Normally I have so much more time for audiobooks over physical books but it’s been the opposite this year so far. However, once I had a chance to start this one, I *made* time to listen to the rest. Oh yes.
Also, FYI, I was given a copy of this audiobook by the author for an honest review. 🙂
Dragons once soared in the skies, but that was before the Transformation, before they took human form. Now, demonic forces stand to obliterate them. When left mortally wounded, Darnuir, the Prince of Dragons, can only be saved through a dangerous rebirthing spell. He is left as a babe in human hands.
Twenty years later, Darnuir is of age to wield the Dragon’s Blade. As the last member of his bloodline, he is the only one who can. He is plunged into a role he is not prepared for, to lead a people he does not know. Shadowy demons ravage his new home and the alliance between humans, dragons and fairies has fractured.
Time is short, for new threats and deadlier enemies are emerging…
“It’s okay to be afraid. It’s only…” he paused. “Well, it’s only human.”
Enter a world of fairies, humans and dragons (and wizards!!!) and their war against Rectar, the lord of the demons and his army of… well, demons. 😀 I know what some of you are thinking. Same ol’ Good vs Evil fantasy book, right? Not so fast! While this story embraces the traditional good vs. evil trope, it breaks the mold. It does it differently. A couple of tropes common to fantasy fit here. Farmboy prince fits as well, but this one is implemented in such a way that it almost feels like Miller is saying ‘yeah, but in his defense, he was the prince first.’ It touches on the traditional, but is refreshingly different.
I love some humanoid dragons, or dragons that can become humanoid. It makes them a bit more relatable (and it opens things up for some sweet, sweet dragon/not dragon roooomance – I AM WITHOUT SHAME). Dragons in this particular case, seem to be mostly dicks to anyone who isn’t also a dragon, despite the situation of sort of needing to team up against the greater enemy. Darnuir starts this story as the sort of pompous, arrogant, know-it-all heir to the king of the dragons (whose name is Draconis, because of course the king of the dragons is named Draconis). His father doesn’t trust him to wield the Dragon’s Blade, a very powerful flying sword that only the royal line of dragons can wield. He says that Darnuir isn’t ready for it, which of course pisses off Darnuir because he thinks he is ready for it, goddamn it! He couldn’t be more ready for it!
Darnuir is mortally wounded and the only thing that can save him is the dragon king’s resident court wizard, Brackindon (I probably spelled that wrong. Audiobook.), who does the only thing that he can do to save Darnuir. He performs a rebirthing spell that more or less rewinds Darnuir’s life and turns him into an infant, and then he leaves him in the care of a group of hunters, of which the more or less leader is a friend of his. ‘I’ll be back in six months!’ he says. Fast forward to twenty years later, and Darnuir has come of age to wield the Blade, and while there have been many years of radio silence from them, the demons are now redoubling their efforts.
We get some of the early parts of Darnuir’s new life from his point of view, which was actually pretty interestingly thought out. The entire growing up again montage is summed up well, doesn’t seem intrusive on the overall flow of the story, and is yet informative on what sort of (second) childhood that he has. Darnuir is raised as a human the second time around. He has no idea what he is, but his abnormally brute strength is noticeable to more than one person in his life, including himself at least once. It’s kind of a wonder that nobody figured it out sooner. This simple life humbles him, though. He comes from a more humble upbringing this time around and that is the key to wielding the Blade the way his father would have wanted. Brackindon comes back (20 years late, but as we all know, a wizard is never late but arrives precisely when he means to) with the Dragon’s Blade in tow and all is revealed.
Darnuir is a cool character who I started off not liking because he wasn’t very likable, but I ended up cheering for him, because when his old, arrogant personality starts to try and break through, he tries his very hardest to not be that person, and tries to restrain himself. Where Blaine and the other dragons tend to continue the tradition of being dicks to humans (and women of all races), Darnuir brings his human upbringing into play to smooth things out.
My favorite characters are more or less in the background though. First is Dukuna (am I close? This one was a tough guess on spelling ^_^), one of Rectar’s underlings and the first character we get introduced to. A demon lord’s underling who is in a position that he doesn’t want to be in. We see some of the book from his POV. He hates Rectar and considers himself a prisoner. He even has other demons that he sympathizes with. It’s pretty neat. I actually cheered for him the most. The second is Lyra, the lady dragon who isn’t taking any of Blaine’s bullshit about lady dragons not being allowed to be warriors. You go girl.
The action/battle scenes were well written and made it easy to imagine the action that was taking place. I was transported into the world of this book quite easily. The magic system is described as a cascade and I thought that was quite an interesting way to think of magic. Like a waterfall, kind of. The plot takes a couple of turns that you don’t see coming, and it doesn’t plod along. I thought it was quite well written and plotted out quite nicely. It wasn’t overly complex, but it was complex enough that I was immersed quite thoroughly.
The narrator totally nailed it. Dave Cruse’s narration of this book is more than slightly reminiscent of Simon Vance. So much so that I double checked after a while to make sure that it was not actually Simon Vance narrating the book. He sounds so, so close to the same (I listen to a lot of audiobooks, but for those of you who don’t, Simon Vance has narrated a lot of books, many of them classics, and does it rather excellently, in my opinion). Dave Cruse gave each character an appropriate voice and tone and told the story very well! Some pretty brilliant accents were peppered throughout, and I quite enjoyed the listen! My only criticism here is that when characters are having an inner monologue moment, which they do from time to time, a better way to differentiate that would be awesome. As it stands, it just seems like the same character speaks but… a little muffled. When they’re inner monologuing in the middle of a spoken conversation, this can be confusing.
What a great debut! The best part was watching a character that I didn’t really start out liking turn himself into a character that I liked rather a lot. I did really dig this story, and really enjoyed my time with this listen! I’m excited to read (or hopefully listen!) to the next book in the series!