Most main characters are humans, but what if they were dragons instead? Then you might be reading Wings of Fire by Tui T. Sutherland, just like we recently did! Middle grade is a thriving fiction market, so it pays to check in on its most popular entries from time to time, whether it’s what you’re planning to write or not. In this episode, we take a look at the first quintology: The Dragonet Prophecy.


Generously transcribed by Space Pineapple. Volunteer to transcribe a podcast.

You’re listening to the Mythcreants podcast with your hosts, Oren Ashkenazi, Wes Matlock, and Chris Winkle.

Oren: And welcome, everyone, to another episode of the Mythcreants podcast. I’m Oren.

Chris: I’m Chris.

Oren: And there’s a few things that I have realized recently. One, adults are the worst. Two, dragons are the worst. And three, adult dragons are double the worst. And we have to save them by stopping the war because we care about all those dragons who are the worst. That’s the lesson that I’ve learned from reading Wings of Fire by Tui T. Sutherland.

Chris: That is a problem in some stories. We’re supposed to save people, but to make it harder, we make those people real jerks. And then it’s like, do we really need to save them?

Oren: Yeah.

Chris: Could we just leave them to die? Maybe?

Oren: Yeah. I’m really not clear what the purpose of that was. At first, I thought the idea was to try to explain why we needed the child dragons to solve this problem, because different stories with child protagonists take different stabs at justifying why the kids have to solve the problem, and I thought maybe Sutherland was just having all the adult dragons be terrible as a reason why the dragonettes, who were the main characters, had to do it. But then all of the children dragons they meet, except for a handful, are also terrible. And there’s dialogue about how dragons are just inherently terrible because of biology or whatever. And I’m like, I don’t, what is the point of this?

Chris: Yeah, I think there are some different themes that she had that made her more inclined to do that. For one thing, I think she liked the idea of, because she’s trying to do an anti-violence message, I would say she’s largely failing, which we’ll talk about. But she liked the idea that everybody thinks that violence is inevitable and intractable. And that the protagonists have to show that peace is possible.

Oren: Yeah. Okay. Yeah, I can see that.

Chris: Yeah, and of course there was other situations where we have some, so the young dragons are called dragonettes in this series, where we have some other dragonettes that are set up to replace our protagonists, and we have to show that they’re absolute jerks just to verify that they are false, because they’re not the dragonettes of the prophecy, even though the prophecy is fake.

Oren: Yep.

Chris: So there is no drag—that’s one of the funny things about this series, is that it’s completely driven by this prophecy. And maybe Sutherland wanted to subvert it by being ha ha, the prophecy is fake, and it’s kind of apparent. It’s kind of, you can tell that it’s fake really early. It’s not hard to guess. But at the same time, she also kind of wants it to be true, right? She wants to fulfill the prophecy exactly in the end.

Oren: We introduced an entire MacGuffin for no reason other than to be the “wings of fire”.

Chris: Right. That talked about at the end of the prophecy, and she wants false characters of prophecy that are not the real characters of prophecy, which again, is a concept that doesn’t work if the prophecy is fake itself. So yeah, she’s definitely trying to have her cake and eat it too with the prophecy.

Oren: Right. Which is funny because like the false dragonettes, that story never goes anywhere. They never try to take the real dragonettes’ place. They just, they are introduced, they kind of hang around for a book. One of them dies, and then the others all leave. They’re like, all right, bye. It’s very strange. But the reason I chose to read this book wasn’t just random. It was because I’ve had a number of clients who have listed it either as an inspiration or directly as something they want to try to be like. And I haven’t read middle grade fiction for a while. And I was like, all right, let’s take a look. What’s middle grade fiction like now? And it’s way more violent than I was expecting.

Chris: Yeah. Although it’s notable—I was kind of shocked by how much graphic violence was in the first couple of books, but it’s actually notable how much that starts to get hand-waved in the later books. Sutherland learned that, oh, actually I’m not supposed to show graphic violence. Instead, we’re supposed to do the thing where we pretend nobody would die in the situation when they really would.

Oren: Yeah, that was pretty weird.

Chris: The Avatar method where we have a big war, but like somehow we use bolas instead of bullets.

Oren: Yeah, that was kind of strange. It’s also been interesting to reread it alongside some of the Animorph books, which are aimed at basically the same audience, but are from, you know, the Animorph books are from the nineties. So it’s very different. It’s interesting. But I will say that the book’s biggest strength, until book five anyway, is tension. Sutherland is actually very good at keeping tension up.

Chris: And as the books go on, she starts to have pacing tension sags in her like middle portions, especially that muddlesome middle. But in general, she’s much better at pacing than she is at plotting. So she can keep tension up, but she doesn’t really know how to structure the story very well.

Oren: Yeah. In most of the books, what’s happening is that it’s clear that the plot is going somewhere, which is a significant accomplishment. A lot of books fail at that. But then when you get there, it doesn’t really work. The satisfaction is pretty low in most cases. Some are a little better than others.

Chris: The other thing that definitely is going to be appealing to kids is, of course, the different types of dragons. So she creates all these different types of dragons, and then we have an ensemble cast of five young dragons that are each from a different dragon species, basically. And she doesn’t make them all equally cool, which is another thing we can talk about, but it seems like at first, that’s what she’s trying to do. It’s like, so kids can be like, oh, which dragon do you want to be? Do you want to be a NightWing or a RainWing, or I want to be an IceWing, or that kind of thing. Kids love that.

Oren: I mean, adults love that too, to be perfectly honest. That’s just a pretty cool move, if you’re trying to get people to invest in your setting, is to create different factions with different aesthetics and abilities.

Chris: That are all cool and fun.

Oren: Ideally, you want people to be able to pick any of them to be like, I want to be that one. Now, many books fail at this. We can’t all be Avatar. I put this one somewhere between Avatar and the wizard school that shall not be named, which has one cool house and three various grades of loser houses. I would say that Sutherland is better than that, but not as good as Avatar, which has four equally cool, but distinct and different factions you can be from. The characters are interesting.

Chris: They’re not the worst, but she’s definitely struggling with the fact that she has five of them.

Oren: As far as characterization goes, they’re distinct if a bit one-dimensional.

Chris: Or they’re distinct by the second book, anyway. There’s one character that doesn’t really have a personality in the first book. Setting five dragons apart, five characters apart, is not always easy for writers.

Oren: I was super confused in book two when Glory was suddenly the sarcastic naysayer, ‘cuz she didn’t really do anything in book one. She hardly had any dialogue. And the only thing that she really had was that she was pretty, which seemed to be setting up a romance with Clay, which of course immediately got dropped, ‘cuz Glory, for some reason, ends up being written as like, she’s kind of older than the others, even though they’re all the same age. And so, she ends up with a bad boy YA romance, which none of the others do, because the others are all clearly middle grade characters.

Chris: (laughs) But by book two, they’re all distinct, but there’s not a lot of room to develop them very much, because again, there’s five of them, not only that, but in each book, one character gets the most time and the other characters end up getting shoved aside, so they don’t really have much nuance or development ‘cuz they’re just starved for time, probably cause there’s so many of them. I think it’s worth talking about the ensemble cast because, again, we have five main characters and there’s the five first books that we went through. One character stars in each book. This is a fairly common thing. I have to say personally, I think if you’re going to switch the main character like that, it’s better if it’s an anthology where each character kind of has their own story, whereas this story is at least supposed to be driven by stopping this big war. And the thought is that the main characters will not be safe, ‘cuz everybody wants to capture them that’s involved in the war for their own ends, until there’s peace. And so that’s what’s supposed to drive the throughline of the series. And when you have that ensemble cast switching the main character, you have to switch the main character. The character that is the main character in the last book always has a disproportionate amount of importance.

Oren: Which is kind of weird. And I’m not sure how many of the problems in the last book are a result of the fact that Sunny hasn’t been a main character, until suddenly she’s the protagonist of book five. Because that book is definitely the worst. It has the most problems. It’s less like one plot and more five side adventures in a trench coat. But I’m not sure how much of that is because we just haven’t really focused much on Sunny in the first four books. That might be a big reason why.

Chris: I think it’s kind of hard, whereas if you had an anthology where it was a little bit more episodic and each character had their own story, I think it would be easier to tailor the plot for each character. I think that’s part of the problem, is that we need each character to be the most important in their own book. And that’s a little tricky if you’re trying to carry the same storyline, because the plot has to bend and shift around to make that character the center.

Oren: This might be related, but part of the issue is that each book basically, except for book one, for whatever reason, except for book one, each of the books focuses on one of the new main characters meeting their people and finding out why their people are the worst. But sarcasm aside, it’s about them meeting their people, because they were all raised in a cave away from other dragons, so they don’t know anyone. And one of the issues that the story definitely has is, it doesn’t really have any way for each of them meeting their own people to be part of the greater plot of stopping this dragon war. And that’s certainly part of the issue of them having each book being about a different character.

Chris: I think that’s the main structural issue with this series, is the fact that the plot is being pulled in two directions. Because Sutherland, and she says this in her afterword of the first book, that she had been reading about parenting. And she really liked this idea of these kids, because they’re actually all, their eggs are sort of stolen or sometimes not stolen, but taken away in the beginning, and they’re raised together away from their biological parents. One of the things they do is they escape from the people who had them and then go and find their parents. And she just loved having them find their families and become disillusioned with them, right? They had this idealistic idea of who their parents would be, and then that meets reality. And that’s what she cared about depicting. And a lot of times that just doesn’t play nice with the prophecy plot that is actually supposed to be the throughline.

I think it is possible to multitask there. I don’t know whether the problem was that Sutherland was afraid it would just become repetitive, because you’d end up, might end up multitasking in the same way from book to book, making the books too similar, or she might’ve just had trouble problem solving that because multitasking is harder. How do we have them meet their parents and further the prophecy plot? Or I think it’s also possible she just didn’t want to make any sacrifices to her parent plots that she had in mind. She really wanted Sunny to have a mother who was a crime queen, regardless of whether that had anything to do with the politics of the situation.

Oren: But then also just looking at the books one through four, Sutherland’s also just kind of bad at resolving conflicts in general. So it might just have been that trying to resolve the final conflict was never going to go well. And for reference, if you haven’t read it, or if it’s been a while, the issue with the final conflict is that they have to get everyone to make peace, but they have no idea how they’re going to do that. They have no concept. So they have a vague plan of “let’s get everyone together and hope it works out”. And they mentioned once the idea of having the dragons choose a queen, because the reason they’re fighting is they can’t decide who the queen is gonna be. So they vaguely mentioned the possibility of having everyone vote, but they never bring that up again, and it doesn’t even make sense, because if they were going to do that, there was already one dragon queen who was the most popular and would have won, but regardless. So they just get everyone together and then a bunch of random stuff happens, and they find a magic McGuffin that ends the war. And that’s what happens. And that’s the ending. And it’s like, that is a bizarrely bad ending. And I’m not sure if the issue is that we just didn’t do enough building up to it, or if it’s just that Sutherland is bad at endings, because a number of her other endings also have problems. And so it might just be that this is the most notable because she’s trying to solve the biggest problem and not doing it very well.

Chris: I think the hilarious thing about this end is that Sunny, who is the main character of the final book, is constantly whining about how nobody will believe her plans work. And then she comes up with this final plan to bring peace that is not viable at all and would never work, and only works because of this incredible luck of getting this really powerful McGuffin at the last minute. It does not prove the point that her plans are viable.

Oren: That’s the weirdest thing. I mean, the characters have various levels of arcs. Like, Clay has a decent arc where he learns that he’s not actually a monster the way he thought he was. That’s a decent arc. Tsunami has an arc. It’s a weird arc because it’s about how she’s bad and should feel bad, but it’s definitely an arc. It’s there. She definitely feels worse by the end of that arc. Glory’s arc is sort of introduced at the last second, and it’s supposed to be that she has to stop going off on her own. And then, I don’t know what Starflight’s arc is supposed to be, maybe it’s, he’s supposed to be more decisive.

Chris: Yeah, he’s supposed to take action and be proactive instead of just doing nothing.

Oren: So it’s, he’s okay. He does that a little bit, but then Sunny’s arc is the weird one because with Sunny, there is no change. She doesn’t have to change at all. She’s perfect. It’s that everyone else has to start taking her seriously. And I’m not even going to say that that’s not an arc you could have, but it’s weird to have that with a character whose ideas are routinely bad and just continually makes terrible choices.

Chris: I mean, I’ll get back to the plotting thing, but just to talk about Sunny a little bit. So Sunny is Sutherland’s kind of self-insert character a little bit, and favorite character, and it kind of, it shows, because Sunny doesn’t have any real flaws, as perceived by Sutherland. And her beef is that because she is kind of small and peppy and cute, nobody takes her seriously. And that can be an absolutely real problem. It’s something that probably Sutherland experiences. I’ve met a woman before who had this issue and talked about this issue that, because she was petite and attractive, she hated being called cute and she didn’t like that people didn’t take her seriously. So a real issue, but one that’s a little bit hard to bring on life on the page, because we see two different things. One, that Sunny gets mad at her friends for things that just don’t feel reasonable to get mad at them at. So for instance, at one point, she eavesdrops on her friends saying things like, oh, Sunny seems down, but it’s okay. She’ll bounce back. We’ll just need to distract her for a little while. And she gets mad about that. And from her standpoint, that’s like, oh, you’re just characterizing me as optimistic and peppy all the time. So I can kind of see, but it doesn’t really feel like that’s a reasonable thing to be mad at your friends about. ‘Cuz if you are optimistic and you are fine, and previously Sunny, again, has always bounced back and had a good mood, your friends believing that you’ll bounce back again is not a great reason to be mad at them. Or alternately, we have some instances where it really feels out of character when she’s in a meeting and trying to talk, and her friends just refuse to listen to her as she’s clamoring to speak. And it just feels really out of character and is really disrespectful and a genuine grievance, but it also feels like it’s inserted just to give Sunny a grievance.

Oren: Yeah. To make her extremely put upon.

Chris: Make her extremely put upon. Yeah. It’s too bad, because I think that there probably was a way to do this that worked, but Sunny just doesn’t come off very well for that reason. Not for me. I’m sure other people liked her, but she was—ended up being my least favorite character because of those issues.

Oren: People often try to be like, well, how do I write to my genre, which is often not a good way of looking at it. But when you’re looking at age groups, there are a few things that are choices you might make if you specifically want kids to enjoy the story and you don’t care if adults do or not. And this story definitely makes a few of them. And I find that really interesting. So, one of them is the fact that it’s trying to have the characters be super weird and different as dragons, but also basically act like kids of the target age group from 2013 America. And if you were an adult reading that, regardless of whether the characters were kids or not, you might be kind of irritated that it’s like, this is supposed to be a dragon, but they talk exactly like me, a 35-year-old suburbanite.

That would be kind of weird, but kids are less likely to care about that. They are less likely to notice the contradiction, and they are more likely to get both the “hooray cool dragon,” and also, “wow, super identifiable character who’s just like me” thing, when normally you would have to make a choice of which one of those you wanted. So that’s an interesting bit that I’d have to make that choice. If that’s something, how much do you care if adults will like your story? And then you’ve also got what I’ve started calling “kids next door” stuff, which is based off the TV show Kids Next Door, which is about kids fighting adults. And this is basically the idea that adults as a group are out to get kids as a group. And again, adults find that really tiresome, but kids often really like it because kids often feel that way. And this book definitely does that, because it’s a while before they meet any other young dragons, and so at first, it’s just like every adult dragon that we meet is the worst and hates them and is terrible at doing stuff. 

Chris: Adults being incompetent is a really typical thing in middle grade, because again, kids don’t mind. They want to be the stars of the show, and it allows the kid characters to take center stage, whereas adults would get real annoyed. (laughs)

Oren: This is just something that I run into with my clients a lot where, when they’re writing a kid’s story, one of the things that I always ask them is, who do you want to read this? Is this just for kids, or do you want a general audience? ‘Cuz if it’s just for kids, we can do this stuff. We can make the adults really incompetent, because the kids will read it. They’ll love it and adults won’t, but that’s not your audience. But if you want it to be for a general audience, you can’t just excuse those things by also saying it’s for kids. That’s not going to work.

Chris: Let’s go back to the violence.

Oren: Yeah, the violence.

Chris: Because Sutherland is trying to send an anti-violence message, which I’m sure she feels is a nice message for kids to get, and it is, of course, but she’s constantly undercutting it in the story. As we discussed, the first couple of books have a lot of actually surprisingly graphic violence in them and it probably passed muster because they’re dragons. (laughs) And if they were human characters, that probably wouldn’t have been allowed. But she definitely toned it down and mostly got rid of it. She still had a lot of deaths, like a kid dragon falling in lava and dying.

Oren: Yeah, but it’s not described super graphically, right?

Chris: It’s not graphic anymore. That was in book four. But the problem with this is that besides the graphic violence, and you might ask, okay, is it really better if for instance, we have violence and dragons die off screen and we’re not making it graphic? I would say yes, as much as that might feel like it’s sanitizing to have dragons die in the background and not focus on the badness and the violence, it looks like people really do take something a little more seriously. And if it feels more real, and it feels more like violence than something that doesn’t feel like violence, then that is going to make graphic violence more acceptable as opposed to highlight why violence is bad, generally.

Oren: I was impressed by how early in the books she made an effort to humanize, for lack of a better term, the dragons that died. Like, they had names and some history, where possible. And I do think that was probably the most effective bit of the anti-war or anti-violence message, but that faded by the later books, because they were fighting so many dragons, it was impossible to do that.

Chris: Yeah, it just, after a while, it’s just too hard. And that’s the central problem is that she wants to have an anti-violence message, but she also wants to have exciting violent fights. And those things are just inherently incompatible. And what happens then is, her protagonists do kill other dragons at times to solve problems, and she isn’t willing to make them look like murderers. So in the end, she justifies it. In some cases, we have one character who she likes less (laughs), Tsunami, is put in a position where she is in a fighting ring and is made to fight another prisoner. And the other prisoner is completely kind of out of their mind. So she can’t get the other prisoner to not fight, is the premise, and tries not to kill the other prisoner, but ends up being forced to. And then later, in the next book is like, oh, but didn’t you know, here’s who that person was, and he was really important, and don’t you feel bad? And then that character is like, oh, maybe I was just too impulsive and I felt a rush of power, and that’s absolutely not what happened in the scene. So we kind of retcon to make it look bad, to try to give a lesson that this character shouldn’t have killed somebody in the fighting ring. But in the moment, we are justifying that death. But then, she doesn’t do it for other characters. When Glory, one of her characters that she likes better, casually kills people, Glory is never really made to feel bad about it.

Oren: Yeah, we don’t have an entire book taking a big dump on Glory for the various dragons that she killed. She has a significantly higher body count than Tsunami. But for some reason, Tsunami is the one with the “you were bad for killing that person” arc, which is like, all right, I guess that happened.

Chris: And in the end, she puts them in situations where they have to kill to solve problems. Whereas, if we actually want violence to be bad, she shouldn’t do that.

Oren: I think perhaps even the most important thing is honestly that the thing that really undercuts any anti-war message this might have is that this book very much embraces the idea that there are certain people who are just evil, and you can tell that they’re evil, because they sound and look evil.

Chris: Every time we encounter somebody who’s supposed to be an antagonist, a villain, the viewpoint character just, “oh, just something about that character unsettles me” every single time. And so, we can immediately tell whether somebody is inherently evil or, “oh, they’re just doing bad things, but they’re going to be a good person in the end”. And if people are just inherently evil, and we can tell just by looking at them, in the end it promotes violence, because those are people that are there to die. Their lives are not worth anything at that point.

Oren: And the story also does the whole, well, we don’t want the protagonists to actually have to kill the bad guys, but we do want the bad guys to be dead, so they’re going to dispose of themselves. The last bad guy standing literally dies by grabbing a MacGuffin that we have never established any rules for how it works, but it kills her and doesn’t kill anybody else that tries to grab it. It’s like, all right, well, that’s nice. Thanks, MacGuffin.

Chris: And I will say that you could have a story where you’re having a discussion about when violence is or isn’t justified, and still have protagonists engage in violence in some scenarios where they have to. In other scenarios, say, no, they don’t have to, so they shouldn’t. You would have a more nuanced message like this, but that is not the message that Sutherland is trying—she’s not trying to have a discussion about when violence isn’t isn’t necessary. She’s just trying to say “violence bad”. And so then reveling in big dragon fights and killing dragons left and right does not add to that message.

Oren: I mean, my view is that it’s basically impossible to have an anti-violence story if you yourself are not anti-violence and most people aren’t. Most people would agree that violence is sometimes justified in some situations. There are exceptions. There are people who don’t think it’s ever justified at all, but those people are pretty rare. And Sutherland is definitely not one of them. And I mean, neither am I. I’m not claiming to be, which is why it’s very hard to have a story where the message is that violence is bad, when in reality, that isn’t what you think. And so you’re not going to put that on the page.

Chris: If she was ready to not glorify violence, I think that’s the central problem, is that she wants to have exciting fights. And so in the end, violence is going to be packaged as fun, to some level. And there’s just no way to pull out an anti-violence message while she’s doing that. 

Oren: So we’re nearly to the end, but I feel like we should circle back to that dragon faction thing, because that was, oh my goodness, just a very unforced error that I think we can all learn from, which is that, if you’re introducing a bunch of cool factions and yes, there are “which type of dragon are you” personality quizzes out there. They’re very easy to find. Try to give them equally cool stuff. But that’s not what happens here. Instead, we have SkyWings and NightWings, which have no special powers except for the default ones. They can breathe fire. All dragons can do that, except for the specific ones who can’t. But the majority of dragons can breathe fire. The occasional MudWing has fire immunity, but most of them don’t.

Chris: The other thing is, MudWings have to be warm to produce fire. They can’t produce fire all the time, and they’re brown.

Oren: The MudWings just kind of suck. They’re just boring.

Chris: The NightWings, for all the fact that they don’t have lots of powers, which is a problem in itself, they at least have a cool mystique. And they’re black and they have silver spots on the bottom of their wings that look like stars. So they look cool, at least. But the MudWings are just brown. They do kind of glow a little bit in the sun, but for the most part, they’re just brown and they have some of the weakest powers.

Oren: And then you have SeaWings, who have a bunch of abilities that seem like they could be cool, but are never used for any capacity. Like they can see in the dark, which would be super OP if they actually used it, but they never do. And they have flashing lights that they can use to do different things. But again, they never use it for anything. So they end up coming off like they have no powers. SandWings have a cool tail stinger, which is neat. That’s a good power.

Chris: The tail stinger, though, we have some situations where something is framed as incredibly deadly and then, of course, Sutherland has to take it back. But we never actually have time to walk back how deadly the tail stinger is. So as far as we know, just getting stung by their tail is just like a death sentence. And it really makes you wonder why they aren’t covering up their stingers, because there could be accidents. We talk about dragons being inherently violent all the time, as we mentioned. And so, if somebody just gets mad and automatically sting somebody, was like, “oops, I shouldn’t have done that. I just got angry.” Well, too bad. Somebody’s dead.

Oren: Yeah, murder time now. But of course, this is nothing compared to the RainWings, who have invisibility scales, instant disguise scales, and instant murder venom spray. And it’s like, what? Why do they have all of those abilities?

Chris: And they can change colors.

Oren: Right.

Chris: Which makes them so cool. So, they’re obviously the best dragon, because they can change colors and disguise themselves so well that they basically become invisible, ‘cuz they can just be the colors of whatever the background is.

Oren: And then Sutherland tries to balance that by having them be super lazy and passive, which ends up making everything worse. Because a big part of the story is Glory, the RainWing, being oppressed because everyone hates RainWings, because they spun the dial and decided they hated RainWings. And she’s all these stereotypes about how RainWings are super lazy and not smart and can’t do anything. Her entire character is like, that’s not true. Those are fake. That’s not what I am. And then finding her people and discovering, no, all the stereotypes are true. (laughter) It’s like, what? What?

Chris: And this is a needed justification for why they don’t just win against—they have a conflict with the NightWings—why they don’t just win right away is because they have these super awesome—they can shoot their venom and it will insta kill.

Oren: It’s funny because, even if they didn’t have the venom, they would still be easily the most powerful of the dragons because they have invisibility. They have invisibility and instant murder death. And it’s like, why? Who would do this? This is such a weird choice.

Chris: It’s hard to imagine a worldbuilder planning all of these dragons and putting them side-by-side, and making the RainWings so much cooler.

Oren: Yeah, it’s just a weird choice.

Chris: The only thing I can think of is that she was definitely inspired by different environments. She definitely started with, OK, these are the—SandWings live in the desert, and the RainWings live in the rainforest, and the MudWings live in, I guess, marshy areas, marshy, muddy areas. And my guess is that she was just so focused on making them match their environment, she didn’t really compare them enough to each other.

Oren: Well, I’m guessing that the RainWings are inspired by chameleons. But then, I don’t know where the venom came from. And my best guess is that the venom might actually be an example of what I call plot hole worldbuilding, which is a thing that I’ve seen some other books do. But in this particular book, at the end of book one, there needs to be a way for the protagonists to get out of the gladiator pit they’ve been imprisoned in. And the way that that ends up happening is that Glory discovers her venom powers and uses them to, as far as we know at the time, kill the queen who’s imprisoning them, so that they can run during the chaos. And I can’t help but wonder if that’s the entire reason for the venom, is so that that scene could happen.

Chris: I think they might have been inspired by poison dart frogs, because they actually use darts. But at the same time, that might be why the venom is initially so OP. It’s so just like insta kill anybody, before it’s walked back, so that they had a way to get out of that one scene.

Oren: Well, I think that will about do it for this evening.

Chris: If you enjoyed this podcast, consider becoming our patron. Just go to

Oren: Before we go, I want to thank a few of our existing patrons. First, we have Callie Macleod. Then, we have Kathy Ferguson, who’s a professor of political theory in Star Trek. Next, we have Ayman Jaber. He’s an urban fantasy writer and a connoisseur of Marvel. And finally, we have Danita Rambo. She lives at We’ll talk to you next week.

P.S. Our bills are paid by our wonderful patrons. Could you chip in?

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