Dragon Orb: Firestorm
Dragon Orb: Firestorm
Four dragonriders on a mission to save their world
Dragon’s in Areth each have a single predestined rider and a single life mission, given to them by the Oracle. But this once all-powerful being is now fatally damaged and fading fast…Only the dragons and their riders can save it!
Firestorm the Day Dragon
Nolita is terrified of dragons! Learning to fly her day dragon would be dangerous enough without irrational fears to contend with and a vicious dragon-hunter on her tail…With Elian, another novice rider, Nolita seeks the first of four Orbs, whose combined power can restore the Oracle. Only Nolita, as a day dragon rider can claim it. To do so, she must face her worst fears, and face them alone…
Chapter 1 – The Devil’s Finger
Elian paused to look over his shoulder as he reached the edge of the trees. They were still after him. Sweat trickled in steady rivulets down his forehead, neck and back. He was breathing hard, but his mind was clear – no choice remained – he would have to risk the Devil’s Finger. What if they dared to follow? Granted it was unlikely. Like everyone else, Borkas and Farrel were wary of the taboo. But what if they put their fears aside as he had? The thought chilled him to the core. If they did, he would be in big trouble.
Why Borkas and Farrel had chosen to pick on him today was not clear, but he was not about to stop and ask them. None of the local boys were strong enough to stand up to the two thugs. When they had appeared, he had run.
It was strange. Curiosity and a desire for adventure had drawn Elian to the Finger more than a year ago. Daring to go there had felt neither brave nor foolish. Instead he had felt strangely compelled, as if it were a place he was supposed to go. Stories were told of the Devil’s Finger in the village; stories designed to keep the youngsters from venturing there. It was a place of dire consequences they said – a place of death.
On reaching it that first time, Elian had seen the Finger for what it was. Yes, it held danger for the unwary or the foolish, but no more so than many other places along the edge of the Great Escarpment. Sheer drops of up to a thousand spans into the lush green of the Haleen rift valley were not uncommon along the edge. The Finger , however, appeared to flaunt the laws of nature. It was a huge digit of rock projecting from the lip of the sheer cliff that pointed ever eastwards, towards the lands of the rising sun.
He hadn’t been through the tangled wood for a while, but an itching sensation at the back of his skull had been plaguing him all week. Memories of his last visit haunted his dreams and thoughts. It felt almost as if the Finger were calling him back – as if he needed to visit it. Or was it that it needed him? With the burly figures of Borkas and Farrel closing fast, any worries about the curious instinct were forgotten. He had come too far to turn back. It was the Finger, or a beating.
He turned and entered the woods. The path was barely distinguishable from the rest of the wild, untamed land near the edge of the Great Escarpment. Tangled briars tore at his boots and the lower branches of the trees clawed at his tunic and hair with gnarled fingers. Driven forwards by need and fear, he ignored them. When he finally broke free from the clutches of the trees he was scratched, tired, and beginning to wonder if this had been such a good idea.
He took a few steps forwards onto the base of the Finger. The cloud seemed little more than a few spans above his head. He drew a deep breath and held it for a moment. The view from the rocky outcrop was one that the Creator had otherwise reserved for the birds. The sense of awe he had felt on his previous visits enveloped him once more with the soft touch of a rich man’s cloak.
Elian had never been afraid of heights, but this was one place where he could begin to understand what it must be like to suffer vertigo. He walked forwards further to where the finger narrowed to a mere couple of paces wide. He was not so foolish as to walk all the way to the tip, for there was no telling how stable such a narrow point of rock might be.
For many, to look down from where he was standing would simply be too much. Some would freeze, unable to move. Others would drop to their hands and knees and crawl back to the safety of the main escarpment. Others still would lie down, close their eyes and beg for someone to save them. It was a curious phenomenon, the fear of heights.
A sudden whoosh of air from behind made Elian drop to one knee for fear of being swept over the edge. As the unexpected gust died with a fading sigh, he slowly rose to his feet. To his horror, he realised he was no longer alone. He could feel a presence behind him. The thought of facing Borkas and Farrel here made fresh beads of sweat break out on his forehead.
‘Hello. Were you looking for me?’
The voice did not belong to either of the boys. It was female, rich, melodious and strangely familiar, but he had no conscious memory of having heard it before. No woman in his village spoke with such regal tones, yet he had met none from outside that circle.
‘It’s good to see you’re not afraid of heights. The Oracle is calling. Your time is here.’
Being careful to place his feet securely, Elian turned slowly to face the owner of the enigmatic voice. He raised his eyes and his mouth formed a large ‘O’ as he struggled to take in what he saw.
A dragon was standing on the base of the Finger with its wings partially furled: a huge, glorious dragon with glowing golden scales and bright horns. A crest, strengthened with ridges ran down the middle of her back to a long tail and her great talons gleamed as if polished. Elian looked into her mesmerising eyes and for a moment he was lost. They were great windows of amber, opening into an abyss of immeasurable depth.
A waft of dry, musky scent invaded his nostrils, as his air-starved lungs forced him to resume breathing. It reminded him of summer fields with a just a hint of something tantalisingly exotic that again was familiar, yet unidentifiable.
With a determined effort, he wrenched his gaze from the dragon’s eyes, but his focus did not shift far. There was one area of the dragon that inevitably drew his attention – the rows of long, pointed teeth.
Panic surged within him. The dragon had no rider. It was dangerous. It had to be. He looked around wildly, as if expecting to find some miraculous escape route. There was none. He was trapped.
The dragon took a step forwards.
Elian instinctively took two steps backwards and lifted his hands, palms forward, as if to push the dragon away. ‘Don’t come any closer!’ he said, his voice sounding ragged even in his own ears.
‘Come to me. I’ve waited a long time for this moment. Your destiny is upon you.’
It suddenly occurred to Elian that the dragon was communicating directly with his mind, but what it – she – was saying to him made no sense. Destiny? What destiny? Was this a trick used by dragons to gain easy meat? Was this what the village teacher had meant by the ‘special powers’ of dragons?
Without thinking, he took another step backwards. A fragment of rock crumbled and his right foot twisted. A startled shockwave of panic surged through him as he windmilled his arms in an effort to regain his balance. He failed. His centre of gravity had shifted too far to the right. The moment of realisation as he toppled felt lazy and detached. As he passed the point of no return his mind suddenly flashed through layers of panic to a new level of consciousness.
‘Fool!’ he heard the dragon exclaim in his mind. A yell formed in his throat, triggered more by the dragon’s sudden surge towards him than any anticipation of the long fall. Her jaws opened wide as she lunged. She missed – barely – but during his first tumbling revolution, Elian realised she had not given up on her prey. The dragon had dived off the cliff and was also in freefall, arrowing down in pursuit.
Even though he was yelling uncontrollably, inside Elian felt strangely calm. He was going to die – that was accepted. What was more difficult to decide was if his fall had lengthened his life, or shortened it. How long could he have kept the dragon talking before it killed him? He knew he had a slow count of approximately twenty-one (if his experiments with stones were representative) of life remaining. His yell petered out as his lungs emptied, but his thoughts raced on as he plummeted towards the valley below.
Air dragged at his clothing and roared in his ears. His fair hair, normally clean and neatly brushed at the insistence of his mother, felt as though it was being pulled from its roots. And his vision was blurred, not by tears, for no tears could form without being blasted away, but by his eyes drying and distorting in the pummelling airflow. What was more, he was still accelerating. He could feel it.
Turning face down, his cheeks billowed and flapped in a most insane manner. He could stop them by clenching his mouth shut and tightening his cheek muscles, but in a crazy sort of way it felt good to relax and experience a few new things. Would he have time to register pain before he died? No. When he hit the ground, it would end in an instant.
Another revolution and it felt as though the air had lifted the eyelids from his eyes. The pressure in his ears was building painfully and occasional flashes of blurred vision revealed the dragon catching up fast. Would he be allowed to meet his end on the rocks, or would he be torn apart by the dragon first?
The female voice in his mind again. So he, Elian, son of Raim, was to be dragon food. ‘But how many others from the village would have such a spectacular death?’ he rationalised.
A fearful, wrenching force squeezed and twisted his body as a double cage of talons snapped shut around him. The shock as the simultaneous slap of air met the dragon’s unfurled wings felt like a crushing body punch. The impact spawned flashing stars of light that danced before his eyes as she deflected them out of the headlong dive.
Once in level flight, the pressure on Elian’s chest, stomach and legs reduced until he felt as if he were simply laid across the talons like a sparsely slatted bed. With surprise he realised the grip of the dragon was most gentle.
He swallowed and his ears popped painfully. Elian winced, but the pain receded quickly and his hearing was abruptly restored. The air rush died down, and as his eyes rediscovered their focus, he found he was face down, gliding noiselessly southwards across the treetops in the Haleen valley basin. It was the most exhilarating feeling he had ever experienced. For a moment he felt like hooting for joy, but then the thought of his imminent fate re-asserted its hold.
In his mind he heard the dragon chuckle.
‘It’s not fair,’ he decided. ‘It’s bad enough that I’m going to be a dragon’s lunch, but listening to her amused anticipation of eating me makes it so much worse.’
A clearing in the trees opened up ahead of them.
‘Prepare yourself. We’re going to land.’
They swooped down into the clearing until Elian was all but being brushed against the long grass. Then, in an instant, the dragon back-winged almost to a hover and dropped him. He fell no more than the length of a forearm into long, soft grass, his forward momentum so small that he only rolled over twice before coming to rest on his back. In dazed amazement he stared up at the sky.
For several heartbeats he remained still, his body tense, waiting for the dragon’s head to descend, its huge jaws gaping. When after a short time nothing had happened, Elian eased himself up on his elbows to see over the top of the grass. The dragon was curled nearby with her long, wedge-shaped head angled in his direction and her huge, amazing eyes watching his every movement.
Something inside Elian snapped. ‘What do you want?’ he yelled suddenly, forcing himself to his feet. ‘Am I supposed to run now? Can’t you just eat me and be done with it?’
The huge head rose slightly and the eyes fixed on him. If Elian had not known better, he would have thought the dragon was looking at him with mild disapproval.
‘I’d really rather you didn’t run,’ she replied in his mind, ‘for then I’d be forced to come after you. Perhaps it would help if we were properly introduced. Elian, I am Aurora … your dragon.’
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Dragon Orb: Firestorm – Reviews
Philip Reeve – Author of Mortal Engines and Carnegie Winning book, Here Lies Arthur
“A soaring adventure which does everything you expect from a dragon story and adds in a few surprising twists of it’s own.”
Multi-award winning author, Sarah Singleton
“Tightly-plotted, full of action and adventure, Mark Robson’s Firestorm is a thrilling read with three engaging young heroes. I particularly enjoyed the incursion of the dragons and their riders into the ‘real’ world and their meeting with the World War I pilots – a deft and original touch in a fantasy story – and best of all, for me, the evocative descriptions of the terrors and delights of flying.”
Firestorm is AWESOME! Fast, fresh and enormous fun.
Chris d’Lacey – Author of the Icefire books
‘I found Firestorm very enjoyable and think it will be a great addition to dragon fantasy lore, especially for top juniors. I was particularly impressed with the way Mark handled the fight scene with the hunters. Very gripping. There were also some breathtaking and very convincing descriptions of flight involving the dragons. I envy his military flying background for that!
This has all the elements of good children’s fiction. I think the young readers will latch onto the characters very easily and be looking out for the next book in the series as soon as they’ve finished the first.’
Waterstones Bookseller, John Lloyd (Bath) – 4 Stars
With his experience of high altitude adventure ex Royal Air Force pilot Mark Robson is the perfect candidate to unleash this new soaring dragon adventure. In the distant land of Areth there exists a special bond between dragons and their riders. Armed with a single life mission, bestowed by the all powerful Oracle, four young dragon riders must release their fears and take to the skies under these mighty beasts.
With a truly virtuous bid to set Harry Potter off his lofted mantle ‘Dragon Orb’ contains the special ingredients to make this a fantasy series to remember. A courageous mix of adventure and fantasy, blending into our world with captivating allure, Mark Robson writes with fluid awareness for great character and mythical development. ‘Dragon Orb’ is the inauguration of a fantasy worthy of admiration from an author who continually stresses your greater scrutiny.
Books for Keeps – ***
Dragon Orb, first in the ‘Firestorm’ series, is another story about young people flying around on dragons. Once again, they learn how this is done the hard way, overcoming scary dragons and learning to fly. Once again they must work together. Once again, the dragons have their own way of communicating. We’ve flown this way before.
This time there’s a difference. ‘Firestorm’ breathes a little fire into the hackneyed motifs with two magical qualities. Firstly the book is imbued with a real sense of what it actually feels like to meet your dragon and fly away. The characters are engaging and the narration effectively immerses the reader in their shocks and fears, as well as the magic of flying and realising ‘They had only been flying a matter of minutes and he was already further from home than he had ever been before’.
Secondly, and vital to the latter ingredient, the characters comprise a gaggle of truly believable youths, resulting in a story that has a genuine voice. Scenarios, such as one young dragon master’s figuring out of his future with his father, the suspicious tension between the youths and their realisation that the magic is real, all come across as believable. Add to this some truly quotable lines, such as: ‘The eastern sky was brightening by the heartbeat’ and we have a great story.
I have one qualm over the book’s approach to obsessive disorder and fear, and did feel the fear was tricked through rather than overcome, but this is a small qualm in an otherwise superb start to this new series. HTh
Don’t you love it when slender books really give you a strong talking-to, unexpectedly? Developing characters with issues, unexpectedly? Turning from what might have been mundane into something pretty cool?
Yep, me too. Which is why I was really chuffed with this offering from Mark Robson.
Read the full review by looking at the October 08 page here: MFB Blogspot
… The novel is written in urgent, vivid prose. The pace is unrelenting, the character drawing simple but very effective.
… This promises to be an outstanding four-book sequence. Each book is complete within a coherent overall structure. If the rest reach the achievement of the first, the whole will be a fine achievement and, I believe, the best work Mark Robson has so far written.
See the full review in the Autumn 2008 edition of Armadillo: here.
A new tale released by the author of the Imperial Trilogy only this time he’s taking his writing in a new direction. Here we see a tale blended with a touch of McCaffrey’s Pern, a hint of Novik’s Temeraire and a dash of Paolini’s Eragon.
Yet what arrives is a unique tale that is not only easily accessible by the reader, but also a tale that will keep the reader glued to the last page and clamouring for more.
Robson not only blends all the fantastical elements together but also brings a touch of our own world to the fore with a character who is not only afraid of dragons, but whom the fates make a Dragonrider who is afflicted with Obsessive Compulsive Disorder. Not only does this make for interesting reading it will also allow readers to identify with each character as they band together on an epic quest. Gripping, thrilling and above all entertaining this will have readers clamouring for more and I only hope that the wait for following tales won’t be too far into the future.
Spectacular dragon rides and dangerous quests fill the pages of this, the first in the Dragon Orb fantasy adventure series set in a world that was once all-powerful and is now dying. The lives of the dragons and the riders are at stake and there is only one rider together with her dragon who can begin the task of saving them. She must put aside her fear and put herself in huge danger in order to claim the first of four Orbs and restore their world.
Fantasybookspot – 8/10 – There is something about dragons that feels fantastical to me, so it was a delight to get to read a new series based on dragons.
Read the full review here: Fantasybookspot
The Bookbag – 4.5 stars – The world of the quest is finely realised, and the writing action-packed enough to really appeal …
Read the full review here: The Bookbag
Chronicles Network – … as if beautiful and powerful dragons were not enough, Robson has added in a twist that will definitely become more interesting as the story moves along …
Read the full review here: Chronicles Network
Monsters and Critics
This is guaranteed to keep older children reading – there is a compulsive nature to the story, you just have to keep going until the end is reached. Then comes the
disappointment – you have to wait for the next book to appear before finding out whether other dragons and their riders are successful in the quest. Hurry up Mark – everyone wants to know!
Read the full review here: Monsters and Critics
Joe – Aged 12
The dragon Oracle is dying. It needs the four dragon orbs to save it: Day, Dawn, Dusk and Night – these are the four dragon species and each has their own orb.
When I first started this book I was hooked by the thrilling first paragraph. As I got further through the book I found that this paragraph was not alone as each page had me wanting more. The writing style was perfect for the way the author told the story. When I got to the final page I flicked through the blank pages to see if there was more writing or even a note or something and almost cried when I found that there was no more.
I would rate this book 10/10 because it keeps you hooked on every page.
I would recommend this book to anyone over 7 who likes fantasy action.
This book was amazing. It was very inspiring and I can’t wait for the next book.