Books I’ve Enjoyed: Dragon Blade

I have been having a really difficult time deciding how to rate this book. I think, if this were not a sequel, I would have rated it a three. However, because it is a sequel, I am going to go into it with the attitude that anyone who is looking to read this sequel has already read the first and so they are familiar with the author’s writing style. There were a lot of things I loved about Dragon Blade (War of the Blades), and several things that I didn’t like as much.

To start with, let’s cover what I loved. We see several of the characters that we came to connect with in Dragon Fate, as well as a lot of new ones. I don’t really feel like we got to know any of the new ones well, except for Delno’s brother, who I really liked. This story gives a lot of character resolution on several levels, and it was a worthwhile read for that alone. But it also had a very well constructed plot, with the intricate layers of worldbuilding, lore, history and strategy that the first book had.

I really enjoyed getting to see how the dragons and the humans came together, and there were a lot more dragons in this book.

Dragon Blade kept me interested from the beginning, and I read it in a matter of days because I really wanted to see what happened. However, while it kept me interested, the story never really sucked me in. What I mean by that is that while the story was interesting, it wasn’t absorbing. There wasn’t much of a sense of tension, or of being in the moment. It almost has the feel of sitting around a campfire, being told the story of a war hero after he’s come home. You are appreciative, and you know he has seen and done incredible things, but you don’t fear for him, because he is sitting there in front of you. That is really how I felt about this book. As interesting as it was, I never got lost in it, never felt like I was a part of it, never sat on the edge of my seat with worry or concern. That aside, it was entertaining and I’m glad I read it.

The author’s style hasn’t really changed since the first book, but there was even more of characters telling each other things they already knew, and even things that the characters and the readers already knew as a means to add in details about the first book, to refresh readers minds or to fill in a person new to the series. This bothered me a lot more than it did in the first book, probably because I already knew it too. The characters are still prone to long, winding, self-reflecting monologues as a means to reveal their plans, motivations and entire thought process. Because their self analysis is only overshadowed by their analysis of each other — such as they frequently will say things like “because you are such a good person, I know you only had the best intentions, so I will forgive you, but don’t make that same mistake again” — the reader is never really given the room to make up their own opinions of the characters. I think this is a bit heavy handed, and as a reader I like to be able to interpret events and characters my own way and in my own time, making reading a book a uniquely personal experience. I couldn’t do that with this book, because I was constantly spoon fed the characters opinions of each other, shaping my own. That isn’t an actual quote from the book, it is more of a general feeling and paraphrase on my part, for the record. Also, as I said in the beginning of the review, this problem was apparent in the first installment of the series, so this shouldn’t be a surprise to anyone. If you can look past it, you will find that this really is an enjoyable story.

I felt that the plot really deserved a 5. I would have liked to have more twists and suspense, and I think if the characters actions were allowed to stand on their own, there may have been because I would have been suspecting more backstabbing and surprises. I think stronger developmental editing could have made this book a bit more show and a lot less tell, and the dialogue could have been more natural. So on that, I rate it a 3.

I think if you like an easy read, with some strategy, warfare and political intrigue mixed with dragon fantasy you will enjoy this book. Also, if you were invested in the characters at the end of Dragon Fate, you will find this read rewarding.