My issues with the writing feeling unpolished and clunky in the first book were completely non-existent in this follow-up. The prose transcended being simple sentences on a page and disappeared, until I wasn’t seeing words on a page but instead saw the events of the book playing out like a movie in mind. That is the highest compliment I can pay to a fantasy novelist whose prose is merely a vehicle for the story they’re telling, such as Brandon Sanderson. While I love beautiful prose, like that crafted by Rothfuss and Kay, I also appreciate stories that become so real in my mind that the prose disappears.
There was so much character development in this book. Seriously, the characters we met in the first book were cute and interesting, but a bit two-dimensional. In this second book, they are fleshed out so well that I feel like they’re actually friends of mine. I love that feeling, and it’s something that’s often hard to inspire through the written word, so I applaud Aaron for that.
Julius, the world’s nicest dragon, is growing into himself and beginning to stand up for what he believes. As one of the youngest, smallest dragons in the Heartstriker clan, he is often overlooked or viewed as weak due to his kindness. But he is a dragon to watch, and his kindness is most definitely not weakness. Julius is intelligent and crafty and loyal, and those traits inspire loyalty in others.
Then we have Marci, who is a firecracker of a human mage with a weird spirit bound to her. She’s Julius’s friend and business partner, and they have the hots for each other. (It’s adorable). Marci is loyal and incredibly intelligent, but she’s also fool-hardy and headstrong, which often leads to trouble. I’ll be honest; I found her just the teensiest bit annoying in the first book. Not so here! She was sassy and emotional and intelligent and talented and loyal and strong, and just all-in-all a very well-rounded character.
While these two are our main characters, we also have the other dragons, be they Heartstrikers or Daughters of the Three Sisters. We get character development from Justin, Julius’s closest brother and the Knight of the Heartstrikers; Chelsie, Bethesda’s Shade and the most terrifying dragon in the Heartstriker clan, but one with a soft spot for her “nice” baby brother; and Katya, the youngest Daughter of the Three Sisters and the unlikely ally and friend of Julius. We also have Amelia, a new dragon mage on the scene. She is immensely talented and incredibly quirky, choosing to spend the majority of her time drunk and on other planes of existence until recent events brought her back to her own.
And then there’s Bob. Bob is just about the most eccentric character I’ve come across in any book, and I love him for it. Even though he acts like he hasn’t a care in the world, you can see the scarily sharp mind behind the facade. He’s a puppet master, playing everyone using his amazing abilities as one of the three dragon seers on the planet. But while dragons all always out for their own good, Bob is determined to also do what’s best for his family, the Heartstriker clan. I have to say, though, that I’m dying to see how the pigeon comes into play. That has to be one of the weirdest pets ever.
This was a compelling story, and it’s a series I can’t wait to continue. Especially since the next book should provide some backstory on Chelsie, who is absolutely fascinating. What I love most about this series is its brightness. It’s fun and light. Is there tension and drama? Yes. Any book without those components would be boring and feel meaningless. But I always felt certain that things would all work out in the end. There’s just a levity to the series that’s refreshing. So much of the fantasy genre is dark, and even though I love the genre, it’s like a breath of fresh air to find something this light. Also, there’s a severe lack of dragons in urban fantasy, and I really love seeing them in this setting. I highly recommend this series to anyone looking for something hopeful in the fantasy genre.