Wednesday, February 17, 2016

TBR Challenge: GA Aiken - Light My Fire

The trouble with humans is that they're far too sensitive. Forget you put a woman in the local jail for a few months - and she takes it so personally! And yet she is the one trying to assassinate the queen. And now I'm trapped with Elina Shestakova of the Black Bear Riders of the Midnight... gods! That endless name!
But what am I to do? I am Celyn the Charming with direct orders from my queen to protect this unforgiving female.
Even more shocking, this unforgiving female is completely unimpressed by me. How is that even possible? But I know what I want and, for the moment, I want her. And I'm sure that she, like all females, will learn to adore me. How could she not when I am just so damn charming?

Comment: This month the theme for the TBR challenge is series catch-up, meaning we should read about in a series we're behind on. I picked this one because I was two books behind and now that I've read this one I still have another to read, which I'll try to do soon.
Light My Fire is the story of Celyn and Elina, two characters in the imaginative and mixed historical and fantasy world created by author GA Aiken, about a family of dragons and everyone, human and dragon, they meet and are related to, namely queen Annwyl the Bloody, the character in the center of it all.
In this novel, we keep following the lives of all the characters we know, and the story starts with Elina arriving at dragon queen Rhiannon's palace to kill her but all the dragons make fun of her and she's not really into it, so she doesn't mind if Celyn takes her to a cell. However, she is forgotten for 8 months until Rhiannon and Annwyl decide to get a treaty with Elina's people, a matriarchal society in the deserts of the north. Elina is then charged with the task of trying to get the agreement of her people for the treaty but things aren't as simple and Celyn goes with her. Although at first Elina can't understand his usefulness, they get used to each other and they almost made it but then there's a slight problem that changes everything...
I've been a fan of this Dragon Kin series since the beginning. I loved the world the author created and the first story felt more romantic than fantasy because it was more focused on the main characters. As time and installments have gone by, the focus started to be more dispersed and nowadays, this title included, the series show multiple characters, the focus is on everyone, many POVs. I understand more dedicated romance readers feeling the lack of it in the last books, but personally I still enjoy more the book as a whole and it's so much fun to keep up with everyone. In this I feel the author has managed to add and infer a wonderful sense of family and connections, even if the relationship between the characters isn't as simple or "normal" as we would like. Many of them fight and act tough but that's just the way they are.
I still feel amazed by how interested and captivated by this world I am, considering the author has other series under another name but the titles I've tried other than the ones by GA Aiken haven't won me over. I can tell some similarities but this world feels so well structured, so amazing and fascinating, while the other series - with a more contemporary setting - lack so much in my opinion.
This story wasn't as thrilling as some of the previous titles for me, though. Despite not caring much if the focus isn't always on the main couple of course that's part of the attraction and I want to see the romance well developed as well, but in this case, I got the feeling it wasn't a part of the story as worked on as other issues. I understand the flow of the story and how small things or seemingly inconsequential things are what we are supposed to get in terms of proof for the intensity - or not -in their developing relationship but this wasn't the best romance in the series. Celyn and Elina had a lot of interaction, some chemistry too, but their personalities weren't always a match. I got the feeling they sort of let themselves go with the flow but I can't say I saw proof of their feelings. They just accepted it based on one or two things... In this yes, I fear the too close proximity to the author's work as Shelley Laurens tone, where the romantic relationships are often too easy or not as structured and realistic. I would like to keep seeing a bit more focus on their feelings and thoughts and not only silly or loud behavior/opinions.
The plot is interesting, but let you be warned enough: yes the books can be read as stand alones, but honestly I don't think that's wise if one wants to keep the happenings straight. Many things might make sense now but there's a lot that happened than justifies or explains many situations we hear about or which are alluded to of course, knowing what happened before adds a lot more interest and layers to certain scenes and character's actions. In this novel, the focus is pretty much a treaty and a fight against an assassination plot, but certain things make more sense if we had read the previous books.
Overall, there's an understanding about everything, but it can be confused to follow without prior knowledge.
I also think this book in particular was a bit too dispersed on several subjects. Too much time spent dealing with things not always very important, especially in the first half. It's certainly funny and helpful to ascertain the character's personalities and choices, but quite repetitive in some cases without much advance to the plot.
Still, I'm a fan and so far the series hasn't disappointed me, despite my personal preferences and wishes for different details. I'll keep reading, I'm interesting in knowing more and seeing what will happen. There's always something else to know about every character and why they are like that. It's quite the feeling, how each book is an installment on a family and not only on the world itself.
Grade: 7/10


  1. I get where you are coming from on this, but it worked for me. The sheer ridiculousness has been very welcome to me. I am really digging the Daughters of the Steppes. The next one has a somewhat similar relationship vibe, so it will be interesting to see your perspective on it.

    1. Hi! Yes, I get the silly parts and why they matter, but I wouldn't mind a bit more seriousness here and there to balance things without turning this into something it's not.
      I already have Feel the Burn. I'll try to get to it in the following months.

  2. I've read quite a bit of commentary on this series over time, and yet...not really tempted.

    I do have a very vague memory of having read a short story about this dragon guy--who has a bunch of brothers?--and this human female a witch? or something? and that I enjoyed it, so maybe I should give these a try.

    1. The first book, Dragon Actually, is much shorter than all the others and was first published as an ebook or just an online story, I can't remember. But it was very well received, so now the author has a long series going on (this is book #7, there is one more out).
      I still prefer that 1st book to all of them because somehow the story had more focus and simplicity.
      But I don't mind how things have progressed, despite some details I'd change.
      I think if you liked that story (with Annwyl and Fearghus?), then you would like the others too...
      happy reading!

    2. azteclady, that sounds like Dragon in Chains maybe? Rhianna (sp?) wasn't human, she is a white dragon witch, but her evil mother bound her to human form.

  3. Sounds like a fun series. I like the series that have an ongoing thread. Enjoyed your review. :)

    1. Yes, this is definitely ongoing, despite the passing of time and some different situations to deal with from book to book.
      I like the sense of family here, even if they are a weird bunch!