What an absolutely delightful find. I never expected a book of this depth when I started it – this definitely for older teens and adults.
A well executed world and mythology that is consistent. I enjoyed the stories Tolmac tells Sondra, because they were an interesting insight into both the world and his personality in the telling. The kingdom of Ariva is charming, a fairy tale country in economic ruins.
The conflicts between nations were complex enough to be realistic, but not so complicated that you can’t follow them. The international intrigues were one of the best parts of the book.
Empowered female characters. Other than our heroine being a badass storm dragon, just about every other major female character is a respectable, non-simpering person in her own right, be it the gently assertive Sarai, the take-no-prisoners Elona or even Sondra’s maid, Liliana. Some of them may want to be homely mothers while others aspire to be scientists, but these are personal goals and not social ideals. This is all despite the kingdom being a bit like Regency England in its attitude.
The refreshing approach to sex. There is some adult content in the book, but it doesn’t linger on it or treat in a childish fashion. It is a natural part of the protagonist’s relationship. Did you know that dragon-on-dragon funtimes could be hawt? I didn’t.
Derek’s and Elona’s history. I got all excited when I saw Derek’s reaction to Elona and vice versa, but that relationship is never taken anywhere. While I’m not pushing for every character to pair off, why put in all this history if it contributes nothing to the story? All that belligerent sexual tension for nothing.
The plot and pacing. The storyline is a bit predictable, and I wished we had spent more time on the dragon training instead of the war, because Sondra’s character development seems abrupt. I don’t really know how I felt about the whole battle section – it was well depicted but I wanted more of Tolmac’s and Sondra’s romance than anything. So it might just be me. The ending is also kind of just like a film crew packing up and leaving.
The juvenile writing. For all the mention of miscarriages, rape and generally adult themes, the language seems to be aimed at something below middle grade readers. The distinct lack of pronoun use and complex sentences was irritating. I would have liked longer sentences with a great deal more similes and metaphors. It really takes away from your enjoyment of the book when you feel like you’re reading a primer.
Multiple POVs. Normally I like it when you can see the thoughts of multiple characters, but here the use of perspectives is too varied and irregular to be helpful. Sarai has one paragraph in the beginning and then never again. Elona, who turns up in the last quarter, gets a whole lot of pages all of a sudden. There is way too much Derek and too little Tolmac (no, I don’t have a bias, what are you talking about?) and one point I was thinking I’d being reading about the chambermaid next. The POVs change abruptly too.
Overall, I think the good points outweighed the bad writing to make this an enjoyable read. The relationships between people carry the book, even the one I wanted to explore most wasn’t given enough airtime. Definitely recommended.
Rating – 3.5 stars.