CSFF Tour: Starlighter by Bryan Davis

This month, the Christian Science Fiction and Fantasy blog tour is featuring Starlighter, the first novel in the Dragons of Starlight series by Bryan Davis.

Starlighter has a dual plot line—the heroine is Koren, an orphaned slave on a world where dragons rule and humans are treated like cattle, forced to dig holes to release ignitable gas into the atmosphere that the dragons need to survive, and fear their masters eat them when they’re “Promoted,” which supposedly involved being sent to cooler northern climes. The other plot line involves Jason, a teen boy who takes over his brother’s job guarding the despotic governor and palace intrigues soon launch him on a quest to find the Lost Ones taken to the dragon world a century ago. Those who believe in the Dragon world and the Lost Ones are persecuted.

Perhaps because it is YA, starting out, it was cumbered down by a bit much telling, mostly relationships, a bit of thought tagging, and such. It was probably thought younger readers might not get it by being shown these things like you would with adults. Personally, I think we don’t give teens enough credit. Once we got past that, however, the book settled into the breakneck pacing and engaging story weaving from the previous title we, er, I reviewed from this author.

Aspects that made me go ew:

  • Severed, glowing fingers cut out of despot’s chests and burned into the hero’s chest. Can I say again, ew?

Aspects that intrigued me:

  • The conflicting origins stories told to the citizens of Starlight/Dracon. The alleged myths say they came from Jason’s world—stolen for no good reason according to the humans and to save a handful of survivors from man-eating bears (that can talk.) But others present supposedly ironclad evidence that humans have always been on Starlight. It’ll be interesting to see how this unresolved conflict plays out in future installments.
  • The prince in the black egg—his nature is kept, probably deliberately, mysterious for most of the book—a prophecy hints at a sinister intent towards humans early on, but he plays nice guy, (the egg can talk, too) trying to sound like Jesus, but actually reversing the Lord’s teachings subtly. In the end, the author highlights this without being preachy. It does occur to me, were teens as stupid as all the telling early on would suggest, they might miss this subtly and think he’s the wise counselor he wants others to believe he is. I think not, though.
  • Arxad the Dragon Priest, his clear sympathies towards humans, but ardent and honest loyalty to the dragon regime that oppresses them.

If you love classic fantasy adventures with good old fashioned fire-breathers, and don’t mind magic tokens in the form of severed body parts, this would be a good one to preview before deciding whether it’s appropriate for your teen. (Note: I always advocate screening your child’s reading materials. Besides, it’s an excuse to read it yourself.)

Other Stops on the Tour:
Brandon Barr
Beckie Burnham
Jeff Chapman
R. L. Copple
CSFF Blog Tour
Stacey Dale
D. G. D. Davidson
Jeff Draper
April Erwin
Andrea Graham
Tori Greene
Nikole Hahn
Ryan Heart
Becky Jesse
Cris Jesse
Jason Joyner
Carol Keen
Krystine Kercher
Dawn King
Jane Maritz
Rebecca LuElla Miller
John W. Otte
Donita K. Paul
Crista Richey
Chawna Schroeder
Rachel Starr Thomson
Steve Trower
Fred Warren
Dona Watson
Phyllis Wheeler
Jill Williamson
KM Wilsher


  1. Andrea,

    Thank you for participating in the blog tour and for reviewing my book. Maybe we can talk someday about the aspects you criticized. I’m always willing to learn.

    I appreciate the support. Blogs like yours are very helpful. 🙂

    Bryan Davis

  2. Andrea, I’m glad someone else found the severed finger to be an “ew” factor. 😀

    Nice post! I especially like the list of things that intrigued you. I hadn’t put those side-by-side before to see how many things readers didn’t know for sure. You could even add in Randall, though his true nature showed itself earlier than did the prince’s.

    I’m also intrigued by those who plotted against Prescott and hid the knowledge of the portal. Is it greed or for some other purpose?


  3. Becky–I viewed that more as character development, regarding Randall. I’m also glad I’m not the only one squeamish about severed body parts. I point that type of thing out for readers who might share it. Doesn’t hurt the author in my view because anyone who doesn’t want to read about that isn’t in his/her audience. I just let the inappropriate reader know that fact. LOL.

    Bryan Davis–thank you for stopping in. The primary other issue comes down to a simple opinion that teen readers should be treated like adult readers in the way we craft YA novels–the only level I’d “dumb down” the material on is age-appropriate themes/conflicts and of course they want teen heroes. I realize there’s a bit of debate on this matter.

  4. Andrea, Thanks for the nice review.

    I also liked your list of things that piqued your interest.
    I thought about the glowing finger grafted onto Jason’s chest, and decided boys might think the glowing finger was cool due to the “gross” factor and all.

    What I wondered was how Jason could rest or sleep with a finger sticking out of his chest. He couldn’t lie flat on his stomach, and turning over might damage the digit.

  5. Timothy, you’re welcome, thank you. Yes, boys are probably more inclined to find the finger cool. It wasn’t sticking out, though; it was embedded under the skin, pointing upwards as I pictured it.

  6. Andrea, we don’t disagree on the belief that teen readers should be treated like adults. I’m just clueless on where and how I might have dumbed down my story.

    Thank you again.

    Bryan Davis

  7. Andrea,
    I liked the black egg a lot. A very interesting and cool character, methinks.

  8. Bryan–since I wasn’t editing and didn’t take notes on what I saw as telling, I’m afraid I can’t be too helpful regarding specific examples. The main example that still sticks out in my mind was something like “M__, Koren’s best friend.” The school of thought I was trained in says to show our readers through their interactions that M is Koren’s best friend rather than telling us that she is. Pretty much every expert I’ve ever heard from holds to “Show, don’t tell,” so I couldn’t figure out why someone as skilled as you would feel it necessary to resort to that sort of thing unless it was because it was a YA novel. And of course, my favorite pet peeve is that thought tagging is unnecessary/redundant as we’ve already established who the POV character is at the beginning of the scene, though I’ve discovered through experience that we do have to be careful to avoid lying action beats.) This was really a minor nuisance primarily found in the first couple of chapters, so I do hate to have that highlighted so much.

    Jill–yeah, I strongly suspect the egg’s evil at the end, but that was very well done.

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