Ten year olds wondering, 'Will I be called by the dragon?' felt their hearts tremble at the thought that if that happened they would be leaving the village for good.
Not just the parents of ten year old children, but the whole village would talk about who the dragon would take this year. Sometimes no-one might be called, sometimes two or three. It was an honor to be called by the dragon.
Mia is an orphan, raised by her aunt, who had herself been taken out of the valley as a child, but then returned as an adult, for some wrongdoing of her own. When the dragon calls Mia, she realises that her aunt had been preparing her to leave all her life. The dragon always brings the children to a place where they are needed; and Mia is wanted in the palace complex of the capital. The remnants of a long past war have left behind a variety of unfinished business, that Mia must help with. She is the new servant in the rooms of the hero of that war, who is now only left as a weeping voice heard at nights.
The book is not constantly serious. There are occasional patches of humour or lighthearted adventure; but there are also episodes showing a dystopian society, and more emphasis on a child's uncertain place in the world and their relation to the adults that should care for them.
Most of the various threads of the plot get a resolution of sorts by the end of the book, so that it makes a self contained novel; but it certainly feels like the door has been left open for a sequel with more of the story.