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review 2017-07-12 02:53
The Waking Fire by Anthony Ryan - My Thoughts
The Waking Fire (The Draconis Memoria) - Anthony Ryan

The Draconis Memoria - Book 1

I loved this book!  Yes, it seemed to take a while for me to read, I have no idea why, but I absolutely loved it.  :)

The Waking Fire is a wonderful mix of dragon fantasy, steampunk, military and adventure and some magic thrown in for good measure.  Sounds like quite the jumble, but it works spectacularly well, IMO. 

The three main characters, whose POVs we follow throughout the book, are very different - a small-time street criminal, a lady spy and and upright, honourable Navy man - but they all have one thing in common that I'm not sure I can describe well enough.  But it's got to do with conscience, honour, selflessness (this is a maybe)... I don't know bit they all have this 'it' factor.  And they're all likable while having recognisable flaws, which I find very, very important. 

The world that Ryan has created is familiar yet different.  There is some incredible world-building here and it's fascinating - even though there were a few parts when I found the descriptive passages a tad tedious.  That's probably what kept this from a 5 star read for me. 

A word about the dragons.  They're different from most of the dragons we read about in fantasy and I feel like we've only scratched the surface in this book one of the series.  I don't know how many books it's projected to be, but let me tell you, I can't wait to get my hands on the second book when it gets down to a reasonable price!  Definitely one of my favourite reads of the year.  :)

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text 2017-03-20 21:42
Reading progress update: I've read 65%.
Blood Song - Anthony Ryan

I've heard nothing but rave reviews of this book, but I'm SO BORED. I want to finish this but I need a break. I fully intend to cheat on this book now. I found the beginning of the book engaging enough, although HOLY COMMA SPLICES BATMAN, I've never seen so many comma splices. Was this self published? If not, who edited this thing? I've been stuck guiltily trying to finish this thing for a while, and I need a break.

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text 2017-03-10 18:33
Sampling...
Blood Song - Anthony Ryan

...found over on publisher site.  Epic fantasy.

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text 2017-03-10 17:02
Looks interesting
The Waking Fire (The Draconis Memoria) - Anthony Ryan

Found The Waking Fire (The Draconis Memoria) in the thumbnails on publisher site when looking up details to put in a librarian request on another book.

 

The start of a new series; guess I should at least sample author's other epic fantasy series, Blood Song, as well.

 

Blurb from publisher for The Waking Fire reads:

"Throughout the vast lands controlled by the Ironship Trading Syndicate, nothing is more prized than the blood of drakes. Harvested from captive or hunted Reds, Greens, Blues and Blacks, it can be distilled into elixirs that bestow fearsome powers on the rare men and women known as the Blood-blessed.

But not many know the truth: that the lines of drakes are weakening. If they fail, war with the neighbouring 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 lands 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 cruiser 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."

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review 2016-06-26 00:00
The Waking Fire
The Waking Fire - Anthony Ryan 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!



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*


The Good:
-Loved the types of dragons, how they hunted and lived.
-Love the way magic and technology influence and evolve with each other
-Love the Gaslamp inventions
-Every character was great, including the minor ones
-Eventually enjoyed each POV character
-Eventually enjoyed the adventure more and more as time went on
-Eventually switching POVs caused the desired tension
-Eventually the POVs come together and the next book should be more cohesive.

The Bad & The Other:
-Deus ex machina to the rescue! Often anyways.
-At first, took a long while to get into,
-At first, switching POVs caused it to feel slow
-At first, politics weren't very clear so a lot of the setup and maneuverings were lost on me until later.
-I do wish we knew more about the magic system but that's clearly to come...



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.


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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?


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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.


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BOTTOM LINE:




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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. It is a longer book and larger reading periods works better for the flow.
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