Review: The Waking Fire. The Draconis Memoria 1 by Anthony Ryan

Throughout the vast lands controlled by the Ironship Trading Syndicate, nothing is more waking fireprized than the blood of drakes. Harvested from captive or hunted Reds, Greens, Blues and Blacks, it can be distilled into elixirs that bestow fearsome powers on the rare men and women known as the Blood-blessed.

But not many know the truth: that the lines of drakes are weakening. If they fail, war with the neighboring Corvantine Empire will follow swiftly. The Syndicate’s last hope resides in whispers of the existence of another breed of drake, far more powerful than the rest, and the few who have been chosen by fate to seek it.

Claydon Torcreek is a petty thief and an unregistered Blood-blessed who finds himself pressed into service by the Protectorate and sent to wild, uncharted lands in search of a creature he believes is little more than legend. Lizanne Lethridge is a formidable spy and assassin facing gravest danger on an espionage mission deep into the heart of enemy territory. And Corrick Hilemore is the second lieutenant of an Ironship cruiser whose pursuit of ruthless brigands leads him to a far greater threat at the edge of the world.

As lives and empires clash and intertwine, as the unknown and the known collide, all three must fight to turn the tide of a coming war, or drown in its wake.

  1. The Waking Fire
  2. The Legion of Flame

This sounded like the perfect book for me. Dragons, magic, different perspectives, an interesting world, exploration… And I liked ‘Blood Song’ by Anthony Ryan – although the second half was weaker and I never continued with the series it was easy to read and I liked the characters!

Unfortunately, The Waking Fire was a big disappointment for me. It was one of those cases where I probably should have stopped reading after a quarter. The problem was, that I really wanted to like this book. Lots of people who share my opinions on many different books loved it.. So there had to be something about it! Maybe it’s getting better? And I thought it was.. but that was probably just wishful thinking. I was too far in in the end to not finish.. all the effort.. I mean it’s almost 700 pages. So I finished it. But I have to admit – I skipped the last Lizanne parts….

Let’s start with the good things, cause there are some! The world is pretty cool, I liked that it’s like a steampunk-y, 19th century colonial Fantasy- that’s how I would describe it! The characters have guns, there’s lots of sea travel and lots of different things are invented. It’s an era of exploration and setting out into the unknown. Throw dragons and rare magical abilities into the mix and nothing should go wrong…

Well, for me it just didn’t work. Let’s start with the style of writing. It’s too dry. I wanted to skip all the battle scenes, they just didn’t excite me at all. Sometimes we have passages of info dumping and the action is really slow. I found myself looking at the page number more often than not. And had to get myself to read the next 50 pages until I can read something else more fun. Yesssss, I know! You told me so, I should not have read on!

Also, the characters didn’t help. Let’s start with Lizanne. She is a Blood-Blessed, which means she can use the blood of dragons to gain certain abilities. I said it before, but it works kinda like burning metal in the Mistborn Series. So what are her character traits? She is a capable spy and a good fighter. Anything else? Not really. I don’t even know how she looks like! I don’t need to know about every wrinkle in her face but at least, give me hair colour and some features! Little things help.

I just couldn’t feel for Lizanne. She stayed bland throughout the whole book and her storyline was exhausting.. The same is true for Hilemore. He is capable and stiff.. That’s it. And what the hell was his storyline there for anyways? Just for the end scene? Oh man, that made me upset. He’s sailing away for the whole book and then nothing. He meets a certain character and everything is set up for the next book (Nah, it’s not Gendry- he is still on a boat somewhere). Blah. Maybe if I’d cared for him and his crew I would have liked it but it didn’t do anything for me.

Clay’s storyline was the only one that was decent. It was like an adventurous treasure hunt of a little group of contractors searching for the mysterious white dragon. Clay does go through a development but even that didn’t manage to draw me in enough. The characters I cared for in his group weren’t dealt with enough and then when one person died I couldn’t care less. Never a good sign.

In the end, let’s talk about the dragons, because the presentation of dragons in this really didn’t sit right with me. Because of the powers that dragon blood gives to a few humans, it is very precious. Dragons are held like cattle and their blood is harvested so humans can feel like super heroes!!! I absolutely hated it….There are the dragons living in the wild as well,who seem to mind their own business until humans come hunting them down. Of course they are trying to defend themselves then!!

HOW on earth should I root for the humans??? I was on the dragons’ side for all of the book!! I was almost cheering for them to burn this horrible city in the end to the fucking ground and please eat Lizanne while you’re at it!

Nope. To sum it up: Bland characters, dry, boring writing, especially fighting scenes and a presentation of dragons that makes me sad.

It just didn’t manage to make me care.

As a Bonus, here’s Hilemore’s theme song:

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