Perhaps a young Sun Dragon prince, the only one of his kind on the otherwise Bone-Dragon-inhabited planet Draman, doesn’t seem like a likely partner for Merlin, an old man with silver spectacles and a dusty robe. However, when young Grian is tasked to find his fated love to save his people and his long-lost mother, Merlin is the only person who can help him.
One of the things that makes the Sun Dragon series unique is that every book has a different LGBTQI+ protagonist, and that protagonist is a member of the next generation. In Merlin’s Moon, the second book in the series, a young Merlin was one of the main characters; in Starsong, the third book, Merlin is the one who sends Grian’s mothers back in time to try to stop the destruction of their people; and now, in Caden’s Comet, Merlin has grown into an old man who is just as likely to pour cold coffee on Grian’s head as he is to help him find Caden, his fated love.
However, Merlin proves a more useful partner than he lets on at first. He is one of the most powerful people in the universe and can perform feats such as transporting Grian with a clap, pulling a lasso from the air to tame a crazed dragon, and copying all the data from a computer with a wave of his hand. Here’s Merlin in action during an instance when Grian and Merlin have to work together to break into the Earth Dragon Protection Society, or EDPS:
“We’re here to fill out forms for access into Little Earth,” Merlin lied. He had changed his voice, the words now full of gliding vowels merging before nasal consonants—from the little I knew about Earth, this was supposed to imitate an American southern accent. “We’ve just come from out of town, and we’d love to check out the famous landmark as soon as possible. But we’re not in the dragon database, and we don’t want to make any trouble.”
“And you came all the way to the EDPS to fill out a few forms?” the woman asked. She was middle-aged and thin and had perfected an impeccable look of disapproval she probably used on most visitors.
“Is that not the right thing to do?” Merlin asked apologetically. “Good lord, it’s been quite a day, and this weather is making me like a cat on a hot tin roof. I know we’re from the South and it’s hotter there, but I reckon there’s something much worse in all these crowds and concrete sidewalks. And with me being over a hundred years old, you can imagine what a toll a city like New York takes on me.”
“You poor thing,” the woman said, finally softening. “Today is abnormally hot, and Mondays in New York are always a madhouse. I’ll just go get you that form, and you can fill it out right here, okay? Son, you get your grandfather a seat, and I’ll be right back.”
As soon as she disappeared, Merlin began doing his hand-waving thing again. This time I realized he had an antique CD in his pocket, and the information he pulled from their database was being transferred to that disc.
Not only is Merlin a powerful ally, but he knows how to use his elderly appearance to his advantage. Most people who meet him underestimate him, which gives him time to work out the best way to fool them. Merlin doesn’t just help Grian with his quest; he also advises him on matters of the heart. Unfortunately, as Grian finds out later in the book, just because two people are destined to be together doesn’t mean they’ll fall head over heels in love at first sight. As someone who has been in love, Merlin can offer Grian some much-needed wisdom, as well as keep Grian in check when his princely self-centeredness gets in the way of their mission.
Grian needs Merlin, but Merlin needs him too; who else will break the silence of Merlin’s self-imposed isolation or remind him that he’s had a forgotten prisoner locked in his cupboard for days?
Their cooperation is the one constant throughout the book, even during times when Grian can’t see that Merlin is teaching him a lesson for his own good. And he and Grian need any advantage they can get—they’re two men against an entire race of Earth Dragons who would take any foreign dragon’s presence as a threat, and they’re risking everything to find a prophesized soul mate who may or may not even exist.