A fantasy, set in an alternate contemporary world, in which dragons and their riders compete in an international sports tournament.
It’s finally time to review Blazewrath Games by Amparo Ortiz!
Blazewrath Games first made its appearance on my radar less than a week before publication and far too late to get my hands on an advanced reader copy, so I waited for release and requested that my local library pick it up. Well, here we are nearly a year later and I’ve finally had a chance to listen to the audiobook. Great performance! Victoria Rodriguez’s narration is a pleasure to listen to. [review continues below]
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About the Book
Blazewrath Games Book One
by Amparo Ortiz
Published 6 October 2020
Page Street Kids
Page Count: 368
Published 13 October 2020
Dreamscape Media, LLC
Narrator: Victoria Rodriguez
Length: 14 hours and 19 minutes
Genre: YA Fantasy
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A fantasy, set in an alternate contemporary world, in which dragons and their riders compete in an international sports tournament
Lana Torres has always preferred dragons to people. In a few weeks, sixteen countries will compete in the Blazewrath World Cup, a tournament where dragons and their riders fight for glory in a dangerous relay. Lana longs to represent her native Puerto Rico in their first ever World Cup appearance, and when Puerto Rico’s Runner—the only player without a dragon steed—is kicked off the team, she’s given the chance.
But when she discovers that a former Blazewrath superstar has teamed up with the Sire—a legendary dragon who’s cursed into human form—the safety of the Cup is jeopardized. The pair are burning down dragon sanctuaries around the world and refuse to stop unless the Cup gets cancelled. All Lana wanted was to represent her country. Now, to do that, she’ll have to navigate an international conspiracy that’s deadlier than her beloved sport.
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My Rating: 4 Stars
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Blazewrath Games first made its appearance on my radar less than a week before publication and far too late to get my hands on an advanced reader copy, so I waited for release and requested that my local library pick it up. Well, here we are nearly a year later and I’ve finally had a chance to listen to the audiobook. Great performance! Victoria Rodriguez’s narration is a pleasure to listen to.
This book has a little bit of everything. There’s dragons, there’s teenage angst, there’s bad guys and strange magic, and there’s Latin American representation. I love the concept of this high stakes sport and I wish we got more actual gameplay on the page. The lore of the dragons, how they choose their riders, and what a mess has been made of a big important dragon going rogue are all fascinating, and it’s clear that Ortiz has a lot more of this world fleshed out behind the scenes than what we got to explore in this book.
The diaspora theme and internal conflict Lana has to deal with, being Peurto Rican by birth and competing for team Puerto Rico but having spent a huge chunk of her life and most recent years within the continental USA. She feels tied to and yet impossibly distant from her homeland, and the animosity of her teammates who think she’s above coming home gave me so much sympathetic anxiety on her behalf. I’m neither Puerto Rican nor American, so I’m not going to risk putting my foot in my mouth and try to express any sort of “I understand” sentiment, but I will say it was an interesting predicament to be forced to explore as I read this book.
In terms of plot, this book is ambitious, but perhaps too much so. There’s a lot going on, and as a result, a lot of it feels only 90% finished. I know there’s a sequel coming out (I’m impatiently awaiting a decision on the ARC request I put in 3 months ago…) but the things that feel unfinished in this book don’t feel intentional in an “I’m leading you into the next book” sort of way. The plot lines do all neatly tie up. I didn’t read the synopsis on the sequel I ARC requested because I didn’t want to spoil the first book, and I have zero guesses what book two will be about besides Lana and friends with dragons and they’ll probably spend some time in Puerto Rico.
The ARC review that got me interested in this book called it Hunger Games x Triwizard Tournament, and I think that’s both perfect and utterly inaccurate at the same time. Once you’ve actually read this book and consider the finer points of the plot, yes, absolutely, there are important broad strokes ideas from both of those that do directly compare to this. Before you’ve read it, though, that comparison sets up all the wrong expectations. I’ve seen that comparison used in more than one place since the original ARC review that made me put this book on my list, and I’m glad the official synopsis and tagline hasn’t adopted it.
I’m definitely glad I read this book, I’m 100% looking forward to finding out what book two is all about (hopefully not a year late via library loan that I wait ages for,) and I will definitely be keeping this author on my radar.
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