The Ghosts in the Flames by Seann Barbour

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This is a very classic epic medieval fantasy type deal. It starts off with the protagonist, a 16 year old princess princess who just learned her cousin has been chosen as a sacrifice to the dragon. The Black Mountain is home to this dragon that they’ve kept at peace with through a truce. Each year someone is sent to die to be eaten by the dragon. Apparently, it’s not the peasants who get chosen it’s the nobles on the chopping block.

Well, it’s a huge to-do since her cousin was basically her only friend. She’s a princess and as such she’s led an extremely sheltered life. It’s called a cloister and she’s basically not allowed outside of her father’s sight for her entire life.

Now… I’m sorry, but if one of the qualifications to be sacrificed to a dragon is being a ‘maiden’…….. I’m going to make Nanny Ogg blush. Hello, sir. We just met, and this is crazy… but there’s a dragon, so let’s go and save me (whistles). Alas, the princess does not set up a bordello to deal with her problem. She realizes that if her cousin was sacrificed to the dragon, maybe she will be, too. She tries to confront her father about it but he’s avoiding her questions which raise her suspicions.

To make things more complicated, on the way to the sacrifice (it’s a traditional procession) they were attacked by mercenaries. This doesn’t make any sense at all to the princess since everyone in the realm knew what “day” it was and why they were making their way to the foot of the Black Mountain. Who would want to interrupt the sacrifice and potentially piss off the dragon? Later on witches and prophecies come into play and to go much further could be spoilery.

I’d recommend this for people who like classic lore, medieval fantasy, and “damsels in distress” but they are attempting to save themselves instead of waiting to be saved. I will be announcing my last semifinalist soon, (today) but for now it’s safe!