Dragonborn by Toby Forward

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The Flaxfield Quartet, Volume 1. Walker Books, 2011. ISBN 9781406320435.
Recommended for upper primary lower secondary. 'Sam is only halfway through his wizard's apprenticeship when his master, Flaxfield, dies unexpectedly. Soon powerful wizards arrive at Flaxfield's cottage and Sam, in fear and confusion, runs away from the only home he has ever known. But there is no running from destiny; there is evil magic abroad. An old danger is growing in strength and power and Sam and his beloved dragon Starback will have a crucial part to play in events to come.'
Not being a fantasy fan, I approached this book with interest for the students I thought would like it. I found myself halfway through drawn into the plot and wanting to know more. For the first half of the book, I had a hard time coming to grips with the more unusual characters and creatures and how they affected the environment and the main characters. I feel that part of this may have been due to my lack of previous fantasy exposure.
Being part of a quartet, this book is really just the beginning of Sam's new life and adventures to come. The characters are interesting and at the end of this book you know that there is still more to discover and you want to know more about them. Sam discovers a lot about himself and his powers in many accidental circumstances. The other wizards trained by Flaxfield also learn about Sam and themselves along the way. There is a dark force, that still remains somewhat a mystery; however the reader is aware of the power and evil intentions if she gets her way and that Sam hold the key.
There are different worlds, new imaginary creatures and beloved dragons. Starback, Sam's dragon, is a fabulously playful and loyal character, and even though he does not feature as much as I may have first thought in this book, I know he is a crucial part of the story and I imagine he will be a large part of the next books in the series.
Overall for those who like a fantasy style story, I think this has plenty of elements to keep the reader interested.
Zana Thiele