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Coming Soon: Legion of Flame by Anthony Ryan

Title: Legion of Flame

Author: Anthony Ryan

Series: Draconis Memoria #2

Genre: Fantasy

Release Date: June 27, 2017

The Overview: For centuries, the vast Ironship Trading Syndicate relied on drake blood–and the extraordinary powers it confers to those known as the Blood-blessed–to fuel and protect its empire. But now, a fearsome power has arisen–a drake so mighty that the world will tremble before it. Rogue Blood-blessed Claydon Torcreek, Syndicate agent Lizanne Lethridge, and ironship captain Corrick Hilemore embark upon perilous quests to chase down clues that offer faint hopes of salvation. As the world burns around them, and the fires of revolution are ignited, these few are the last hope for the empire, and all of civilization. -Goodreads 

Nik’s Notes:

 The Waking Fire is one of the best books I’ve ever read – it felt like it was written just for me! Dragons, adventure, steampunk, and so much more – it was awesome! The Sandrunner short story that goes along with it has also been really good, but it’s not doing much to hold me over. I’m so excited for Legion of Flame, I can hardly stand it. Is it June yet?

WHO ELSE IS EXCITED?!!

by Niki Hawkes

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Book Review: Dragonwatch by Brandon Mull

March 14, 2017

Title: Dragonwatch

Author: Brandon Mull

Series: Fablehaven #6

Genre: Middle Grade Fantasy

Rating: 4/5 stars

Release Date: March 14, 2017

The Overview: In the hidden dragon sanctuary of Wyrmroost, Celebrant the Just, King of the Dragons, plots his revenge. He has long seen the sanctuaries as prisons, and he wants nothing more than to overthrow his captors and return the world to the Age of Dragons, when he and his kind ruled and reigned without borders. The time has come to break free and reclaim his power. No one person is capable of stopping Celebrant and his dragon horde. It will take the ancient order of Dragonwatch to gather again if there is any chance of saving the world from destruction. In ancient times, Dragonwatch was a group of wizards, enchantresses, dragon slayers, and others who originally confined the majority of dragons into sanctuaries. But nearly all of the original Dragonwatch members are gone, and so the wizard Agad reaches out to Grandpa Sorenson for help. As Kendra and Seth confront this new danger, they must draw upon all their skills, talents, and knowledge as only they have the ability to function together as a powerful dragon tamer. Together they must battle against forces with superior supernatural powers and breathtaking magical abilities. How will the epic dragon showdown end? Will dragons overthrow humans and change the world as we know it? -Goodreads

The Review:

I am a HUGE Fablehaven fan, considering it my all-time favorite middle grade series (aside from Harry Potter – the untouchable). I loved it for its fun storyline, boundless surprises, and sense of wonder. If you’d asked me which element of Fablehaven I’d wanted to read more about, the dragon sanctuary would have been my pick, hands down. Not only was it a magical place to visit, but I thought Mull had only scratched the surface of what it had to offer. I was thrilled when Dragonwatch was announced!

Before diving in, I’d been under the impression that Dragonwatch was going to be a true spinoff with new characters and everything. But it isn’t a spinoff… IT’S A CONTINUATION!!! Taking place right where Kendra and Seth left off their adventures in Keys to the Demon Prison (Book #5). Reading about these characters again felt like coming home. I remembered how sad I was when the original series ended, so Dragonwatch was a special treat for sure – and there’s more to come!

The best part of this novel for me were the dragons – I loved the different varieties and personalities, and think we’ll only get more detail as the series continues. There was also a fun adventure that included lots of creative obstacles for the characters to figure out and overcome. The plot was well constructed, but I don’t think that was completely evident from the beginning. The first third of the book, while immersed in Fablehaven awesomeness, took a long time to get to the selling point of the novel – the dragon sanctuary. While I enjoyed every moment, I can’t help but wonder if I would have enjoyed it a mite more had it moved along a bit quicker.

Overall, I’m excited for more adventures in this world and can’t wait for the next book!

I’d like to thank NetGalley, Shadow Mountain Publishing, and Brandon Mull for the opportunity to read and review an early copy of Dragonwatch.

Other books you might like:

 by Niki Hawkes

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Book Review: The Waking Fire by Anthony Ryan

The Waking Fire by Anthony Ryan

Title: The Waking Fire

Author: Anthony Ryan

Series: The Draconis Memoria #1

Genre: Fantasy

Rating: 5/5 stars!

The Overview: The Waking Fire is set in a vibrant new world where the blood of drakes—creatures similar to dragons—is valued beyond reckoning, and can be distilled into elixirs that grant fearsome powers to those who are “blood-blessed.” The novel follows an unregistered blood-blessed as he searches for an elusive variety of drake so potent, its capture would mean unrivalled riches; the second in command of a blood-burning ironclad ship; and a young woman in a lifelong contract to a trading syndicate, whose espionage mission places her on the front lines of a newly declared war. As empires clash and arcane mysteries reveal themselves, these characters are tested again and again and soon discover that the fate of the world rests on their shoulders. -Goodreads

The Review: 

Have you ever read a book that felt like it was written just for you? That’s how The Waking Fire made me feel. It had everything I love in fantasy novels and then some. And it was also one of the best dragon books I’ve ever read – nice!

The Waking Fire was a cool merge of dragon-centric high fantasy and 1920s era steampunk. It was filled with an abundance of exotic settings – everything from the high seas to ancient ruins deep in the jungle. It took a while before dragons really became the champions of the story, but they were definitely integral to the plot from the very beginning. The entire novel revolves around dragon blood and how each type can provide magical properties to a handful of gifted humans. It read very much like Sanderson’s Mistborn saga (where metals provide these properties rather than dragon blood), which is why I think fans of that series would most definitely enjoyed this one (and vice versa).

The Waking Fire is a multiple POV story, and I’d have a hard time telling you which perspective I enjoyed the most – they were all good! One thing I’ve always appreciated about Ryan’s work is that his female characters are always strong harbingers of change equal to his male characters. I wouldn’t say I found any of the women in The Waking Fire particularly relatable, but they were all equally kickass and interesting.

This book is one amazing armchair adventure that will give you one surprise after another. There were many passages I reread because the content was so dang cool, especially near the end. This book will punch you in the gut the entire way through and make you love every moment.

Overall, with the combination of dragons, exotic settings, amazing characters, great writing, and surprising plot, The Waking Fire is officially one of my new favorite books. I highly recommend it to fantasy fans, especially if you loved Blood Song – the first book in Ryan’s Raven’s Shadow Trilogy.

Other books you might like:

by Niki Hawkes

 

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Mini Book Review: Blood of Dragons by Robin Hobb

Blood of Dragons by Robin Hobb

Title: Blood of Dragons

Author: Robin Hobb

Series: Rain Wild Chronicles #4

Genre: Fantasy

Rating: 4.5/5 stars

The Overview: The dragons’ survival hangs in the balance in the thrilling final volume in the acclaimed River Wilds chronicles fantasy series. The dragons and their dedicated band of keepers have at last found the lost city of Kelsingra. The magical creatures have learned to use their wings and are growing into their regal inheritance. Their humans, too, are changing. As the mystical bonds with their dragons deepen, Thymara, Tats, Rapskal, and even Cedric, the unlikeliest of keepers, have begun transforming into beautiful Elderlings raked with exquisite features that complement and reflect the dragons they serve.

But while the humans have scoured the empty streets and enormous buildings of Kelsongra, they cannot find the mythical silver wells the dragons need to stay health and survive. With enemies encroaching, the keepers must risk “memory walking”- immersing themselves in the dangerously addictive memories of long-deceased Elderlings – to uncover clues necessary to their survival. And time is of the essence, for the legendary Tintaglia, long feared dead, has returned, wounded in a battle with humans hunting dragon blood and scales. She is weakening and only the hidden silver can revive her. If Tintaglia dies, so, too, will the ancient memories she carries – a devastating loss that will ensure the dragons’ extinction.

The Mini Review:

I can’t say enough good things about Robin Hobb. If she’s not my favorite author, she’s at least in my top three. Blood of Dragons concludes her Rain Wild Chronicles, a series which takes place on the periphery of her FitzChivalry books. My favorite thing about these “spinoffs” is the expansion of the world I love and the most excellent portrayal of dragons. Many authors write dragons with human personalities, desires, and motives. Hobb’s dragons are bestial and almost alien in their behaviors and thoughts; in my opinion, every bit as authentic as good dragons should be. It was awesome! I don’t know that we’ll see a continuation anytime soon, but after finally learning more about Elderling lore (often alluded to throughout the entire Farseer saga and finally just scratching the surface of possibilities here) I can’t see her just leaving it at that. If you’re a Hobb fan, The Rain Wild Chronicles is a must-read. If you’re a fantasy fan, this author is well worth your time! Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have a new Fitz and the Fool tale to dive into…

Other books you might like:

by Niki Hawkes

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Book Review: Dragonsong by Anne McCaffrey

Dragon songTitle: Dragonsong

Author: Anne McCaffrey

Series: Harper Hall Trilogy #1

Genre: Fantasy

Rating: 4.5/5 stars

The Overview: Every two hundred years or so, shimmering threads fall, raining black ruin on Pern. The great dragons of Pern hurl themselves through the beleaguered skies, flaming tongues of fire to destroy deadly Thread and save the planet. It was not Threadfall that made Menolly unhappy. It was her father who betrayed her ambition to be a Harper, who thwarted her love of music. Menolly had no choice but to run away. She came upon a group of fire lizards, wild relatives of the fire-breathing dragons. Her music swirled about them; she taught nine to sing, suddenly Menolly was no longer alone.

Dragon song 2

The Review:

This is going to be a fairly short review for a really great dragon book. I don’t know that I can honestly claim to have a Dragon Obsession with out having read at least a few McCafferys (although I’d like to note I eventually plan on reading all them). Even though Dragonsong is only the first book of the Harper Hall Trilogy, I can already tell it’s going to be just as good as the original Dragonriders of Pern series.

As with Pern, I initially had trouble getting into the flow of the story because of the writing style – it’s not exactly what I would call accessible. McCaffrey uses a rather high-brow language that can sometimes make you feel as if you’re trying to read a textbook. While I think the more readers you can retain with your writing the better, this particular writing style is part of what makes these books unique, so they get a lot of allowances where other books might not. I only had a difficult time focusing at the beginning of the book, but once I settled into the flow of the language, the story came alive.

I absolutely love Dragonsong’s storyline – it’s about a teenaged girl who accidentally enthralls a bunch of fire lizards with her remarkable music. The main character, Mellony, was as charming as she was atypical. She is not a petite, helpless little waif but a tall, strong, capable young woman who knows what she wants out of life (even though she doesn’t always get it). I found her incredibly likable because of how humble, hard-working, compassionate she was – I can totally see why the fire lizards were drawn to her.

I liked this story so much that I’m kind of kicking myself for not continuing on straight away. I’m eager to see where Mellony’s story takes her next and am secretly hoping for some sort of love story to develop. Overall, if you like McCaffery (or dragons in general) I think you’ll enjoy Dragonsong. It takes place chronologically after Dragonquest of the Dragonriders of Pern series, but right before The White Dragon, so you may at the very least want to read the first two of that trilogy to avoid spoilers. In trying to figure out what order to read the books in, I found the lists on this website very helpful.

Other books you might like:

by Niki Hawkes

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Book Review: Seraphina by Rachel Hartman

seraphinaTitle: Seraphina

Author: Rachel Hartman

Series: Seraphina #1

Genre: Teen Fantasy

Rating: 3.5/5 stars

The Overview: Four decades of peace have done little to ease the mistrust between humans and dragons in the kingdom of Goredd. Folding themselves into human shape, dragons attend court as ambassadors, and lend their rational, mathematical minds to universities as scholars and teachers. As the treaty’s anniversary draws near, however, tensions are high. Seraphina Dombegh has reason to fear both sides. An unusually gifted musician, she joins the court just as a member of the royal family is murdered—in suspiciously draconian fashion. Seraphina is drawn into the investigation, partnering with the captain of the Queen’s Guard, the dangerously perceptive Prince Lucian Kiggs. While they begin to uncover hints of a sinister plot to destroy the peace, Seraphina struggles to protect her own secret, the secret behind her musical gift, one so terrible that its discovery could mean her very life.

The Review:

Since I featured Shadow Scale in a recent WoW post, I figured I should probably get around to writing my review of Seraphina. As someone who openly professes to have a Dragon Obsession, I’m surprised it took me as long as it did to read this one. Well, I guess it’s not too surprising. You see, I initially found the overview a bit dry and didn’t think the cover was particularly appealing (and still don’t even though there’s nothing technically wrong with it). Even so, it’s a YA dragon book, so I knew I still wanted to read it… eventually. So, when my Escape Reality Book Club voted it in as March’s selection, I was thrilled to have the excuse I finally needed to pick it up.

As I’ve implied, I’ve read quite a few dragon books in my day, and  Seraphina was not quite like any one of them. The unique take on dragonkind, specifically how they interacted with humans, was as refreshing as it was different: as accomplished scholars, some dragons take the form of humans and more or less integrate into their society. What I liked is that, even though the dragons were in human form, their behavior was anything but human. It was nice to see them stay true to their nature and I especially loved seeing how they interacted and coped with everyone around them. Overall, I think the book had a great atmosphere – some of which was due to the voice and setting, but most of it stemmed from the quirks of these cool dragons.

While the storyline was unique, I have to say nothing particularly epic happens. It’s honestly a good thing the atmosphere, characters, and dragons were interesting because otherwise the story would have really been a drag. In fact, even with all of those cool elements, there were a few places I found a bit boring… specifically the dream sequences. I should point out that I have very little patience for dream sequences in general, which definitely affected my overall rating of the book. I doubt many other readers would be bothered by them, so take what I’m saying with a grain of salt.

Anyway, I enjoyed Seraphina enough to be interested in seeing where it goes next in Shadow Scale, although I’ll definitely be at risk of forgetting key elements by the time it comes out in 2015.

Other books you might like:

by Niki Hawkes