Two FANTASY Mini-Reviews: A Dragon of a Different Colour by Rachel Aaron & Of Dragons, Feasts and Murders by Aliette de Bodard #BrainfluffFANTASYmini-reviews #ADragonofaDifferentColourmini-review #OfDragonsFeastsandMurdersmini-review

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A Dragon of a Different Colour – Book 4 of the Heartstriker series by Rachel Aaron

BLURB: To save his family from his tyrannical mother, Julius had to step on a lot of tails. That doesn’t win a Nice Dragon many friends, but just when he thinks he’s starting to make progress, a new threat arrives.

Turns out, things can get worse. Heartstriker hasn’t begun to pay for its secrets, and the dragons of China are here to collect. When the Golden Emperor demands his surrender, Julius will have to choose between loyalty to the sister who’s always watched over him and preserving the clan he gave everything to protect.

As this is a continuation of the story, whatever you do, don’t crash into this series but go back to the beginning – see my reviews of Nice Dragons Finish Last, One Good Dragon Deserves Another and No Good Dragon Goes Unpunished. Once again, we are plunged into the middle of the ongoing crisis, as Julian, now leader of the Heartstriker clan, has to deal with the fallout of the mighty power struggle that toppled his despotic mother.

However, crises just go on piling up as the neighbours are now starting to cause massive problems and the most powerful clan on the planet pitches up on the doorstep, demanding Heartstriker surrender. The best adventures are when you keep turning the pages without having a clue how the gutsy heroes and heroines are going get out of this jam – and this particular denouement is awesome and original. The worldbuilding is exceptional and while the action had to slow a tad in order for the complexity to be fully explained – I was happy to read and wonder. Another cracking read in my favourite urban fantasy series of 2020, as Aaron goes on delivering dragon-shaped delight…
9/10

Of Dragons, Feasts and Murders: A Dominion of the Fallen novella by Aliette de Bodard

BLURB: Lunar New Year should be a time for familial reunions, ancestor worship, and consumption of an unhealthy amount of candied fruit.

But when dragon prince Thuan brings home his brooding and ruthless husband Asmodeus for the New Year, they find not interminable family gatherings, but a corpse outside their quarters. Asmodeus is thrilled by the murder investigation; Thuan, who gets dragged into the political plotting he’d sworn off when he left, is less enthusiastic.

It’ll take all of Asmodeus’s skill with knives, and all of Thuan’s diplomacy, to navigate this one—as well as the troubled waters of their own relationship….

Back in 2016, I read the first book in this series – A House of Shattered Wingssee my review – and thoroughly enjoyed it, so was glad to get hold of this shorter story in the same series. Writing a successful novella takes a different skillset than that needed to write a novel, and I was pleased to see that de Bodard had nailed that. The characterisation and pacing were spot on for the length, as was the narrative arc. And as this was essentially a murder mystery within an alien setting, that took a fair amount of technical skill.

I didn’t particularly bond with Thuan, but as the plotting was also a vital component to this one, that wasn’t the problem it could have been. As for Admodeus and Thuan’s relationship… hm – okay. It takes all sorts – I’m just very glad that I’m not trapped within such a borderline-abusive relationship, but I did find their more intimate moments very uncomfortable and I won’t be reading any more of this series.
7/10

13 responses »

    • You’re in for a treat, when you do, Tammy. There isn’t anything else quite like it, although it does also hit a lot of the urban fantasy tropes along the way – and then Aaron puts her own twist on it!

  1. There are five books in the Heartstriker series right? This one was my favorite, if so. It’s been a while, so the different book titles are a bit hazy to me now, but I do recall I LOVED the penultimate book. There was so much going on!

    • Yes! You’re right – it is the one that does most of the major wrapping up of a lot of the plotlines. The last book largely deals with the final battle… And I think the whole series rocks:))).

    • As you know, I have a habit of crashing midway into series. But I shudder at the thought of doing such a thing to this one… It is so much fun – and yet also very high-stakes and full of adventure.

  2. Despite my absolute love of dragons I only read the first volume in this series and never managed to move forward – so far. It’s good to know, however, that the following books stay as strong and intriguing as that first one 🙂

    • Oh yes – the narrative drive throughout this series is really entertaining and inventive. I will be writing more about the series I completed last year in a post. And this one will be included!

  3. I have been really hesitant to pick up the Dominion of the Fallen series because while the world building sounds so interesting, I am not usually a fan of heaven/hell war stories. Then I read this review that discusses the abusive elements of their relationship and that was enough to tip this series off the list. I will stick with her Xuya stories. I also kinda want to give Obsidian and Blood a shot as I own them. Lovely reviews matey.
    x The Captain

    • You’re welcome, Cap. I’m sure it was magnificently draconic, but I don’t like it when one partner’s assertiveness tips over into… something darker. And yes, there’s no denying that she is a fine writer!

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