What I’d Pay: $10
To sum it up: A young girl must hide her true identity in order to compete to become a dragoneye, one of the few people who can communicate with and control the elemental dragon spirits.
This was a really good book, but there were a few odd elements and it was a little difficult to follow at times.
The main character is a strong female who is gifted with the rare ability to see dragon spirits, but must hide her true identity because the competition to become a dragoneye is forbidden to women. This creates an serious struggle for her regarding her own personal identity, and this internal struggle is a huge part of the plot. In addition to that, she has to deal with a limp from an old injury, which not only impedes her ability to fight but also causes people to avoid her in a society that believes any physical handicap is a sign of being cursed. The first part of the book focuses on the competition to become a dragoneye, but after the competition much of the book is focused on the intricacies of court politics and different parties scheming for power. This was not quite what I had hoped for from this book, but it was interesting and it did create a complex world and society.
There are lots of action scenes and battles interspersed throughout the text, but there were a few elements that seemed a little strange and out of place to me. There was some weird sexual tension between the main character and her much older mentor, and later between her and the much older “bad guy” of the story. Both of these male characters were incredibly manipulative and condescending to the main character, and at times downright cruel and harmful, so the hints at romance and attraction really kind of disgusted me. Luckily, there wasn’t too much of that, but it was definitely present. Sometimes there was very little explanation for societal norms and customs so it was necessary to pick things up along the way, but at other times there were long lectures on historical events. The flow of information was a little uneven and I’ll admit I zoned out during times of too much detail for too long.
I initially listened to this as an audiobook and would not recommend that format for this book. If you can’t devote all your attention to the detail in the text (i.e. characters with different political motivations and ambitions, cultural and societal norms, all the dragon-related details), then it’s easy to become confused. I returned the audiobook to the library and got the ebook to finish the last few chapters, and it was a much better experience. Finally, I was really looking forward to the relationship between the main character and the spirit dragons, but much of that was missing in this book. Based on the ending I expect this to be very different in the sequel, so I am looking forward to the second book – especially since this one ends on a huge cliffhanger.
Bottomline: Overall this book has good action, great world building, and complex characters. I did want some more dragon-dragoneye relationship development and interaction, and a little more something from the main character because at times she could be very impressive and other times she was a bit pathetic. Based on the ending of this one I have high hopes for the second installment and believe many of the things that disappointed me in this book will be resolved in the second. I recommend an actual book instead of an audiobook for this one because of the incredible amount of detail, wide cast of characters, and complex political machinations.