Wings of Fire is a series of fantasy books written by Tui T. Sutherland. The entire series is made up of miniseries. I blogged about the first miniseries Wings of Fire (Books 1-5). This book is a prequel. It would best be read before the second miniseries (Books 6-10).
Synopsis: Out of all the Wings of Fire books, this is my favorite. There are three friends each with a unique power. Fanthom has the ability of enchantment, Clearsight the ability to see the future, and Darkstalker has both and is telepathic as well making him the most powerful dragon known in history. This book is about navigating friendship, making tough decisions, and exploring the reasons why someone becomes evil. Darkstalker and his friends attempt to make society better; however, his ideas of how to do this along with his powers make him a tyrant. Clearsight and Fanthom try to save their friend from himself but ultimately must betray him to protect society.
Parental Thoughts and Discussion:
A few religious concepts to discuss: What is freedom, the virtue of temperance, and what constitutes evil.
Freedom and Temperance: In a secular society we tend to have the wrong idea of freedom. Freedom is the idea that we can do whatever we want, make our own choices, and not being controlled by guidelines or rules. Religion is viewed as a controlling entity and is the opposite of freedom. There are some that hold the idea that religion was created to control the masses. Religious people blindly follow preset guidelines or commandments and do not use their own reason or intellect.
In reality, the truth is the opposite.
Quotes from the Catechism of the Catholic Church:
“The exercise of freedom does not imply a right to say or do everything” (1740).
Freedom is “the power, rooted in reason and will, to act or not to act, to do this or that, and so to perform deliberate actions on one’s own responsibility. By free will one shapes one’s own life. Human freedom is a force for growth and maturity in truth and goodness.” (1731).
“The more one does what is good, the freer one becomes. There is no true freedom except in the service of what is good and just. The choice to disobey and do evil is an abuse of freedom and leads to ‘the slavery of sin’ (1733).
We do have the ability to choose between good and evil, but once we choose evil, we are no longer free. We become slaves to sin (Rom. 6:17). We see this profoundly with Darkstalker. He has many powers and sees it as freedom to use his powers whenever he wishes. Yet, Darkstalker becomes a slave to his powers. He is no longer able to function without using them, and he can’t navigate life without them. He criticizes Fanthom for being cautious with his powers. Fanthom is also an animus, but he understands that the more he uses his power his soul becomes dark. Fanthom chooses to have temperance and not use his powers. He only does so, in the end, to trap Darkstalker and save the land. Clearsight as well becomes a slave to her powers in the book and this causes her to lose her sanity at times.
Fanthom was ultimately the free dragon in the book. He was in control of his intellect and will to freely choose when he was going to use his power and for what specific reason. Clearsight had to learn the lesson of when to choose to use her powers. Darkstalker never saw a choice of NOT using his powers; thus he became a slave in having to use them always.
We as parents need to educate our children in the virtues, “This requires an apprenticeship in self-denial, sound judgment, and self-mastery – the preconditions of all true freedom” (CCC 2223).
This is a great connection to make with teens about sexuality. Our society believes that teens are unable to control their sex drive. We can explain to them that they do have this power of sexuality, but it is their responsibility to use their intellect and will to have temperance when deciding to use that power. If not, they become slaves to their sexuality.
What constitutes evil: Darkstalker is a fascinating and dynamic character. He never sees himself as the villain. He always believes his intentions are good (some are very good) and he can justify his actions. He firmly believes that he is helping society and making the world a better place to live. This is even true when he comes back in books 6-10. He sees himself as the hero and doesn’t understand why other dragons can’t get on board with his plan.
One thing to remember with our intentions is that humans have the stain of Original Sin which leaves us with concupiscence, the inclination to sin (see CCC 1264 and 2515)
“Man, enticed by the Evil One, abused his freedom at the very beginning of history. He succumbed to temptation and did what was evil. He still desires the good, but his nature bears the wound of original sin. He is now inclined to evil and subject to error” (CCC 1707).
This paragraph is SIGNIFICANT. We all DESIRE GOOD! Remember this when dealing with others (especially those with a different political background). However, this desire for good doesn’t guarantee our actions will be good, in fact, we are all “inclined to evil and subject to error”.
A few moral concepts Darkstalker got wrong.
- He set his personal interest above those in the community (see CCC 2236).
- He believed the definition of peace was solely the absence of war (see CCC 2304).
- He didn’t believe that each dragon had their own fundamental rights nor the choice to exercise their own freedom (see CCC 2254).
- He didn’t believe in the dignity of each individual dragon (see CCC 1780-1782, 1798).
- He believed the end justified the means (see CCC 1759).
“ONE MAY NEVER DO EVIL SO THAT GOOD MAY RESULT FROM IT” (CCC 1761).