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Reviewed by Erika Grediaga for Readers' Favorite
Mike Shelton's The Dragon Rider, the second installment of The Alaris Chronicles, starts where the first book left off. Bakari, now a Dragon Rider, is trying to make sense of his new role in life by visiting Mahli, his ancestral land. Bak learns more about his people and his heritage, as well as the prophecies of the Dragon Riders and the Dragon King. Upon learning that there are more dragon eggs and riders spread around the land, he heads out to find them with Abylar, his growing blue dragon. In the meantime, battle wizard Alli deals with an impending war with evil wizard Kanzar, who wants to impose himself as the king of all Alaris. In the Citadel, newly appointed High Wizard Roland Tyre is trying to keep neutral in the conflict between Kanzar's forces and the Chief Judge, Daymian Khouri. The three friends, each working separately in growing their respective powers and responsibilities, ultimately come together to try to stop Kanzar and Khouri from clashing, thus preventing unavoidable bloodshed and political unrest.
In this second book, Mr. Shelton's fantasy world expands further into the land beyond the failed magical barrier, brought down in the first book. However, this book stands on its own and gives the reader hints and the context of what had happened in the previous installment. Where the first book was younger-reader friendly to understand the machinations of politics, this book focuses a lot more on the use and abuse of power. Our three main characters are confronted by some of their biggest fears, which they have to overcome in order to grow and prevail.
Dragon Rider is packed with action, adventure and a well-thought fantasy world. In a sort of collage of a wide variety of fantasy literature, from Lord of the Rings to The Wheel of Time, Mike Shelton goes into the ugliness of power and politics in a very interesting way, creating this type of introductory and age-appropriate version of Game of Thrones for kids. I think any tween or teen, from age ten on, would love to immerse themselves in this world of treason and power, where children are the ones who hold everyone in check.