good friend, with hidden depths of knowledge and connections. The sibling bonds add another interesting level. Of course, any book with epic dragon battles is going to be a popular title, and the cover is very appealing. This one will never return to the shelf!

This will be a hugely popular book with many different readers. Certainly my dragon contingent, who love Tui Sutherland and Sarah Beth Durst, will love the fact that Alec has bonded with Karak and has to learn how to take care of him. This will also appeal to fans of the new wave of fantasy dystopian novels like The Wild Huntsboys, because of all of the fighting and the way that society is not working. This had a decided video game feel to it, and a bit of a comic connection, and finally, readers who like London's books about war with like all of the fighting. I can probably even sell this to my sports enthusiasts, since it is an amazing amalgam of everything my readers like best.
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City of Thieves by Alex London - Book Review
Overall rating
 
5.0
Plot/Characters/Writing Style
 
5.0
Illustrations/Photos (if applicable)
 
N/A
Dragons. Dragons. Dragons. Oh, and more dragons? Listen, if you don’t like dragons then don’t even bother with this books. But. If you are like me and love dragons, then read this book as soon as you can! I honestly loved this book so much and it was for so many different reasons. This is a Middle Grade book but it is so entertaining for any age group. However, it is perfect for the project audience. There are literally dragons everywhere in this book and I am so jealous that I don’t live in Drakopolis. Okay… maybe I take that back. This book is full of politics but in such a way that it doesn’t take away from the enjoyment from the book. There are Kins that control each area of Drakopolis and then there is the Dragon Guard, who is technically the law. All of them, are bad though. After events that Abel cannot control, he becomes entangled in all three. The best part about it? He gets to befriend and ride a freaking amazing dragon! Honestly, I’m a little jealous. But this book flows so nicely and it was such a fun read. There is nothing confusing or slow about this book and I’m definitely going to be buying it for my nephews because it was just so much fun. I am so excited that this is going to be a series and I cannot wait for the next installment.

Abel was an amazing main character. In the beginning, it is clear he doesn’t have a lot of self confidence. With two older siblings who passed their exams but chose different paths, Abel did not. Secretly, he is glad though. But everything changes when his sister gives him a comic book that contains a top secret. That secret? A dragon. And that dragon bonds to Abel (again, jealous). Abel recruits his best friend Roa and after Roa drops a big secret on Abel, a lot of events unfold. Instructor Ally, who is a bad-A by the way, teaches Abel how to fly the dragon to get ready for some kin battles. I don’t want to go into too much detail because it will give a lot away, but it’s all pretty epic. Abel’s character develops so much in this book and it was great to see him from this unsecure boy to someone who isn’t afraid to stand up to the kinners for his family and his new dragon.

FINAL THOUGHTS
Overall, City of Thieves by Alex London was seriously a fantastic book. I had so much fun reading it and I can’t wait for everyone else to read it as well. If you like dragons then this is definitely a book for you as it is full of dragons in almost every way you can possibly imagine. It definitely has some politics in the book as well but it is never exhausted to the point where it takes away from the story. It is, however, very crucial for the events that take place. Abel was a great main character and I really enjoyed the development he went through. I cannot wait to continue his journey and see what happens next. Even though this book is meant for Middle Grade, I highly would recommend it to anyone who wants a fun, fast read that includes all things dragons, races, and Kin grudges.
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