disclaimer: the blazewrath games was given to me as an arc from amparo ortiz, pagestreet publishing, and caffeine book tours as a part of my participation in their book tour. however, this hasn’t affected my review in anyway. all thoughts are still my own.
title: blazewrath games
author: amparo ortiz
publisher: page street publishing
publication date: 06 october 2020
genres: young adult & fantasy
experience the world cup with dragons in this debut fantasy, set in an alternate contemporary world, in which riders and their steeds compete in an international sports tournament.
lana torres has always preferred dragons to people. in a few weeks, sixteen countries will compete in the blazewrath world cup, a tournament where dragons and their riders fight for glory in a dangerous relay. lana longs to represent her native puerto rico in their first ever world cup appearance, and when puerto rico’s runner—the only player without a dragon steed—is kicked off the team, she’s given the chance.
but when she discovers that a former blazewrath superstar has teamed up with the sire—a legendary dragon who’s cursed into human form—the safety of the cup is jeopardized. the pair are burning down dragon sanctuaries around the world and refuse to stop unless the cup gets cancelled. all lana wanted was to represent her country. now, to do that, she’ll have to navigate an international conspiracy that’s deadlier than her beloved sport.
the blazewrath games follows lana torres, a young puerto-rican girl, who longs for nothing more than to represent her home in the blazewrath games – a dangerous tournament full of an array of dragons, challenges, and obstacles – despite the fact that she lacks the support of most of her family, has received no training for these games, and doesn’t even live on her home island anymore.
going into reading this novel, i wasn’t quite sure what to expect – i have never been the type of person to be interested in reading, or even picking up, a book about sports. however, after seeing many compare this book to other big name series and novels, and being pushed by my friends, i decided, why not? and, boy oh boy, am i glad that i did.
the blazewrath games is not the type of novel that you can compare to any other, regardless of what comparisons you may see or make notice of, this novel is one of originality and authenticity. i mean, the first few chapters felt like a breath of fresh air. whether that was from the plot itself or ortiz’s excellent writing, i cannot say. although i wouldn’t doubt it if it turned out to be both.
this novel was beautifully written. the plot was fun and easy to follow, despite it being completely unpredictable. i was unaware of what was going to be happening most of the time due to the great way that the author would misdirect you. she would guide me towards one path of the story, only to suddenly have me take the other. it was full of varying plot twists that weren’t just there to be there. they actually had a meaningful impact on both the story and the characters.
another key aspect of the blazewrath games were the characters and diversity laid within it. almost all of the main and supporting characters were people of color, with more of them leaning towards being puerto-rican or latino/latina. this was an aspect of the story that i really enjoyed as i have typically not seen stories based around puerto-ricans, especially ones that feel so much connection to their island, people, and culture. there were some white characters who played a relatively large role in the story, but that didn’t take away the fact that this is obviously a story for and about puerto-ricans, latinos, and so on. in fact, i would say that it added to it – especially when the main character, lana, is talking about how even though her mom’s side of the family doesn’t view her the way they view the rest of the family (because she is half white and half puerto-rican), she wouldn’t ever want to change who she is or where she came from. i think that a scene or even a train of though like this is one that is important, and that should be included in many other novels where the main character is a person of color. i have read too many ‘diverse’ novels where the main character wishes that they weren’t their race or ethnicity and longs to be a part of the majority, and i just wish that wasn’t the case. although it is a reality for many, i don’t always want to read about how someone like me slowly begins to learn how to love their race and skin color. i want them to just love it. so, it makes me happy that ortiz did just that.
and, finally, the best thing about this novel has to be that of worldbuilding – it is quite clearly something that ortiz excels at. obviously, this story is set in our world, with countries, landmarks, and events familiar to us, but ortiz adds a whole other dimension to this world that makes it seem like both a fantasy and reality at the same time. there are fantastical elements within this piece that come in the form of dragons and magic, but there are also elements such as prejudices against those with magic and fear towards the dragon species that add both realism and depth to this world, and make it a story that i can envision myself living within.
also! how could i fail to mention the most enticing element to this novel – the dragons. although a good portion of the story failed to include any interaction with dragons, which is the only reason i rated this four out of five stars (it’s a preference/expectations thing really), anyone reading this novel could still tell how important they were to the story, the world, and the main character. the dragons had an impact on pretty much everything. and, although this is more of a minor detail, i loved how no one dragon seemed better than another. they all had their own strengths and weaknesses that were either exemplified or helped by their human counterpart. i loved reading about all the different types of dragons and seeing their relationships with others (whether they be human or dragon).
the blazewrath games is a remarkable novel – one that actually makes me want to read more about sports, so long as dragons and magic are involved. it is chockfull of extremely lovable characters, even if they’re not the best people, even more lovable dragons, culture, and a whole bunch of other things that would take me too long to write about. i would easily recommend this novel to anyone that finds themselves wanting to read more diverse literature, young adult and fantasy novels, or just a good book.
amparo ortiz was born in san juan, puerto rico, and currently lives on the island’s northeastern coast. her short story comic, “what remains in the dark,” appears in the eisner award-winning anthology puerto rico strong (lion forge, 2018), and saving chupie, her middle grade graphic novel, comes out with harpercollins in winter 2022. She holds an m.a. in english and a b.a. in psychology from the upr’s río piedras campus. when she’s not teaching esl to her college students, she’s teaching herself korean, devouring as much young adult fiction as she can, and writing about latinx characters in worlds both contemporary and fantastical.