My review and an extended sample of the audiobook are posted at Hotlistens.com.
I was very excited to get my hands on the third installment of the Heartstriker series by Rachel Aaron. I stumbled upon this series last year and it has been a favorite of mine since listening to book one, Nice Dragons Finish Last. This is a story about a fairly young dragon, about twenty years old, who is a bit of an outcast from dragonkind because he is too nice. Dragons are pretty ambitious creatures who think mostly for themselves. He is part of the largest clan in the world, lead by his mother, Bethesda Heartstriker, who some call the “broodmare” because of the number of hatchlings she has. She names each group of offspring by starting all their names the same, starting with the first group of A’s, then B’s, then C’s and so forth. They also judge each member not only by the letter, but where they are within that letter, who hatches first or last, etc. Julius, isn’t only the most regroup of J’s, he was also the last one to hatch, so that makes him the youngest.
In the first book, Julius hooks up with a human mage named Marci. They’ve become really close friends and have been together since they met. She has a spirit named Ghost, that takes the form of a cat. Ghost has been building in power and becoming a larger force. Marci is getting more powerful and knowledgeable too. There’s also been an extremely slow build towards what might become a relationship between the two of them.
This story picks up where One Good Dragon Deserves Another, ends. Julius is trying to set up his council. Two of his older brothers are trying to come up with votes. There is also some who don’t want to see the council even form. Because of the formation of this council, this story is taking place in Heartstriker Mountain in Arizona. Bethesda has called all of her children home for this vote, so we start to meet a lot more of the Heartstrikers. The big thing here is we meet the F’s. The F’s are all sealed, which means they can’t turn into their dragons. They are also forced to stay at the mountain and work for Bethesda. No one really seems understand why Bethesda decided to make the F’s do this.
While Julius is dealing with council business, Marci goes into the town to meet up with her mage idol that works for the UN, Sir Myron Rolands. Along with him there, is an augmented human warrior woman who has a raven who is a spirit. General Emily Jackson is head of the UN’s Magical Disaster Response Force. They take Marci back to Detroit, where magic is more plentiful, to feel Ghost her spirit. They are wanting Marci to help with humans as they learn more and more about magic. They also believe Marci to be the first Merlin since magic came back to Earth.
We have a ton of new characters that we meet, like David, one of the Heartstriker D’s and a senator. Not only do we have Bob, Julius’s oldest brother and seer of the Heartstriker clan in this story, but there are many of the characters I’ve come to love, Amelia, Chelsie (we learn a ton of about Chelsie), Justin, Ian and even some of the dragons from the Daughters of the Three Sisters clan. Algonquin, the extremely powerful lady of the lakes in Detroit, makes an appearance too.
There is so much that happens in this book. Murder plots, kidnapping, more secrets than you can count. We learn a lot about Chelsie, the prologue is even about her when she was much younger. We learn more about magic and what is going on, though there is still a lot missing here. We learn more about Algonquin. There are several questions that are answered, but I think more questions are brought up before the end of the story. This story has quite the cliffhanger ending, but with some hints thrown in for good measure. The last hour of the book had me glued to my earbuds. I wish I was like Bob and could see what is going to happen in the future.
If you haven’t tried the Heartstriker series, I highly recommend it. Each book is better than the last. As with most Urban Fantasy stories, I highly recommend you start with book one and work your way chronologically through the series. Each story builds on the previous book. If you’re at all interested in audiobooks, I can’t recommend the audio enough. Vikas Adam really nails it.
Vikas Adam has continued to amaze me with his narration of this series. There are a ton of characters with many different personalities and he nails them all. He does an amazing job with the flamboyant Amelia, the voice of Bob, who’s crazy with all of his prophecies in his head, David the politician, Bethesda and her tyranny, Cheslie, Justin, Julius and Marci are all great. Add in the spirit Ghost, not to mention Algonquin and I can’t ask for anything better. He does a great job with both the men and the women voices. He really brings out the tones needed for each scene. If you haven’t tried him yet, I highly recommend him.