Book Review: The Waking Fire

The Waking Fire (The Draconis Memoria #1)

by Anthony Ryan.

The Waking Fire Imagine if dragons existed (in four colors: Black, Red, Green and Blue), and each type of blood granted certain powers to a select few of the population. Imagine the era of monarchies and governments had faded, to be replaced by corporations- who, of course, control access to this dragon blood. They’ve gotten rich and powerful off it, particularly the Ironship Syndicate, which has empire-like control of vast lands. Decades pass. And now the breeding lines of drakes are weakening, and the wild ones more scarce. The old myth of the White drake suddenly seems less preposterous and more like a Hail Mary that could save the corporation and the economy. If they can get to it first. If it can be found at all. If all of the recent strange behavior of the wild drakes doesn’t escalate out of control first.

The book follows three main characters: Claydon Torcreek, a petty thief and unregistered blood-blessed unwillingly pressed in corporate service; Lizanne Letheridge, a level-headed corporate spy and assassin, tasked with this secret quest; and Lieutenant Hilemore, a naval officer in the Syndicate’s military force. Their stories intersect to varying degrees, and each reveals a piece of the larger puzzle regarding the quest for the White and what is happening to their world.

I liked it. It’s a good adventure story, with well-written characters. Each storyline was equally interesting, which isn’t always the case in books that jump between characters with each chapter. The magic system was well-done. I appreciate when there’s a cost to using special powers, as opposed to them just being magically unlimited. And I have to say I was pleasantly surprised by probably the last third of the book, as the plot took some turns and revealed some details I hadn’t anticipated.

The prose did get bogged down in places, to the point where I skimmed a bit. Particularly in the sections detailing military battles- though that’s due more to a personal boredom with those kind of scenes, and not necessarily the fault of the author. Overall though it still felt a bit long, and could probably have used another round with a red-pen-loving editor.

But if you like dragons, magic, adventure, intrigue and military fiction, this would be a perfect fit for you. I’m only iffy on that last point, and I still enjoyed it a lot. It only just came out last week, so unfortunately I have to wait until next year for the sequel.

I give it 4/5 stars.

I received an advanced reading copy (ARC) of this book from Penguin Random House First Reads in exchange for an honest review.

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The Waking Fire

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Tuesday Treasure Trove

Tuesday Treasure Trove

  Video of the week: Mesmerizing Sand Art on Pottery Wheel. This is indeed mesmerizing. Cartoons of the week: 10 Disney Princesses Enjoying Motherhood. Aloe Vera Is a Lie. WHAT. The Art Of Being Emotionless. FYI. Your Brain Is On Autopilot More Than You Think- Here’s How to Wake it Up. Teenagers Surrounded by Green Are Less Aggressive. Unfortunately relevant: What to Say When the Police Tell You to Stop Filming Them. FBI’s warning of white supremacists infiltrating law enforcement nearly forgotten. Oh, great. Related: Who Are All These Trump Supporters? We’ll end on a feel-good nostalgia story for you: […]

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Tuesday Treasure Trove

Tuesday Treasure Trove

  The Oregon Trail Generation: Life Before And After Mainstream Tech. This is me, and most of my friends. So spot on. “Because we had one foot in the traditional ways of yore and one foot in the digital information age, we appreciate both in a way that other generations don’t. We can quickly turn curmudgeonly in the face of teens who’ve never written a letter, but we’re glued to our smartphones just like they are.” Obama After Dark: The Precious Hours Alone. Hey, the Prez is a night owl, too. Why you shouldn’t drive slowly in the left lane. […]

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Book Review: The Rook

The Rook

The Rook (The Checquy Files #1) by Daniel O’Malley. Myfanwy (rhymes with Tiffany) Thomas wakes up surrounded by dead bodies, with no memory and a strange letter in hand. Through information left by her pre-amnesia self, Myfanwy learns that a) she has special powers, b) she’s pretty high up in a secret organization, and c) someone inside it betrayed her. Thus kicks off a romp through the world of British secret intelligence- if supernatural threats were a real thing and there was a government division to deal with them. It’s one part spy thriller, one part mystery, one part action-adventure, […]

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Tuesday Treasure Trove

Tuesday Treasure Trove

  Cartoon series of the week: They Can Talk. What animals are really thinking. Videos of the week: Penguins vs. A Rope, and Buddy the Rescue Dog and the GoDogGo ball thrower. Pro-choice advocates just won the biggest Supreme Court abortion case in decades. Woo! Feminism by Thoughtful Omission in Sci-Fi & Fantasy. Yes, this. My Four Months as a Private Prison Guard: A Mother Jones Investigation. A long read, but a really good one. The Case for Free Money: Why don’t we have universal basic income? Yes, why don’t we? How insane work hours became a mark of American […]

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Book Review: Steelheart

Steelheart

Steelheart (Reckoners #1) by Brandon Sanderson. I’m a fan of Sanderson’s Mistborn books, and his Stormlight Archives series so far. And while I never finished the Wheel of Time series (as of yet), I heard he did good things with it after Robert Jordan’s death. So I’ve long been meaning to try out his YA series, Reckoners. My recent roadtrip saw me armed with the audiobook version to see me through the first long drive. Let me just say that the narrator (MacLeod Andrews) did an awesome job. Each character had a distinct voice, and he carried off the female […]

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Taking Stock

Taking a page from Pip’s book and using this list to do a life snapshot. I don’t have any fun pictures to intro this, so we’re just going to jump right into the list: Making: cupcakes in the morning! Cooking: Nothing at the moment, but I made this for my mom and sisters earlier. Drinking: water. Reading: Seveneves by Neal Stephenson. Wanting: to go to sleep. Looking: at my laptop screen. Yes, I have a working laptop now! Playing: with my sister’s dog Suri, lately. Deciding: what to do about a certain situation with a client. Wishing: that I could […]

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