I have to admit, this one wasn’t quite as gripping for me as the previous books in the series. It seemed like most of it was explanations about magic, spirits, and theories about them as they work in this world. I can understand why so much of that was necessary in order for the story to make sense to the reader, but it slowed the pace down a lot. It also seemed like we didn’t get a whole lot of Julius’s POV, and his is my favorite.
That being said, the author clearly put so much thought into how the magic works in this world, and it all made so much sense and was interesting. The way the spirits work, for lack of a better way of putting that, especially the mortal spirits, is so cool. And the last 25% or so made up for the slow pace of the rest by being jam-packed with action and magical battles. Seeing the Golden Emperor’s magic in action was especially cool, and there was one line that stood out to me because of how beautifully it was written and the image it evoked:
The Qilin’s bad luck was still raging through the city. Julius could actually feel the dragon magic like hungry, malovent teeth on his skin. It had no target, no purpose. It was just fury blindly lashing out, and everywhere it struck, disaster followed.
This book also still had the same great characters I’ve come to know and love. Julius and Marci have been great from the start, but I’ve loved getting to know Chelsie more and more with each book, peeling back the layers to see who she truly is, especially in this one. I’ve come to love Fredrick and all his inner strength and loyalty too. Ghost has grown on me as well, and I understand now why his connection to Marci is so important to him. Meanwhile, Bob and his plots have always been a mystery, and this time was no different; I’m looking forward to finally finding out his plans in the final book. And as much as I hate Bethesda, she kind of cracked me up sometimes in this one.
Seeing the relationships between characters evolve more and more has been great too. I love the touching moments because these are dragons, and they’ve been taught to be ruthless, and the Heartstrikers have been raised in cruelty and fear, so it’s really nice to see them show that they care or be touched by an act of kindness.
Overall, despite being slower, this was still a great book with lots of dragons and spirits and magic!
Fans of Books 1-3 in Rachel Aaron's Heartstrikers series. Anyone who likes dragon shifters, magic, a whole cast of unique characters, a fast-paced story, and some unique futuristic world-building.