I can sum up how I felt about this book with one word. Meh. Is that a word? It started off slow but eventually picked up and I became interested but well meh. It wasn’t that it was bad. I just thought it would be better. Maybe that’s because both Maggie Stiefvater and Rick Riordan, two authors who I love gave it such high praise on Goodreads that I had higher expectations for it. So what’s it about? Every 10 years the Dragon comes down from his tower and takes one girl back with him. The Dragon is the Lord of the Valley and a wizard, not an actual dragon as some stories say he is. The girls he takes always come back changed but never say what they did while they lived in the tower. The people continue to do this because the Dragon helps defend them from the mysterious Wood that lies just beyond the Valley. The Wood has a very mysterious evil about it that corrupts all that come in contact with it. Agnieszka knows that her best friend Kasia is going to be the next one to be picked. It’s common thinking that the Dragon always picks the most special girl out of her generation and it’s widely agreed upon that Kasia is that girl. So it’s surprise Agnieszka who is not a great beauty or has any special talent beyond getting dirty is picked instead.
Setting this story up took a lot of time and that’s what slowed down the pace of the story in the beginning but once it was able to get over establishing who everyone was, what the Wood was and why the Dragon does what he did, the story was able to move forward at a faster pace. Agnieszka is a likable character. She’s the typical heroine as she isn’t special on the outside but is on the inside. Her relationship with the Dragon starts off antagonistic. At first he really wants nothing to do with her and the same for her too. We eventually learn that he picked her because he saw that she too had powers and it was his duty to teach her. She isn’t really into the lessons until her village is under attack from the Wood and the Dragon is not around to help. This is when things after speed up. The plot starts to fill out. We meet Prince Marek, who comes to the Dragon for help of saving his Mother who ran into the Wood 20 years ago and never heard from again. The Wood ups it’s attack but and like most things the politics get in the way. The Wood is crafty and is plays everyone perfectly and Agnieszka is always a step behind but still a step ahead from everyone else. The battle at the end is a little bit anti-climatic after the previous battle but it’s a good ending. So maybe I’m missing something but I thought it was good but not great.