Series: Dragonsworn

Truth of Embers by Caitlyn McFarland

Truth of Embers by Caitlyn McFarlandTruth of Embers by Caitlyn McFarland
Series: Dragonsworn #3
Published by Carina Press on December 14th 2015
Pages: 262
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Months after bonding with Rhys, Kai is finding her place among the Wingless—humans who have heartsworn to dragons. Determined to help her new people, she's delving deep into her magical training and is the first Wingless to ride into battle with her dragon mate.Going against customs as ancient as dragons, Rhys is forming his own vision for dragonkind. But the Council have plans of their own that don't include a Wingless queen. Meanwhile, the war with Owain is finally here and the fight for control of dragonkind could destroy everything—including humanity itself. When unbreakable bonds are torn asunder, Kai and Rhys will learn exactly how deep their love goes. The battle has begun, and no matter what happens, this one will be the last. If they can't come together, their lives are forfeit—as well as every other life they hold dear.

A panoramic wrap-up of all the loose strings in the first 2 books, and so enthralling that I was enraptured for most of the book. I loved the dragon-myths were spun in this particular universe and how the human-dragon worlds collide in this one. There’s an impending war, horrifying pains for the various pairings and unexpected deaths, but Caitlyn McFarland does provides a sufficient HEA for me to call it one of my favourites.


Shadow of Flame by Caitlyn McFarland

Shadow of Flame by Caitlyn McFarlandShadow of Flame by Caitlyn McFarland
Series: Dragonsworn #2
Published by Carina Press on September 14th 2015
Pages: 310
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It's been two months since Kai Monahan's life changed forever. Retrieved from a suddenly unsafe Colorado by Rhys and taken to Eryri, the dragons' home in the South Pacific, she lives a secret existence. Rhys—for all his awe-inspiring power—is afraid to reveal to his people that he's heartsworn to a human. One he's quite possibly in love with.
Kai hasn't forgotten the terror or pain of the moment Rhys first took control of her mind and her magic, but neither has she forgotten the fire of his kiss. When she's discovered, dragon politics—not to mention spies and ex-lovers—threaten her growing feelings. Rhys has more enemies than he can guess, and someone close to him is playing right into their hands.
The war Rhys never wanted is coming. For either of them to survive, Kai must open her mind to him as never before. This time, there will be no turning back.

Kai Monahan’s and Juliet King’s lives have changed irrevocably in two months. The brief respite in Colorado vanishes quickly when instability in the dragon world starts to spill over into the human one with Kai and Juliet caught in the middle of it. And that’s probably as much as I can talk about the book without getting bogged down by the number of details in this one.

I dove straight Shadow of Flame, eager and impatient to continue the saga that began in Soul of Smoke, only to get quite a bit lost in the disparate sub-plots that haven’t yet sufficiently come together by the cliffhanging end. There are however, a ton of exciting moments and even some heartbreaking ones, despite the narrative awkwardness of shifting between the human and dragon worlds. What had drawn me to the Soul of Smoke in the first place was its exploration of hybrid identities – the fusion of dragon characteristics both physical and magical in a typical human body – that is so different from a typical animal shapeshifter or vampire read.

Shadow of Flame continues this impetus and after trundling past that strange world-building transition where human technology intersects with magic, unfurls the glittering depth and richness of dragon fantasy land and its politics. But it’s precisely therein where the book’s believability also falters; even though Kai and Juliet are far from the cliched teenagers that pepper fanfic, their sudden insertion into this rich world and their sudden, accelerated ability to absorb the old, old magic remain strangely unsettling.

That being said, it’s far from an unsatisfactory read; there’re traitors to deal with, spurned lovers to set right and sufficient twists and turns in the plot that come straight out of the left field to counter that narrative disconnect…enough to make me want the last book now.


Soul of Smoke by Caitlyn McFarland

Soul of Smoke by Caitlyn McFarlandSoul of Smoke by Caitlyn McFarland
Series: Dragonsworn #1
Published by Carina Press on July 27th 2015
Pages: 266
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On a hike deep in the Rocky Mountains, Kai Monahan watches as a dozen dragons—actual freaking dragons—battle beneath a fat white moon. When one crashes nearly dead at her feet and transforms into a man, Kai does the only thing a decent person could: she grabs the nearest sword and saves his life.
As the dragon/man, Rhys, recovers from the attack, a chance brush of skin against skin binds him inextricably to Kai. Becoming heartsworn to a human—especially such a compelling one—is the last thing Rhys wants. But with an ancient enemy gathering to pit dragons against humanity and his strength nearly depleted, Kai has just become the one thing Rhys needs. A complete bond will give him the strength to fight; a denied bond means certain death.
Kai is terrified at the thought of allowing any dragon into her mind…or her heart. Accepting the heartswearing and staying with the dragons means sacrificing everything, and Kai must decide if her freedom is worth risking Rhys's life—a life more crucial to the fate of humanity than she could possibly know.

Millenia ago, dragons ruled the world. Or so the most arrogant of them thought. But their long-forgotten existence is snapped back into the present when a college hiker breaches a boundary she isn’t supposed to and inadvertently helps save a man-dragon in the process.

The manner in which we’re thrust into the fantastical dragon (and dragon-slaying) world is rather weak to me; Kai simply walks through a barrier dividing this reality and the ‘unseen’ one but it’s there that the story really takes off into a whirlwind tumble of events – combining folklore and magical beasts with a whiff of urban fantasy thrown in – buoyed by Caitlyn McFarland’s sharp and compelling prose. As the story wore on, I found myself wanting more of Juliet and Ashem than Kai and Rhys, whose own story seemed deliberately and unnecessarily complicated than it needed to be when Kai’s fear and insecurities prevent her from taking the step that will seal her bond with Rhys.

That a solid story such as this is built on a series of coincidences (Kai wandering into a dragon fight, Juliet getting accidentally heartsworn and so on) bothers me a little, not to mention the strange disconnect that I felt when the dragons effortless shifted from the magical world into urban Seattle. Learning the way of the dragons is a wholly engrossing literary journey itself, but it was bewildering to find out that the mating process (or heartswearing, as it’s called in the book) takes as little as an accidental touch rather than action with more gravitas as I’d expected.

Soul of Smoke ends on a cliffhanger, and the second installment already promises additional fiction between Rhys and Kai when the path to happiness is strewn with dragon politics and ex-lovers. But by this time, I’ve already been drip-fed the world-building to addiction and handed various plot-strands that will keep me coming back for the rest.