Truth of Embers by Caitlyn McFarland
Published by Carina Press
Publication Date: December 14th 2015
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Months after bonding with Rhys, Kai is finding her place among the Wingless—humans who have heartsworn to dragons. Determined to help her new people, she's delving deep into her magical training and is the first Wingless to ride into battle with her dragon mate.
Going against customs as ancient as dragons, Rhys is forming his own vision for dragonkind. But the Council have plans of their own that don't include a Wingless queen.
Meanwhile, the war with Owain is finally here and the fight for control of dragonkind could destroy everything—including humanity itself. When unbreakable bonds are torn asunder, Kai and Rhys will learn exactly how deep their love goes. The battle has begun, and no matter what happens, this one will be the last. If they can't come together, their lives are forfeit—as well as every other life they hold dear.
Book three of the Dragonsworn trilogy
Warning: This review is riddled with spoilers from the previous two books.
It’s been a few months since Kai stumbled upon dragons fighting a civil war and became Heartsworn to their king. She and Rhys finally admitted they cared for each other, but before they could settle into any kind of relationship she was captured by his mortal enemy, his cousin Owain, and has been suffering torture and abuse at his hands for thirteen days.
Owain’s mother was Queen of the dragons until she died and the power went to Rhys’ father, Ayen, instead of Owain. Ayen became Heartsworn to a human woman – Rhys’ mother – who eventually betrayed him, which allowed Owain to sunder them – i.e., break their heartbond. While Ayen was weak from the sundering – it causes major pain to both parties – Owain attacked and killed him. But Owen was only able to steal half the mantle – the power that allows the king to control all the dragons (think Alpha control). The other half went to Rhys. In order for Owain to carry out his plan to kill all humans, he needs the full mantle. If he kills Rhys the full mantle will come to him.
Rhys and Owain are reluctant to go to war because they don’t want to risk the lives of more dragons. Because only Heartsworn dragons can have children, their numbers have dwindled to almost nothing. Both are reluctant to reduce their numbers further. Owain’s ultimate goal is to go to war with the humans to wipe them off the face of the earth. He wanted the dragons to come out of hiding and have full control of the planet. Rhys understood that genocide wasn’t the answer.
Owain gave Rhys 14 days to exchange himself for Kai, but she encouraged him to come up with a plan to rescue her, or finally bring war to Owain. Through their heartbond Rhys can feel Kai’s pain and loneliness, but she found a way to block him for the majority of her torture, which is the only reason he hasn’t already rescued her. He doesn’t realize how bad it really is.
When Rhys’ plan is discovered by Owain, they have to make a rescue attempt instead of the outright attack they’d originally planned on. They discover some shocking and disturbing crimes Owain is perpetuating and resolve to shut them down.
With a full scale war imminent, time is of the essence. when the worst happens, both Kai and Rhys will have to decide how committed they are to each other..and whether their feelings are true and will carry them through the future.
I had mixed feelings about the first book, Soul of Smoke. I loved the world and basic storyline, but the characters frustrated me. I started book two, Shadow of Flame, but by the second chapter my head was ready to explode so I DNF’d it. I started this one by accident. I opened it on my PC and before I knew it was I was 4 chapters in. The plot really pulled me in. The first few pages where Rhys is connected to Kai as she’s being tortured were really intense and set up the story well. I don’t feel like I missed much by skipping the second book. I had a good grasp on the world and intrigue from the first book.
I was pleased to see both Kai and Rhys had done some growing since the previous book. Kai wasn’t as selfish or immature. She seemed to have settled into herself more and she seemed more accepting of her future with Kai and the Dragons. Rhys, too, seemed a bit more mature. One of the things I struggled with in the previous book was the lack of maturity he showed for being a thousands-of-years old dragon. He still read more like a twenty-something than an old, wise dragon, but he showed more maturity than in the first book.
We saw more from Owain’s point-of-view this time around. He was clearly mad, but his reluctance to see more dragons perish, coupled with his own ideals about the future, gave him added depth. He was much more one-dimensional in the first book. Here he was a flawed but fully formed character.
In the first book I was really intrigued by the relationship between Kai’s best friend, Juli, and Rhys’ Vee commander, Ashem, who are also Heartsworn. Kavar, Ashem’s twin brother, is Owain’s Vee commander, which is something both of them have struggled with for centuries. Kavar believes in Owain’s dream of seeing the dragons wipe out the humans, and he’s made no secret of his desire to see his twin dead. But Ashem’s feelings are more complicated, and they’re made even worse when Juli is Heartsworn to Kavar as well as Ashem, something that’s been rumored to happen but no one has ever seen before. I found Ashem and Juli’s relationship very interesting in the first book, but it lost some of its luster with the added heartbond to Kavar. I liked that were was nuance to their stories, but I was mostly impatient with the games Juli played.
Though I had some continued frustrations with the lack of maturity shown by many of the characters, I can’t deny this was a thrilling read. I was quickly swept up in the race to save Kai, the push to gain the full mantle from both sides and the complexities of the relationship between Kai and Rhys. Overall this was a very satisfying read I won’t soon forget.
4 out of 5