What kind of power is lurking inside him? After a year of training to become a dragonrider, Jaevid Broadfeather has been sent home to rest during a three-month interlude. But when he returns to find the king drake has chosen Beckah Derrick as his new rider, Jaevid realizes something big is about to happen. Every fiber of his being is pushed to the breaking point as Jaevid battles through his avian year, preparing for the final graduation test of the battle scenario. But there is more standing in his way than a few pushups and fancy sword moves. Jaevid must face a new fear as he is tormented by a gruesome nightmare of a mysterious gray elf warrior murdering the royal family of Maldobar. It seems obvious to him that this is some kind of message about how the war started long ago—until Felix assures him the king is very much alive. With his strange powers growing stronger by the day, and that violent dream replaying in his mind every night, Jaevid no longer wonders if he will pass his avian year or not—he wonders if he will even survive it. The truth will soon be set loose.
About the Author
Nicole Conway is a former freelance graphic artist for promotional companies and is now a full-time writer. She enjoys hiking, camping, shopping, cooking, and spending time with her family and friends. She is the author of Fledgling. She lives in Valdosta, Georgia.
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By Nicole Conway
Month9BooksCopyright © 2014 Nicole Conway
All rights reserved.
Not everyone can be a dragonrider. Not everyone can handle the stress or the physical demands of having the most dangerous job in the king's forces. My mentor, Lieutenant Sile Derrick, once told me that dragonriders are not born — they are made. He said that they have to be hammered, shaped, and baptized in fire, just like when a blacksmith molds a lethal sword out of a hunk of raw metal. Blybrig Academy is where all dragonriders are made. It's our forge. Never in a hundred years would I have guessed I would find myself there, facing the furnace of my destiny. But destiny has a funny way of picking you when you least expect it.
There was snow on the mountains when I left Blybrig behind for the three-month interlude in my training as a dragonrider. I hadn't been back home to Mithangol in almost a year. I wish I could tell you that I was looking forward to seeing my father, stepmother, twin half-sisters, and older half-brother again. But I wasn't. In fact, I was absolutely dreading it. The very thought of living with them put painful knots of anxiety in my stomach.
I looked into the cold wind from the back of my dragon, Mavrik, who stretched his wings out wide to catch the updrafts. He soared like a magnificent blue-scaled eagle. I was sitting between his strong neck and powerful wing arms in a saddle made of finely crafted leather. He could sense my uneasiness. Every now and then, he flicked a glance back at me with one of his big yellow eyes, making curious clicking and chirping noises.
"It'll be fine." I tried to sound confident. "I'm sure things will be different now."
In fact, I knew they probably wouldn't. If anything, now they would be much worse. My father had never liked me. He had never even wanted me to begin with. But after my mother passed away, there was nowhere else for me to go except maybe a prison camp. I'm pretty sure that's where I would have ended up if my mother hadn't left behind a letter that named Ulric Broadfeather as my biological father. That letter made him my only living relative, so he was duty-bound to adopt me. It was a law in Maldobar, so he couldn't refuse even though I was a halfbreed. It would have looked worse to abandon me than for him to have a halfbreed for a son.
Far below, tucked into the crevices of the Stonegap Mountains, I saw Mithangol. That was where Ulric and his real family lived, and where I'd been an unwelcomed guest since I was twelve years old. It was the dead of winter now, so all the roofs of the houses and shops were covered in a thick blanket of clean white snow. I could see the steep slopes dotted with dark fir trees and smoke rising up from all the chimneys.
I'd lost all track of time while I was in Blybrig Academy. It was close to the coast and cut off from the world by mountains on all sides, so the seasons practically stood still. It was always warm, dry, and sunny there. After spending so many months in the constant warmth of the desert, I'd forgotten what the winter cold felt like. I shivered hard, and Mavrik made an unhappy grumbling, growling sound. I guess he didn't like the cold, either.
Since I was sure no one at home was expecting me, I wasn't in any hurry to get back there right away. Besides, there was someone else I had to see first. Mavrik circled around the outside of the small city looking for a good place to land. Finally, he cupped his wings and lurched toward the ground, stepping awkwardly into the snow and growling as he hunkered down long enough for me to jump down out of the saddle. I took my bag off his back, and gave him a good scratch behind the ears.
"Go find a good spot in the sun," I told him. "At least until I can figure out how to fit you in the barn." I wasn't sure Ulric was going to allow that — especially since there was a good chance Mavrik might eat the horses. The only thing more dangerous than a hungry dragon is a bored dragon.
Mavrik blinked at me, snorted, and took off into the sky again. I stumbled back as the rush of wind off his wings hit me hard, making me lose my balance for a moment. I stood ankledeep in the snow, watching him soar upwards and disappear into the low clouds. Even if I couldn't see him, I could still feel his presence like a buzzing warmth in the back of my mind. It gave me comfort as I started hiking through the thin line of pine trees.
I knew Mithangol like the back of my hand. I'd spent a lot of a time avoiding my family, and even more time getting into trouble with Katalina Crookin. Katty had been my best friend until I went to Blybrig, and so I started for her house right away. I still considered her one of my closest friends, even if I hadn't seen her in almost a year. Knowing that I'd be standing in her house soon, getting hugged and force-fed by her mother while I told them about my training, put a smile on my face. I was so excited to finally see her.
I walked down the side of the road that led past the Crookin's home. Further down that same road was Ulric's house, but I wasn't going to let myself think about that yet. Katty's father was a blacksmith, and I knew by the smell of scorched metal in the air that he must have been working in his forge. The sun was just beginning to set as I came up the drive toward the front of their house. I saw lights burning in the windows, and smoke puffing out of their chimney. The place looked cozy, and exactly how I'd remembered it.
I knocked on the front door, my stomach churning and doing excited back flips while I waited. I wanted to see Katty, and at the same time, I was so nervous. I wondered if she had changed since we last saw each other. I was fairly sure I hadn't grown at all, despite my best efforts. Finally, the handle lurched, the door opened, and I held my breath.
It wasn't Katty.
Mrs. Crookin stood in the doorway wiping her hands on her apron. When she saw me, she started to smile. Her eyes got bright, and she grabbed me before I could even remember to hold my breath. She always hugged me so tight I thought I might suffocate.
"Jaevid!" She crooned at me, and started kissing my cheeks. "Look at you! So handsome in that uniform! Katty told me you were taken in by the academy. Training to be a dragonrider, is it?"
I blushed as she held me out at arm's length. I was still wearing my fledgling uniform with the king's golden eagle stitched onto the chest. I hadn't bothered putting on my armor, though. It was still packed away in my bags. "Yes, ma'am."
"Oh she's going to be so excited to see you. She read your letters over and over." Mrs. Crookin started wiping dirt from my face with her apron. "She's out at the forge, dear. You should go surprise her."
Katty had told me in one of her letters that she was going to be an apprentice for her father and learn to be a blacksmith, too. I knew that would definitely make her happy. She had always talked about wanting to learn her father's craft. It was her dream.
I left my bag in the doorway and started out across the snow toward the barn where Mr. Crookin had built his own forge and bellows. Black smoke belched out of the stone stack, and I could see the bright red glow of the fire inside shining from the crack under the door.
My stomach was doing more aerobatics than ever as I started to pull on the handle. I opened it just a little, barely enough to peek inside and see what she was doing. All of a sudden, my heart hit the back of my throat like someone was choking me. It hit me so hard I couldn't even think. I couldn't breathe. All I felt was a burning, angry heat in the pit of my stomach like I'd swallowed a mouthful of dragon venom.
Katty was there, and I didn't see her father anywhere. But she wasn't alone. She was standing with a boy who looked like he was eighteen or so — a lot older than I was. He was a lot taller than me, too, with coal-black hair pulled into a short ponytail. He was wearing a blacksmithing apron just like she was, and they were laughing together. I didn't recognize him, which bothered me the most. Mithangol was a very small city. Most of the younger men had bullied me at one time or another while I was growing up, so I knew who they were. But I had never even seen this boy before.
She giggled at him while he teasingly smudged ash on her cheeks, and when she turned around to start working again, I saw him put a hand on the base of her back. It made that angry fire in my gut burn all the way up through my chest. I couldn't even see straight.
They hadn't noticed I was standing there, so I shut the door and backed away. I went back to the house with my heart hammering in my ears. When I got inside, I picked up my bag and got ready to leave.
"Wasn't Katty working out there?" Mrs. Crookin sounded worried. She was leaning in from the kitchen, looking me over for an explanation.
I couldn't meet her gaze. I was sure if I did, she'd see how upset I was. "Yeah. But she's busy. I'll just come back some other time," I lied.
Mrs. Crookin didn't try to stop me as I gathered my bag and left. When the cold air hit my face, I realized just how angry I really was. I didn't even understand why seeing her with that boy made me so upset. But it did. It felt like some kind of betrayal, even if I had no justification for it. Katty and I were just friends. We'd always been just friends. I had no right to be upset about who she flirted with. None of that mattered right then, though. I was so furious I was seeing red.
In my mind, Mavrik sent me an image of him burning the barn to the ground with Katty and that stranger inside. I shook my head, and looked up to the darkening sky. "Don't bother," I muttered.
I knew he would hear me even if he were ten miles away. We were linked now in a way I didn't understand. While I was at Blybrig, I'd discovered I had a unique ability to call out to animals. They could understand me. But so far, Mavrik was the only one who could communicate back to me. That was our secret.
I dragged my feet through the snow as I walked down the road toward Ulric's house. My thoughts were clouded and confused. I wasn't even worried about seeing my family anymore. All I could think about was that stranger and how he'd touched Katty, smiled at her like that, and made her laugh. It made me so annoyed with her, and even more furious and frustrated with myself. I was so caught up that when I turned the corner to walk up the steep, muddy drive toward my family's home, I didn't notice the house.
Then I looked up.
There were no lights burning in the windows, and the house was completely dark. It was getting kind of late, though. Maybe everyone had already gone to sleep? Still, it was strange that there was no smoke coming from the chimney. As cold as it was, Ulric would have normally lit the fireplace to keep the house warm all night.
I hurried up the drive toward the porch, noticing that the garden was dead and covered in snow. My stepmother, Serah, usually covered the ground with pine straw to protect the plants from the cold until spring. Cupping my hands around my eyes, I peeked in through the front window to see if anyone was still sitting up in the parlor. Sometimes Ulric sat at the side of the dying fire to smoke his pipe until really late.
What I saw put another hard, painful knot in my throat. I ran to the front door and started beating on it. To my surprise, the door just swung freely in. It wasn't even locked.
The house was empty.
For a few minutes, I could only stand there in the open doorway while the cold winter wind howled past me. I stared through the darkness into the parlor and kitchen in front of me. There wasn't a stick of furniture anywhere. Judging by the dust gathered on the kitchen counters and windowsills, they hadn't been here for months.
Slowly, I began to realize the truth: they had left me. Ulric had taken his whole family, moved, and never said a word to me about it. Maybe it was naïve to expect him to tell me, but it still left me stunned.
"Jae!" I heard someone call out to me, and I recognized who it was right away. But hearing her voice didn't give me comfort like it usually did. I didn't turn around. I just kept standing there, staring into the empty house, wondering what I was supposed to do now.
Katty ran up behind me with ash still smudged on her cheeks. She was flushed and out of breath, wearing a dark gray dress and blacksmithing apron that were both covered in scorch marks. "Jae?" she said my name again.
I was going to have to face her eventually. At least now, she wouldn't know I was upset about what I'd seen with her. I had bigger problems. "They left," I muttered back, finally looking back at her.
Katty had grown. She looked different, and not in ways I necessarily felt comfortable with. The boys in town had always teased her and called her ugly because of her wild, frizzy curls and scrawny build. Her golden, curly hair was longer and it wasn't frizzy at all. It framed her round face and made her look ... very, very beautiful. Her wide blue eyes glittered in the darkness, but I had to look up to see them because she was taller than me now. All her freckles were gone, and now her skin looked smooth and soft. She had adult shapes to her body now that were almost hidden by her thick leather apron.
She looked a lot more grown up now. And for some reason, that made me more angry and frustrated than ever. Katty was only a few months older than I was, so I had always felt better about my lack of size because she wasn't all that big, either. But now I knew for sure that I was doomed to be a tiny scarecrow forever. Even girls were outgrowing me.
"I know," she said softly. "I came by a week ago to see if you'd come back yet, and they were already gone. This was left for you. I found it slipped under the front door. It's from your brother. I hope you don't mind, but I read it already. I wanted to know why they left without saying anything." She reached into her apron pocket and pulled out a wrinkled envelope.
I took it from her, scowling at it as I crammed it into my own pocket. Why they'd left didn't matter to me right then. All I cared about was that now I was alone here, in a big empty house. I didn't have any furniture. I didn't have any clothes other than my uniforms. I didn't even have food.
"Don't worry, okay?" Katty reached out to put her arms around my neck. She hugged me, but it didn't make me feel any better. In fact, it just felt awkward and wrong — like she was comforting a little kid. "We'll help you. We'll bring you anything you need."
"Thanks." I couldn't make myself say anything else. I was too upset. My jaw locked up and I clenched my teeth.
"I'm so sorry, Jae." She hugged me even tighter. "I've missed you so much."
For some reason, I didn't quite believe her. She'd obviously had some company to keep her from being lonely without me. "Yeah," I managed to answer dryly. "Well, I'm back now for three months."
"You can come stay with us tonight," she offered.
I backed away from her a little, looking into the empty house and trying to decide what to do now. Finally, I shook my head. "No, but thanks. I'll be fine."
She arched a brow at me suspiciously. I could see confusion in her eyes. "But Jae, there's nothing here. You can't possibly —"
"I'll be fine," I repeated. "Please leave me alone."
This definitely wasn't the welcome home I'd expected. Oh sure, I'd anticipated getting the cold shoulder from Serah and my siblings, being forced to sleep in the loftroom again, and maybe even getting a beating from Ulric just for old time's sake. This had caught me completely off guard. I felt so lost.
Katty nodded a little, and started to look sad. "Okay, if you're sure. I'll come by tomorrow with something to eat. We'll catch up." She gave me a hopeful smile.
I couldn't smile back at her. I tried, but the ability wasn't there. As she turned to leave, I lingered in the doorway of the empty house and watched her walk away. I waited until she was far away, too far to see me through the darkness, to let my feelings show.
A few tears blurred my vision and left warm streaks down my face. I wiped them away quickly. Maybe if I were a normalsized, halfway healthy looking young man like that stranger she'd been giggling with, Katty would have noticed me first. But I wasn't. And I never would be. I swallowed my feelings quickly. No matter what happened, I was a dragonrider now. Dragonriders didn't cry.
It started snowing again. Fat white flakes swirled in the air around me when I turned back toward the house again. There really was no point in going inside. Not tonight, anyways. So I shut the door and started for the barn instead. I called out to Mavrik, telling him to land, as I pushed open the heavy barn door. All the horses were gone. So was the wagon, and most of the tools Ulric had kept on hand for his work as a tackmaster. There was old hay still piled on the floor, and it still smelled like the oils he used to season the leather for the dragon saddles.
Excerpted from Avian by Nicole Conway. Copyright © 2014 Nicole Conway. Excerpted by permission of Month9Books.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
So I waited a long time for this sequel after reading Fledgling. My expectations were high because the first one was so good. It was totally worth the wait!!!!!! This sequel took everything I love about the first book and blew me away. I read it in one sitting. It was so good I couldn't put it down. Jaevid is getting older and you can tell he is changing inside and out. He's got some romances starting up and gets himself into some dangerous situations. But in the end I was on the edge of my seat and left with only one question.... WHEN IS THE NEXT ONE COMING OUT?!!!?!
Jae gets sent to an island where him and his team are stripped naked, and beaten close to death over and over, and jae eventually kills someone and gets shot by two arrows.
My Thoughts - 5 out of 5 Unicorns - I loved it!!! ***Received the book as part of the book tour for an honest review The cover is okay, but I don’t know that it would attract me to pick it up if I spied it in a bookstore. It would be a mistake to not pick it up, but I would have preferred a dragon on the cover again :) Of course I loved this book, my favorite characters were off adventuring again :) I didn’t read the blurb before I started reading, so I had lots of surprises while I was reading. I never like to give away what happens in a story, so I won’t ;) But I will say that I went through many emotions while reading and things happened causing me to yell Nooooo inside my own head while reading. I wonder what will happen next to Jae and his friends, and what we will learn about who Jae is. Nicole’s writing style is wonderful to imagine everything happening and getting a great picture in your head. I can’t wait to read more of this series and see what else Nicole thinks up in the future :) I highly recommend this series to fans of Eragon and Lord of the Rings because those movies jump to mind a lot when I’m reading this series. I want to add this book to my classroom to share with my high school students as well, but it will be a while before I can do that. Hmmm what Month9Book to read next ;)
When Jae returns home for his break, he knows he wont get a warm welcome but he never expected that they just up and left the place without telling him! All he is left with is a letter from his step brother and a small few bits of furniture. During his 3 months there he receives a letter from Beckah asking him to come to her. He takes Mavrik and leaves. Once there he realises that the king drake they were nearly attacked by has chosen Beckah as his rider, but girls cant be riders so what is she to do? Also while there Beckahs mum gets into trouble with her pregnancy and Sile tells Jaevid that he is the only one who can save her, he just needs to use his gifts. How does Sile know more about Jae then Jae does? So many questions and to top it off Jaevid is suffering the same nightmare night after night and he is an Avian this year!! He is tested both mentally and physically at Blybrig academy and it takes everything he has just to survive. With his new found abilities Jaevid is pushed to the brink but will he be able to come back or is his elf side too much? Jaevid is back and better than ever!! I loved this installment of the Dragonrider Chronicles!! Jaevid really grows in this book, both mentally and physically. After helping Siles wife he gets a growth spurt and new abilities. Its both a blessing and a curse because he needs to figure out his abilities but because he is now an Avian, his time is spent training. Plus a new trainer seems intent on picking on Jae. Poor Jae still has all the hassle of being a halfbreed but he is so much more content in himself in this book and I loved that about him. Again Felix adds some much needed comic relief. I love his character and I love his friendship with Jaevid. He is struggling with his own problems but he always has Jaevids back. I really loved the fact that all the characters have developed more than they did in the first book. You connect more with them. Plot wise, Avian was awesome. It was everything book one was and more. We see more action, more adventure, more dragons and even a little romance!! The dreams Jae had were really intriguing and I loved how it all came together in the end. I had my suspicions of who the soldier was but I was wrong!!! We are left with a lot of questions though, whats with the chaos? Who is the grey Elf? What is the place the dragons told Jae about? Then the ending had me hoping for book 3. I need it now ;) Anyway, overall Avian was fantastic. Action packed, adventurous and magical, Avian was an incredible second book. I flew through it and am eagerly (and impatiently) awaiting book 3. From the captivating atmosphere to the magical creatures and from the intriguing elves to the lovable characters, Avian is a must read. I fell in love with the world the author has created and cant wait to jump back into it and see what else she has in store for Beckah, Felix and Jaevid!
Avian is just about a perfect sequel to Fledgling. It's a DragonRiders of Pern for aimed at Young Adults. Jaevid is center stage again as he is set to start his second year of training - his Avian year. This year starts with some pretty amazing changes for him. He discovers some Gray Elf heritage the hard and painful way as his body finally develops. He also discovers some hidden gifts that are pretty scary to be honest. His gifts manifest in different ways and grow throughout the story. They play a very key role in his future and the future of the kingdom. His friends and enemies are back, and we get to see his crush from home, Beckah, a little bit as well. This crush was the one thing that didn't sit quite right with me. It seemed to be a bit overdone and the fallout was a little awkward. It ended too many times when it could have been done with simply without the added drama. There is a new romance for Jaevid that is developing, a very good one, but with a girl that is pretty much off limits to him. I'll be very interested to see where this goes. She is about as non-traditional as he is and they are a good fit. The land is seeing lots of unsettling changes as animals seem to be going crazy - attacking for no reason and causing a boat load of problems. Even Jaevid can't get through to them with his special animal speaking skills - their free will seems to be gone. No one knows what is causing this, but the dragons are particularly upset about it. Jaevid's second year of training is a tough one. He is forced to make some incredibly difficult decisions and take part in some horrific training. He knows that he will have a major part to play in the upcoming events and in the war against the Gray Elves, but he's not sure what that part will be yet. This was a very exciting book two that kept me turning the pages as fast as I could to see what would happen next. I loved seeing his old friends and trainers and meeting a few new ones. I can't wait to see what book three will have in store. *This book was received in exchange for an honest review*