Content warning: memories of child abuse, animal cruelty, death by fire
Building a world where dragons and humans once competed side by side in Olympic-level worldwide events while also contending with the most uniquely evil dragon of all time is quite the endeavor but one that Amparo Ortiz meets successfully. When you also consider that the world of Blazewrath Games and its sequel, Dragonblood Ring, primarily highlights the voices and experiences of BIPOC characters, the main characters—Lana and Victoria—are Puerto Rican, you’ll find a harmonious duology that hits every note just right.
In Blazewrath Games we’re introduced to Lana Torres, a teenage girl of white and Puerto Rican heritage who has spent a great chunk of her life living with her mother in Florida. Her time away from her dragon-expert father, who basically lives in an isolated dragon sanctuary located in isolation in another country, means that she often dwells on cherished memories of her childhood with him while they lived in Puerto Rico until an unfortunate run-in with a dragon. This incident causes Lana’s mother to distrust dragons and restrict Lana from any dragon-related activities—including being a fan of the Blazewrath Games—the only internationally televised dragon to human interaction there is. In this universe, some dragons can develop bonds with humans who do not have magical abilities. Years before the competition began, a wrathful dragon known as Sire not only bonded with a human with magical abilities—the first time this ever occurred in history—but also killed him before being sentenced to a human body, another first. To counter the impact of Sire’s awful deeds, the Blazewrath Games were created to monitor some of the dragon population as well as provide good PR for their capabilities for working with humans.
Over the course of book one, we see Lana go from being a secretive fan of Blazewrath Games to being chosen to compete on Team Puerto Rico based on a heroic act that goes viral. While she works to become a good athlete and teammate she runs into some clues regarding the mysterious disappearance of one of her favorite former Blazewrath players and how it may be tied to the Sire’s new demands. In book two, Dragonblood Ring, we learn that the solutions Lana, her teammates, and the International Bureau of Magical Matters, undertook in book one were only temporary measures and there are deeper magical mysteries to solve regarding the origin of Sire and the magic-holding humans who aid his destructive cause. In this story we hear from both Lana and Victoria, her teammate and number one pain in her butt. We learn more about Victoria’s past and just why her relationship with Lana is so contentious—mainly because they find each other self-absorbed when they’re really just human and could do with better timing and a good heart-to-heart. We find out more about this universe’s magical community and the secrets that lie beneath their secret wand-making practices. We bounce from magical portal to portal this time for safety and training purposes rather than to follow Team Puerto Rico to different competitive environments.
I found Dragonblood Ring a great continuation and wrap up to Blazewrath Games that returns you to an exciting universe of dragons, magic, viciousness, and care. If you are a fan of any of these plus the use of Spanish without italics or explanatory commas in each instance, then you should definitely enjoy this series. Fans of the Warcross and Amari and the Night Brothers rejoice, the Blazewrath Games duology continues the good vibes of these competition mixed with international intrigue and magic/advanced technologies concepts!