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Wings of Fire by Tui T. Sutherland {family read-aloud}

For the last year, the girls and I have been listening to the Wings of Fire series by Tui T. Sutherland (on audiobook). My nieces introduced Sunshine and Lily to these books at Christmas last year. When we got home, they looked up the series at the library. I wondered what all these dragon books were about… and then Sunshine found Wings of Fire: The Dragonet Prophecy on audiobook. Within a few chapters, I was finding excuses to go for a drive so we could listen to the CDs in the van (where everyone is quiet and focused on the story).

The Wings of Fire series by Tui T. Sutherland is a great family read-aloud!

We’ve borrowed these books from our library or bought them for our kids. This post contains affiliate link; as an Amazon associate, I earn from qualifying purchases.

The Wings of Fire (Books 1-5)

The Wings of Fire series are YA fantasy novels set on the continent of Pyrrhia. For the last eighteen years, war has been raging among the seven dragon tribes after the unexpected death of the Sandwing queen. Each of her three daughters has claimed the throne and formed alliances with other tribes. A Nightwing prophecy says that five dragonets will end the war… and that’s where the story begins.

Each of the first five books is told from a different dragon’s perspective. These five dragons are the “Dragonets of Destiny,” prophesied to end the war. They’ve been raised, since hatching on the brightest night, in a cave by three guardians. These guardians belong to the Talons of Peace, a secret organization that wants to end the war—and will do anything, even kidnap dragon eggs and spend years raising dragonets, to do that.

Wings of Fire Book One: The Dragonet ProphecyThe Dragonet Prophecy is Clay’s story. He, Tsunami, Glory, Sunny, and Starflight are six years old, but they are done with being hidden in a cave. Their guardians are abusive and the dragonets hatch a daring plot to escape. However, a chance encounter with the Skywing Queen lands them in a new prison. Now, they must fight as gladiators for Queen Scarlet’s entertainment. All through the novel, Clay tries to protect his friends and to summon the “inner killer” his guardians have insisted he has. Only when he meets his real family and learns more about the Mudwings does Clay truly understand himself.

The Lost Heir by Tui T. SutherlandIn The Lost Heir, the dragonets travel to the Seawing Kingdom to meet Tsunami’s family. Tsunami is welcomed home as the lost heir, but her friends are confined to a room and viewed with suspicion. And the Kingdom of the Sea may not even be safe for Tsunami: a mysterious assassin has been killing the heirs to the throne for years. As Tsunami learns more about her tribe and tries to solve the mystery, she must also confront her own bossiness and desire to be queen.

Wings of Fire Book Three: The Hidden KingdomAfter leaving the seawings, the dragonets head for The Hidden Kingdom—the rain forest. Little is known about the Rainwings, who have stayed out of the war and are generally considered lazy and useless. Glory has been told all her life that she should have been a Skywing, but the Skywing egg was destroyed and the guardians replaced it with hers. She has a sharp, sarcastic personality and questions her role within the prophecy. Yet when she and her friends discover Rainwings are disappearing from the rain forest, Glory can’t stand by and do nothing.

In TheDark SecretThe Dark Secret (Wings of Fire #4), Starflight finally reaches the mysterious home of the Nightwings, who have also remained out of the war except for the prophecy. However, all is not well here; the Nightwing Queen hides behind a screen and an active volcano threatens the island. Previously proud to be a Nightwing, despite his lack of Nightwing powers, Starflight is now dismayed by what he learns about his tribe. He has been the brains of the dragonets, the one who memorizes scrolls and recites random facts to his friends. Now, he needs Tsunami’s courage and boldness to save his friends—and his tribe.

The Brightest Night by Tui T. SutherlandThe Brightest Night wraps up the war and the prophecy with Sunny’s story. The smallest, strangest dragonet, Sunny is supposed to be a Sandwing—but she doesn’t have the tail barb and her scales are the wrong colour. She’s lived up to her name, with a positive attitude and a dogged belief in the prophecy, despite what they’ve encountered. The catastrophic ending to The Dark Secret propels her into the desert by herself, searching for answers. As she starts to piece together the events that started the war, Sunny also determines to end the war—prophecy or not.

My Thoughts on Wings of Fire

There is so much to love about Wings of Fire! First, the character of the five dragonets drives the story forward. Clay, Glory, Tsunami, Sunny and Starflight are each intensely loyal to each other and ready to die for each other (and on several occasions, do risk their lives to save their friends). They grow in character in each of the books. They also learn from each other; for example, Tsunami learns to think things over like Starflight, and he learns to take action like she does.

There’s a popular song in Wings of Fire which goes, “The dragonets are coming! They’re coming to save the day. They’re coming to fight for they know what’s right—the dragonets, hooray!” After one of my daughters ran past chanting this, my husband asked, “Do they know what’s right?” And I said, “Yes,” without hesitation. Throughout the books, the dragonets display empathy towards other dragons, encourage dragons to stop fighting and killing, help each other and even the dragons who mistreat them (including rescuing one of their guardians), and otherwise display positive virtues.

All five Wings of Fire books are basically about a world war, so there are negative elements. However, these are very clearly seen as negative by the dragonets. Even when forced to fight as “gladiators” in the first book, both Clay and Tsunami attempt to talk their way out before fighting. While other dragons eat “scavengers” (or humans), the dragonets don’t, and view the scavengers as intelligent beings rather than prey.

There are descriptions of dragons killing dragons (especially in The Dragonet Prophecy), but two dragons who are considered “assassins” turn around and change their ways thanks to the influence of Clay and Glory and their friends. One Nightwing dragon made me think of Hitler’s scientists during World War II, prioritizing scientific learning over human decency and compassion, but he’s clearly shunned and punished for his actions.

Lily says she likes Wings of Fire because “it has a lot of different subjects—there’s a bit of romance and a bit of comedy and lots of drama and adventure and some mystery in each book too.” We’ve often laughed out loud at different parts of the book. Clay’s constant hunger makes for good jokes, as does Glory’s sarcasm (and Deathbringer’s head-over-heels love for her). While various dragons like other dragons, the romance isn’t a huge part of the books; friendship is a bigger focus.

It’s been a lot of fun to listen to Wings of Fire with the girls and discuss the books together. There’s a lot to talk about (though we’ve had to have lots of discussions about “NO SPOILERS!”) in this series. We’ve talked about what the dragonets should or shouldn’t do, which characters we like best and why, how the dragons interact with each other, and more.

Inspiring Creativity

Sunshine and Lily have drawn their own maps and written their own fan fiction based on the Wings of Fire series and the world of Pyrrhia. Some of their close friends are also huge fans of the novels, so they collaborated on drawing and writing. It’s been fun to watch their creativity coming out of this series.

Wings of Fire Graphic Novels

The first three books of the Wings of Fire series are also available as graphic novels. The girls have devoured these as eagerly as the novels. Jade (age 6) isn’t yet reading, but looks at the pictures or gets Lily to read the graphic novels to her.

There is, of course, way more in the novels than in the graphic novels. I read the first two graphic novels and was honestly disappointed after the audiobooks. Like a movie, a graphic novel has to cut out much of the story (or the book would be huge). I also found it harder to tell the dragons apart with the pictures (and reduced dialogue) than in the audiobooks.

That being said, if you want to check out Wings of Fire, the graphic novels are a quick, easy read that let you get the overaching plot ideas. And for kids who are just starting to read, like Jade, and may not tackle an entire novel yet, the graphic novels are also a good way to get into the books.

A Graphix Book: The Dragonet ProphecyThe Lost Heir (Wings of Fire Graphic Novel)The Hidden Kingdom (Wings of Fire Graphic Novel #3): A Graphix Book

More about Tui T. Sutherland

Tui T. Sutherland was born in Venezuela and named for a New Zealand bird (similar to the kiwi but noisier). She has lived in Paraguay and the Dominican Republic and now resides in Boston with her husband, two children, and a dog named Sunshine. She was involved in her high school theatre and then turned to writing after college. She’s now the author of over forty books, ranging from sticker books and easy readers to YA novels. To find out more about Tui and her books, drop by her website.

Kids who love the Wings of Fire series can also check the Scholastic website for book trailers, activities, an interactive game, and more.

If you’re looking for a fun family read-aloud, I highly recommend Tui T. Sutherland’s Wings of Fire series.

Have your kids read the Wings of Fire series? Do they like stories about dragons?

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