- Audible Audio Edition
- Listening Length: 18 hours and 50 minutes
- Program Type: Audiobook
- Version: Unabridged
- Publisher: Audible Studios
- Audible.com Release Date: September 13, 2016
- Whispersync for Voice: Ready
- Language: English
- ASIN: B01IWE6W0C
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No Good Dragon Goes Unpunished: Heartstrikers, Book 3 Audiobook – Unabridged
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ANALYSIS: After the fantastic sequel that was One Good Dragon Deserves Another, I couldn’t wait to see what Rachel would cook up for Julius, Marci, and the rest of the clan (except Bob because he steers his own path). The following review will contain mild spoilers for the preceding two titles and so readers be forewarned…
The book opens up almost immediately afterwards the events of the 2nd book and we get to see the mayhem that has been caused due to Julius seizing control away from Bethesda. Plus now that there will be a vote for the council membership, all the Heartstriker dragons have assembled into the mountain and it literally turns into a madhouse. Marci has been relegated to the sick bay after the tumultuous events but she’s one person who never lets things go by and with Julius busy, she’s left to her own devices. There’s a whole host of other Heartstrikers introduced in this volume besides Amelia, Bob, Chelsea, Conrad and the others whom we have met so far. Plus the prologue also gives a look into the distant past and we see Chelsea before she has been tuned into her role as enforcer.
This book deals with a lot, a real lot of stuff. There’s twin strands that the plot breaks down into. The first strand deals with Julius as he tries to make sure that the selection for the 3rd council seat goes smoothly. He’s very much unprepared for the venomous onslaught that is coming his way via all the ambitious Heartstrikers. He also has to worry about Bethesda and her backhanded politicking to undo what has happened to her both magically and politically. The second strand deals with Marci who has to fend off on her own in the Heartstriker Mountain and soon realizes that her bond with Ghost has marked her as something very special in the eyes of a certain human faction. She also learns how dangerous it can be for humans to be alone in the Mountain and especially to be associated with the nice dragon. There’s also the human faction who are trying to navigate their way amidst all the spirit and dragon magic and find their Arthurian match. Lastly this book dwells deeply into Chelsie’s past and establishes why she’s doing what she has done so far. There’s also machinations from Bob, Amelia, Ian, Svena and Ghost but I’ll leave the readers to RAFO.
This book like One Good Dragon Deserves Another dwells a lot into a lot of the dragon politics and the magical underpinnings of the world. The last book gave us a solid look into Dragons, their past and how they came to be in this world. This book does something similar but gives us a solid look into human magic. After reading all that Rachel Aaron has written so far, I can safely vouch for the fact that she’s a master plotter. Her series are incredibly planned down to all the minutiae and this series is another shining example of that. Each book so far has slowly unsheathed fascinating details about the world in different areas. I loved how incredibly deep this world is and such an incredible mish mash genre wise. Is it urban fantasy, or SF or post-apocalyptic dystopian thriller? I feel it’s all of those and more.
Going on to the next strength of the book and that’s characterization. Given the huge cast that gets further expanded in this book, it’s always crucial that each character be distinct and have their own voice. Rachel Aaron doesn’t disappoint, not only does she stay true to character voices but we see their development alongside the plot as well. This is truly epitomized with Julius’ arc in this book. He thoroughly believes in the path of non-violence or no killing even to his own detriment (Rachel Aaron talks wonderfully about Julius and his nature in this excellent guest post http://fantasybookcritic.blogspot.com/2015/08/guest-post-why-nice-dragon-by-rachel.html). He sticks to it so much that at a certain point in the book you might want to punch him for being so naïve (you’ll know when you read it). He does redeem himself by following through on his ideals and making a shining example for the entire clan. Julius is truly the nicest dragon and we get a strong inkling as to why Bob hinges his plans on him so much.
Then there’s Marci who gets some fantastic stuff to deal with personally and professionally. This book also shines a particular light on her bond with Ghost and who exactly he might be. There’s also a follow up on the epilogue revelations in OGDDA in terms of what Algonquin is up to and what exactly does the term “Merlin” mean? Like the last book Marci gets a strong focus within this book and by the end I would say her arc outdoes Julius. The book also focuses upon Chelsie who’s been the strong & silent enforcer for the Heartstrikers. In this book, we get a thorough inkling of what exactly happened in China. Why is she with Bethesda and what are her deepest secrets? Lastly there’s also Bob and Amelia who are up to their own machinations and the author reveals some big things in the making from their side.
Going to the plotting, this book takes a figurative backseat to OGDDA but with regards to plot twists, it outdoes its predecessor spectacularly. This book takes quite a few dark turns and none darker than the final twist. If you are like me, you will be cursing and wanting the next book pronto. That’s the hallmark of a well-written and well-plotted book that it shocks you and makes you want to read more at the same time. I couldn’t predict what was going to happen in this book and the events leading up to the climax only foreshadow a grim future (this series is similar to the Eli Monpress books wherein in the 3rd book, the series takes a solid dark turn). Lastly to combat all the darkness, the author does provide a small hope via Bob (who else) and then comes the final shocker via the epilogue. As far as plot twists go, this book has been the best one I’ve read in 2016.
Negatives to this book might depend on your mileage. The story does slowdown in the middle but that’s only because the action takes a backseat to the plotting. Julius’ behavior can seem a bit of a drag but it only proves how much he wants to stick to his ideals and change the Heartstriker clan for the better. Also in this book, the comedic overtones are little less than the previous volumes but given that this book has so much darker stuff in it, I could see why that was the case. Overall there was very little that I didn’t enjoy about this book.
CONCLUSION: No Good Dragon Goes Unpunished is a fabulous book in the Heartstriker series as it outshines all the previous books with its plot twists. Seriously this has been the most enjoyable book of 2016 for me and this volume marks out this series for being the special one that it is in the current field of Urban fantasy.
If you read my review on the first two books I said that though I really liked the overall story, I wasn't too sure about the two main characters, Julius "the Nice Dragon" and Marci the human mage he befriends. In the last two books, they weren't my favorite characters and they didn't feel as fleshed out as they could have. Though other characters like Bob, Ghost, Justin, and Chelsea still, in my opinion, took the spotlight, I did feel like Julius and Marci were much more active characters in No Good Dragon Goes Unpunished than the first two books.
I think the difference between this book and the last two books is that the plot has been building up for awhile now through the first two books that here, in the third book, we start to see some of the effects of previous actions. Since a lot of the explanations about the series's world happened in the first two books, I felt Aaron had more opportunity to have a bit more action with subplots in the third book. The overarching plot is Julius getting a Council set up for his family that will allow equal opportunity for anyone in the family, not just the dragon's who are physically the strongest, despite obstacles from his mother and siblings who don't want things to change. Within that main plot you also have 1.) Julius trying to free his older sister, Chelsea, and his other siblings from her debt with their "wonderful" -that's sarcasm - mother, 2.) Marci trying to become the first Merlin, and 3.) as always the mysterious plan that Julius's seer brother, Bob, has put into motion. There's just a lot of stuff going on in this book and the end of each chapter kept me swiping at my Kindle for the next chapter until I got to the last chapter. And when I got to the last chapter, I just had to pause to take everything in.
I really couldn't put this book down. I'm really happy that side characters like Chelsea got a bit more background and depth. Though not much was revealed upfront about Chelsea there were a lot of implications and clues throughout the story about the Heartstriker enforcer that I really loved and really made her relatable to not only the reader but to other characters as well. Also, Ghost is my favorite side character. The first two books I was indifferent towards him but, as with many of the characters, we really got to see more of his personality and character and I will not hesitate to say that I am a big fan of our spirit kitty and his growing relationship with Marci.
There's a lot of positive things I could say about No Good Dragon Goes Unpunished - from the characters to the cool little clues/moments that I'm really looking forward to Aaron delving in deeper with - but I don't want to give away anymore spoilers. Rachel Aaron, the beginning of next year cannot come quick enough with the cliffhanger you left us all on! I eagerly await to what the fate of our resident Nice Dragon and the other characters will be in the next installment of the series!
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The previous 2 books were great for me. Absolutely loved them.Read more