- Audible Audio Edition
- Listening Length: 18 hours and 50 minutes
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- 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 Audible – Unabridged
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Top Customer Reviews
This book is a bit different than the first two; there's less humor and more plot points left hanging at the end of the book. That's not to say a lot of plot points aren't wrapped up and answers to questions given, because there are. It's just as the plot complexities multiply, some threads must continue on to the next book.
In No Good Dragon Goes Unpunished, Julius, the nicest dragon in question, stands his ground despite shyness, fear, manipulation, his mother, his brother, his other brother, broken bones, cuts and bruises, and a dragon flaming. Our nice dragon stares down death and refuses to budge from his principles, and we love him for it. Marci grows even more as a mage and love interest, Ghost, well, acts even more ghostly, Justin seems to have added several IQ points, Ian climbs the corporate/dragon ladder with finesse, Chelsie is Chelsier with a really cool backstory thrown in that fleshes her out in ways we didn't see coming, and Bob is, well, Bob. Throw in a few mages - dragon and human - for good measure and there's just a bit of tension brewing.
When you add in Bethesda - not the cuddliest of moms, Algonquin, giant slugs, a magical construct or two, and hundreds of Heartstriker dragons stuffed into one mountain fortress at the same time, well... the story just gets better and better as the tensions mount. While this book feels a bit slower-paced at times, there is just so much going on, that density is needed to support all the story threads deftly intertwining against the backdrop of Julius's efforts to drag the Heartstriker clan kicking, screaming, stabbing, and flaming into the current century.
The character who is revealed and grows the most in this book is probably Bethesda's Shade, Chelsie. She's also one who provides some of the biggest plot twists, as evidenced by the first-chapter flashback. Through the book, Bethesda is proven to be even more shallow, stubborn, prideful, short-sighted, and cold-blooded than we thought she was. We wonder how she birthed all these brilliant, complex characters, along with the niceness that is Julius. There is only one particular dragon who seems to take after his mother, so maybe Ms. Aaron is letting us know that for the most part, Bethesda's shortcomings aren't genetic but pathological, or maybe she simply seldom breeds true. At any rate, the reader is left siding with the Heartstriker dragons who want to beat a few thick skulls against a wall or two.
A good read, very satisfying, although it does make you really wish the next book was already out! Rachel Aaron is on my must-buy/must-preorder list, as well as those of my friends and family. One of the best indie authors ever and worth every penny for her books. Ms. Aaron's at top of my favorite authors list, indie or major publishing house, right alongside Brandon Sanderson, Suzanne Collins, Kate Elliot, Louis McMaster Bujold, C.J. Cherryh, Connie Willis, etc. I'm so glad I gave her a try when one of her books was on sale!
If you haven't read Rachel Aaron's other books, go grab The Legend of Eli Monpress and start a new journey through this author's imagination. You're in for a treat! I just wish I could give myself amnesia, so I could read Ms. Aaron's books again for the first time.
Edited to correct some typos and then let ADD run amok...
Edited again: What I thought was an error was actually correct usage; deleting that comment.
Then the other characters spend time on soap boxes, but thankfully not for so long.
The book also leaves too many loose ends. Maybe the author could have actually been able to wrap things up if she had cut out about fifteen of Julius' whining diatribes.
I really hope the author bounced back in the next book, because I sooooo enjoy the world she's created, just not this segment of it.
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.