Favorite books are funny things. Much like relationships, they are never perfect - they just have to be perfect for you.
Shana Abé works for me. I recognize the problems in her books, but, for the most part, I just don’t mind. Take Queen of Dragons, for instance, the third and latest book in her Drakon series, set in Georgian England, about a people that have the ability to change to smoke and to dragons. It’s not a story that stands on its own. Readers will need to be familiar with her previous two books, especially The Dream Thief, for the conflict and drama to have any meaning. And, though the romance plot is tied up, there are still several loose ends at the end of the book that definitely lead further into the series. Things get shaken up in this book, and I doubt we’ll see the resolution for a couple of books yet.
Some might also have problem accepting the heroine, whose strength gives her an aura of coldness. But not me. For me, the lyrical nature of the author's prose, the grace of her myth and legends, and the world she has created are so enthralling, that I find myself swept up in the story as surely as her dragons sweep to the sky. Not perfect - perfect for me.
Rue and Christoff have left Darkfirth in search of their youngest daughter, Lia, and her new husband Zane, leaving their eldest son Kimber in charge. The drakon of Darkfirth have recently discovered the existence of other drakon, something previously thought impossible, and something that causes no small amount of concern. In typical Empirical English fashion, the English drakon decide to invade. Only problem is, they don’t know where exactly to find this new settlement. And they lose the three men they send to a new horror - human dragon hunters.
Maricara has been ruling the Carpathian drakon since she was 11 years old. She’s held them together with the power of her gift, but even she can’t fight both the humans and the English drakon at the same time. So she journeys to England alone, under the guise of diplomacy, to assess the threat to her people. Instead, she finds herself in even more danger from both the drakon council, who want to contain her, and their Alpha, Kimber, who wants to marry her. However, the threat of the dragon hunters overshadows everything, creating animosity and distrust - and threatening to destroy the future of the drakon.
Kimber and Mari have a very intense relationship. They are both passionate and stubborn, kings of their people, and they argue and conflict as much as they connect, but there’s always an underlying passion. Kimber embraces it, but Mari is terrified by it, which makes for powerful relationship development.
Abé has been very clever here; she’d created two novels, which was more than enough to cement her world. Now, she’s created a turmoil within the drakon that mirrors the conflict in the outside world, as Europe creeps closer and closer towards revolution. The result is a new level of engagement for the reader. And, as I may have mentioned once or twice, it really worked for me.
-- Kate Cuthbert
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