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Reviewed by Liz Konkel for Readers' Favorite
Dragonsown: Surface by Erika Leigh Agnew is the first book in the Dragonsown series. The Kingdom of Ryk has recovered since The War of Black Ash which saw an end to dragons, but now the kingdom faces the threat of a possible invasion that could start from within. Twins Kael – who struggles with a deathly illness – and Keaton are left on their own to figure out what to believe when everything they knew turns out to be a lie. Kael disappears one night and embarks on a journey that leads him to encounter a shadowy figure while Keaton begins to question the existence of dragons when reports of mysterious noises begin to circulate. The brothers uncover secrets that send them on a journey to fix the wrongs of the kingdom that has their family in the middle but when sides are drawn, the twins' involvement may cause another war.
The story weaves between the journeys of the two brothers which is set against the backdrop of discovering dragons and conflict unfolding within the kingdom. The brothers are opposites in personalities with Kael as the more serious one and the one that worries about what others think. This transition and questioning of truth lead him to question everything he's known and everything that he's wanted. Keaton is the opposite personality of his brother with guilt over his brother's illness and a joking attitude that he wears on the surface to mask his deep compassion for those trapped under his father's control. The differences between the brothers create an authentic balance in the story as they each face a decision about the secrets they uncover within their family and the kingdom. The striving for freedom is a theme heavily seen throughout the story from Keaton's desire to free those in his father's control to the brothers striving for their independence to the freedom for all of Ryk.
Poignant moments are incorporated throughout with the twins' father as he lectures them on building civilizations on blood and conquering, not peace and love, and teaches them that history is written by the victors. The coming-of-age story is genuine told through two brothers that are faced with choosing sides and doing so with the knowledge that their choices could create war. The rich storytelling draws you in through authentic characters, a vividly detailed setting, and poignant themes. Erika Leigh Agnew explores themes through Dragonsown that center on freedom, revolution, and status with a blend of dragons, action, and family drama.