Reawakening: Book Three Resistance, exile, plague. Raif has survived them all, but now he finds himself in search of a new purpose. Traveling north to wake the dragon Arden, he hopes he has finally found a leader worthy of his loyalty, but Arden turns out to be more of a frivolous annoyance than an almighty spirit lord. Now bound to Arden’s side despite his frustration, Raif follows the dragon to the rich and influential lagoon city of Aliann, chasing rumors of the Shadow that once cursed his homeland. With the election of a new duke at stake, Raif struggles to make sense of the challenges he meets in Aliann: a conspiracy of nixies and pirates, selkie refugees in desperate need of a champion, a monster that devours souls, a flirtatious pirate prince, and a machine that could change the world. For nothing in the city of masks is what it seems, from the new friends Raif makes to the dragon he follows—or even himself.
Dear Amy Rae Durreson I reviewed the first two books in this series here and here at DA, as you can see I liked the first book quite a bit and the second one even more. This one left a mixed impression on me.
As blurb tells you this book’s main couple is Raif and Arden. We met Raif in the last book during which he endured a lot and if you read the last book you know that at the end he is leaving his homeland to search for Arden, another sleeping dragon brother and hopefully to wake him and to become a part of Arden’s hoard.
Raif is on a mission that both dragons who woke up in the previous books and their lovers wanted him to undertake, but he also wanted to leave his home because he was having a crisis of faith of the sort. Raif finds Arden indeed and wakes him up and of course Arden is taken with him. Just to remind dragons in these series thrive on Love from their Hoard, people and all kinds of beings they taken under their wings and Dragons love their Hoard back. I am saying this to stress that it made perfect sense that Arden took to Raif, but this relationship also felt to me the most human and the most complex out of all three books, which I suppose a good thing.
Arden may be a mighty Dragon, a defender of the Law, but he is grieving over the loss of his Hoard because all of them died over the thousand years, he wants to win Raif over and he really loves to laugh and tease him. Raif may be attracted, but he also thinks especially in the beginning that Arden is not *serious enough* in order to make him a worthy person to serve. But we know by now that dragons want to love, they want somebody to cherish; they do not want servants in their Hoard. Raif eventually learns to take some teasing from his Dragon of course and overall I just thought that the way both guys played off each other was really nicely done, they both felt like multilayered and very alive beings.
"Arden was quiet for a few moments. Then he said dreamily, “Those old stories about virgin sacrifices being sent to dragons—they were never true. I’m thinking I missed out on something life changing, if all the virgins were as eager as you. I could have had whole meadows full of virgins, all desperate to be touched. Virgin orgies.” Raif sighed. Nobody had ever understood this. “I was a virgin. That didn’t mean I didn’t want to be touched or that I didn’t think about it. In fact, I had a lot of time to think. I was just waiting for the right one.” Arden’s voice went serious. “I am honored, you know, that you chose me.” Then he ruined it by adding dreamily, “You are the best virgin sacrifice imaginable.” “Your brothers sent me,” Raif reminded him, which shut Arden up for a while. Then he began to whisper in Raif’s ear—a long, increasingly absurd, and utterly distracting fantasy involving a fishing boat run aground, public nudity, ropes, and a love potion that meant “A hundred orgasms between us, Raif, or we would drop dead within a week, and so I begged you, my treasure, begged you to take my cock and….” They made it to double figures before breakfast."
I quoted this little bit of silliness because I thought the romance was really nicely done, however the story is also about a fight against Tyranical shadow and I had issues with this storyline. First and foremost I think I understand that Shadow supposed to represent the tyranny and the fight against the tyranny never ends and anybody could fall victim to it, but I am reading the fantasy series and by book three I am getting a little bored by the villain *who nobody seems to be able to overcome*. Yes, I understand it is getting weaker and weaker, but honestly I cannot help but wish we would get a new villain already.
But this was not the main reason why I was bored and annoyed while I was reading parts of the book. As you can see from the blurb Arden and Raif end up chasing Shadow in the city of Aliann, which was at least in part inspired by the medieval Venice. Basically almost the whole book is set up in Aliann and our guys get to participate in the Aliann’s politics. You see, Aliann is preparing for the elections while its duke is on the death bed.
"Tomorrow, the Ten meet in private to ratify selection criteria for the representatives of the fifty districts. The heads of the Fifty Families are meeting today to nominate a choice of electors for each district. The districts will then choose their representatives, who vote on the electors, who vote on which of the Ten should be duke.” Raif blinked. “That’s a little—” “Complicated? We like it that way. All is balanced, and no one group has too much power.” “Except the one who can bribe the most electors.”"
I don’t know what associations anybody else may have had when they read this paragraph, but my first thought was , wait why am I reading about American elections? Now, because I am an American, I am willing to assume that I absorbed too much information about the circus that our politics became in my opinion and I can see it everywhere, but “fifty families”?
Let me be very clear here, I am not the kind of reader who thinks that work of fiction shouldn’t be political. I think that folks who say that the work of fiction shouldn’t have the message in it just usually disagree with the message of the story; however I also think that the story should be a message. Basically what it comes down to is that at times (not all the time) I was feeling that I was reading a propaganda piece instead of a fantasy story and it jerked me out of the story several times. I guess while I really liked the writing overall, I did not feel that the message was done elegantly enough.
And message or no message, I felt that the book dragged at places. It has 7800 locations on my Kindle and I love long books, but often I felt that political conversations went nowhere and to be honest I felt that political storyline actually started moving at sixty or so percent of the book.