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Aranya (Shapeshifter Dragons Book 1) Kindle Edition
|Length: 458 pages||Word Wise: Enabled||Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled|
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I like this novel. It is a beautiful coming of age story about a 16 yr old teenager Aranya who just realizes that she can transform into a dragon.
At the beginning, the storytelling was a bit clunky. Enemies have just invaded Aranya's country and this has caused Aranya and her father the king to have a stlited, though heart to heart, conversation that is meant to be informative of Aranya's past. Yet this conversation was more tell than show -as I said stilted - and this was a problem because although we do not judge a book by its cover, we do judge it by its beginning. My advice to you however is... DON'T.
I promise you, you'll only have to suffer a chapter (if you even suffer at all), after that it is smooth sailing.
Ok, here is a few points I like.
World building (5 stars): what's not to like about a 'cloudscape' world that is made of island-realms suspended in the air; where people do battle using 'dragonships'; where those with magical powers are shunned; and where dragon no longer live amongst humans like they did?
Since flight in such a world (whether via ship or dragon) is important for traveling between islands, I am happy that the mechanics of flight were explained at some length and not glossed over or taken for granted or with a grain of salt.
I must say however that the description of other races, such as pygmies, is not particularly convincing nor comprehensive.
The world building is not particularly complex, but it is not simple either. More importantly, it is consistent.
Plot (4.5 stars): The plot never lags, this is more good than bad. There are times when I wanted the author to give Aryana more breathing space (but that is just me). At other times, he was right in giving her no reprieve. Interludes between battles are far between. A major problem is that half of the book consisted of journeying from one island to another: from home to prison to Odya's hut to prison to faraway land, to hut again, to home again. I think the author could have cut down those scenes a bit.
I liked the relationship that develops between Aranya and her rider-friend and the amusing, funny banter that sustains it. I cannot talk more about relationships lest I spoil the plot but apart from her friendship with her rider, Aryana makes friend with a uptight priest, a 'dragonet', a two century old cantakerous and lecherous old man (whom Aryana was first introduced to while being nude much to his delight), a prince who almost bought her from a slaver, an enemy officer... Well, you catch my drift. Aryana makes friends in unusual places.
Romantic interest... Well who wants to kiss a girl who can turn into a fang-faced dragon? Hmmm, I think I mentioned an enemy officer... No not the first one, the second. So, I guess I didn't mention him at all ;).
The wars are well-described and they have kept me interested and tense. I am grateful for that. The writer certainly have technical proficiency in describing the aerial warfare that is so crucial to the battle scenes in the book.
Magic system (4 stars): the magic system is not particularly complex. Dragons it seems can master many powers such as lightening, acid breath, healing, lightning, storm, etc... Aranya is unique in that she can do more than one type of magic.
I'll end this by saying this is a moderately well-edited book (some negligible mistakes) . The reason I put this in my comment is that many a times I have bought kindle books with a slew of grammatical or structural mistakes. This book is just FINE.
Princess Aranya of Immadia watches her people surrender to the overwhelming Sylakian army, knowing she will be offered to Sylakia as the ritual royal hostage of war. Her island is the last to succumb, and now Sylakia rules the world with a cruel fist. Aranya is a fearless fighter, gifted artist, and secret enchantress. Her forbidden powers grow and she struggles to control them, trying to hide the spontaneous fires and use her healing magic to save the people she loves. Aranya is immensely likable as she matures, finding friends amidst terrible adversity while adapting to her constantly-changing self and environment.
Princess Zuziana, or Zip, is a fellow hostage in the Sylakian tower. Zip is equally fearless but more spontaneous, living in the moment; a deep friendship develops between these dynamic women, with wonderful banter. Yolathion is a Sylakian warrior who begins to question duty versus honor. This is a world of ancient legends, different cultures, deadly creatures, and many kinds of dragons. Rebellion against the Sylakians is inevitable, and the adventure soars on dragon wings. Highly recommended!
I must say I *loved* the banter between characters in the book and enjoyed the description of different cultures, the story, the action...after I picked up the book again later in the day I read until I was finished and found myself laughing quite often and fully engrossed in the story.
My only complaint is the main character's name, which in Spanish means "spider." I had a hard time with the visual of a spider human turned dragon so I mentally called her "Ariana" which still fit.