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Publisher's Summary

From the author of The Dragon’s Blade Trilogy and the narrator of The Witcher series comes the start of a new dragon rider epic combining the best of Eragon and Pern with the hard magic of Brandon Sanderson and Will Wight.

Holt Cook was never meant to be a dragon rider. He has always served the Order Hall of the Crag dutifully, keeping their kitchen pots clean.

Until he discovers a dark secret: Dragons do not tolerate weakness among their kin, killing the young they deem flawed. Moved by pity, Holt defies the Order, rescues a doomed egg and vows to protect the blind dragon within.

But the Scourge is rising. Undead hordes roam the land, spreading the blight and leaving destruction in their wake. The dragon riders are being slaughtered and betrayal lurks in the shadows.

Holt has one chance to survive. He must cultivate the mysterious power of his dragon's magical core. A unique energy which may tip the balance in the battles to come, and prove to the world that a servant is worthy after all. 

Winner of the 2021 National Indie Excellence Award for Fantasy!

©2020 Michael R. Miller (P)2020 Michael R. Miller

What listeners say about Ascendant

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  • CP
  • 11-20-20

Great Fantasy Coming of Age Story

This book is about the story of a 16 year old boy named Holt being quickly and unintentionally thrust into adulthood and finding some hard realities of living his dream. The medieval fantasy setting has many stereotypes that leads to some predicable behavior but this makes the story more relatable than repetitive. The minor characters are a good combination of likable and not that gives the story depth. The distinction of class, while sometimes heavy handed, lends to building the world quickly. Dragons and magic go hand in hand with each dragon's type, sub race of a sort, dictating the magic of the dragon and their partner. While this book does include some wuxia elements it is not overbearing and does not take away from the story.

With the age of the main character there is a decent amount of angst and teenage behavior but this changes as the characters develope through the book in a realistic way. This story does avoid a lot of very common tropes that are becoming mainstream for fantasy - Holt may be progressing very well and him and his dragon may be unique but they do not appear with some world breaking abilities that make them unstoppable, they are not handed off to some random academy to deal with highschool drama in an unrealistic and over the top environment, and they certainly don't sit in a place of always winning and everyone lives happily ever after.

The narrator for this book was well chosen. He does a fantastic job with all of the characters making each feel unique and realistic. Throughout the story he maintains a good pace, uses appropriate tones and inflections, and expresses emotions realistically to all situations. By itself this book would be worth reading, but the narrator has done a very good job of bringing all the characters to life.

Overall this was a very enjoyable book. I am looking forward to the next release.

23 people found this helpful

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Overrated

I'd rate it a 3.5 . This book is a good read, but not as great as other reviews are making it out to be. As others have said, this book is primarily targeted for YA fantasy lovers. I did enjoy the characters though I felt that their personalities were inconsistent at times. Each main protagonist had well constructed backstories making a solid foundation to grow from. I really enjoyed the story's development of the dragon Ash, incorporating both faults and strengths into his characterization. I also appreciated that Holt never lost his passion for food given his new role in life. The magic system was simple, yet had a good deal of depth to explore (Especially in Ash's case).

Things I didn't care for. Though the party goes through a number of "hardships", it seems that those were most always a bit vague and forced while something always conveniently happened for the party to overcome them. Descriptions and scenarios were rushed while world-building not centered around dragons and their riders was weak. The scourge threat seemed underdeveloped, though properly menacing (I can see further depth being explored in the next book). A number of situations and conversations came off as unrealistic or childish which really took me out of the story. Most of these can originate from the fact that we are only receiving one POV, Holt's, and the reader is left as naïve as him. Hopefully as he continues to mature through the continuation of the series, my list of negatives start to deplete.

I enjoyed the narrator when he was speaking for a character, but didn't actually care for his lines as the narrator (his tone fluctuated so much on every single narrator sentence rather than seeming natural). Those are the negatives for me that I can recall.

As I've stated, it isn't a bad book and I did enjoy the read. I just feel the comments and reviews are hyping this book too much. I picked it up expecting a book that might've "become one of my favorites" from the glowing reviews it received but was underwhelmed.

9 people found this helpful

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Absolutely Fantastic!

This book has it all! Magic, Dragons, Friendship, Mentors, Power, Battle, Evil in various forms and did I mention Dragons! It is what I have been looking for since I finished Eragon so many years ago. This is a great story of a servant becoming more than society would allow, while finding friendship, love, and a challenge to become what he was told he would never be. I cannot wait until the next book in this series is out. If Michael R. Millers other series are anything like this, I will be buying them next.

8 people found this helpful

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Dragons, zombies, and coming of age story

Old riff, done well and with new twists. Flavors of Anne McCaffrey, xanxia/ LitRPG without the game mechanics, and zombies. Comes off as YA because of clean language and no sex scenes— not a negative unless that is what you were looking for. Satisfying character development, and growing complexity after a simple start. Great reader for these characters. Will buy next book pre-sale :-)

8 people found this helpful

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When Perfect Story Meets Perfect Narrator

Absolutely LOVED this book. It gave all the feels-- love, happiness, fear, sadness, courage, pride, and lastly, longing. Longing to have been able to save a beloved character (really liked him), Longing to discover more about the elusive yet powerful Rake, And as the months go by, longing to be reunited with Holt and Ash. Well done Mr. Miller, and Mr. Kenny. A sequel is in the works and I for one will be waiting with eager anticipation. Mr. Kenny was perfection. And as much as people say a narrator can make a slightly good book better, in this case, it was perfection meets perfection.

5 people found this helpful

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Slow

Had a hard time getting into this book. Seemed very slow to go. Found myself feeling like I needed to motivate myself to keep listening or I’d never finish it.

4 people found this helpful

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Surprisingly Well-Developed and Accessible

LitRPG-style stories can feel like a bit of a grind sometimes (pun intended) due to corny-feeling rank and experience systems, but this story of Holt and Talia is well-rounded with the intriguing and exciting story and likable characters being prioritized well above LitRPG elements. The world feels rich and deep as well, with a larger challenge overlaying smaller obstacles that range from political intrigue to personal loss to courage in the face of disability to a straight-up terrifying local invasion. I will definitely listen to the next installment if/when it becomes available.

3 people found this helpful

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It is not often I give 5 stars!

Finding good books can be a challenge. Good books for me usually mean – clean (no sex and limited to no profanity), an engaging storyline, and believable characters. I really think it says a lot about an author who can craft a story without feeling the need to include “adult content”. Because of my unusually high standards, I often find it hard to discover good books. So I was pleasantly surprised when I discovered Ascendant (Songs of Chaos Book 1) by Michael R. Miller. It meets all my qualifications and is story I can recommend to anyone (child and adult), without reservations.

Miller describes this series as “combining the best of Eragon/How To Train Your Dragon with eastern inspired magic systems of Xianxia and cultivation fantasy”, and I would agree. However, I would take it one step further and say that Miller’s style of writing is far more developed than Christopher Paolini’s Eragon. (Don’t get me wrong, I loved Eragon and read and re-read it as a teen.) However, Miller’s Ascendant delves more deeply into the characters; you see the character’s internal struggles, which makes them more relatable and even more courageous because you know their fears and insecurities.

What I liked most about this story is that it affirms the dignity of life, even that of the unborn. Holt is tasked with destroying a dragon egg because the Matriarch sensed an imperfection in it. However, Holt is unable to follow through with the task because it “just feels wrong” (Chapter 5). Later, when an opportunity presents itself, Holt rescues the dragon egg, intending to protect it until he can release it into the wild. Of course, things don’t go as planned, and the dragon egg hatches before Holt can release it. The dragon inside is blind.

As the story continues both Ash (the dragon) and Holt face many obstacles, one of which is the hostility of the other dragons who believe Ash should not be allowed to live. Holt feels increasing guilt for the struggles Ash faces, both because he is blind and because he is ostracized by the other dragons. When Holt mentions this to Ash, Ash sums it up quite nicely saying “Never worry about my eyes – I’m glad to experience the world as I do rather than not at all. As for others of my kind, they can accept me or not as they choose. I will not allow my own worth to be determined by them.” (Chapter 54)

In today’s society where we can abort the unborn simply because we do not want the responsibility of raising a child or because the child is going to be born with “imperfections” (disabilities/deformities), this book provides a reminder that all life has value. Whether or not the author intended this, I do not know. However, I will say it is refreshing and one of my favorite aspects of the book. I look forward to the second book in the series and in the meantime will enjoy his other book series – The Dragon’s Blade.

I will be adding this book to my Favorites list, and it has even made it in the top-10.

2 people found this helpful

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amazing

One of the better books I have ever read or listened to. I have read and listened to thousands of books and this is one of my new favorites.

2 people found this helpful

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I am in LOVE with this new series.

Michael R Miller's Ascendant (Book 1 in the Songs of Chaos series) is a wonderful adventure for those missing great dragon rider stories.

An homage to McCaffrey's Dragon Riders of Pern series, with the moving of damaged eggs and the feeing of the hatchlings. This is a new spin, with magic and new types of dragons.

Holt and Ash must grow up quicker than any dragon and rider of the Crag. Intrigue in the palace court and betrayal by those sworn to protect the land from the Scourge. Two dragons have survived the attack and must help those on their travel to the palace.

Watch this new series by a young author! I foresee many years of wonderful adventures.

1 person found this helpful

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  • Iain
  • 01-07-21

Fabulous

Amazing narrator and amazing story. Had me sucked in straight away. Couldn't stop listening to it!

Haven't read a dragon book this good since Eragon

5 people found this helpful

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  • kian
  • 09-26-20

YA story

This is a young adult coming of age story so most mature listeners might not like it. Excellent narration but Holt is young, too naive, curious, and submissive which makes it hard for me to engage with. Maybe book 2 will be better.

5 people found this helpful

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  • Caroline Hannam
  • 02-14-21

Recommend for lovers of dragon rider fantasy

I really enjoyed this book, though it did take a couple of chapters for me to get into it, but I’m glad I stuck with it and to be fair it set up the background and personality of the main character.
I recommend it to any lovers of dragons, dragon riders, magic, magical adventures and interesting character progression with a medieval flavour, basically most fantasy lovers.

Before I continue I have to mention that I experienced the book in audio book format and the narrator Peter Kenny was a pleasure to listen to and complemented the story beautifully.

All the characters are believable and very relatable, even the peripheral characters.
The world this story takes place in, has undoubtedly been inspired by medieval history and tradition and incorporates a wonderful magic system centred around the dragons.
There is a wide divide between high born and peasants and to maintain order everyone knows where they belong and know not to cross the line.
Your place in society and opportunities are predetermined by birth, such as the protagonist Holt, who works in the kitchen and will apprentice his father to become a cook, but dreams of becoming a dragon rider – the knights of this world.

Dragon riders come only from high born families and are held in high esteem, because they protect the world from the scourge; a hoard of huge, bug-like monsters that threaten to kill every living thing. The riders undergo rigorous training and are chosen by a dragon to bond with and develop a deep magical, life-long bond. Human and dragon mutually benefit from this connection, and it makes them exceptional fighters.
The dragons of the order only tolerate strong and healthy individuals, and any imperfect offspring are identified during a ceremony and destroyed before they can hatch from their eggs.

Holt witnesses one egg being selected and saves it by stealing and hiding it. Inevitably the dragon hatches, but he is blind. Holt feels guilty and vows to take care of the dragon; the baby dragon and Holt bond immediately and their connection is instinctive and very strong.

A surprise attack by the scourge and treachery leaves Holt and his dragon, whom he names Ash; to save the world from destruction. He is joined by Talia, a young dragon rider, her dragon Pyria and Brode. They aim to get to the capitol to warn of the impending danger and to identify and expose the traitor.
Talia was a princess; who had to forswear her heritage to be accepted in to the dragon rider order, but is conflicted when she finds out her brother the king has been murdered. Brode is an older, dour man. He was a dragon rider, but since his dragon died serves the dragon rider order by ensuring the riders are received and accommodated as they expect.
Now he finds himself as travel companion to Talia and Holt and he has to train Holt and Ash in all aspects of a dragon rider and to come to grips with the drastic change in his life on the trek to the capitol. Despite their common goal Holt and Talia are at odds and have to learn to work together.
All five characters (Holt and Ash, Talia and Pyria, and Brode experience growth and you witness how they become stronger, more trusting and appreciative of each other for who they are during the adversity they face along the way ...

The whole story is well structured and could be read as a standalone, since the adventure does come to a conclusion, however the ending gives enough of an encouragement to find out what happens next to the characters and I’m looking forward to the second book.

The Author was so kind to let me have this audio book for free, however I am leaving this review of my own volition.

2 people found this helpful

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  • yasmin louise greatorex - briggs
  • 01-23-21

Love a good dragon rider story

Enjoyed this story from start to finish. Peter Kenny does an excellent job of narrating and adding voices for the characters.
Miller keeps good pace through the story and as i only listen whilst running i can say my mileage has definitely increased so i could hear the next chapter! Whilst predictable at points, very much enjoyed seeing the relationships develop between characters. Eagerly awaiting book 2!

2 people found this helpful

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  • Jordan
  • 02-13-21

Amazing

Amazing good so fulfilling to listen too, I enjoyed this very much and I hope and wait for more of this excellent series, I am very excited to hear the next chapter of Ash and his rider Holts adventure!! 😁😁😁😁

1 person found this helpful

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  • michael
  • 02-12-21

A very enjoyable start to a series

This is a very enjoyable dragon rider book, excellently presented with an engaging story. I look forward to the next book.

1 person found this helpful

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  • Christopher Buxton
  • 01-30-21

Best dragon fantasy book I've come across.

A great story if you like fantasy tales. Well read in the audio version. Plenty interest and une pected turns of event.

1 person found this helpful

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  • Harrison
  • 09-14-21

Simply Exceptional

This story is one of the best, if not the best, I have ever come across in this genre. I have been a die hard fan of the Inheritance cycle (Eragon saga) for years and this book is the only one ever, to even rival the series for my favourite of all time. You will not regret getting this book. Peter Kenney does a fantastic job as narrator and really helps to immerse you in the story, not that it needs much help. You will be gripped from start to finish.

If like me this book resonates with you I recommend joining the discord group run my Michael himself and get to speak to other like minded individuals and get updates on the upcoming books.

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  • Luke A.
  • 09-04-21

One of the best dragon rider stories in years

A promising start to a series that combines great world building, endearing characters, and cruel twists. One of the best in recent years with a pleasent voice actor. Definitely looking forward to the rest of the series.

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  • simon p.
  • 08-24-21

another cracker

was gutted when it finished. very much looking forward to the next book. we'll worth a listen

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  • Lawrance Pope
  • 08-17-21

Great Ride!

Great characters and story and good development of the protagonist and supporting characters !

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  • Henri-Earl
  • 08-04-21

Great Book

Just felt this is much like Earagon only in my opinion much better and deeper on almost every measurable level. I love the world he built, the characters, the storyline etc…..Cant wait for the next one.

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  • Telmach
  • 06-27-21

spectacular

honestly such an amazing story! can't wait for the next one. Peter Kenny also did an amazing job again.

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  • Kindle Customer
  • 04-11-21

Ascendant

Loved the story and the narrator was excellent in his reading and his voices of the characters.

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  • Anonymous User
  • 03-01-21

I LOVED IT!!!

There’s is nothing I can say about how I feel towards this book other than my absolute love for it and my desire to listen or read the next one when it comes out.

Powerful dragons and their faults, epic fight scenes, the Character’s struggles within themselves, the careful weaving of the plot and every scene to entrap the reader and force their minds to absorb every last detail to solve all the mysteries presented was unlike any other.

Another thing I deeply enjoyed was the slow growing friendship between the two teenagers and the bonds with their dragons growing stronger and stronger. Not focusing on romance and the lack of overthinking about romance between the two was refreshing to say the least. I hope this continues in the next few books, however some development is always good, but not when it takes over the characters shoving the plot and other great parts of the novel aside! I simply hope we continue to see it largely revolving around Holt and Ash, as they are the other half of one another’s souls, senses and bodies in my opinion.

The only thing I found myself disliking at the end of the novel was how I could not immediately dive into the next one!

Everything was perfect, and as I’ve said many times now, I’m desperately awaiting the next.

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  • Anonymous User
  • 01-10-21

Good Story

Can't say much anyone looking for a story to listen too, this is it such a good book

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  • Graham Pike
  • 12-28-20

Fantastic

Fantastic book. Dragons aren't my favourite fantasy read, but this book kept me riveted from the beginning . Can't wait till the second book.
A must read

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  • Glenn
  • 12-27-20

Really fun story

Hope the next ones a little more eventful this was a bit dry in a few places but necessary for world building.

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  • K. Cline
  • 10-23-20

Good story, voice reader was challenging

The story was good, creative. It has similarities to Pern and Eragon as stated but is its own story completely. The reader was challenging, and took some getting used to. Every sentence was read as if to have the greatest impact, though most of a book does not need such intonation. And every time he said the protagonist name in a sentence, Holt, he paused, which was thoroughly distracting.