Dragons in the Clouds
by David Blair
Author Reputation Press

"Merlinius knew that, as long as the meat-eating dragons existed, there would never be peace on earth."

If it exists at all, the line between fantasy and reality is vaporous at best. Of course, Merlinius, immortal wizard-turned-novelty-shop-owner, could argue that there is no such line. Merlinius, crystal balls, fire-breathing dragons, and devious apprentice wizards are as real as present-day eight-year-old girls named Reilly Evans, their jaded businessman fathers, and thunderstorms. After all, thunder is what happens when a dragon roars, and lightning is the fire on its breath. To most in the kingdom of Albion, a dragon is a dragon—a malign beast to fear and hate. Merlinius knows that not all dragons are evil or dangerous to humans, and he sets out to save the good ones and destroy the bad. David, a boy whose father was eaten by an evil dragon, befriends Rago, a good baby dragon, and becomes the wizard’s unlikely ally. But first, they must prevent Odious, Merlinius’ traitorous apprentice, from seizing ultimate magical power.

This charming novella offers a whimsical and child-friendly explanation for the origin of the mundane weather phenomenon that is a thunderstorm. Blair adjusts readers’ notions about dragons, presenting some as peaceful herbivores and only some as murderous meat-eaters. He further explains that the meat-eaters devour not only humans and livestock but their plant-eating counterparts as well. Recognizable characters from Arthurian lore include Merlin and King Arthur, their names Latinized. The adaptability of immortals to contemporary conditions is another familiar theme. The alternating gender of Zindetha, one of the dragons, may or may not be intentional and may confuse some readers. Still, the book endearingly illustrates the potential for imaginary friendships between benevolent dragons and open-minded humans—usually children, like modern Reilly or medieval David. Presenting a child of each sex, Blair gives a subtle nod to gender equality. The story should appeal to young fantasy fans, both veteran and newly initiated alike.

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