EMBERS OF DESTRUCTION, by J. Scott Savage, Shadow Mountain, Sept. 26, 2017, Hardcover, $17.99 (ages 10-13)
Let me begin this review with this warning: If you haven’t read the first two books in the Mysteries of Cove series, stop reading! There are spoilers ahead. You really need to read Fires of Invention and Gears of Revolution before settling in to Embers of Destruction.
Embers of Destruction is the final book in the Mysteries of Cove trilogy. It opens with Trenton, Kallista and their friends — Plucky, Simoni, Angus and Clyde — just outside what used to be San Francisco. The friends are hoping to rescue any survivors from the battle of Seattle, including Kallista’s father, Leo Babbage. They also hope to find something about the dragons that can help defeat them once and for all.
Instead, they happen upon a bustling city where humans and dragons seem to peacefully coexist. Skeptical of this alliance, Trenton and his friends cautiously begin to explore, and run into Kallista’s father in the process. It turns out the humans are working as slaves to the dragons, but they don’t want to be rescued. They may be slaves, but a huge white dragon who lives in a tower above the city keeps them safe and keeps them fed. What more could they ask for.
Even Kallista’s father seems to think the setup is a good idea, and, in a stunning move, turns Trenton and his friends over to the city’s guards. Though they’ve officially been assimilated into the city, the friends are anything but accepting. And they’re not the only ones. Kids from all over the city feel the same way. Together, they track down the source of the dragon’s power and discover how the beasts came to be in the first place.
Though Fires of Invention was the sequel to Gears of Revolution, it had a very different feel than its predecessor. The first takes place inside a mountain, and Kallista and Trenton are in their natural environment. There’s a narrowed focus centered on building their mechanical dragon. In the second book, that scope expands and the two friends are pulled in different directions.
In Embers of Destruction there’s a marrying of both those books. The scope remains large but a renewed sense of purpose pulls at the strings.
As with the other books, there’s lots of steampunk machinery and mixed with fantasy elements. But this time around author J. Scott Savage also focuses on more of the little moments, getting inside Trenton’s head and working through his insecurities. With Embers of Destruction being the third book, Savage could have easily coasted. Instead he continues to build his characters and world. This keeps the books fresh and exciting.
Embers of Destruction is the end of Savage’s trilogy, and yet he lives some wiggle room for more stories later, should he so choose. The end is satisfactory, but it in no way ties up all the loose threads, which some people will hate. For me, though, it mirrors real life, and that’s something I can appreciate.
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