While the fourth book of J.C. Kang’s Dragon Song series is down due to being re-pusblished, I delved into one of the side-stories. And as this one has a major focus on Jie the half-elf spy, I was in for an action-packed story, though the world’s politics still played a major part.
This story takes place after book one of Dragon Songs series, though the exact timing isn’t given (there’s two-year gap between Dragon songs #1 and #2). Even with the power of hindsight, I can’t say whether this would be best to read right after Dragon songs #1, or separately. I don’t think that what I know from books #2 and #3 would be in itself a spoiler, and I don’t think that this book would spoil anything for Dragon Songs either – it works as a look at different part of the greater conflict.
Apart from Jie, another character I’ve seen before is the paladin Sameer, who appears in the Dragon Songs series as well. He and Jie were the characters I wanted to see more of. Sameer arrives in the town with two other paladins to search for Sohini, a paladin who had disappeared.
Then, there’s a bunch of new major and minor characters. Brehanne and Makeda, cousin sorcerers who, gently said, aren’t too fond of each other. Cassius, a diviner in a town full of shady individuals and brothels (seriously, there’s pretty much a whole district of brothels), as well as the heads of the criminal underworld. And several minor characters from the main plot.
Jie, Sameer, and the two sorceresses appear in the town, each of them searching for anyone, and they get in each other’s way. And they break the so-far stable status quo that’s been keeping the city stable, though it seems plots were on the move already to change it.
The three paladins, two sorceresses, and Jie turn things upside down, and all hell breaks loose. With Jie in the mix, it’s a mix of fun and action, with plots on top of plots and betrayals on top of betrayals. Unlike the main series, this takes place in a single town over the course of just two days, and still leaves something open for the rest of this sub-plot.
This was a fast-paced book that stays true to the series established in Dragon Songs, but lets other characters shine. Thus, I’d probably give it the same 85%, but maybe I could give it extra 5? The main difference is that this books exposes the ‘reality’ of the world more than the Princess view, if I can say so.