After reading the summary, I had two initial impressions.
First, that Dragon’s Bane was going to be a classic “Chosen One” story trope. Only the main character could solve all the problems. Second: the main character was going to become engrossed in an awful love story.
All things considered, I wasn’t wrong.
A young woman named Lena narrates how she didn’t mean to steal that dragon–and there it is. The reader’s hooked. How does one ‘accidentally’ steal a dragon? How does she not know that she stole a dragon? What circumstances led to that? The reader is asking a million questions, and they’re only a few pages in. Conflict’s established right off the bat. Not only for the chapter, but the novel as well.
The story premise is not wholly unique–but I like it. One country looking for a hostile takeover of another. People live in fear of infected dragons that want to burn their cities to the ground. A must-have quest for the one item to win the war for the underdogs–and Lena is the person to do that. There’s the possible evidence to support the “Chosen One” trope. I use the term “possible” because things seemed straightforward at first. Foreshadowing was in all the right places. Still, one of the two twists caught me off-guard. Kudos to the author here: it’s hard to do that to me. Later books could prove me wrong.
While not the most diverse of casts, Dragon’s Bane still contained more than most. Jackson was explicit when ensuring readers knew which characters weren’t white.
Grammar and punctuation are all solid. Dragon’s Bane has an excellent level of readability. Characterization is solid as well. Each character has their own unique voice. They feel three-dimensional. The narrator, when the point-of-view switches away from Lena, feels like a character. Jackson made sure that the POV switches came at appropriate times. Not once did I ever feel lost or disconnected from the story when it switched from first to third person.
Story pacing was okay. A few points in the exposition were too drawn out. They slowed the story down too much. Then the action resumed and I forgot about it.
These are all very good things that make this novel stand out. There were some things later on that I felt weakened it.
At first the banter between Lena and another character, Blaze, was cute. They both have smart mouths and hot tempers. They don’t like each other: I get that. After a while, it became a chore to read. It was constant. It got so old so fast that I found myself gritting my teeth when they were in the same scene. I hated the way he treated her. I hated the way she let it all go and tried to “fix” him. I still do not like their relationship.
As for Blaze himself…much like the banter, his personality was bearable at first. Then he started taking the ‘brooding bad boy’ trope too far. Everyone seemed ready and eager to brush it off as ‘that’s Blaze,’ no harm no foul. I started to hate him. Still do, though the reason behind his actions gets explained. There was no excuse for his behavior. Later content could change my mind, but for now I stand by my opinion.
Actually, there’s one or two things that I hope get explained later. I loved the idea behind the cliff-hanger at the end, don’t get me wrong. I read the final few paragraphs, sat down, and wondered aloud: “then what was the entire point of all this?”
Dragon’s Bane was a good read. I enjoyed it despite the few personal problems I had. Jackson is a talented author, and I am excited to read more.
Buy it here!