After two months of reading only my working drafts, I’m finally back to reading – this time, with a book that seems to mix fantasy, romance, political drama, and spy thriller into a single package.
I’ve actually bought and downloaded the book in early summer, along with two others, but this ended up being read as the last of the three series’ due to being possibly the longest and because of being something a bit different than my usual reads.
And thus, for the first 10%, I was a bit skeptical, but by the time my first ‘bite’ into the book was done – at the 25% mark – it became quite gripping.
So, what’s this all about? Apart from the short prologue, which mentions the dragon Avarax being put to sleep by the fabled dragonscale lute some three centuries ago (as a set up for the power the instrument has, because the dragon doesn’t appear in the first book apart from tales/myth), it changes PoV towards a young princess Kayia – one of the main characters, and the focus of the political arch.
Kayia has a talent for music, and one slight disadvantage: she’s not pretty (and a few characters make a bit harsh comments on that matter – see my highlights for two of the hardest hitters). And as she is to meet with a potential suitor – a minor lord – the story takes her for quite a ride as she meets Hardeep, a prince of a downtrodden small nation – which is in their pitiful place partially because of the trade deals of Kayia’s nation. And he beseeches her to help, which makes her question what she is expected to do and what would be the right thing to do, for pretty much the rest of the book (and maybe beyond).
The second main PoV follows two characters – one being childhood friend of Kayia and one being a half-elf girl – who are spies in service of Kaiya’s father, the emperor. And they’re finding hints of rebellion brewing – which gets worse by each chapter as people start to die. Soon, it’s clear that this is no small rebellion but a complex plot.
Both lines are connected, but they only truly converge at the end. I’d say the book did both on both aspects – Kaiya’s story would stand alone as a regency romance (which the original cover matches quite well) while the other part would work as a decent spy thriller, and all of that sprinkled with subtle fantasy elements (though I hope there will be a bit more of those).
However, as someone who recently published a book, and spent a good part of the last months working on formatting and tried different ways in the process, I’m taking a moment to bite. I have mentioned that Kindle Create has a few quirks, one of them related to Drop Cap paragraphs, by changing the font size and line spacing if the author isn’t careful. This is what happens with this book – and I may add the screenshot to my Kindle Create post as an example. The indentations were way too big as well – but I got used to it at some point. The second issue is that the author puts a list of characters at the start of the book. For me, dropping 50+ names without even seeing the story is not helpful at all. Not to mention that there’s way better tool for making an e-book glossary: Kindle X-ray.
Read date: 13.11.-16.11.2020
Published: 2.3.2016 (as ‘Dragon Scale Lute’), republished 1.11.2017 under the current name
Goodreads/Amazon rating: 3,78/4,4
My rating: 85% (formatting issues are not considered)
Length: 481 pages (Kindle Edition)
I guess that devouring almost 500-page book in just four days means that it caught my attention quite well. I’ll continue with this story, though I have yet to decide whether to go to book two in this series, or read a separate full-length nover that happens (chronologically) between those books, following Jie, the half-elf spy. In any way, for a slight step into the unknown, I’ve found it an enjoyable read.