ARC provided by NetGalley in exchange of an honest review
This is one of those books about which I cannot quite make up my mind. While I did not love some parts, it cannot be written off that easily either. It has several points in its favour and several that are not. First of all, dragons! Major score. Usually very little is then required to keep my attention absorbed.
However, the very first chapter creates a sort of bewilderment in the reader that takes some time to shake off. It is very clear that the author is a sailing/ship enthusiast by his extremely detailed description of the ship that is commanded by Jeryon. It was literally exhaustive and yet at the end of it I had no idea where one end of the ship was, where the oarsmen were, where the mates were plotting and where the captain was situated. And each position was extremely important to the plot that develops with the entry of the dragon. There was a bit about the captain knowing his mates’ plans to overthrow him and yet I have no idea whether he overheard them or did some lip-reading? I was so busy trying to understand where everyone was, that I completely missed out the thrill of the chase and the excitement of the grand entrance of the flying reptile.
And this tendency to over-explain keeps popping up throughout the book, but never in the quantities as in the first chapter. Jeryon is the Captain of the ship and is one of those very stiff-necked, morally upright characters. Such people always have it hard in life and, in this case, trying to control a group of unruly and dangerous sailors alone for any length of time must have been a job from hell. He also has extremely naive beliefs in the ‘system’ of which he is a part, believing it to be fair and ready to take his side. Another grave mistake on his part as he learns later on.
Evelyn is the healer who is along for the trip and I found her commitment towards right and wrong more easily understandable. In a way they are much alike, although Evelyn perhaps has more of a woman’s common sense about people than Jeryon.
The stranding, the escape, the tragedy and the revenge that follow are surprisingly absorbing and well crafted. As much as the reader knows the actions of one character are ill-advised, it is easy to understand from what thought process they stem. Jeryon’s revenge consumes him even when he feels other sentiments fighting to take over. The greed of his first mates gets them what they desire but it also leads to unhappiness and chaos. The plot is pretty solid and very absorbing throughout as are the character developments.
The climax of the story was extremely sad and brutal. It was not easy to read and while it leaves the book open for a second installment with a very titillating ending, it also chooses to take away a story line that was extremely important in this one. Would I want to read a second installment in the story with a crucial and much-appreciated story line missing? Hard to say as of now.
So, the book is definitely worth a read for fantasy fans. And may even be a great one for ones who are nautically inclined and thus better equipped to understand the sea faring parts of the adventure. The understated love story in the book was a definite plus point, as were the days on the island and the characters of Jeryon and Evelyn. While reading about the dragon I was having flashbacks to the ‘How to train your Dragon’ movie – in a good way that is, considering I really loved that movie.