[Review] The Waking Fire by Anthony Ryan Payed Off In The End

Brooke Banks | 12:00 AM | | | | |
I received a free copy from Penguin's FirstReads.com. I wanted it because dragons, obviously.

There are two things that made an impact on the story that (probably) won’t be a factor for others:

  • The formatting in my copy messed up somehow when I put it on my e-reader. So it’s normally 592 pages, my mine was stretched to 752 pages. And it was all in italics.
  • No map included, marked “TK”. But if you find yourself in a similar situation, the author has provided the maps online. Wish I had known about this earlier!




Series: The Draconis Memoria #1
Genre: Fantasy
Age: Adult
Format: Ebook, 592 pgs.
Source: Penguin FirstReads
Rating: 4 Stars
Recommendable? Yes
CW: Violence, Sex, Torture, Murder,
The New York Times bestselling Raven’s Shadow Trilogy was a perfect read for “fans of broadscale epic fantasy along the lines of Robert Jordan’s Wheel of Time series and George R. R. Martin’s Song of Ice and Fire novels.”* Now, Anthony Ryan begins a new saga, The Draconis Memoria...

Throughout the vast lands controlled by the Ironship Syndicate, nothing is more prized than the blood of drakes. Harvested from the veins of captive or hunted Reds, Green, Blues and Blacks, it can be distilled into elixirs that give fearsome powers to the rare men and women who have the ability harness them—known as the blood-blessed.

But not many know the truth: that the lines of drakes are weakening. If they fail, war with the neighboring Corvantine Empire will follow swiftly. The Syndicate's last hope resides in whispers of the existence of another breed of drake, far more powerful than the rest, and the few who have been chosen by fate to seek it.

Claydon Torcreek is a petty thief and an unregistered blood-blessed, who finds himself pressed into service by the protectorate and sent to wild, uncharted territories in search of a creature he believes is little more than legend. Lizanne Lethridge is a formidable spy and assassin, facing gravest danger on an espionage mission deep into the heart of enemy territory. And Corrick Hilemore is the second lieutenant of an ironship, whose pursuit of ruthless brigands leads him to a far greater threat at the edge of the world.

As lives and empires clash and intertwine, as the unknown and the known collide, all three must fight to turn the tide of a coming war, or drown in its wake.


Cover Judgement:


I liked the UK cover, that's the one I saw and received with my copy. I didn't see the USA one until I looked it up on Goodreads... Even though the dragon is more prominent and looks fucking awesome (YAY!), the UK cover has more style and matches the book better. While the USA captures how the defining beginning moment for the characters, the UK feels like the entire journey. If you could somehow combine the two, take the title look and background (minus the flames or no?) from the UK and put the USA dragon in the forefront, I'd be in love.

Of course, the more I stare at the USA dragon, the more I love it...*sigh*

USA
UK

Adult IconFantasy IconDragons IconMixed Bag Icon


The Good The Bad & The Other
Loved the types of dragons, how they hunted and lived. Deus ex machina to the rescue! Often anyways.
Love the way magic and technology influence and evolve with each other At first, took a long while to get into,
Love the Gaslamp inventions At first, switching POVs caused it to feel slow
Every character was great, including the minor ones At first, politics weren't very clear so a lot of the setup and maneuverings were lost on me until later.
Eventually enjoyed each POV character I do wish we knew more about the magic system but that's clearly to come...
Eventually switching POVs caused the desired tension
Eventually the POVs come together and the next book should be more cohesive.


As you can see. I’m torn between how it started and how it ended. I can’t lie, the beginning was rocky. Not because it was bad, but it felt like I was reading three different in-universe books at the same time. Our leading trio are on different sides, missions, and places. The brief moment in the beginning when they intersect wasn't enough to establish the connection with Hilemore's perspective but it was for Lizanne and Clay.

I wasn’t immediately sucked it but it wasn’t a struggle to continue either. It was easy to put down and leave. It was better when I could just sit and read it through, starting and stopping doesn't help The Waking Fire's flow. I can't pinpoint exactly when I became invested but it definitely took longer than usual. I'm thinking 200+ pages, but my formatting was all messed up so it's hard to tell. It wasn’t until much later that the switching POVs created tension instead of sabotaging it.



Lizanne and Clay POVs started with a bang and were my favorites. They were also the most intertwined. Lizanne's a badass but I wish there was more of her before. She loves her mentor and I'd appreciate more backstory to understand how Lizanne changed. Was it going on for awhile? Were there hints? Has she disobeyed previously? Her progression wasn't sudden but...it wasn't smooth either.

For Clay, I wish there was a bit more explanation in regards to world-building. His past becomes revealed eventually but what happens to blood-blessed boys? Lizanne's school is an all-girls establishment as I understand it. Why didn't he come forward as one for housing, opportunity, etc.? He also claims to have an affinity for black, but I don't see much variation or difference in the blood-blessed abilities. They all seem to wreck. Is it as simple as being able to use it to pickpocket or is that down to training and experience?

Hilemore was the most difficult for me. It picked up with the pirates but sea battles aren't my favorite. Like NASCAR, it's all about turning and speed. I don't like how he dropped an important line of inquiry because all the action. He should've asked for proof, looked for it, and at least picked her brain some more. His chapters didn't pick up until Zenida was brought to the forefront. She saved his chapters. I kinda wish we followed her instead of Hilemore. However, given the ending, his inclusion makes more sense. I don't know for sure where it's going obviously, but I think it'd be hard to understand him and continue with him without including his perspective.

Besides those minor points, I ended up really enjoying their stories. Seeing them traverse and grow amid the action was awesome. Now if only the plotting didn't revolve around dragons who are supposed to be against them yet saving them time and again...Of course, there could be an explanation later on (no idea on the odds of this happening though), but it's a feeble way to save characters that can't save themselves. The only exception is the instances in Clay's chapters because it is explained and becomes a meaningful part of his narrative. Lizanne was extremely skilled and tactical but all their asses would've been grass without dragons conveniently killing their enemies at certain times.


Besides the deus ex machina dragons and high risk investment value, there isn't anything to complain about. The world-building is vast and unique; I can't wait to explore it more. Characters are fleshed out people and the minor characters shine. For me, finishing The Waking Fire payed off and I will be continuing the series. I have little doubt the next installment will not have the same issues as this one and should plunge deeper into every aspect I want.



BOTTOM LINE:



Torn between the beginning (2.5 starts) and the rest (4 stars), I'm cutting the difference and calling it Good. It was worth it in the end but it's hard giving 4 stars to a book that took so long and could've gone either way.

Recommendations:

If you love fantasy, want a new world to submerse into, and are willing to commit, I recommend The Waking Fire. Especially if you love dragons. Why the blurb tries to play cute with calling them drakes, I don't know. In the book, they're called dragons the whole way through...

If you're looking for an easy-breezy read or are new to fantasy, I'd picked another book.

For others, I'd recommend previewing (here) it if possible. It is a longer book and larger reading periods works better for the flow.

Do you plan on reading The Waking Fire? Why or why not?


Comments and constructive criticism is always welcome here. Thank you for stopping by!

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