Again I’ve found a stack of reviews just waiting to be published and like with the previous I’ve compiled them all into a single post. No point in getting anyone’s hopes up.
Book 2: The Tropic of Serpents
Lisa and I are really enjoying this series so far. She can’t wait to read the next one while I’m less certain. In short, I enjoyed the book. I think the lead up to the expedition allowed us to dig in to the main character and her quirks but without getting bogged down by too much.
The new cultures are clearly the main focus of the book and the dragons have taken such a secondary role I’m confident this plot could have been done entirely without them. Which is sad, so very sad.
My biggest gripe was with a particular scene in which the MC confesses how she’s this perfect amazing woman and the fact that she’s a horrible mother and extremely selfish shouldn’t have any impact on her as a woman nor should society have anything to say on it at all……And men have it SOOOOOOO easy. Previously the MC had managed this incredible balance between fighting societal norms by pushing boundaries and acknowledging that society impacts everyone in both positive and negative ways. In this very book she discovered something that was burdensome to her but was actually enjoyed by her peers. That simple nod to differing view points kept the sting and condescension of her opinions from overpowering the story. But the confession scene lacked that nod to differing views since it was her own (and our) cultural view that motherhood didn’t look kindly to abandoning your children and having someone else raise them. She even goes so far to complain that she shouldn’t need to change diapers and feed them because it was drudgery and children weren’t interesting at that point. And she’s just plain wrong because in every other aspect of her life she’s willing to invest, to slog through the drudgery, to get to the good stuff. Why not in her own child?
Anyway, had she only kept even a twinge of loss or doubt this wouldn’t have been nearly as big an issue for me. The character doesn’t need to be a motherly paragon, but this part just felt like propaganda. (And that got my heckles up so several other points stuck out that where entirely benign.)
In summary, it was good and a worthy sequel to the first. I would have preferred more dragons and less moaning. I’m interested in reading the next one but this near betrayal has me wary.
Book 3: The Voyage of the Basilisk
It seems my concerns are entirely unfounded.
Previously I had quite the gripe and while it wasn’t series ending, it concerned me greatly for the rest of the series. And even when something came up in this very book that I was certain would be done poorly with inserted modern social commentary…..it wasn’t. In fact it ended up being one of the more interesting and entertaining parts of the book. I won’t spoil it but you’ll probably know it when you find it.
There also felt like there were more dragons in the book too. Although on reflection there might not have been that much more but it felt like more.
In general this book matched the first a lot more closely than the second one did, both in spirit and in content. In the end I read the last two immediately after this one. No regrets.
Book 4: In the Labyrinth of Drakes
This is my favorite book in the series (and I’ve already read the last book at this point).
I…..I honestly can’t find the words to to describe how awesome everything was. The dragons were there in force, the new cultures being explored, the new insights/revelations kept me pulled into the plot, and the way the characters were handled was perfection. Everything that had happen previously was masterfully used to leverage every bit of storytelling possible without bloating or rehashing anything.
And it was still wildly entertaining.
Even the world building felt bigger and deeper than anything previous. Considering the world is a painfully thin reskin of the real world, that’s saying something. It’s also one of the few times I actually wished I was in that world during that time period. If I was someone with the means and the time I would totally be attempting to breed dragons (if only the small ones).
In summary this was the highlight of the series. The last book isn’t bad by any means it just isn’t this ultimate fusion of greatness.
Book 5: Within the Sanctuary of Wings
Ok…..that was a twist. Not a bad one but it was certainly a BIG one.
Everything has been pointing to this one event…..and it’s HUGE. It was well foreshadowed in the previous books and it it fits the world and the style of the book. Unfortunately it’s kind of meh for me.
It was very focused on Isabella and the conflict was either environmental or political and the dragons were conspicuously absent. I think the focus was a little too tight on this monumental event and less on all the other elements of the book. For example the characters we’ve spent years with end up feeling like props. And the plots of the previous books, allegedly about dragons, end up only contributing their political elements to this one.
Eerily, this book has the closest feel to the second book (my least favorite) than any of the others. It was entertaining and I have no regrets of this book or series. I’m left reasonably satisfied and I would be open for more books in this same world. But it wasn’t the revelation/twist I was hoping for and ultimately I don’t think it was even the best version of itself. Hate me if you want but that’s how I feel.
In summary this is a very good series and I will definitely be wanting to add them to my shelf. The art alone might have been worth it but the books themselves were wonderfully refreshing.