I’m not one hundred percent sure how to write this review. Why? Because this story had strong potential but I do not feel it delivered on what it promised. It did start off really well with actual dragons (!!!) and badass female characters but then it turned boring.
I’m going to <s>steal</s> borrow the Goodreads synopsis because I’m not sure I could properly relay what this story <i>should</i> be about: “In the beginning, there was the Namsara: the child of sky and spirit, who carried love and laughter wherever he went. But where there is light, there must be darkness—and so there was also the Iskari. The child of blood and moonlight. The destroyer. The death-bringer.
These are the legends that Asha, daughter of the king of Firgaard, has grown up learning in hushed whispers, drawn to the forbidden figures of the past. But it isn’t until she becomes the fiercest, most feared dragon slayer in the land that she takes on the role of the next Iskari—a lonely destiny that leaves her feeling more like a weapon than a girl.
Asha conquers each dragon and brings its head to the king, but no kill can free her from the shackles that await at home: her betrothal to the cruel commandant, a man who holds the truth about her nature in his palm. When she’s offered the chance to gain her freedom in exchange for the life of the most powerful dragon in Firgaard, she finds that there may be more truth to the ancient stories than she ever could have expected. With the help of a secret friend—a slave boy from her betrothed’s household—Asha must shed the layers of her Iskari bondage and open her heart to love, light, and a truth that has been kept from her.”
Yeah, I would not have been able to short recap this one at all, sorry. Now I do want to stress that this story is not bad or awful by any stretch. What made me lose interested was the pacing and the not so shocking reveals about Asha (the protagonist). I’ll start with one topic at a time.
The pacing of this story is really and truly what made me almost fall asleep. The first half of the book was somewhat strong. There were battles and dragon fights, swords and bloodshed. It was action packed… and then it stopped. It turned into a weak slow moving story. Nothing was happening. There was so much potential but it was lost in the delivery of this story. Too much detail was given to events/people/things that just did not matter in the overall story.
The characters were kind of forgettable. I know that sounds harsh but it’s true. I never connected with them as they always felt too guarded. They were not forthcoming with thoughts or emotions that would have let me see them as a person on a journey/mission. They felt flat and standoffish. Asha is the protagonist and such a badass but I never connected with her. I did not feel anything for her. Everything just felt too predictable when it came to revelations of her past so I could only shrug and think, “Saw that coming a mile away”. The relationship between Asha and Torwin was ho-hum at best. I felt no emotion between those characters at all. Torwin was yet another character that had so much potential but just felt like another character plucked from the shadows to be thrust into the spotlight.
Asha battled actual dragons, fire breathing dangerous dragons. That was refreshing to read. Most of the time if dragons are included in a fantasy story, they talk or have human-like qualities. I don’t prefer those characterizations of dragons. Just call me old fashioned that way. However, not every dragon in this story was out to kill humans. There are some that acted like lost puppy dogs and it felt… weird. And how am I to believe that the oldest and meanest dragon was tamed by a human that told old stories? I think I missed why that happened but I’m pretty sure it was never explained. It never made sense to me.
Guys, I wanted to love this story. I wanted to be swept away in this epic fantasy world but it just did not happen. I felt distanced from the characters and the plot. It story just did not do it for me. The pacing felt off, the plot weak with huge holes, and forgettable characters. Part of me is curious about the next book in this series but a bigger part is worried it might suffer from Book 2 Syndrome. That or it will be a continuation (in all manners) of this book.