The empire is an absolute one, whose leader, Korruzon, is purported to be the undying creator of all things. This is a wonder, as there are "old religions" that are considered heresy and treasonous to follow. One would wonder how an "old religion" could predate the undying creator of all things, but not many would voice such thoughts, as the militaristic Ministry takes any questioning of doctrine poorly and deals with heretics swiftly and harshly.
In The Summer Dragon, the first book of his Evertide series, Todd Lockwood shows us this world through the eyes of Maia, a young girl who works for her father in his aerie, but dreams of having her own dragon - and hopes to get it in the quickly arriving season. Through Maia's eyes, we witness many amazing things as she begins as a daydreaming young girl with her head in the clouds and concerns about her self-worth and becomes a strong-willed and capable dragon-handler with a truly astounding understanding of dragons.
It all begins when Maia and her brother, Darian, are in the forest and encounter Getig, the Summer Dragon... who is not supposed to exist, being of the "old religion." The Ministry seeks to disprove their story and then, when it can't, to spin this encounter into praise of Korruzon. Maia, however, is moved by this encounter to set off to right a wrong she's discovered, in hopes of getting her own dragon qit and avoid being taken away to the capitol. Her decision - or compulsion - thrusts her into adventure and toward her destiny.
As for the rest of her adventure, I will say no more. You should read it, yourself, to enjoy it as Todd Lockwood paints it. You should get the story unspoiled. I've already said too much.
The way the book reads is interesting and delightful. Todd Lockwood is an artist - a painter - and, in addition to the illustrations that adorn the book, he paints images in your mind as you read The Summer Dragon, bringing the world to life, from life in the aerie to the linguistic ability of dragons, from their limited ability to speak in a human tongue, to their native clicking, huffing and guttural rumbling. Todd's view of the dragons is well-defined and you learn more as the book goes on, learning how the dragons "work" in this world - and he makes them very believable.
I've heard the phrase "couldn't put it down" over and over and have used it, myself, recently, but The Summer Dragon took this to the next level. I found myself reading it every chance I got, opting to "take a break" from playing games to read another chapter or two... which is easier than it might sound, as the book is 496 pages long, but breaks that into fifty one chapters. That makes the average chapter just under ten pages, which does help with that desire to read until that next chapter to get to a good stopping point, but the story itself is compelling enough to keep you going. If you are a fan of fantasy and dragons, I can't recommend The Summer Dragon enough. Go get it. Now. You'll thank me.