The Dragon Prince Netflix review: It’s not Avatar, but it’s not bad

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The Dragon Prince / Image by Netflix

Netflix’s The Dragon Prince, which dropped today, has a promising first season, but it may not be the Avatar successor you were looking for.

To start, it should be acknowledged that Netflix’s The Dragon Prince is its own show and should, on the one hand, be regarded as such. On the other hand, watching The Dragon Prince partially through the lens Avatar: The Last Airbender is kind of unavoidable.

Imagine reading a new YA fantasy series by J.K. Rowling and not thinking about Harry Potter. You would fail immediately. But Aaron Ehasz, co-creator of The Dragon Prince and co-executive producer of Avatar, must have known that. And the show’s set-ups are inherently similar. (Warning: Some spoilers)

There’s no bending, but there is magic.

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Instead of four elements, there are six primal sources of magic: the moon, sun, stars, earth, ocean, and sky. The Dragon Prince‘s first season is called “Book One: Moon.”

Long ago, humans, elves, and dragons lived together in harmony in Xadia, a magical land. Then, everything changed when a human mage, aka wizard, discovered the seventh primal source: dark magic, which involves taking the life force of magical creatures.

To protect themselves, the elves and dragons forced all the humans to stay on the western side of the continent while they holed up in the east. The dragon king, Thunder, guarded the border until humans killed him using dark magic.

And his was not the only life lost. His heir, the dragon prince, was also slain, before he was even hatched, bringing the continent to the brink of war.

A trio, two siblings and a stranger, go on a quest to bring peace to the world

Turns out the dragon prince isn’t dead, after all. Predictably, the humans stole the egg to use in the coming war. The egg is discovered by 14-year-old Callum (Jack De Sena) and his younger brother Ezran (Sasha Rojen), the princes of Katolis, a human kingdom, and by Rayla (Paula Burrows), a seemingly teenaged eleven assassin.

Rayla and her fellow Moonshadow Elves had entered Katolis to kill King Harrow (Jason Simpson) and his heir, Ezran. (Callum is Harrow’s stepson.) However, as soon she sees the egg, Rayla tries to get the assassin squad’s leader Runaan (Jonathon Holmes) to stand down when she realizes they are seeking vengeance for a crime that never happened.

Unfortunately, Runaan, already furious with Rayla for sparing the life of a human guard and thereby warning King Harrow of their plot, is determined to go through with the mission.

Additionally, all the elves, including Rayla, are literally bound by duty. Enchanted bands on their wrists will only release once both Harrow and Ezran are dead. If the royals remain alive, the bands will continue to tighten until they literally sever the elves’ hands.

Callum, meanwhile, tries to tell Harrow the egg is alive but is stopped by the king’s advisor, Lord Viren (Jason Simpson), a mage. Viren questions why Callum would assume his father doesn’t already know but also refuses to let Callum see him.

Out of options, Callum, Ezran, and Rayla set out to return the egg to Xadia to prevent a war.