Series: Dragonsworn

Review: Truth of Embers by Caitlyn McFarland

Posted December 28, 2015 by Holly in Reviews | 0 Comments

Review: Truth of Embers by Caitlyn McFarlandReviewer: Holly
Truth of Embers by Caitlyn McFarland
Published by Carina Press
Publication Date: December 14th 2015
Genres: Fiction, Romance, Fantasy, General
Pages: 262
Buy on Amazon | Barnes & Noble
Goodreads
four-stars

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

four-stars


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Review: Soul of Smoke by Caitlyn McFarland

Posted December 18, 2015 by Holly in Reviews | 3 Comments

Review: Soul of Smoke by Caitlyn McFarlandReviewer: Holly
Soul of Smoke by Caitlyn McFarland
Series: Dragonsworn #1
Also in this series: Truth of Embers
Published by Carina Press
Publication Date: July 27th 2015
Genres: Fiction, Romance, Fantasy, General
Pages: 253
Buy on Amazon | Barnes & Noble
Goodreads
three-stars

On a hike deep in the Rocky Mountains, Kai Monahan watches as a dozen dragons—actual freaking dragons—battle beneath a fat white moon. When one crashes nearly dead at her feet and transforms into a man, Kai does the only thing a decent person could: she grabs the nearest sword and saves his life.

As the dragon/man, Rhys, recovers from the attack, a chance brush of skin against skin binds him inextricably to Kai. Becoming heartsworn to a human—especially such a compelling one—is the last thing Rhys wants. But with an ancient enemy gathering to pit dragons against humanity and his strength nearly depleted, Kai has just become the one thing Rhys needs. A complete bond will give him the strength to fight; a denied bond means certain death.

Kai is terrified at the thought of allowing any dragon into her mind…or her heart. Accepting the heartswearing and staying with the dragons means sacrificing everything, and Kai must decide if her freedom is worth risking Rhys's life—a life more crucial to the fate of humanity than she could possibly know.

Book One of the Dragonsworn trilogy
95,000 words

Ever since I read Dragon Bound by Thea Harrison I’ve been craving dragon romances. The description for this one caught me so I decided to give it a go. While there are aspects I truly liked, the heroine pretty much killed the story for me.

Kai is a very young 20. She’s currently enrolled in college, but she spent 15+ years as a gymnast. Her parents pushed her really hard and she doesn’t have a good relationship with them as a result of her quiting. She’s completely given up gymnastics and now focuses on rock climbing. She and two of her roommates are out hiking when they come across an injured girl. Juli, her best friend, and their other roommate head back to their campsite for help while Kai stays with the injured girl. When she wakes up, Deryn, the injured girl, panics and begs Kai to help her save her brother, who is further up the trail. Since Deryn’s leg is broken, Kai reluctantly agrees when she realizes Deryn is determined.

What they come across is so far outside anything Kai imagined, she can’t get her head around it. Deryn is a Dragon, and so is her brother, Rhys. They’re in the middle of a civil war and Kai witnesses one of their battles. She ends up saving Rhys, and they kidnap her for her troubles.

Because the enemy is still near, Rhys can’t risk taking Kai home. She saved his life. The least he can do is ensure her safety until the enemy Dragons have moved on, or help arrives. He was severely injured when a poisonous dragon bit him, and he needs time to recover anyway.

Kai makes friends with one of the other dragons, Cadoc, but she’s drawn to Rhys. When they accidentally touch, he becomes heartsworn to her, which basically means he mates with her. All he has to do is kiss her to seal them together. Kai doesn’t know it, but she doesn’t have a choice in the matter. Rhys does his best to give her some time to adjust to the idea and to get to know him, but he’s the king of the dragons and becoming heartsworn will give him extra power. Plus, without him, the war will be lost and humankind will cease to exist since the one who’s trying to take over as king wants nothing more than to wipe humans off the earth.

At first I really felt for Kai. She ends up in an unimaginable situation and has to wrap her head around the fact that 1) Dragons exist and 2) she’s going to be “married” to one…and she didn’t get a choice about it. The problem is, she acted like an immature brat about it. Her constant whining and her refusal to look past her own issues was really frustrating. I get it. You don’t want to give up your entire life and walk away from your family and friends. But even when faced with Rhys’ physical pain over the separation between them (he was literally in excruciating pain because he was Heartsworn and she wasn’t) and the possible end of humanity, she still only thought of herself. Even when her best friend comes back and ends up heartsworn to one of the other dragons, she still only thought of herself. If she left Rhys and walked away from it all, her best friend would have surely died. And still she didn’t hesitate. She didn’t even attempt to compromise or talk to Rhys about her situation..she just flat out refused to consider it. I didn’t need Kai to swear her undying love and devotion to Rhys and immediately take up his cause, but some consideration for his plight, and that if humanity, wouldn’t have been remiss.

I really liked Rhys. He was doing his best to lead his people and keep his dragons alive, yet he didn’t try to force Kai. He wanted to be chosen for himself, yes, but he also wanted Kai to be as comfortable as possible. I thought he was sweet and understanding. Having said that, he didn’t act like a thousands-years-old dragon. He acted like a 20-something who had a lot of responsibility thrust on him. I expected more maturity out of him given his age.

The world is imaginative and I really liked the secondary characters. The other dragons in Rhys’ Vee (essentially his personal guard) and Juli really brought life to the story. I really became invested in their fight against Rhys’ cousin, who wants to take over the dragons, the council, and their interpersonal dramas.

Which brings me to my biggest complaint…this ended in a cliffhanger. I didn’t expect the war to be fought and won in a single book, but I did think the series was going to feature the different dragons, rather than focusing solely on Kai and Rhys. I want to continue the series to find out what happens, but I don’t know if I can stomach two more full length books with Kai as the main protag. I bought book two, but I’m going to hold off on reading it for now.

The world and the secondary characters really pulled me in. The world is fresh and imaginative. If only the heroine were as well.

3 out of 5

three-stars


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