|Fade in as Bishop Rector’s army attacks a forest of dragons guarding their nests.
We meet the young dragon Starpatch, like ET with wings, who watches his father killed, and flees with his mother.
During the battle we see the two important rules of this future-world. First: dragons strike terror in men's hearts because they can lift one's soul from one's body. Second: people and dragons have the ability to cast visions: a kind of holographic telepathy which they use as part of their conversations.
Starpatch manages to escape to a river, but his mother dies.
Rector’s army then marches to a nearby village, where they meet Samantha, a 12 year old casting mute who cannot make, see or hear casting visions (she is normal by our standards). The butt of ridicule, she wishes she could leave her village behind.
When she inadvertently threatens to expose Bishop Rector’s secret weapon: a fire breathing dragon hidden inside his Holy Relics Wagon, he banishes her.
Living in a cave, she discovers the wounded Starpatch and forms a blood bond with him. He is her first real friend. She helps Starpatch by tending his wounds, finding him food, and hiding him from Rector and his dragon-hunters. He helps her by opening up her ability to cast, by developing her ability to lift without fear, and by showing her castings of the future – for he is a rare sooth-seer dragon.
Through these adventures, she discovers her heritage as a Dragon Rider – those opposing Bishop Rector and the Ender Order. She chooses to help the Riders in their war against the Enders.
But before she can reach safety, Rector captures Samantha and her dragon Starpatch. He reveals his own dragon as a new breed of Dragon. More powerful, more deadly: the secret weapon in the war with the Riders. But because her dragon is a sooth-seer, Rector greedily tries to bond with Starpatch, fighting for control of him with Samantha.
Samantha manages to maintain control and escape with Starpatch. She turns the villagers to her cause, and calls on a flock of Dragons and their Riders for help. In so doing, through the course of a final battle in the air and on the ground, she saves her village from fiery destruction.
However, Starpatch injures his wing in the fighting. He can no longer fly. Dragon tradition is to lift the spirit of a crippled dragon into the light, because they cannot join in the migrations and will starve.
But Samantha insists on tolerance – for she had been an an outcast herself. Having saved her town, the villagers come to her aid and convince the Dragon Riders to leave Samantha and Starpatch with them. They provide for his keeping, and honor Samantha as their leader.
H Woods McLaughlin
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