Piranesi by Susanna Clarke (Review)

Piranesi by Susanna Clarke

Blurb

Piranesi’s house is no ordinary building: its rooms are infinite, its corridors endless, its walls are lined with thousands upon thousands of statues, each one different from all the others. Within the labyrinth of halls an ocean is imprisoned; waves thunder up staircases, rooms are flooded in an instant. But Piranesi is not afraid; he understands the tides as he understands the pattern of the labyrinth itself. He lives to explore the house.

There is one other person in the house—a man called The Other, who visits Piranesi twice a week and asks for help with research into A Great and Secret Knowledge. But as Piranesi explores, evidence emerges of another person, and a terrible truth begins to unravel, revealing a world beyond the one Piranesi has always known.

For readers of Neil Gaiman’s The Ocean at the End of the Lane and fans of Madeline Miller’s Circe, Piranesi introduces an astonishing new world, an infinite labyrinth, full of startling images and surreal beauty, haunted by the tides and the clouds.

Review

I was so excited to get this book and I have had it preordered since I don’t know when so it went straight to the top of the TBR pile or should I say piles.

I loved the detail in this book and the descriptions of this amazing building in the first chapter had me hooked to the story. I felt like I was walking through these amazing halls looking at all these incredible statues whilst listening to the waves hitting the walls. Although, I did keep wishing that the building had a rather nice library to go with all these wonderful statues.

Piranesi is an interesting character and instantly likeable. Piranesi lives and breathes all things to do with the house. He knows all the statues like friends and can navigate the vast labyrinth of rooms all using the map in his head. He also knows all the tides so he knows when it is safe and when it is not. Piranesi loves the house and believes that all will be well because the house will provide.

The Other who is the other person in the house is not so likeable in my opinion and instantly put me on edge. He is also clearly using poor Piranesi but Piranesi is too good natured to notice.

I will be honest as I was reading this book I had such high hopes for it and I had several ideas in my head about how the book might end but I will be honest I was rather disappointed. This book had such potential to be an amazing story and it just felt rushed and like Clarke had come up with the easiest option to finish the book quickly. I felt robbed in some way.

I have really thought long and hard about this book because I really loved parts of it and the storyline but the conclusion was just not my cup of tea and that has upset me because I really wanted to love the whole book. I have given this book 3 out of 5 Dragons and those 3 Dragons are for the incredible detail, the concept of the house and how adorable Piranesi was. Not what I expected after how amazing Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell was but still a good read that I recommend to fantasy lovers.

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About the Author

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Susanna Clarke (1959) is an English author who has published novels and short stories. Her debut novel Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell and her set of short stories The Ladies of Grace Adieu and Other Stories are all set in a magical England.

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The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes by Suzanne Collins (Review)

The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes by Suzanne Collins

About the author

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Suzanne Collins (born August 10, 1962) is an American television writer and author. She is known as the author of The Underland Chronicles and The Hunger Games trilogy.

Blurb

It is the morning of the reaping that will kick off the tenth annual Hunger Games. In the Capitol, eighteen-year-old Coriolanus Snow is preparing for his one shot at glory as a mentor in the Games. The once-mighty house of Snow has fallen on hard times, its fate hanging on the slender chance that Coriolanus will be able to out charm, outwit, and out manoeuvre his fellow students to mentor the winning tribute.

The odds are against him. He’s been given the humiliating assignment of mentoring the female tribute from District 12, the lowest of the low. Their fates are now completely intertwined — every choice Coriolanus makes could lead to favour or failure, triumph or ruin. Inside the arena, it will be a fight to the death. Outside the arena, Coriolanus starts to feel for his doomed tribute . . . and must weigh his need to follow the rules against his desire to survive no matter what it takes.

Review

I was so excited when I saw this book was being released as I love The Hunger Games trilogy so I immediately preordered the book and started reading it as soon as it arrived on my doorstep. I will be honest I did not read it as quickly as I wanted but my course reading delayed things slightly, otherwise this book would have been finished in a very short period of time as I could not put it down.

It was so wonderful to revisit the world of The Hunger Games again and I was not disappointed. I know a lot of people have not been happy with this book but I think it is because they weren’t expecting it to be about a young President Snow and how he came to be. I also liked how different this book was from The Hunger Games, it was a lot more philosophical and thought provoking than the trilogy. It really made me think about the human condition and what a human can be capable of in the right conditions.

Seeing an early version of the Hunger Games before all the glamour and showbiz that appears in the trilogy was really interesting. The arena was a plain old beaten up sports arena and nothing fancy, it was a very different perspective. The tributes were also treated very differently and I felt really sorry for them, especially Lucy Gray.

Lucy Gray was an interesting character who I couldn’t help but feel sorry for. This poor girl  who loves music and is very gifted has the roughest ride possible. She also sings the song that we know so well from The Hunger Games. I really liked Lucy Gray and the Covey, they were interesting characters and I would have loved to have learned more about them.

Seeing Snow as an 18 year old boy and learning about how he lived through the war was also an eye opener that you do not see in the trilogy. The war was brutal for everyone and the things that people resorted to to survive were extreme and not something usually seen when the world is normal.

This story is primarily the development of the tyrant President Snow and how he came to be how he is. You can see how this 18 year old will make choices in his life to get where he wants to be. He won’t care who gets in his way or who gets hurt, the only thing that matters is that he gets to the top.

Overall, I loved this book and highly recommend it but I know some Hunger Games fans will not agree as it is rather different. I give this book a big 5 out of 5 Dragons.

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The Last Best Hope by Una McCormack (Review)

The Last Best Hope (Star Trek Picard) by Una McCormack

About the author

Una McCormack is the author of seven previous Star Trek novels and four Doctor Who novels. She has also written numerous short stories and audio dramas. She lives in Cambridge, England, with her partner of many years and their daughter.

Blurb

A thrilling novel leading into the new CBS series, Una McCormack’s The Last Best Hope introduces you to brand new characters featured in the life of beloved Star Trek captain Jean-Luc Picard—widely considered to be one of the most popular and recognizable characters in all of science fiction.

Review

First of all I will be honest that I really felt for McCormack, to write a tie-in novel as a prequel to one of the biggest anticipated Star Trek shows to come out in recent years must have been quite a daunting task. However, knowing it was McCormack taking the the reins for this filled me with confidence because I read Star Trek Discovery: The Way to the Stars and could not put it down and only realised at the end that not one phaser had been fired through the whole book.

I loved this book and the great thing about it was you could just pick it up and not have to remember what happened at the end of the TV series or in the films. It was also a fabulous prequel for the series and I really wished I had read the book before I watched the series.

The introduction of Raffi and Agnes was wonderful and although Agnes drove me insane and was a complete wet blanket she fit in perfectly with her TV character. Raffi was just perfect, she was strong willed, confident, she knew exactly what needed to be done before Picard asked but also she spoke her mind and also had some of the best lines in the book.

The interactions with the Romulans were brilliant and it was wonderful to see the different characters from the overly rich and pompous lords who had no idea about the real world to the poor who just want to live and not be troubled. I also loved meeting Elnor and would have loved to have seen more of his interactions with Picard as the friendship and love between them was endearing and really wonderful reading.

There were so many characters in this book that I loved and that was one of the reasons that I just could not put it down. I was also over the moon that good old La Forge was in the book.

I could not recommend this more to Star Trek fans. It is a fast paced novel that has some of our old favourite characters in and is a brilliant prequel to the TV series. I give this book 5 out of 5 Dragons.

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Star Trek Discovery: Dead Endless by Dave Galanter (Review)

Star Trek Discovery: Dead Endless by Dave Galanter

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About the author

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Dave Galanter has authored various Star Trek projects, including Voyager: Battle Lines, The Next Generation duology Maximum Warp, and The Original Series novels Troublesome Minds and Crisis of Consciousness, as well as numerous works of Star Trek short fiction. He lives in Maryland with his wife and family.

Blurb

The U.S.S. Discovery’s specialty is using its spore-based hub drive to jump great distances faster than any warp-faring vessel in Starfleet. To do this, Lieutenant Paul Stamets navigates the ship through the recently revealed mycelial network, a subspace domain Discovery can briefly transit but in which it cannot remain. After responding to a startling distress call originating from within the network, the Discovery crew find themselves trapped in an inescapable realm where they will surely perish unless their missing mycelial fuel is found or restored. Is the seemingly human man found alone and alive inside the network the Starfleet officer he claims to be, or an impostor created by alien intruders who hope to extract themselves from the mycelial plane at the expense of all lives aboard Discovery?

Review

I must admit after the disappointment of The Enterprise War I was thrilled to read this book and could not put it down. I loved the characters and most of all I loved the humorous interactions.

The first thing I really enjoyed was that this novel had scenes for the lesser seen characters like Airiam, Bryce, Pollard and Landry. I particularly liked a beautiful scene between Landry and Airiam. In fact it was wonderful all round to learn more about Airiam’s character. I also found Dr Pollard highly amusing.

The main thing I enjoyed was the development of Stamets’ character through the story though. He started off his usual grumpy, rude self but as the story went through he mellowed, he became thoughtful, caring and funny and less work obsessed. I also loved the friendship between Tilly and Stamets; it was like a perfect brother and sister relationship.

My favourite character though was Ephraim. Ephraim is such a mystery but also very adorable but I won’t say anymore as I don’t want to spoil the surprise.

There is also a surprise new species in the story who were very intriguing and fun.

Fun to be honest is the best way to describe this book, it really made me smile and laugh out loud. I loved this book and highly recommend it, that is why I have given it 5 out of 5 Dragons.

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Star Trek Discovery: The Enterprise War (Review)

Star Trek Discovery: The Enterprise War by John Jackson Miller

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About the author

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John Jackson Miller is the New York Times bestselling author of the acclaimed Star Trek: Prey trilogy (Hell’s Heart, The Jackal’s Trick, The Hall of Heroes) and the novels Star Trek: The Next Generation: Takedown; Star Wars: A New Dawn; Star Wars: Kenobi Star Wars: Knight Errant; Star Wars: Lost Tribe of the Sith-The Collected Stories; and fifteen Star Wars graphic novels, as well as the original work Overdraft: The Orion Offensive. He has also written the eNovella Star Trek: Titan: Absent Enemies. A comics industry historian and analyst, he has written for franchises including Halo, Conan, Iron Man, Indiana Jones, Battlestar Galactica, Mass Effect, and The Simpsons. He lives in Wisconsin with his wife, two children, and far too many comic books.

Blurb

Hearing of the outbreak of hostilities between the United Federation of Planets and the Klingon Empire, Captain Christopher Pike attempts to bring the U.S.S. Enterprise home to join in the fight. But in the hellish nebula known as the Pergamum, the stalwart commander instead finds an epic battle of his own, pitting ancient enemies against one another – with not just the Enterprise but also her crew as the spoils of war.

Lost and out of contact with Earth for an entire year, Pike and his trusted first officer, Number One, struggle to find and reunite the ship’s crew – all while Science Officer Spock confronts a mystery that puts even his exceptional skills to the test… with more than their own survival possibly riding on the outcome…

Review

I will be honest I struggled with this book, the first half just dragged but thankfully the second half improved otherwise I’m not sure I would have lasted. The book just felt like it had a load of irrelevant scenes that did nothing to add to the storyline and the book could have been a lot shorter in my opinion.

I did enjoy the storyline of the two battling alien races and the Enterprise stuck in the middle of the war. My favourite character in the book wasn’t actually a member of the Enterprise but one of aliens called Baladon. I really enjoyed his humour and the way he adapted into the way of life of his kidnappers, it was like he had never found anywhere where he truly belonged and he had finally found that place even if it was in a war zone. I also liked the character of Connolly and the friendship between him and Baladon, their interactions were very funny.

Sadly, I did not like Una i.e Number One and just struggled with her character and I found Christopher Pike a little bit dull. They just both seemed to be lacking for me. I did enjoy the character of Spock and found that his experience made a lot of sense with the TV series and I was pleased to see it all linking together and I did feel really sorry for poor Spock and the suffering he was going through.

Out of all the Discovery books so far I found this one my least favourite and I really hope the next one is better as I have loved the series so far. If this book had been shorter I think I would have enjoyed it more so I have given this book 3 out of 5 Dragons.

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Star Trek Cats by Jenny Parks (Review)

Star Trek Cats by Jenny Parks

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About the author

Jenny Parks is a scientific illustrator that also happens to be a shameless nerd, with a penchant for drawing animals, dinosaurs, imaginary creatures… and occasionally, people as cats. Somehow, she found herself with a bit of internet fame with the illustration ‘Doctor Mew’, and has been baffled ever since. With a BFA in illustration from the California College of the Arts, and a graduate degree in Science Illustration from UC Santa Cruz, she now resides in Denver, CO as a freelance illustrator, fulfilling her destiny to make a living drawing cute, fuzzy things.

Blurb

Captain’s log: We have entered a galaxy where beloved illustrator Jenny Parks has conjured an astonishingly vivid homage to the original Star Trek series with an unexpected twist: a cast of cats. Featuring a hilarious new take on iconic characters and scenes—from Kirk in the Captain’s chair to Spock offering his Vulcan wisdom—this eye-opening adventure stays true to the tone of the classic TV show. Playful, loving, and from a strange new world, Star Trek Cats is the perfect gift for fans of, well, Star Trek and cats.

Review

I could not believe my eyes when I accidentally discovered this book and I immediately bought it for my husband for Valentine’s Day, obviously I had to read it myself. I love Star Trek and I have seen every episode of the original series and I am now working my way through the films so I was overjoyed to read this book.

The book doesn’t follow a story and is instead snapshots from different well known episodes of the series. The book doesn’t have a lot to read as it is mainly the amazing illustrations but that does not matter as the book is a joy to behold. Every scene is brilliantly done but a few are my favourites. One is Scotty holding his bottle of Scotch Milk and the other is a scene from the episode The Trouble with Tribbles.

This book is brilliant for Star Trek fans and cat fans alike. The illustrations are amazing and very cleverly done as the cats have been chosen to reflect the Star Trek characters perfectly. I will never see Scotty the same way again after seeing his cat version. I highly recommend this book to everyone who enjoys a giggle and a quick read to brighten up their day. I give this book a massive 5 out of 5 Dragons.

P.s. Lyra my cat likes the book as well.

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The Testaments by Margaret Atwood (Review)

The Testaments by Margaret Atwood

9781784742324

About the author

Margaret Atwood born 18th November 1939 is a Canadian author, poet, essayist and literary critic. She has written numerous fiction and non-fiction books, books of poetry and children’s books. She has won the Giller Prize in Canada, Premio Mondello in Italy and the 2000 Booker Prize. She was also awarded the Asturias Prize for Literature in 2008.

Blurb

In this brilliant sequel to The Handmaid’s Tale, acclaimed author Margaret Atwood answers the questions that have tantalized readers for decades.

When the van door slammed on Offred’s future at the end of The Handmaid’s Tale, readers had no way of telling what lay ahead for her–freedom, prison or death.

With The Testaments, the wait is over.

Margaret Atwood’s sequel picks up the story more than fifteen years after Offred stepped into the unknown, with the explosive testaments of three female narrators from Gilead.

Review

This book was a welcome change from The Handmaid’s Tale that I will be honest I really did not enjoy but thankfully because I had preordered this book and forgot it until it turned up on my doorstep I read it instead of just avoiding it because of thinking it would be like The Handmaid’s Tale. I understand that people find my opinions on The Handmaid’s Tale as controversial and a lot of people will find my opinions on The Testaments as controversial but thankfully we are all different and that is what makes us all interesting.

I loved this book and would have happily read it a lot quicker but I have a lot of university reading that is taking up my reading time. The first thing that struck me was how different the writing style was from The Handmaid’s Tale. The book flowed better and to me made more sense and because there was so much more information in it about Gilead and its history I found the book a great deal more interesting.

I loved the characters in this book especially sweet Becka who was just so kind and loving even though she had such a horrid upbringing. To me she is the embodiment of goodness in the dark and dangerous world of Gilead.

The character of Aunt Lydia was what really made the book. Her contributions were fantastic and I loved how she could play all the other characters like they were on a chess board. She could orchestrate everything because she was always so many moves ahead of everyone and her main talent was reading people and knowing how people would act.

This book also keeps you on your toes because it has a great deal more action within it in comparison to The Handmaid’s Tale and this is probably another reason why I enjoyed this book more.

Overall I thoroughly enjoyed this book and due to this I have given the book the full 5 out of 5 Dragons.

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Star Trek Discovery: The Way to the Stars by Una McCormack (Review)

Star Trek Discovery: The Way to the Stars by Una McCormack

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About the author

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Una McCormack is the author of seven previous Star Trek novels and four Doctor Who novels. She has also written numerous short stories and audio dramas. She lives in Cambridge, England, with her partner of many years and their daughter.

Blurb

Despite being an inexperienced Starfleet cadet, Sylvia Tilly became essential to the U.S.S. Discovery finding its way back home from the Mirror Universe. But how did she find that courage? From where did she get that steel? Who nurtured that spark of brilliance.

It’s not easy being sixteen, especially when everyone expects the best from Tilly. It’s even harder when her mother and father are Federation luminaries pressing her to attend one the best schools that the Federation has to offer. Tilly desires to achieve great things-even though she hasn’t quite worked out how to do that or what it is she wants to do. But this year, everything will change for Tilly, as she is about to embark upon the adventure of a lifetime- an adventure that will take her ever closer to the stars…

Review

This is the fourth Star Trek Discovery book I have read and another that I loved. I love how the books tie in so brilliantly with the TV series and give you such excellent back stories. I have preordered the next one and I can not wait for it to arrive on my door mat!

I found this a wonderful little story of a young girl becoming a young woman and most importantly finding out her true self and worth. Poor Tilly has spent her life trying to please her mother, father, grandmother and Quinn her grandmother’s husband. She has always tried to be her best at everything but it has not always made her happy. It was fascinating to learn how Tilly entered Starfleet and where she got her bravery and confidence.

Tilly is adorable if rather awkward and at one point dam right rude and in need of a good shake and somebody teaching her some manners but somehow I always found myself forgiving her.

I really did not like Tilly’s mother in this book and was pleased she did not feature greatly in the book, the woman was every child’s worst nightmare. I am surprised Tilly did not turn out very differently with that much pressure in her life. Tilly’s dad is quite different but really should have stuck up for Tilly better and been there more for her.

The other element I really liked was seeing Michael Burnham in a totally different light, although she did not really feature in the book the part she was in was lovely and showed her to be an amazing friend to have in your corner.

This book read very much like a YA book but that did not effect my opinion of it or my enjoyment. If it was not for the reason I needed sleep to go to work in the morning I would have not put it down. The only reason I did not give the book a full 5 Dragons and only 4 was because the ending was a little bit too perfect for my liking. This is a fantastic read and I highly recommend it to any Star Trek fan.

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The Immortal City by Amy Kuivalainen (ARC Review)

The Immortal City by Amy Kuivalainen

About the author

Amy Kuivalainen is a Finnish-Australian writer that is obsessed with magical wardrobes, doors, auroras and burial mounds that might offer her a way into another realm. Until then, she will write about fairy tales, monsters, magic and mythology because that’s the next best thing. She is the author of The Firebird Fairytales Trilogy and The Blood Lake Chronicles series that mash up traditional tales and mythology in new and interesting ways.

Blurb

In the heart of Venice, a woman is sacrificed to a forgotten god, sparking a mystery lost for thousands of years.

Dr. Penelope Bryne is ridiculed by the academic community for her quest to find the remnants of Atlantis, but when an ancient and mysterious script is found at a murder site, she flies to Venice determined to help the police before the killer strikes again.

Penelope has spent her entire life trying to ignore the unexplainable and magical history of Atlantis, but when she meets the enigmatic Alexis Donato, everything she believes will be challenged. Little does she know, Alexis has spent the last three years doing his best to sabotage Penelope’s career so doesn’t learn the truth—Atlantis had seven magicians who survived, and who he has a duty to protect.

As Alexis draws her into the darkly, seductive world of magic and history, Penelope will have to use her heart as well as her head if she is to find the answers she seeks. 

With the new MOSE system due to come online, and Carnivale exploding around them, Penelope and Alexis will have to work together to stop the killer and prevent dark magic from pulling Venice into the sea.

Review

Thank you to NetGalley and BHC Press for granting me an advanced copy of this book for an honest review.

I was so happy that my request on NetGalley was granted for this book and a couple of days ago I started the book and to be honest finished it in a matter of hours, I simply could not put it down. Even though the book has not been published yet I am desperate for the sequel to be published.

I found the story to immediately hook me in and wanted to keep reading, the idea of a forgotten language and god suddenly arising after thousands of years was fascinating. I also thoroughly enjoyed the idea of magicians existing in the world for thousands of years hidden from mankind but one human has managed to get through to them and that person is Dr Penelope Bryne.

Penelope has always loved the mystery of Atlantis and even though people make fun of her she never gives up trying to find it and prove that it exists. I loved her drive and passion in the book, she is a massively strong character but also has her weaknesses but she knows how to control this using her yoga and meditation practises. I have never had much time for yoga but reading this book has made me want to try it again.

The setting of the book was beautifully chosen, what better place to choose than Venice? I would love to visit Venice because it always strikes me as a magical place especially when Carnivale is taking place. I hope in the next books Venice will feature heavily and we get to see more of the catacombs and hidden parts of Venice.

The seven magicians were brilliant as they all have their own individual characters which comes through their magic. So each magician engages their magic differently depending on how their magic is formed and created. They all reminded me of Greek Gods and by their descriptions they look like Greek Gods as well. Although they also seem like teenagers when left unattended by a responsible person for too long. All in all it seems like a fun place to be when they are all playing around.

I loved this book so much I have actually pre-ordered the hardback of the book to read again and hopefully one day will have a hardback sequel to add to the collection. I highly recommend this book to fantasy and history lovers. I give this book a massive 5 out of 5 Dragons and cannot wait to read it again.

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The Priory of the Orange Tree by Samantha Shannon (Review)

The Priory of the Orange Tree by Samantha Shannon

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About the author

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Samantha Shannon studied English Language and Literature at St. Anne’s College, Oxford. She is the New York Times and Sunday Times bestselling author of The Bone Season series. She currently lives in London.

Blurb

The House of Berethnet has ruled Inys for a thousand years. Still unwed, Queen Sabran the Ninth must conceive a daughter to protect her realm from destruction–but assassins are getting closer to her door.

Ead Duryan is an outsider at court. Though she has risen to the position of lady-in-waiting, she is loyal to a hidden society of mages. Ead keeps a watchful eye on Sabran, secretly protecting her with forbidden magic.

Across the dark sea, Tané has trained all her life to be a dragonrider, but is forced to make a choice that could see her life unravel.

Meanwhile, the divided East and West refuse to parley, and forces of chaos are rising from their sleep.

Review

I got very excited about this book and dragged my husband out to Waterstones to buy it for me (he is very good at feeding my book addiction) on the day it came out. I had the last copy in the store. Needless to say I went straight home and started reading it. However due to a heavy work load and falling asleep instead of reading it has taken longer than expected to finish.

I loved this book and at times I could not put it down. I loved the idea of good dragons and bad dragons and that the two dragons are very different from each other. The history and religion in this book are fantastic and very well thought out by Shannon, she gave a thorough background of both, where no holes were visible. I adored the world Shannon created and did not want to leave it.

Ead was such a strong powerful character who you couldn’t help but support and love. I did find Queen Sabran a little bit trying at times and to be honest that is when I had to put the book down for a while and also why the book got 4 dragons instead of 5 but I suppose all monarchs can be trying at times.

The other element I found enchanting was Tané and her relationship with her dragon. I was so worried for both of them and found myself tense with worry and anticipation. It reminded me of the love a human has with their dog or horse, as a dog or horse are fiercely loyal to their owner and will generally do anything to help and protect them. I could not get enough of dear Tané.

I desperately wanted to know more about the history of the trees and magic in this world and I really hope that Shannon does decide to do another book instead of keeping this book as a stand alone. I WANT TO KNOW MORE! Shannon in my opinion has been clever with the ending as she could easily do a sequel. I gave this book 4 out of 5 Dragons because I did love it and have recommended it to friends and family. The reason it didn’t get the full 5 Dragons was because of Queen Sabran and the fact in the middle I found it dragged slightly, but overall an amazing book.

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