The First Dragoneer

Rated 4.00/5 based on 11 reviews
When two young men go on a hunt that they know will be the last hunt of their youth, they decide they want it to be an unforgettable outing.

When they cross a ridge leaving the protection of their kingdom behind, they find a cavern that looks like it needs to be explored.
In the cavern they find exactly what they were looking for. In this stoney hole lives something they will never forget!
Download: epub mobi (Kindle) pdf more read online

Price: Free! USD

Words: 28,160
Language: English
ISBN: 9781452443317
About M. R. Mathias

The jewel you see glowing in the ring in my author photo isn't really a jewel at all. It is the crystallized tear of a real dragon. In my novel "The Royal Dragoneers" you might find the moment where this wonderfully magical tear drop fell from a green dragon's eye. It hardened on its way down to land in a mess of troll corpses that the dragon was laying on.

My grandfather died before I was born, but the ring was given to me by my mother after my grandmother recently died. My grandfather had apparently won the ring in a poker game near the Red River between Texas and Oklahoma sometime in the early 1900's.

It has been a boon to me, the magic of the teardrop, for it brought you here didn't it? Now treat yourself to something fantastic and try out the free sample of one of my novels. I hope you enjoy the journey. It will be spectacular. Thanks M.R. Mathias

Follow me @DahgMahn on twitter

Smashwords Notes:
The map for the known kingdoms in "The Sword and the Dragon" can be found under the cover image at my website: http://www.mrmathias.com/

The map for the land of the Dragoneers can be found here: http://www.mrmathias.com/Dragoneers.html

***FREE READS*** by M. R. Mathias

*Dragoneers Saga:
"The First Dragoneer" - novella
"Marcherian" - flash fiction

*Wardstone:
"The Blood of Coldfrost" - flash fiction

Also in The Dragoneer Saga

Also by This Author

Reviews

Review by: Rebecca A on Sep. 23, 2011 : (no rating)
The First Dragoneer was a really interesting novella that hooked me into the story straight away. I’m always a fan of fantasy and this one was definitely interesting. Of the two main characters I believe that Bren was my favourite. There was one part in the novella that I got a huge surprised and was really hoping that things would turn around for the best. Overall, I really enjoyed The First Dragoneer and definitely piqued my interest enough that at some point I shall be reading the series.
(review of free book)

Review by: Christie Silvers on July 05, 2011 :
Even though I don't normally read this type of story, I found The First Dragoneer intriguing. It's a heartfelt story with great description and characters you can feel good about knowing.

This prequel novella does a nice job at setting up the world they live in for future books in the series. The First Dragoneer will appeal to readers of all ages who enjoy fantasy worlds of dragons, elves and magic.
(review of free book)

Review by: Laney Stealey on June 18, 2011 :
True friends will do anything for each other. M. R. Mathias allows his readers to follow 2 best friends as they embarq together on a journey of self discovery. The boys emotions about their lives & their new adventure are intense. I had to find out what was going to happen next. I am looking forward to meeting all The Dragoneers!
(review of free book)

Review by: sterljoy on Dec. 05, 2010 :
I really enjoyed this book and wish it didnt ended so abrupt. Hope the author continue the story line. well written adventure story.
(review of free book)

Review by: D.P. Prior on Nov. 16, 2010 :
The First Dragoneer is a brief induction into the world M.R. Mathias has created for his epic novels.

The reader is immediately dropped into the midst of a hunting trip – the last such to be enjoyed by childhood friends, Brendley and March. It’s an easy task for the reader: the dialogue is so natural and genuine, the descriptions succinct and yet hitting the mark with exactly the right amount of imagery that it almost reads itself. I started to enjoy the tale from the outset because of this deceptively simple writing style and because so much information (back-story, mise en scene, motivation) was established contextually and without lengthy exposition.

The narration blends seamlessly with the characters’ thoughts and feelings, which are never obtrusive. Mathias makes good use of his writer’s palette, taking from his toolbox just what he needs and no more.

There is a degree of head hopping but it’s well-controlled and there are only two main POVs so it never gets confusing. Sometimes, early on, I got a little confused with the characters. It was a little hard to tell them apart, but this ultimately emerged as a strength: Bren and March are joined at the hip and this is the story of their parting.

Editing is fair. There were one or two malapropisms, some missed apostrophes and some redundant adjectives that weakened otherwise strong lines, but these are few and far between. There were also some minor problems with word repetition which didn’t exactly leap off the page but would add polish if modified.

Generally Mathias writes fluid prose that the eye just skips over with ease. He has a knack for finding just the right word for the character and context and is never pretentious. He allows the reader’s imagination to form the images with just the right stimulus (“fist-sized spiders scurried from the noisy brightness...”). Rarely does Mathias overcook his adjectives. He also understands the importance of vernacular and specificity:

“and who is gonna race me to the short dock when the krill begin to spawn?”

Mathias writes about what he knows: the hunting scenes are easy and lucid, full of appropriate and uncontrived spiel. He’s also good at the small details the evoke all the senses - - the fiery brandy, the crisp air, the food:

“March handed Bren a pan full of scrambled grouse eggs he had collected and cooked earlier.”

Little things, little details that convey real people, people we can identify with. Lots of outdoor craft – torch making, fire building, construction of a litter (maybe “travois-like device” was a bit too specific but that’s a minor gripe).
Ordinary, believable people moving into uncharted waters. Chesterton would have loved this.

There’s also a nice use of mythology with the introduction of the white stag and the near “Rhyme of the Ancient Mariner” albatross moment. To his credit, Mathias doesn’t waste this either. He introduces these elements with purpose: the decision over killing or sparing the stag is a critical moment determining the outcome of the story and the vector of the novels that follow.

The action sequences in The First Dragoneer were a delight, full of human idiosyncrasies and those odd little accidents that real people are prone to under situations of duress.
It’s not just action and characterisation that Mathias is good at wither. There are some stunning descriptions of the landscape that pulled me right into his world:

"The rich, dark shades of the green tree tops flowed down the mountainside on their way out into the lower slopes of the valley. The trees thinned into large clumps, only to disappear completely in the valley floor. There, squares and long rectangles of brown, gold and russet took over. Some of the greener fields were speckled with the black and brown dots that were livestock, but most were empty of life save for the rows and rows of crops. The silvery-blue thread of the Prominence River wound its way through the pastures and crop-fields, splitting the valley into two misshape[n] halves."

The sense of place is further enhanced by the characters interacting with their environment – the hunting, the descent to the cavern, the practical solutions they need to come up with for their survival.

I thought the ending was a little hurried. There was a great description of the dragon’s approach but then all its knowledge is conveyed to March instantaneously, thus short-changing the reader. There’s also a very sharp change of gear at this stage – and perhaps there needs to be. We are about to be jolted from one world to the next. The familiar hunting grounds of Bren and March are about to give way to the world of the Dragoneers and their war against the coming Confliction.

The First Dragoneers is by no means perfect, but it’s a very strong introduction to the author’s oeuvre and a thoroughly enjoyable read. A bit of spit and polish and it’s as good as they get.

As to the little matter of rating, I don’t think a book has to be perfect to earn 5 stars (if that was the case I’d never dish any out). What it does have to do is engage me and make me want to read more. Mathias does this and does it well.
(review of free book)

Review by: Kris Moon on Nov. 16, 2010 :
Sorry, I couldn't get past the first few pages. I do appreciate authors putting their work up here for free, but make sure it's something good, especially if you're hoping it'll entice us to buy some of your none-free ebooks.

Problems with the opening:

It starts with backstory, which we continue to get a lot of throughout.

We've got two characters talking to each other about things purely for the benefit of the reader.

Nothing happens for a while. Novels don't have to open in the middle of some life-or-death battle, but they should open with something interesting happening.

I suggest the author join Critters or another workshop to improve as a writer.
(review of free book)

Review by: stuart taylor on Oct. 29, 2010 :
The First Dragoneer:

When two young men go on a hunt that they know will probably be the last hunt of their youth, they decide they want it to be an unforgettable outting.

When they cross a ridge and leave the unprotected, unpatrolled boundary of their kingdom, they find a cavern that looks like it needs to be explored.

Inside the cavern they find exactly what they were looking for. For residing in the darkened depths of this stoney hole is something that they will never forget......

That is, if they live long enough to remember it!


Snippet:
His words abruptly stopped as a new sound carried toward them. It was a snort, a loud one. It was accompanied by the sound of rattling branches. Brendly instantly went back into firing position; alert, prone and ready.

March gave his nose a last second scratch as put his arrow to the string. The soft sound of Bren’s excited breathing was the last sound he heard before tuning the world out so that he could focus on the tree line.

First it was a small doe, a yearling, March thought. Two fawns, and another larger doe appeared. With nervous darting eyes, the biggest of the four deer lowered its head and began to drink. Slowly the others followed. March was thrilled. He hoped that Bren would be patient. A buck was sure to present itself eventually.

Bren almost loosed his arrow on the larger doe, but at the last second thought better of it. He wanted a buck to show off to his dad, but his restraint was mostly due to the two awkward moving young fawns frolicking near their mother.

Suddenly, all four of the deer rose from the pool and froze in alarm. In a flash of movement, a big cracking sound erupted from behind them. They were off in a series of leaping bounds that carried them instantly out of sight and back into the forest.

Here he comes, March thought. He expected a wide heavy rack of antlers to emerge from the trees, announcing the leader of the herd. Instead, the creature that showed itself nearly stopped his heart.

As silently as he could, Brendly took in a deep breath as the magnificent beast stepped out of the tree line. Cautiously, yet with an air of arrogance, it moved into the clearing and looked around.

It was the white stag...
(reviewed within a month of purchase)

Review by: Sheila Deeth on Sep. 13, 2010 :
The First Dragoneer by MR Mathias, is a fun adventure story for middle-grade and older. Two young boys face that time when the world changes, when they have to grow up; and though their world is very different from ours, their feelings will be familiar to many readers. March will leave to find his fortune elsewhere. Bren will stay to fulfill his family obligations. And each imagines they’d rather be the other.

The author creates a pleasing “other world” with words that are close enough to familiar to avoid that sinking alien-ness that so easily alienates readers. March calls Bren a “giboon” and imagination furnishes the image—nicely done. Meanwhile the hunting and tracking skills of our own world work just as well when entering forbidden caves in another.

As boys will everywhere, each tries to act unafraid in the quest for just one last adventure. Each sees the other as confident. And each is just a little too curious.

The danger, when it comes, is swift and vividly described. The author certainly writes a good fight scene, and an aftermath that’s all too plausibly painful.

The First Dragoneer is a nicely complete novella in its own right, and a good introduction to the author’s Dragoneers Saga; intriguing fantasy, fun characters, and lots of questions to carry the story onward.
(reviewed within a month of purchase)

Review by: readingfanatic1 on Aug. 23, 2010 :
Brendley Tuck and March Weston are best friends. More importantly, like all young men on the verge of becoming an adult, they are deciding what they want to do with the rest of their lives. Brendley does not think he has the options that March does and is envious that his friend can leave Prominence Valley, where they currently live. As best friends, they do not want to leave each other, they have been friends all their lives.

The young men decide to do one last hunting trip together. This hunting trip will change their lives forever.

While this Prequel-Novella is a very short read, it is also very good. In a short amount of pages, you learn plenty about the boys and the courage, and loyalty they have for each other.

Like any good fantasy, it has action, fantastic creatures, and it made me want to read what happens next.

The end of this short story is clearly the beginning of what I predict will be a very good book. All wrapped up in 48 pages!

One note- I received this book as part of the author's promotion by going to smashwords. I used the code ZQ99Y.
(reviewed the day of purchase)

Review by: Danielle Bragg on Aug. 23, 2010 :
Poor formatting, poor grammar, boring and unimaginative. I'd steer clear of this one.
(reviewed the day of purchase)

Review by: Sharon E. Cathcart on Aug. 23, 2010 :
The premise of "The First Dragoneer" is a good one. Bren and March are two good friends going on their last hunt before one of them leaves the village. They run into some unanticipated adventures in the process.

M.R. Mathias starts off with a really good idea. However, I found myself distracted by homonym problems (e.g., arrows are properly referred to as "nocked," not "knocked" and one lights a fire using a "tinder box," not a "tender box."). There were several other similar issues that gave away Mathias' using his spellchecker instead of a human proofreader to look at his manuscript. This kind of stuff leaps out at me, as I was a newspaper copy editor for a long while and still do editing on a freelance basis. The editorial problems caused me to take a star off of the rating because they were so pervasive.

This novella also includes a two-chapter preview of "The Royal Dragoneers," for which "The First Dragoneer" is a prequel. I think that Mathias has a great idea for a series, and am hopeful that some judicious editing will lead to success for him.
(reviewed within a week of purchase)

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