Wednesday, January 25, 2017

G.A. Aiken - Feel the Burn

War makes strange bedfellows.
I, Gaius Domitus, one-eyed rebel dragon king of the Provinces, know that better than most, since I have to fight off half my ungrateful family on a regular basis to keep law and order here in my lands. But I never expected to have to consort with a barbarian human woman.
Kachka is beautiful, if you like them fierce—and of course I do. But she keeps complaining about how spoiled and decadent I am, and how a feared Daughter of the Steppes has no time for foolish dragons. I think she likes my eye patch, though. It is quite dashing. With death always at our tails, we take our passion like we take our allies. As they say, love the barbarian you’re with…

Comment: I've had this book in the pile for a long time, more or less sine it was published and released, therefore more than a year. It's not that I didn't want to read it but with so many books to read and knowing a new book wouldn't be released so soon, I just decided to space out the reading a bit.

This 8th book in the Dargon Kin series follows almost immediately the things that happened in the previous one, Light my Fire.
This book features Kachka, sister to Elina, the heroine from the 7th book. Kachka comes from a demanding family and she is used to be a warrior and not being lazy. And lazy is what she feels after a time In Queen Anwyl's court where there's nothing to do but kill boars for dinner. 
When the queen asks her to do a task for her, Kachka accepts and there she goes in search of a team to help her defeat the queen's enemies in the regions where she can't go herself. On the way of this adventure, Kachka's team helps Gaius, the One Eyed Dragon and after that their paths are always meeting. Can Kachka put aside her wilder nature and accept a dragon as a mate?

It's very difficult to explain this series to a new reader if someone chooses to start with this book; I don't advise it because it's so complex and there are so many situations that can only be understood by knowing previous facts that reading out of order wouldn't be easy nor as interesting as if we follow the book's path. Also, the "tone" of the books change as the story moves along so a lot of information would not only be lost but misunderstood.

Basically, this is a sort of medieval society but with dragons as characters along humans and with a comic/violent twist because all characters don't seem to care about rules. The story focuses on queen Annwyl, the Bloody and her attempts to make her kingdom protected.
When the series started it has an obvious focus on romance and world building but a few books ago it started to slowly evolve towards fantasy and not as strong in the romance, although it's still there. Many readers also dislike how there are too many POVs and constant switches in the focus but personally I like this style of story telling, reading about several characters and knowing a bit of what happens to everyone.

What I miss is a more romantic love story, I really feel that, fr instance in this book, Kachka and Gaius' romance wasn't very obvious, wasn't always as strongly presented as I would have liked and because we don't see the focus on them more it almost feels like that their relationship isn't true love, just a convenient one. I think this is where the first book will always beat them all, the romance was key there. I think letting the characters act a bit more sweetly at times or when it comes to their mates/romantic interests if they could be slightly different or more vulnerable it would highlight the relationship. I do miss this and this couple, like the previous 3 or 4, is an example of how weak and uncaring a relationship can look like to the reader.

In terms of plot, more of the same, this time we had some intriguing adds and even a twist I was not expecting, I'm looking for to read the next just to know what will happen.
The secondary characters were strong as always, even one doesn't care about targeted romance couples, it's obvious who is secondary or not. My favorite secondary character here was Zoya, every time she spoke or acted, she was funny and I's very easy to imagine her in a comedy movie. 
This is another aspect often commented by readers that has been missing lately. The humor is no longer there some say, but to me, I still liked it and amused myself in some scenes.
The problem is the overall tone, that the author has turned into something a bit more violent and the characters act a bit more cynical. Then the humor seems to not be funny but corrosive. I understand and although I laughed, I concur it would be better if the books could maintain the balance they used to have in the beginning.

Well, after thinking about this for a while, I still like the world, the characters, the sort of plot but yes, a return to a stronger romance focus and less violent thinking (even if not acting) would surely improve everyone's opinion and the story itself.
Grade: 7/10

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