House of Dragons (House of Dragons, #1)

by Jessica Cluess

4.29 of 5 stars 7 ratings • 4 reviews • 45 shelved 2020 Fantasy Pick
Book cover for House of Dragons

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House of Dragons (House of Dragons, #1)

by Jessica Cluess

4.29 of 5 stars 7 ratings • 4 reviews • 45 shelved 2020 Fantasy Pick
Five royal houses will hear the call to compete in the Trial for the dragon throne. A liar, a soldier, a servant, a thief, and a murderer will answer it. Who will win? Three Dark Crowns meets The Breakfast Club with DRAGONS.

When the Emperor dies, the five royal houses of Etrusia attend the Call, where one of their own will be selected to compete for the throne. It is always the oldest child, the one who has been preparing for years to compete in the Trial. But this year is different. This year these five outcasts will answer the call...

THE LIAR: Emilia must hide her dark magic or be put to death.

THE SOLDIER: Lucian is a warrior who has sworn to never lift a sword again.

THE SERVANT: Vespir is a dragon trainer whose skills alone will keep her in the game.

THE THIEF: Ajax knows that nothing is free--he must take what he wants.

THE MURDERER: Hyperia was born to rule and will stop at nothing to take her throne.
  • ISBN10 0525648151
  • ISBN13 9780525648154
  • Publish Date 12 May 2020
  • Publish Status Active
  • Publish Country US
  • Publisher Random House USA Inc
  • Imprint Random House USA Children's Books
  • Format Hardcover
  • Pages 528
  • Language English


Avatar for tweetybugshouse

First off this was amazing, the author did not hold back any punches on the twists. Things happened and i screamed no way, or holy shit, or no she did not just do that. You got 5 royal houses who have groomed their children to compete in a competition for the throne. Ok nothing new there this a theme we seen. Here were the first of many twists come in first of all their dragons and the great dragon calls the competitors to a summoning circle. Of course everyone expects it to be those they groomed, who is called is not who is to be. Second what makes this different is the traditions that surround this country. When you die if you have a dragon it eats you. Never seen that before. The uniqueness of this story does not stop there but i hate to give it all away. Just know their magic, brutal killing, some romance, and a hard fought battle for the throne. I would very much recommend this one to Game of Throne Fans, Six of Crows fans, and anyone who enjoys multiple points of views stories with dragons, yep dragons and of course dragons. Happy reading.

Avatar for divaboooknerd

Kelly 4 of 5 stars

The five eldest children of the royal estates of Etrusia will answer The Call, their kingdom seeking a worthy competitor to succeed the Emperor, chosen by the Great Dragon and overseen by Their Graces, high priests of the temple of Delphos. Except the second born, the servant, the bastard child and the pacifist are chosen in their stead, those untrained and ill prepared. In the kingdom, the eldest member of each royal linage is conditioned and trained to take part in a series of tests known as The Calling, where the mythical Great Dragon chooses a child and their dragon mount to compete. The narrative is told from five points of view, each character easily distinguishable and a glimpse into their lives before and after The Calling, as they struggle with the expectations placed upon them.

Emilia has lived in isolation, her parents believing she is dangerous and concealing her illegal ability. Being chosen for The Call is an opportunity for Emilia to escape her confines, she hadn't expected to find former childhood friend Lucian also competing in the trial. Lucian has conquered lands and its people alongside his father and warmonger sibling, leaving the young man traumatised and vowing to atone for his brutality and using a pacifist approach to conflict. Emilia and Lucian are both wonderful characters, gentle, compassionate and both wanting to avoid the brutality of the trials. It was lovely to see them reconnect as tentative friends and watch their subtle attraction develop.

One of my favourite characters is Vespir, the servant and dragon keeper. Vespir is a servant within one of the royal houses, treated with contempt and seen as less than human. Her true companions are the dragons within her keep until she falls in love with the boss' daughter. Vespir shouldn't be underestimated, she's a survivor, she's resourceful and deliciously crafty. Although in a gentle, totally non backstabby kind of way unlike Ajax. Ahh Ajax, the bastard son, among a sea of bastard children, created from a sexual assault and tormented by his noble father and his legitimate children. Ajax has always struggled to fit in, surviving through any means necessary. He's well aware his lack of attractiveness means he can slip under the radar, a little like a cheeky cat burglar, although not as slick as he pretends to be.

A fair warning about our last competitor, she's ruthless and bloodthirsty beyond compare. Hyperia isn't a young woman to be played the fool, she's cold, calculated and will allow no one, absolutely no one to stand in her way of becoming victor. Oh my goodness, this girl makes Mia Corvere look like a Catholic school girl. She lives for her kingdom, the admiration of her father and the fear she instils in others.

The world building is breathtaking. Spiralling cities steeped in history and grandeur, rustic villages and desolate woodlands, beautifully atmospheric and wonderfully imagined. And the dragons! When a dragon hatchling is born, they choose their human companion, connecting to their spirit as dragon and rider become one. When their human companion passes, their dragon eats them which wouldn't be an altogether bad way to go. I loved Dog especially, Ajax' companion. He's playful, loyal and befitting of his name.

House of Dragons was glorious and left me wanting more! The brutality, the loyalty, companionship and moments of friendship among the fierce competitiveness is entwined so beautifully, shades of a young adult Game of Thrones that even reluctant fantasy readers will enjoy. Best be off, need to see a man about a dragon.

Avatar for brittybuhh

Brittany 5 of 5 stars
This was so unexpectedly good! The sense of adventure is amazing and the story itself is so unique and thrilling. I LOVED the different POVs and fell in love with each character for their own uniqueness. The times of snarky, fun dialogue kept me wanting more and more and I couldn’t put the book down. I felt like I expected what happened at the end, but not how the story actually got there.

Avatar for adecker

Austine (NovelKnight) 4 of 5 stars
Check out the original review and more on NovelKnight!

This book was provided by the publisher (via NetGalley). This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

I would like to think it's impossible to dislike a book with dragons and I've yet to be disappointed by one, so I'm happy to add House of Dragons not only to my "Read" list but "Recommended" as well!

I adored Cluess' Kingdom on Fire series and was so excited to hear that she had a new fantasy with DRAGONS releasing. This YA fantasy features five characters, each with their own point-of-view chapters spread throughout the book. I have a love/hate relationship with multiple perspectives. There's always (at least) one character I like and want more of, and at least one I'm annoyed or bored with. The rest tend to fall somewhere in between.

In this case, I found Emilia's character and her internal struggle the most interesting, the one I wanted to follow the longest. She's been taught that her power is wrong. Evil. And it's not something she can control either. Watching her grow and shift her view of herself and her power was my favorite of the character arcs.

I liked Lucian and Vespir's perspectives as well, but always felt a bit distanced from them. Lucian's scenes often centered around his past as a solider or Emilia, and started becoming a bit one-note in that regard by the end, but still enjoyable. Vespir offered a different perspective than the others and I found it refreshing, and her romance with the noble daughter of the family she had served was the sweetest. But I didn't get as strong a sense of her goals and so didn't make that connection.

Then there's Ajax and Hyperia. The former is the bastard son and one of many, and he makes a lot of bad decisions. The one thing I loved about his scenes were his obvious love of his dragon (and there's a scene near the end with said dragon that had me cackling). I just wasn't as interested in him as a character. Same with Hyperia. Each time I thought she had a bit more depth it was back to the same old thing. Rather than grow as a character, I felt like she remained steady, if not regressing, by the end until she's forced through a huge change.

All that said, I didn't hate any of the character perspectives (which has happened for me before) and actually look forward to another book that hopefully features the same individuals. Some of that is because of the cliffhanger ending which was set up quite nicely throughout, and some of it is the characters themselves.

As to the story, this is a competition. Each dragon rider is fighting to be chosen as emperor or empress, called forth by the Great Dragon to compete in a series of challenges. I was all there for the fantastical challenges. And the dragons. The world itself wasn't terribly special as far as fantasy goes but I liked the glimpses of the magic system we got (beyond the dragons themselves) and hope more of that is explored in the next book.

I will say this book doesn't pull its punches when it comes to violence and abuse. There are a few fairly graphic scenes in terms of gore and torture, whether described or visually depicted. And at times the story gets a bit darker. This might not appeal to all readers. I think it only added to the story as a whole, but something to be aware of.

Despite its size, House of Dragons moves quickly. The shifting of character PoVs combined with a fairly action-heavy plot made it a quick page-turner when I was reading. I like Cluess' writing style, I did in her last series too, but something about this book in particular left me putting it down fairly often. I would read a few chapters, then find something else to do. And thinking back, after I finished, while I had favored some characters over others while reading, I still felt distanced from all of them. It wasn't a book I was up reading into the early hours of the night. A great first book in a series, but missing that extra something that hooked me from start to finish.

All that said, I would absolutely recommend House of Dragons to fantasy fans, especially any looking for books with a competition or race, and/or multiple points-of-view. I can see this book appealing to a wide variety of readers, and it's definitely worth checking out!

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