My rating: 3.5 of 5 stars
Publication: October 3rd, 2017
Point of View: 3rd Person & Feminine
Recommended Age: 12+
Genres & Themes: YA, Fantasy, Dragons
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.
Finally, a dragon fantasy YA book that doesn’t s—smell bad. It does show that this is the author’s debut novel, from how careful she is being in her writing (take risks, madam!), but it’s a worthy debut.
The idea of telling stories to dragons fascinated me. I mean, the dragons listen! They even speak. They have a brain, like there could be a whole community of them living next to the humans.
Except Asha—the dragon slayer—wants them all to die. Indeed, if she destroys Kozu, they will all die, and so will the Old One, which the dragon king (her father) despises. Most important of all, if she brings Kozu’s head to her father, she won’t have to marry jackass Jarek.
You’ve seen it before: a girl of royal descent who wants to do everything possible to escape an arranged marriage. But what you haven’t seen as much is a princess falling in love with a slave. It’s always the contrary it seems: the powerless woman ends up with the all-mighty man.
I enjoyed seeing their relationship evolve. He’s not even HER slave—he’s her betrothed’s. Asha has no intention of getting involved with him, but he proves himself to be valuable and loyal.
The dragons play a huge part. They are not there for decoration alone. Sure they’re scary and mighty, but they are also surprisingly intelligent and non-bestial when not threatened. Any reader would be reminded of Khaleesi and her pet dragons.
The secondary characters do not, however, play a grand part. My mind immediately goes to Safire, who only exists for Asha. She’s not technically a slave, and yet her freedom is limited. And she’s such a liability. Asha’s brother is mentioned multiple times, but he almost only appears when Asha is in trouble. I don’t feel like I know anything about him.
Kristen Ciccarelli definitely needs to work on developing her characters, to make them more real to the reader. She’s done a good job of bringing the dragons to life, though, with a delicate, graceful writing style.
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