The story is evenly divided between 3 POV characters. A naval officer, a well accomplished thief, and an Academy graduate James Bond-ish secret agent. But they are not what makes this book great. That would be the combination of the general story (There are Drakes. You can drink the blood of the Drakes. You will most probably die by it. But if you don't, if you are part of the minority, you can obtain special powers that will make you both invincible in battles and a valuable aspect to the various organisations that control the Empire with the trade and profit of the blood of the Drakes) and the world building (a late Victorian era with steampunk gadgets and technology).
"There will come a time, when a covert operation will transform into a tactical engagement. Whilst such a circumstance should be avoided wherever possible, you should be prepared to shift your operating parameters accordingly. However, this does not mean an abandonment of careful planning or pursuance of only the most realistic objectives."
The narration was skillfully executed, giving a creepy, transparent style to the story and providing controversial and teeth grinding elements. The great characterization, as well the realism that characterizes all of Anthony's works can be seen at the slow-building momentum and rising tension that eventually is wrapping up the various threads, hooking you up with the intriguing story. All in all, The Waking Fire is a unique and well written story, combining old-school fantasy with modern elements, offering something new to the genre. If not in the top, it should definitely be in the top-5 of your TBR List.