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4.6 out of 5 stars
Mark of the Dragon Queen
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16 of 17 people found the following review helpful
on January 21, 2012
I tremendously enjoyed the first novel by this Indie author, called Treespeaker. So I was curious about The Mark of the Dragon Queen and I wasn't disappointed. Although less subtle than Treespeaker, The Mark of the Dragon Queen contains more action which makes it a fast-paced read. The writing is once again very tight and smooth, as well as well-edited.

The story centers around the teenager Kira, who discovers her father's hidden past as he gets arrested for using magic. In a swift sequence of event, Kira's whole life is turned upside down.The intelligent Kira is hindered by her naivety and her stubbornness, but that same stubbornness also helps her. She's a well-balanced character and I enjoyed following her. Other characters, including Kira's father Ifor, his friend and doctor-magician Jan, and the young wizard-apprentice Arun show sufficient depth. The main antagonist, Apharis seemed shallow to me at first, but later on his characterization developed in such a way that I had to revise my view of him as just the standard evil just to be evil villain.

The dragons, whose queen plays a pivotal part in the story, are underdeveloped however. They seemed pretty generic and their characterization fell a bit flat. This is my main criticism on this novel, and that is a pity for an otherwise very strong story.

The worldbuilding is not very exotic, but interesting nonetheless. The novel's main strength is its plot though, which takes a fairly straight but swift path, and has some surprising bends and curves at the end. It kept me captivated and turning the pages.

Although Kira's age seems to indicate that this novel is aimed at the YA-market, it didn't bother me at all (and I'm not very keen on YA novels). The plot and character development makes this a good read for adults, and the fact that the story contains no excessive violence and gore or strong language makes it suitable for most ages, and readers from all walks of life. The themes in the novel are universal, and timeless.

Although I enjoyed the unique subtlety of Treespeaker more, this is another strong novel by Katie Stewart.
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
on January 23, 2012
Feisty teenager, Kira, is the main human protagonist in this fast-paced, action-filled book which is populated by imperfect, and therefore realistic, characters. Characters that Stewart's writing effortlessly brings you to care about - so much so, that you finish the book wondering, and worrying, about what happens next.

The book would work equally well as a YA or crossover novel. There is enough action and there are enough male characters, to appeal to both male and female readers. Similarly, the beautiful cover, designed by the author, will attract readers of both sexes.

Gripping, and at times very poignant, this book demonstrates a further dimension to Stewart's story-telling abilities already so ably displayed in "Treespeaker" and "The Dragon Box".
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on January 2, 2012
"Mark of the Dragon Queen" is an exciting ride from beginning to end. Stewart weaves an intricate plot around very well developed characters. There's lots of action and plenty of twists and turns, as well as shocking secrets revealed, as Kira fights to save her father from a death she knows he doesn't deserve. The dragons are awesome!! You'll be on the edge of your seat, turning the pages as fast as you can read to see what's going to happen next. There is no lack of energy in this story. You'll be drawn into the story right off and will suffer with the characters all the way through. If you want an awesome read... this is it!!!!!
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on October 28, 2014
The story starts out at a fast pace, as a teenage girl's life abruptly falls apart within the first chapter. The reader is then taken on an epic journey filled with magic, dragons, and adventure.

I give this book five stars. It's a classic fantasy read where good versus a great evil. The author didn't give any secrets away, and the plot is thick and filled with surprises. There's a lot of action, and I don't believe this story was lacking in any way. I can highly recommend it to anyone interested in fantasy reads.

As for my clean rating, I am very impressed with the writing of this author. Although there is death that is to be expected from an epic fantasy, there are no curse words or sexual content-not even kissing. This book is clean enough for middle grade children, yet it's perfect for adults also. It's an adventure you won't outgrow.

If you love stories involving magic and dragons, then I suggest you give it a try. I'm a *cough* older woman, yet I highly enjoyed this book.
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7 of 9 people found the following review helpful
on January 24, 2013
I wasn't that enamored with this story and it took me several attempts to finish it. There were just too many things that annoyed me, mainly someone named Kira. Your typical YA heroine without brains, or at least the ability to use them. And this behavior started right at the start. Cause how is it otherwise possible to think that, when you overhear a person talking about busting someone out of prison, it must be your dad they are talking about? He isn't the only one in jail, you know. She really talked through her hat most of the story. And don't let me get started about her egoistic and oh-my-god-did-she-really-do-that-? behavior, cause that was even worse.

Her father has similar problems, so I guess it runs in the family? Although his problem is that he wants to save EVERYONE. Which usually ends with more victims than when they started. Oh and don't forget Aurun, who also seems to have problems with grasping the consequences of his actions. His biggest mistake is not tying Kira to a tree and instead letting her tag along. So much could have been prevented!

Okay enough about them, let's talk about something more fun: dragons! Dragons are apparently wise and very dangerous creatures that inhabit the world Kira lives in. Then why did I get the feeling they were no more than lap-dogs who arrive at even the slightest sign of danger to save the day? I hoped so much more! Something in line with Saphira from Eragon. That's what I call a wise and dangerous creature. But instead I got large lap dogs. *Sigh*

There also seems to be a lack of feelings for friends and acquaintances who get injured or die. Okay, Kiri is sad for a couple of seconds, before she continues her merry way. Where is the commitment? Those people / dragons died for you! The least you could do is give a moments thought about what they did and meant for you! I got the feeling that the only individuals that mattered where Father, Auran, Jan and his wife. Cause the world seemed to end if they got but the littlest scratch. Talk about priority!

Despite all above I still managed to give this 2 hearts. Why? Because the world they live in is interesting. That's what kept my attention while reading the book. I really liked the idea of the crystals and what Kira's role will be. It's a refreshing take on the whole wizard / mage / magic experience.

Conclusion: 2 hearts. The main characters annoyed me, especially Kira, with their thoughtless behavior. I didn't like how the dragons are portrayed like lap-dogs. There also was a significant lack of feelings when somebody died. So why did I give it 2 hearts? That's because of the world building. I really liked the crystals and what they do. And because I managed to finish it, without throwing it through the room
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on June 5, 2012
As the title says, this is a wonderful fantasy for young adults. I would have loved this when I was younger. As it is, it's still enjoyable for me as an adult. There is little (some might say no) romance and the plot is not totally predictable. The writing is very solid. The only reason it's more appropriate for younger audiences is that it is fairly simple in tone, subject, and language. It's a quick fun read for adults, with some novel ideas.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on July 24, 2012
Mark of the Dragon Queen is a thoroughly enjoyable read.

Set in an unspecified era a century or so ago, somewhere in Europe (or so one imagines), the reader is transported to a wonderful world where cobbled streets abound and horses are the mode of transportation - unless one is lucky enough to have a dragon for a friend.

The book is peopled with eclectic and wonderful folk. Kira, our hero, is a girl of fifteen whose father Ifor is an eccentric intellectual. Kira's mother died when she was ten and she always considered she took care of him as much as he took care of her. But this kind and playful man has a secret past he has been keeping from her. Feisty and headstrong, when Ifor is arrested for breaking an old oath and sent off to a prison from which there is no escape, Kira decides she must do the impossible and get him released.

Thus begins a captivating tale of suspense that features a villain who wants Ifor out of the way so he can become Lord High Councillor - and use wizardry for nefarious purposes. But the villain has not counted on friendships that transcend transgressions to the depth of putting themselves in danger; magical crystals; and a dragon who owes her life to Ifor.

Ms Stewart has an innate talent for storytelling and her character development, prose and staging are exemplary. The settings are imaginative, the adventure takes the reader down paths that twist and turn - including one or two surprising ones we do not see coming. The ending is strong. We care about what happens to these people and are left wanting to know more of the story.

As with all good books, Ms Stewart's stories always have a message and Mark of the Dragon Queen is no exception. It is a story of trust and faith and honor and loyalty - and finding one's strength against great odds.

The book can be enjoyed by individuals of all ages. I look forward to reading a sequel.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on January 18, 2014
Kira’s world is shattered when her father saves a boy by levitating him to safety. By using magic her father broke an oath he made eighteen years before. Kira had only known him as a teacher and her head spins as she tries to adjust to her new reality. They flee away from everything she’s known, but they are caught and her father sent to a dreadful prison. No one leaves the prison alive, but the High Counsellor tells Kira to believe the impossible.

The challenge with believing the impossible is knowing just what is impossible means. Kira. Struggles with the Counsellor’s advice and at every step she finds another thing that demands her belief.

The character of Kira walks the fine line between helpless girl and a Mary-Sue. She feels very much like a real person with her own set of foibles and fears. The same is true for the other characters. Even the villain is shown as a whole, if misguided, person. The dialogue works well and maintains a consistent voice through the book.

The plot had a nice number of twists and turns. It was easy to keep track of what was happening, but impossible to predict with any accuracy what was coming. This is a real achievement since I can often outline the plot of a book after a couple of chapters. It kept me interested and involved right to the conclusion.

Mark of the Dragon Queen is an independently published novel and it is what indie novels should be. It is professionally written and polished. The story is interesting and complex and the characters are well rounded and empathetic. Katie W. Stewart has more than one surprise in the plot of this book and it is a delight to read from the beginning to the end. I highly recommend it to anyone who likes fantasy and young adult.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on July 11, 2013
What a breathtaking novel! Katie Stewart has an amazing talent; I have now read three of hers, and have loved them all!

Fifteen year old Kira and her father had lived happily but quietly together from when she was very young. On the day their lives were to change forever, they were at the market place. Ifor Goran (Kira's father) was talking to his friend, Dr Jan Hingel when suddenly a cart appeared, being pulled at speed by an out-of-control horse. In its path was a young child, in terrible danger. When Kira opened her eyes again, the child was in his mother's arms, and Dr Hingel looked shocked and pale...not by the almost accident but by what his friend Ifor had just done.

As Kira and her beloved father hurried to put the town behind them, she was confused. Her father was frantic but wouldn't tell her what was wrong. When they were suddenly surrounded by soldiers, her father arrested for breaking the oath and he was taken away, her devastation was complete.

Living with Dr Hingel and his wife, Kira couldn't stop thinking about her father and his days in the horrible prison where no-one escaped. When she overheard one of her father's students, Arun, talking about going to the prison, she decided to join him. She wouldn't be dissuaded, and the ensuing horrors, encounters with dragons, with evil wizards and the Lord High Councillor had her courage and determination tested to its limit.

Would she be able to save her father from the arrogant and evil Apharis? Was she strong enough to overcome her greatest fear?

The action in this book is full-on from the very first page. The characters are well developed and extremely likeable. Even the dragons have characteristics of their own. I used to think I wasn't a fantasy-lover....until I read Katie Stewart's books! Highly recommended.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on April 29, 2012
I have to confess to being somewhat over-dragoned lately. There seems to be a preponderance of vampire, zombie and dragon books around at the moment. I remember when Anne McCaffrey bought Pern to our attention, and thinking how original it was. I am pleased to say that Mark of the Dragon Queen has rekindled my interest in the subject.

The story is told from the viewpoint of a teenage girl whose father has a number of secrets that are suddenly revealed when an apparently random event takes place to reveal the father's guilty secret. From there, things move apace, as the daughter, Kira, becomes severely affected from that past. She is forced to confront the consequences of these secrets, as she tries to save her father from peril.

The pace of the book keeps you turning the pages as more and more is revealed. The characters are well developed through the adventure right up to the final confrontation. I believe that the book is aimed at the young adult readers amongst us, but speaking as one who is a few years beyond that, I found it most entertaining.

The book has obviously been well edited as the errors are very few and far between, which is a welcome change from some indie and mainstream books I have read of late.

If you want a good book to read, with good characterisation and plot, then this one should definitely be in your "to be read" pile.
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