I've always seen writing a story as akin to weaving a tapestry - if you have a thread, you keep it around, even if it's only a little thing. If you drop threads, your tapestry starts to get a little thin, depending on how many threads you drop.
This eight-book series is great. I would recommend it to anyone who enjoys dragons, and I will give it a five-star review on Amazon when I finish the last book. The main character has a great character arc while still retaining self, and her number two is suitably tortured - I do hope he finally gets his girl - we'll see.
The threads I'm talking about aren't big and in the vast scheme of this story, they don't really mean much; they were just something that nagged at me.
First off, early on, our dragoneer sent off a rider in search of a translator, because, for the first time, they were able to take a surviving enemy as prisoner, and now they needed to find a way to communicate. I can sympathize, but it didn't seem like she put in enough effort to that end. She left it up to another of her riders to devote the hours. I can understand not having a lot of time, but it just seemed like she could have given it more effort - just my opinion. She hasn't been in the dragonseat for more than a month, and it takes experience. So she sends this guy off on one of only two male dragons they have (That's another issue I'll address later), and he just vanishes out of the story and virtually out of mind. Time is difficult to judge in this series, so I can't tell you how much time passed before he surfaced again - suffice it to say, it felt like a while. He was badly injured, but he did manage to pass along some vital information about a heretofore unknown staging site farther along the mountain range. From this site, they, the enemy, were amassing a ground force large enough to deal with our dragoneer's dragons. The big question at this point was why. Generations of dragon wars every summer all summer long made no sense. She wanted it to stop, and ever since joining with her alpha dragon, she felt every ache, pain, and wound of any dragons around her, so I can sympathize. A short time later, they brought this rider and his dragon home. At that point, you never hear about that rider ever again. I'm ready to start the last book, and I seriously doubt he'll show up now. The only thing wrong about this is, though the alpha dragon and her dragoneer are the only ones who join, the other riders get very attached to their dragons. If a dragon dies but the rider survives, he gets another dragon, but it's like when you get a new dog a couple days after the one you've had for years has died - there's an adjustment period - new habits and a different feel to get used to. This particular rider, even if he could never ride again, would have come to see his dragon or hung around to do chores or whatever. As it is, we don't even know if he survived or died. There was no funeral, and dead riders get a very visible funeral, The whole village turns out. I know I kept looking for him; he just never turned up in any capacity, not even a doctor's report.
The next thread that got lost involved that camp. When word got back to the king about it, he sent an army of, I assume, comparable numbers to deal with the leak through the mountains near there. Our dragoneer flew over to investigate and found the site deserted. Since their big army force had failed spectacularly, anyone left behind had taken off only with what they could carry. When the king's army arrived, they were told to occupy that site, and then we hear nothing about that at all ever again. They even had a caravan come through that 'leak' and the staging site might as well have been overgrown and wiped away for all the mention. At the very least, a fast horse should have been sent ahead to announce the arrival of a friendly caravan from across the mountains. Nada
The next thing is kinda big if you ask me, but really has no real effect on the story. The enemy on the other side of the country wants their eggs, but since feeding their dragons had become a problem, the dragoneer had opted to not allow her dragons to breed that year - she just couldn't feed them, I'm thinking this wasn't planned when that first book was written. Okay, let me start at the beginning. I've raised chickens, ducks and geese, and I've noticed a time or two in other places the ratio of male to female in cattle and pigs. My dad used to raise both, but I was just a kid; I didn't pay attention to those numbers back then. Anyway, the ratio of male to female is almost always real close to 50/50. If these dragons lay eggs every fall, where are the young dragons? How long does it take them to grow up to be old enough to ride? I can see most eggs being sent to the king, because if you take twenty dragons laying even only a dozen eggs each, That's almost two hundred and fifty eggs. Now at 50/50, that's over a hundred males. What was here at the beginning was twenty females, which were the bigger fighting dragons, and two substantially smaller male dragons. The male dragons were used as couriers because they were much faster than the bigger females. Now, what with the every-year war, casualties were, after a fashion, constant. They should have had young dragons in training by young hopeful riders to take their place. So, logically, they should have kept at least ten female babies and at a minimum one male dragon to keep the breeding stock going, though it might be better if theirs went to the king and other males were sent back, just to keep the bloodlines mixed. That would take care of the one male dragon ridden by that one now-dropped rider, that was deemed unrideable by the time they were found. This is another detail that was never mentioned again. As it was described back then, He'd been left wearing his saddle for so long the straps had started to cut into his muscle - not so much that he couldn't fly home, but bad enough he could never be saddled again. I can only assume that even when they reach adulthood, they must keep growing some. Or maybe the leather straps had shrunk. It was never explained. So, I suppose he could still breed, but he couldn't carry a messenger. Plus, when you have baby dragons, you easily have children eager to take care of them. I don't know; I think it would have added some comic relief to the drama. It would have required a separate wing to the dragon barn, or maybe even a different barn altogether. Can't you just see some kid running through the heather holding his baby up so she could feel the wind rather than just pretending to be the next dragon rider?
Like I said, five stars for this series. It really is a great read. Check it out.