Rating: I'M OBSESSED
Series: The Draconis Memoria #1
Genres: Epic, Fantasy, Fiction
Published by: Penguin
Publication Date: July 5th 2016
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Book Blurb: The New York Times bestselling Raven’s Shadow Trilogy was a perfect read for “fans of broadscale epic fantasy along the lines of Robert Jordan’s Wheel of Time series and George R. R. Martin’s Song of Ice and Fire novels.”* Now, Anthony Ryan begins a new saga, The Draconis Memoria...Throughout the vast lands controlled by the Ironship Trading Syndicate, nothing is more prized than the blood of drakes. Harvested from captive or hunted Reds, Greens, Blues and Blacks, it can be distilled into elixirs that bestow fearsome powers on the rare men and women known as the Blood-blessed. But not many know the truth: that the lines of drakes are weakening. If they fail, war with the neighbouring Corvantine Empire will follow swiftly. The Syndicate’s last hope resides in whispers of the existence of another breed of drake, far more powerful than the rest, and the few who have been chosen by fate to seek it. Claydon Torcreek is a petty thief and an unregistered Blood-blessed who finds himself pressed into service by the Protectorate and sent to wild, uncharted lands in search of a creature he believes is little more than legend. Lizanne Lethridge is a formidable spy and assassin facing gravest danger on an espionage mission deep into the heart of enemy territory. And Corrick Hilemore is the second lieutenant of an Ironship cruiser whose pursuit of ruthless brigands leads him to a far greater threat at the edge of the world. As lives and empires clash and intertwine, as the unknown and the known collide, all three must fight to turn the tide of a coming war, or drown in its wake. *Library JournalFrom the Hardcover edition.
Is it possible for me not to love anything Anthony Ryan puts to paper? I’m going to go out on a pretty damn sturdy limb and say no.
I got a note a few weeks ago from Mr. Ryan asking if I’d like an Advanced Reader Copy of The Waking Fire. I’m not embarrassed to say I squealed like a teenage girl. Authors that I love are like celebrities to me. Oddly enough to some, I’d rather meet Anthony Ryan than any of my favorite movie stars, and I say this in all seriousness. I truly would. Books are sacred, and the authors simply amazing to me. So to be contacted by one has made my entire year.
Anyway, The Waking Fire did not disappoint. I don’t even know where to begin. How about … Dragons. Freaking DRAGONS!! Love books with Dragons, and this one had tons. The Blood-Blessed, which is basically your magic users, got their power from drinking dragon blood. Oh hell yeah. But what made this even more fascinating was the conflict I felt. The very beginning had me pitying the poor creatures, so hearing what happened to the dragons was hard to read. Perhaps it had something to do with the populace hunting dragons to near extinction. Hit home a bit and got me invested pretty quickly, before I even really got a feel for the characters.
Speaking of, the characters and how Ryan handled the POV’s was great. We followed three major characters: Lizanne, Clay, and Hilemore. Now, normally I latch on to one character and become annoyed whenever we venture from his/her POV, but here I really liked all three. The chapters start with Lizanne, then the next goes to Clay, and the third to Hilemore. Then we follow the same rotation until the very end, where we hop between Clay and Lizanne. The reason I point this out is because I absolutely loved this approach. I got even time with all three, knew what to expect with each chapter change, and it allowed their characters to really come to life. Not to mention how the three storylines converged. Brilliant. Lizanne is a Blood-Blessed for the Ironship Trading Syndicate, so yay for nifty magic. She’s a strong character, and I loved how the entire story didn’t fall into any sexism traps, at least that I noticed. She grew and I found myself cheering more and more for her as the story progressed. Hilemore is a naval man, and I found his sections incredible. I couldn’t believe I was able to follow along with battles conducted at sea, but I did. Ryan brought the scenes to life, and my lack of ship knowledge never hindered my imagination. He filled it all in. Amazing. Now Clay is an unregistered Blood-Blessed and has a tough background. Of course I’m going to love him the most. I can’t get enough of characters overcoming their circumstances, and Clay, I thought, grew the most. He starts out as a thief in the Blinds (think slums), and really develops his character as the story progresses. I won’t say more for fear I’ll give stuff away. My only criticism—and I’m reaching here—is that I found the emotion lacking just a tiny tiny bit. The reason I’ve fallen in love with Ryan’s writing is his ability to convey such intense emotion in a few words. He can really tear out your heart with one sentence. I got there in the end, but I’m use to getting that dose of heartache early on in his books.
For me, what really stood out was the amount of world building Ryan crammed into this book. It was amazing. It felt so full of life and history, yet it never bogged down the story. I will say you get a lot of information, and some might struggle to iron it all out. I trusted Ryan to keep me grounded when I felt myself floating away, and he did pull me back down. It moved at a wonderfully addicting pace. What was more amazing to me is that I never got bored when the action slacked off a bit. It had purposeful progress, each scene propelling you onward to understanding the full scope of what was happening. Loved it. Now I will say I figured stuff out a chapter or two before we were told. No earth-shattering revelations for me. Not to say there weren’t plenty of twists, I just saw them ahead of schedule.
The writing itself was wonderful. I loved Ryan’s descriptions, and they always cut off before my mind drifted. His action scenes were amazing. So easy to follow, and they really come to life. For a reader that is challenged to picture what is written, this will be a blessed relief. Ryan’s words come across as a movie to me. I love that. Oddly enough, it takes me longer to read his books. My sister experienced the same when I made her read Blood Song. She was exasperated at her slow reading pace. We both usually blow through pages really fast when we sit down with a book. Ryan takes us longer, and I can’t even say why. It doesn’t take away from our enjoyment. She loved Blood Song as much as me. But it brings me to my point of this not being a quick read.
So overall, I guess you could say I absolutely loved this. Ryan has once again blown me away. For those who love dragons, you gotta pick this up. For those who love rich worlds, this is a must. For those who love Ryan’s writing, I don’t think you’ll be disappointed.