Heartstrikers #4. Author: Rachel Aaron.
To save his family from his tyrannical mother, Julius had to step on a lot of tails. That doesn’t win a Nice Dragon many friends, but just when he thinks he’s starting to make progress, a new threat arrives. Turns out, things can get worse. Heartstriker hasn’t begun to pay for its secrets, and the dragons of China are here to collect. When the Golden Emperor demands his surrender, Julius will have to choose between loyalty to the sister who’s always watched over him and preserving the clan he gave everything to protect.
My Thoughts :
Well, I enjoyed it, but A Dragon of a Different Color wasn’t as good as the previous books. I imagine Rachel Aaron had all this awesome worldbuilding done that she really wanted to give her readers… so she tied plot twists to each discovery, and crammed them all together. And it was exciting and fun and illuminating, but – it was also crammed. It felt like the entire book was just a series of twists and reveals, with never enough down time to process the new reveal or even to just enjoy the new characters introduced. The entire book was the up-slant to climax, and no release of tension. (And yet, somehow, it also dragged just a little bit… because there was a lot of exposition with each twist, to explain the new revelation.)
Marci and Julius have come so far! It’s wonderful to see so much confidence and skill that they just didn’t have before. And I am so down for the new baby. She didn’t get nearly enough screen time.
I believe there’s supposed to be one more book, so I’m sure the final climax will be highly dramatic – but I also strongly hope we get a little more slow down-time to appreciate the characters and epic world.
I’m not entirely sure what happened with this book. It started off great. We had Heartstriker Mountain totally empty, we had Julius trying to keep his clan together, we had Marci and Amelia supposedly dead, and we had the Chinese dragons and Algonquin simultaneously trying to take over the world. Sounds like it couldn’t possibly go wrong, right?
Hey, that’s what I thought.
I guess one of the most obvious mistakes was the world-building. Not the world-building in and of itself – that was awesome, and I always love that – it was the way it was built. Rachel Aaron’s explanations bordered on the dreaded info-dumping. Half the time what she was explaining barely made sense, it was so run-on and complex. My reactions generally went something like this: “Ah, I see. Yes, that would make sense, wouldn’t it? Hmmm, that’s dangerous. Oh, yes, of course you’re right. Wait. What are we talking about?”
Secondly, I felt like it was all a suspense builder – nothing more. There were no dynamic plot twists that I didn’t see coming (Seriously, Julius? Are you just now figuring the Chelsie thing out? I figured that out a book and a half ago) and there were no impressive changes or new players introduced that turned everything on it’s head.
Nope, we pretty much ended up exactly where we all wanted to, and then the cliffhanger.
Which, by the way, was entirely too expected, and a little too familiar. (Does anyone else see the similarities between Heartstrikers and Eli Monpress? The fact that there’s an otherworldly female bad guy who’s a little bit crazy, and the fact that everyone keeps surmounting obstacles that should be entirely insurmountable, and the total lack of severe, overwhelming consequences? Don’t get me wrong, I loved Eli Monpress, but I object to repeating plot lines and/or character actions. Just my opinion.)
I thought this would be the last book, the final battle, the epic, heart-wrenching conclusion and instead I got a couple hundred pages of suspense and world-building and then we FINALLY got where we should have gotten a while ago.
But, really, I can deal with all that. I would have really liked this book if it hadn’t been for the second-to-last chapter.
I’m so disappointed, and I really loved their romance up to now.
And I really wanted to love this book.
Still not sure if I’m going to read the next one. (Honestly, I probably will, but don’t tell anyone.)
Sexual Content: Dragoness says it should have been impossible for her to get pregnant because she and her consort stayed in human form at all times, but somehow it happened. / One brief bedroom scene between male/female unmarried teenagers – they kiss several times, then start undressing each other. The sexual intercourse is obvious but not explicitly written.
Language: 3 derogatory terms.
Violence: Characters find the ashes of a dragon’s body. Mage is burned and nearly dissolved by magic. “Magical construct” who certainly seems to have a soul is partially deconstructed and used (for her spellwork) against her will. Lake spirit and city spirit fight each other, throwing tidal waves of water and entire buildings (respectively), a fairly long detailed fight that a couple of dragons do get mixed up in. Several characters are nearly drowned.