It was close to sunset when he first saw them. Baran was bringing home his goats after a day of grazing on the mountainside. He stopped to look back for one of the stragglers. Then his eye was caught by something in the western sky. Against the golden light of the setting sun there were two small, dark specks hanging high in the air. At first he thought they might be birds – two of the broad-winged vultures that haunted the skies over the mountains.
But as he watched them, he felt something stir in the pit of his stomach – the beginnings of a shapeless fear, a dark instinct that told him they could not be ordinary birds.
Baran lives in the mountain village of Shenzing with his mother and siblings. When he spies dragons in the distance heading for his village, he tries to warn the villagers. But Baran is an outcast, and the villagers will not listen. And so the dragons attack. Many villagers are killed, and the village is decimated. The survivors send for the legendary Dragon Warriors, as mysterious as the dragons. Just as they doubted the existence of the dragons, they are not sure the Dragon Warriors even exist. To their surprise however, Hajur, Dragon Warrior, answers their call. But in return for his help, the village must give one of their sons to become a warrior.
Baran’s life has not been a joyful one. His father disappeared leading to speculation about not just his integrity, but the worth of the entire family. And being without a father, Baran lacks many of the skills a father would have passed on. But despite this, he warns the village when they are under attack. The landscape is remote and inhospitable to begin with, and becomes more so as the stakes rise. Baran’s sense of self is fragile, and his ability to trust others has been damaged by repeated bullying, and not just from other children. With the arrival of the dragons, Baran begins his journey from child to man. He learns about strength and forgiveness and how the two are linked. Recommended for mid- to upper-primary readers.
Dragon Hunter, Nazam Anhar Scholastic 2012 ISBN: 9781742830308
review by Claire Saxby, Children’s Author