Cover image for House of dragons
House of dragons
Physical Description:
434 pages : illustration ; 22 cm
Reading Level:
HL 690 L Lexile

On Order

R.H. Stafford Library (Woodbury)1On Order
Hardwood Creek Library (Forest Lake)1On Order
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Stillwater Public Library1On Order



Five royal houses will hear the call to compete in the Trial for the dragon throne. A liar, a soldier, a servant, a thief, and a murderer will answer it. Who will win? Three Dark Crowns meets The Breakfast Club with DRAGONS.

When the Emperor dies, the five royal houses of Etrusia attend the Call, where one of their own will be selected to compete for the throne. It is always the oldest child, the one who has been preparing for years to compete in the Trial. But this year is different. This year these five outcasts will answer the call...

THE LIAR: Emilia must hide her dark magic or be put to death.

THE SOLDIER: Lucian is a warrior who has sworn to never lift a sword again.

THE SERVANT: Vespir is a dragon trainer whose skills alone will keep her in the game.

THE THIEF: Ajax knows that nothing is free--he must take what he wants.

THE MURDERER: Hyperia was born to rule and will stop at nothing to take her throne.

Author Notes

JESSICA CLUESS is a writer, a graduate of Northwestern University, and an unapologetic nerd. After college, she moved to Los Angeles, where she served coffee to the rich and famous while working on her first novel in the Kingdom on Fire series, A Shadow Bright and Burning. When she's not writing books, she's an instructor at Writopia Lab, helping kids and teens tell their own stories. Visit her at and follow her on Twitter at @JessCluess.

Reviews 3

School Library Journal Review

Gr 9 Up--In the land of Etrusia, the emperor has died and five royal families compete for a chance at the throne. But it is five unlikely dragon riders who hear the call from the Great Dragon. Emilia has a secret that, if revealed, would be a death sentence. Lucian is running from his father's expectations. Vespir is just a servant who should have never heard the call. Ajax is an overlooked bastard from a family of many bastards. Hyperia wasn't called in the first place, but she is willing to kill to take the throne. Each young rider has secrets, traumatic pasts, and motives for answering the call--but before they are crowned they must face four tasks or both they and their dragons will be killed. As the competition grows deadlier they discover that not everything is how it should be. The chosen must decide what's more important: being emperor or setting wrongs right. This is a thrilling story of five characters from drastically different backgrounds. These differences cause strife and challenge within the group, and through changing narratives, readers witness the growth of each competitor for better or worse. Readers will be captivated by relatable and sometimes deplorable characters. The author creates a dynamic universe filled with wonderfully described landscapes and magical beasts. Through each challenge, the characters are faced with choices between contradicting ideals. VERDICT A wonderful adventure book for teens that challenges ideas of right and wrong, chaos and purity, as well as good and evil.--Haley Amendt, Hinton Municipal Library, Alberta

Kirkus Review

In a world dominated by order, chaos threatens to upend tradition when unlikely competitors are chosen to fight for the throne. Emperor Erasmus is dead, leaving the Great Dragon to decide the future of the Etrusian Empire. Traditionally, the oldest child from each of the five Houses and his or her dragon compete for the throne. However, this time outsiders are called to compete: Chara and her rider, Emilia, youngest daughter of House Aurun, who holds the magic of chaos; Tyche and her rider, Lucian, reformed warrior of House Sabel; Karina and her rider, Vespir, the lowborn, lesbian servant girl and dragon handler of House Pentri; Dog and his rider, Ajax, the wily illegitimate son of House Tiber; and Minerva and her rider, Julia, who are challenged by Hyperia, who believes the throne is her birthright, and her feral dragon, Aufidius. During the stages of the Emperor's Trial--the Hunt, the Game, the Race, and the Truth--each competitor faces their own personal weaknesses. Multiple perspectives create depth in this complex fantasy world with flawed human characters who have murder, destruction, thievery, and cowardice in their backgrounds. Cluess' dragons have unique personalities and voices of their own, becoming as central to the story as their human riders. Most characters are cued as white; blonde hair and blue eyes are valorized. Vespir's lesbian identity is neatly and naturally woven into her character. Witty and funny, with well-rounded characters who face complex inner moral issues. (map) (Fantasy. 12-16) Copyright (c) Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.

Booklist Review

"One day after the emperor died and had been eaten, the call went out to select his successor." So begins Cluess' newest series, which exhibits tighter pacing and more developed characters to excellent effect. The title, paired with cover art of five overlapping swords, will have readers thinking Game of Thrones--but the book is more akin to Anne McCaffrey's Dragonriders of Pern series. The five candidates to win the throne are mostly not the logical choices; all come with compelling and very different backstories, from guilt-ridden soldier Lucian to scholarly Emilia, who must hide her deadly magic powers, and servant Vespir, in love with her mistress. The simple plot line benefits from a fascinating, full exploration of the bond between dragon and rider. A strong sense of social justice and the inevitable inequities in wealth and power drive the story as well, and the triumphant communal efforts of the candidates to subdue the evil priestess running the selection process will have readers cheering for the power of unity. The epilogue makes it clear that there is happily much more story to come.