Wings of Fire: A Fantasy You Don’t Want to Miss

The Dragonet Prophecy: Books 1-5

The Jade Mountain Prophecy: Books 6-10

The Lost Continent Prophecy: Books 11-15

On a mission to find a fantasy book series to rival my love of Harry Potter, I received many recommendations for the Wings of Fire series by Tui T. Sutherland. Several times I considered starting it, but would put it back thinking it might be too childish (it is, after all, a series aimed at readers in grades 4-6). Finally, I decided to put my trust in all those recommendations – and it’s a decision I don’t regret. If you’re looking for your next  middle-grade fantasy series to binge-read, look no further than Wings of Fire. It would also make an excellent addition to your classroom library collections for your fantasy-loving students. The series has been hailed across the internet as a solid mix of Harry Potter and The Hunger Games, and I have to agree. Be prepared for lots of humor, adventure, magic, hints of dystopia, action-packed scenes, and even a bit of very light, endearing romance from time to time. There’s a reason there are now 15 books, along with several novellas and prequels, a Netflix series on its way, and more graphic novel editions coming…simply put, this series is fantastically addicting and extremely well written.

Tui T. Sutherland so very gently builds the world these characters live in that it is never overwhelming. The first set of characters we meet in the initial five books — Clay, Starflight, Glory, Sunny, and Tsunami — have grown up isolated in a cave their entire childhood, becoming more like family than members of five different (extremely competitive) tribes. These young dragons have been hidden away because they are part of a mysterious and cryptic prophecy to end a war. But when they escape the cave to take on their destiny, they experience the world outside for the first time. The reader gets a front-row seat to all the dragonets’ first experiences outside the cave, and this serves as our introduction to the land of Pyrrhia and what it’s like to be a dragon here, such as Clay’s first time spreading his wings to truly fly:

He tucked his wings close to his body, fighting back the terror as he plummeted. Wind whistled past his face – wind! He’d imagined it all wrong. It was like a live thing: grabbing his tail to throw him off balance, whisking in his eyes to blind him, flaring under his wings to slow him down. It seemed to dig icicle-sharp claws into his skin, slicing under his scales…Would he be able to stop? Would it hurt when he did?”

— Excerpt from  Chapter 9, The Dragonet Prophecy

The character and world-building in this series is done at a suitable pace for younger readers (fourth grade and up) or anyone new to the fantasy genre. However, it is still rich enough for those accustomed to more robust fantasy literature. Books 6-10 (The Jade Mountain Prophecy) introduce us to a new set of characters. The third arc, books 11-15 (The Lost Continent Prophecy), takes us to a completely new continent with new dragon tribes – and this is when all the previous storylines seamlessly collide. One more book is set to release this April and will complete this third prophecy’s storyline.

At first introduction, most of the characters have stereotypical qualities: the always-hungry, somewhat brutish and not-so-bright Clay, the beautifully moody Glory, and later in the series we have the book-smart, glasses-wearing Cricket. However, you find through each book’s alternating first person perspective that there is much more personality under the surface, and every character fights back against their stereotypical labels and works through their own biases of others. Each character has a well-explored past that has shaped their personality. Although they are from vastly different dragon tribes with unique special powers and abilities, each tribe’s culture and values mirror very familiar-feeling human cultural differences. Ultimately, this idea encompasses the themes of the entire Wings of Fire series: understanding, empathy, acceptance of those who are different than you, and challenging your own assumptions.

Sutherland balances the inner monologues of the characters with plenty of swift action and witty dialogue (lots of laugh-out-loud moments). She does not rely on predictable plotlines – each story is equally satisfying and surprising. Sprinkled throughout the book are amusing dragonish colloquialisms and slang that somehow seem completely normal (“on the other talon,” “three moons!,” and “not the sharpest claw on the dragon”). Plus, it’s as if the author really is a dragon; the descriptions of the sensations they feel against their scales, or when they’re breathing frostbreath, or even just lying in the mud are so realistic you forget dragons don’t actually exist.

It’s worth noting that these  books are meant to be read in order, so make sure to begin with book one: The Dragonet Prophecy. Some of the side stories (like the Legends prequels and Winglets collections) are best when read after you’ve completed the first ten books in the series.

In your classroom, the Wings of Fire series would be excellent choices for First Chapter Fridays, classroom read-alouds, or to use as models of descriptive writing or dialogue. Plus, the graphic novel editions (which are gradually being released) have stunning artwork and don’t cut out too many details, and they’re perfect to hook your reluctant readers.

Consider adding Wings of Fire to your upper elementary and middle school collections – or on any book shelf next to Harry Potter.

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Photo credit: Amber Boulley