Todd Lockwood has assembled all the classic pieces in The Summer Dragon – feisty heroine, majestic dragons, buried cities, ancient knowledge, stiff hierarchy, dark horrors, and some origin mystery thrown in. The plot overall is well thought out, if fairly familiar. Unfortunately, there’s not much subtlety in it. Lockwood hits his marks a little too hard, and too often. Things work out almost entirely as you might expect of a standard fantasy, and while there are points of interest, there’s little to be surprised about.
Lockwood’s not entirely consistent in his handling of some issues – they seem to change to fit authorial whim or need, rather than as an organic part of the story. And some are simply left too vague – the dark Horrors the heroes fight tend to be invincible, until they suddenly drop dead for no clear reason. The philosophy of the rigid priesthood is uncompromisingly wrong, while the ancient wisdom of another priesthood – which seems to consist entirely of vague platitudes – is just as right.
The ending of this first installment is more an exercise in loose-end wrapping than a resolution. People urgently need to head off for other parts, but then hang around for weeks for no clear reason other than to give Lockwood space for goodbyes. Philosophies are introduced with no real foundation in the preceding hundreds of pages.
All in all, it’s a passable read that hits most of the right notes, but it’s not a book you’re likely to remember for long. I feel no compulsion to go on to the next book and find out what happens next.
Lockwood is better known as an artist, and the book has plenty of interior illustrations, a map, etc. Theyr’e technically well executed, but, as with the book, don’t stray far from convention. The dragons look like most other dragons of recent decades, and even the Horrors don’t offer much that’s new. Some of the most interesting, art-worthy scenes, aren’t illustrated at all, though given the large number of full-page panels already included, that’s a decision that’s hard to argue with.