Friday, January 09, 2009

Queen of Dragons by Shana Abe'

My latest read for the book challenge is Queen of Dragons by Shana Abe'. This was my first experience with a Shana Abe' book. Apparently, I came into the middle of a book series without realizing it. The first and second book in the series are The Smoke Thief and The Dream Thief. I'll be looking for them on my next trip to the bookstore.

Anytime you read a new author there is a learning curve at the start of the book. You have to get used to the way the author writes. Andd when the author is establishing a new world with unique qualities, like say, oh--people who can turn into dragons and also smoke--there's definitely a lot to figure out about the world. Even though this was book three of a series (unbeknownst to me) the book gave me enough information to figure out the basics of how this alternate world operated--without bogging down the opening chapters with boring description and back story.

The main characters are the leaders of separate dragon tribes, Maricara and Kimber. The dragon tribes seem to be similar to a wolf pack, in that the alpha male is the head of the tribe. The alpha male also weds the alpha female automatically. Over the years that dragons have existed--their blood has been diluted through intermarriage. Therefore, dragon-blooded people who still have the ability to turn into dragons and also smoke are highly valued. For the alpha, having a wife who's innate dragon skills are still intact is essential in order to produce the next generation of dragon-powerful children.
When Kimber's tribe learned about Maricara and her tribe, they immediately determined to wed Maricara to Kimber and to acquire the other dragon tribe and bring its assets and members under their control. This was a decision made, not out of greed or lust for power, but rather because of a belief that keeping the dragons together in one unified group was necessary for their survival. Maricara feels differently. She wants to be free, along with her tribe. Thus, Kim and Maricara have conflicting goals setting up a distrustful relationship made complicated by desire.

Lest you have the impression that this book is mostly a romance, let me set you straight. It is classified as fiction. While the book does contain a central theme that involves the two main characters falling in love, there is a lot more going on in the story than just that. For starters, the dragon race is in danger from a group of 'others' who want to exterminate them. Dragon people are being killed and kidnapped. The group has a powerful jewel which allows them to control dragon people. Kimber's father, from whom he inherited the running of the tribe, has left with his wife in search of their runaway daughter. After he disappeared, Kimber was left with the responsibility of being the Alpha during dark times for the tribe. Oh yeah, and--turns out the runaway daughter's new human husband is part of the group trying to exterminate the dragons. Yikes. That's a lot of plot threads to keep from getting tangled.

The full story arc had its beginnings in the first two books--and the ending is still to be published. I get the feeling the plot is only going to get more complicated with additional books. Meanwhile, in this book, Kim and Maricara must deal with the attacks against his tribe and the loss of people they care about. They must learn to come to grips with their passion for each other. And they must learn to work together and trust each other even though it seems like their needs and goals are in opposition.

This book has been reviewed by others with high compliments about the lyrical language and graceful storytelling. I cannot disagree with those comments. For me, though, the interesting thing about the story was that I was intrigued by Maricara and Kimber. They were not one-dimensional characters. The author revealed some things about them, hinted at others and concealed still other elements. They had strengths, weaknesses and flaws. They seemed real. By the end of the book, I wanted to read more still--and isn't hat the ultimate high compliment about a book? You want more of the characters, more of the world, and more of the story. I rate the story a four and one half out of five stars.

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