Teen Zone: Returner’s Wealth (Wyrmweald #1) by Paul Stewart and Chris Riddell

Cover - Returners WealthReturner’s Wealth (Wyrmweald #1) by Paul Stewart and Chris Riddell

Publication Date: September 2, 2013
Publisher: Open Road Media
Length: 374 pp
Paperback/ISBN-13: 978-1480416109
Official Website: http://www.openroadmedia.com/returners-wealth

Publisher Synopsis

From the creators of the internationally bestselling Edge Chronicles comes an epic story of dragons!

The wyrmeweald is a hostile place, an arid wasteland where man is both hunter and hunted, and where the dragon-like wyrmes reign supreme.

Seventeen-year-old Micah enters the wyrmeweald intent on stealing a wyrme egg to sell for a bounty. With the riches such an egg will bring—returner’s wealth—Micah can go home to a life of luxury, and win the hand of the girl he loves. But the wyrmeweald is a treacherous place, and Micah quickly finds himself in mortal danger. When a tracker named Eli rescues him, Micah is forced to prove his worth, and together he and Eli defend a rare wyrme hatchling from kith bandits intent on stealing and selling wyrme eggs.

As Micah soon discovers, this hatchling has a guardian already—the beautiful, brave, and dangerous Thrace. Micah and Thrace make the worst possible match: Micah is a would-be bandit, and Thrace is a wyrme rider-assassin, devoted protector of the wyrmeweald. Yet their chemistry is undeniable, and soon Micah and Thrace join forces to protect the rare wyrme and battle the evil forces that encroach on their native habitat. But is there anything left in the devastated wyrmeweald to be saved?

My Review

I started my reading of this first book in a series very curious and hopeful that good things were in store. And the authors kept my interest — for a time, anyway. At the book’s beginning, the tone and language combine to make a moody, mysterious, and ominous presence. They establish a dangerous but beguiling world. And within it, they place Micah, a likeable lad. We meet him pining over a girl who breaks his heart, determined to become a wealthy hero by venturing into the wild, untameable wyrmweald.

Unfortunately, once Micah gets to the wrymweald, the pace slows. I had to work to make progress in this book. While the authors are careful to build and create a world, the book could have used some editing to keep things more succinct and keep the plot moving along. Eventually, the pace, and my interest, picked up. And in the end, I enjoyed the book. However, I never quite connected. The characters and plot were too closely aligned with stereotypical fantasy tropes: Micah as the naive, romantic quester, intent on becoming a hero; Eli as his mentor and guide.

It’s difficult to determine who the intended audience for this book would be. Probably primarily boys, 13 or 14 and older. It’s a bit bleak and dark, contains some violence, and some references, though not explicit, to sex.

Verdict

3 Hearts - Final

3 of 5 hearts.  Good. An enjoyable fantasy/adventure with a dash of romance and danger. If you are looking for a quick-moving plot, this may not be for you. If you like world-building and want a slightly different (though not wildly original) take on dragons and human/dragon relations, then this is for you.

*Disclosure of Material Connection:  I would like to thank the publisher for allowing me access to the book through Netgalley in exchange for my honest review. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

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