This is an urban fantasy tale about dragons which are able to live and walk the earth in human form. Rachel Aaron created a really interesting world that takes place in the future where magic which had disappeared for over a thousand years ago came crashing back into earth. While I’ve not read a lot of urban fantasy aside from Dresden Files and Kate Daniels, I find that the premise of a futuristic, slightly dystopian earth with dragons living amongst human in our guise to be unique. Draconic clans and politics, dragon seers and magic, emergence of magical spirits of the land and sea, all of these make a potent cocktail of an addictive story.
Julius, the main protagonist, was the titular nice dragon who was such a failure in the eyes of his tyrannical mother, Bethesda, was tossed out from his home magically sealed in human form to prove himself worthy before he can regain his dragon form. The characters took awhile to warm up to initially. Julius was really as nice as the title suggests, and perhaps even a bit boringly so at first. His older siblings, however, have characteristics more typical to such apex predators, i.e. arrogant, aggressive and ambitious. Being so undraconic and feeling completely out of his element amongst other dragons, Julius struck up a partnership with a human mage, Marci, much to the disdain of other dragons who treat humans like pets, or food.
As the story progressed with more interactions between Justin and Marci, and with his family members, his characterisation became more engaging. With his aversion to aggression, Julius necessarily relied on his mind to negotiate compromises in order to obtain what he needed to succeed or in some cases, to merely survive.
The plot was not entirely predictable as one does not know for sure how Julius was going to work his way around all these more powerful characters, while still being true to his personality. His partnership and eventual friendship with Marci played a large role in their success, indicating that the pervasive arrogance of dragons were misplaced. And strangely, while one of his brothers, Justin, was obnoxious and full of himself, I actually ended up liking his character as well.
In short, Rachel Aaron has taken our fascination with these mythical, magical flying creatures, gave it an original spin and it resulted in a story that was at once fun, enjoyable and riveting. A series that is definitely worth continuing.