26 February 2016

A Dance of Dragons Review, Part 1

In the land of Ourthuro, cruelty is a way of life. The king rules with an iron fist and no one dare defy him--no one except his daughter. Princess Leena is keeping a dangerous secret, she has fallen in love with a soldier and it would mean both of their lives if her father ever discovered their affair.


But Leena will risk it all to be with the man she loves--her heart, her life, her freedom. And when her brother's birthday celebration takes a dangerous turn, Leena is forced to make a decision that will change the fate of her nation and eventually the world.

***

When Jinji's home is destroyed, she is left with nowhere to run and no one to run to--until she meets Rhen, a prince chasing rumours that foreign enemies have landed on his shores. Masquerading as a boy, Jinji joins Rhen with vengeance in her heart. But travelling together doesn't mean trusting one another, and both are keeping a deep secret--magic. Jinji can weave the elements to create master illusions and Rhen can pull burning flames into his flesh.


But while they struggle to hide the truth, a shadow lurks in the night. An ancient evil has reawakened, and unbeknownst to them, these two unlikely companions hold the key to its defeat. Because their meeting was not coincidence--it was fate. And their story has played out before, in a long forgotten time, an age of myth that is about to be reborn...


So, with this book I'm going to do something I haven't done before. I'm going to go Hollywood on this baby and split my review in two parts. Why, you ask? Hear me out: A Dance of Dragons is a series that consists of three novels and four shorter novellas. But when I finished the first novella, it kind of dawned on me that it would be difficult to review each book separately because, even though they're very good, they don't really work as standalone books. They're more like very big parts of one epic tale. Maybe this was the author's original intent. I don't know. So I decided to read the whole 900-page thing and review it one take.

Not as easy as it sounds! I started this book in the beginning of February. Twenty one days later I was only halfway through. And while I was having tons of fun with the story and the people in it, I also have review requests from two different authors (that's right, I've got my first review requests! *fistpumping triumphantly*), and a blog to run. Hence the cop out.

I have now finished book #4 in the series, and this book actually has a very good conclusion, that also sets up new conflicts in the other books. So, it's a good place to put down my tablet and start reviewing.

First, let's talk about what I liked about these books (so far).

The language. Davis is like a magician with words. Her language is just beautiful, and she paints her world in bright and vivid colours. These books are worth reading for the imagery alone.

The world-building, and everything around it. It's a vast Universe, and you can feel its grandeur while reading the books.


Then there's the story itself. The most exciting part about this series is finding out how all the seemingly unrelated, random events are connected with each other, and how every subplot is being woven into this big epic story. Rhen wants to uncover a potential plot against his kingdom, Jinji wants to avenge her people's death; Leenaka wants to destroy her father. There is so much going on, but Davis succeeds in following through with all the storylines.

And now to the complaints and grievances.

Like I said, these books don't work as standalone novels. You can't just read one and be satisfied. You need to keep reading. And that's the main issue I have with the series.

Then there's the colour coding. A staple of the fantasy genre, that I'm getting pretty tired of. The Ourthuri - the aggressors - are dark and exotic and they live under a very oppressive rule of their king.

Which brings me to characterisation. I care for the protagonists, and the conflicts that develop between them make me keep biting my nails. There are however some flaws with the characterisation itself. For instance, the Ourthuri king is evil. And by evil, I mean really evil. This guy has no redeeming qualities. He hates everything and only wants more power. It is unfair to judge the character without having read all the books (maybe there will be some revelations as to why he is so evil), but so far he just doesn't impress me as a villain.

And prince Rhen is his complete opposite. He's a very likable man. Almost too likable. Now that I think about it, he doesn't have any flaws. He's just a very honest young man who wants to do right by everyone. He's a great guy for sure, but a few lesser admirable qualities wouldn't hurt. They would actually make him more interesting.



Then again, don't tell me you're not tired of sexy douchebags who use their troubled past as an excuse to mentally abuse their love interests. Rhen is a nice refreshment from that cliché.



Reading this series has moved me further along the YA/romance road. Not that I'm complaining. When reading a YA-novel, you expect a certain amount of angst. Surprisingly, this book is pretty low on the "angst meter". Despite the fact that the characters have every right to be "angsty" and moody, they don't spend as much time dwelling on the past, as they do trying to save the future.

In conclusion, this is a very interesting series, set in a fantastic Universe filled with colourful people. Don't be put off by the it's size. It's well worthy of your time, if you like fantasy, romance and sword action.

As I mentioned earlier, the ending of book #4 sets up some nice conflicts for the rest of the series, and I'm already kind of nervous to find out how it will all play out.

I'm not giving the book any rating for now, since I'm not finished. So stay tuned for Part 2 of my review for A Dance with Dragons, that I will write in a not too distant future.

And thank you for reading. You are the best.

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