Yes we are here again with another new book, this time publishing in May, it’s a busy month for ARC reviews here on Chain Interaction, I hope you’re keeping up. I know better than to read books that are part of a series out of sequence but I don’t know better than to read anything and everything that mentions Dragons so it won’t be a surprise that this caught my eye. But we can assess whether this book works as a standalone or whether you really have to have read the first two titles to understand what’s going on?
Four years have passed since a fairy swarm released the voice of prophecy in Nell Brennan. In that painful moment, a skilled warrior became a reluctant leader and defender of Aluvia’s magic. Now a new enemy threatens their still-fragile lands, one Nell feels powerless to stop even with help from the voice within her.
A mysterious dark alchemist from the Ice-Locked Lands is rising to power on the strength of his sword arm and an ice-breathing dragon obedient to his command. He promises unlimited magic to his followers and death to those who defy him. If he takes over the ports, his corrupt elixirs will disrupt the delicate balance of peace between Aluvia’s people and all magical creatures.
The voice of prophecy sends Nell and her friends to their enemy’s treacherous domain to find a sword of legend. Only the sword’s magic can prevent a return to a world of dying fairies and caged merfolk. But Nell’s up against the toughest foe she’s ever faced. In order to defeat him, she must master the unimaginable power of the sword―and the unwanted magic inside herself.
Now I hadn’t read that plot summary before I started reading this and I will confess I started the novel pretty confused as to what was going on and why I was supposed to care about various characters, but this book does a pretty good job of explaining what’s happened previously (without doing a TV style roundup on the first page). So quite quickly it’s clear who you’re supposed to be rooting for and what she’s currently up to.
Aluvia is an interesting name for a world, not the most creative I’ve come across but at least it isn’t difficult to work out how to pronounce it. Now this is a world with magical creatures, we’ve got Dragons, Snow Sprites, Wind Steeds (flying flaming wind horses) and we’ve also got merfolk and fairies. I have a feeling that the real benefit to reading the first two books in this series would be getting a better feel for what the original state of affairs for these creatures was because I’m still not sure I fully comprehend what went down. But the world is interesting (mainly because dragons and mermaids). What we don’t really understand, maybe because it was explained earlier and I haven’t read it yet, is how magic works. It would appear it can be put into people through various means but the affect of this and why this is the case was never made clear. Probably my fault for starting at book three.
Nell is a cool character. She’s a warrior who has had to accept a whole other mantle and run with it when really what she wants to be doing (at least some of the time) is hitting things with a large sword. Now I can relate to that, quite a lot of the time I would like to hit things with a large sword instead of dealing with them diplomatically.
The side characters were also really cool and it is basically for them that I want to read the first two books in this series. I’m intrigued as to how this band got together and I think the first two books will hold the answers. I mean fairy keepers and mermaids? That’s my Christmas.
The main thing I didn’t enjoy as much as I might have done was the romance. So often the benefit to starting a series nearer the middle/end is the main romance is already established and you can just enjoy it without all the angst. But in this instance there was still so much angst and just irritating mollycoddling which made me really dislike the main romantic interest. I wanted to like him but just couldn’t get past my annoyance, die hard fans please feel free to let me know how wrong I am.
I thought that this book was well set out, well paced and well written. It didn’t come across as overly descriptive and nor was it lacking. The plot felt well thought out and was realised in a timely way so you didn’t feel rushed or confused and have to go back and reread exactly what happened. There was a good old fashioned scooby doo villain in a mask reveal that I won’t spoil but to be honest, it is kind of predictable.
Also, there are dragons in this, fairly standard fantasy dragons, nothing particularly new about them, but they did make me very happy.
I enjoyed reading this book, it caught me up and I wanted to know how the story ended. I’m not waxing lyrical about it now that it’s over but I will attempt to find copies of the first two books to flesh out my knowledge of the world. Maybe once I’ve managed that we’ll find ourselves back here for a recap? Only time will tell.
My rating: 3/5 I liked this but I didn’t love it.
Dragon Redeemer publishes May 23rd so you’ve got just enough time to grab yourself a copy either online or in a bookshop (support local business people!).
Question: Have any of you read the first two books in this series? Am I missing a super relevant plot point that makes the romance make sense? Let me know in the comments below or on twitter @judithcmoore. Can’t wait to hear from you.
By the way, I received a digital advanced review copy of this book from the publisher (Curiosity Quills Press) via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own and I wouldn’t recommend a book if I didn’t genuinely enjoy it.