Saturday, 31 January 2015

Talon


Talon
Rating: 5/5
Buy or Borrow: Buy
Source: Copy courtesy of the publisher!

We all know the tales of dragons, from fairytales mostly, how long ago they burned villages, ate people and hoarded their treasure like giant reptilian magpies. But what if dragons weren't something from a fairytale? What if they really did exist long ago, and they where nearly made extinct after being hunted down and killed by the Order of St. George, a legendary society of dragon slayers, fanatical about their cause. What if dragons now had to hide in human form, learning to assimilate with us and blend in just to survive. What if the dragons had their own organisation, dedicated to protecting their race, making the race grow stronger, and what if they wanted to take over the world?

Well take away the what if's, because it's all true, and the organisation is called Talon, and Talon have just planted their new sleepers in a nice beachside location to learn to assimilate before they start their training. Ember and Dante Hill are incredibly rare to dragonkind, you see, they're the only brother and sister, twins, known to their kind. They'll both be very important to Talon but first they have to be trained.

Slight snag though, Ember wants to live her life, have freedom and enjoy this new experience, making friends, learning to surf and so on, before taking the place Talon has assigned her in their society. But Ember soon starts to feel stifled by rules, and a sadistic trainer, and a rogue dragon, a dragon that's escaped Talon, shows up just in time to help her challenge everything Talon has ever told her, to answer her questions and to tell her the truth about the organisation she's grown up in. But unbeknownst to Ember and Dante, they're being hunted by St. George.

Enter Garett Sebastian, a soldier of St. George ever since his entire family was wiped out by a dragon, he follows orders and enjoys it, and finding the new sleeper planted by Talon is his new mission. But while St. George may be utterly fanatical about carrying out their mission to protect the world, he can't kill a human unless he's sure it's the prey they're looking for, and he just can't be certain about Ember. Ember shows him how to live, and he gets far closer to her than he should, but when the truth comes out...it's her reaction, her bravery, her compassion, that shake his belief in the Order to it's core. It's not long before he's questioning everything the Order tells him and everything they do.

But they can't all live in a  small area in close quarters without the truth coming out, and when everything comes to a head, what will Ember choose...her brother and the organisation she's known her whole life? The soldier who's sworn to kill her? Or the rogue who she's drawn to? 



"One did not just wander about in full reptile form unless one had a death wish"

Motherfudger, I knew this book was going to be awesome for so many reasons, you know...dragons...romance...action.....and ya know..it's by Julie Kagawa, and I was SO not wrong nor was I disappointed. If you've read my blog before, and my review of the Iron Fey spin off series books, you'll know I'm a bit of a fangirl. I utterly loved Iron Fey and read them in like 3 days, and got very little sleep, and it's one of my favourite series and I re-read it regularly so like ya know...how could I resist this? Especially as it's about freaking dragons! 

I haven't read many YA books regarding dragons, I think I've only read Sophie Jordan's trilogy, and this is very different from it, Talon is unique in it's dragon mythology, history and background, and it's original. The YA genre is saturated with Vampires and Werewolves right now so it's nice to find a book with a different...mythological creature shall we say? Talon is a breath of fresh air in to the genre! Plus ya know... I love unique things that are a little bit different from the crowd, always have! 


I thought this was a really interesting take on dragons, with the whole human form and shifting and draconic and the St. George's soldiers, I loved that whole thing because ya know...George and the Dragon....St. George's Day.....google it if you have no idea what I'm rambling on about! But yes, I thought it was very clever and very original!


That and the fact that this wasn't all about the romance. This was more than a romance, the romance and the triangle (more on that later) are in the background, slowly developing and coming along, without taking away from the main plot. Which not only makes a nice change, but is utterly fantastic because we have a shady dragon organisation with shady bitchy dragons, and then a shady rogue who's kind of a badass and kind of awesome, so the romance being subtle doesn't take away from us exploring all of this, as well as Ember's doubts and learning about the world and politics and so on. The romance is slow burning, natural, organic, and makes you smile and go all squirmy and "awww" at times, but then the triangle bit makes you pause and go "oooooohh" haha! This all takes a backseat to the plot and the awesome action scenes, man Julie can write an action scene! and Ember figuring out Talon and so on and so forth. 



“Can't anyone ever start a fight without all the posturing and cheesy Bond-villain threats? It's not that hard. Here, let me demonstrate." And he smashed a fist into Colin's nose.” 
Talon draws you in from the beginning, grabbing your attention and then you slowly slip deeper and deeper until you're fully immersed in the world and the action. The book was SO hard to put down, I struggled to find a good place to stop reading, but whenever I did have to, to you know, actually sleep so I could go to work (I'd love to be fuelled purely by the written word, YA and the feels, but sadly I'm not), I was immediately taken straight back in to the world, picking up where I left off and smoothly disappearing back in to the story. 

The world sucks you in because the setting is so vivid, you can picture it clearly, feel the atmosphere of each situation, of each setting, and you feel like you're actually in the world with the characters. It's utterly engrossing all because the world building is so expertly done, you gain an understanding of the politics of both the dragons and the soldiers without the plot being slowed down with an info overload. The rich background and history to the world, the rich mythology, all comes across easily slotted in to the narrative, giving you maximum information and maximum effect, without sacrificing pace and the readers interest. 


Ember's point of view is what draws you in with that first chapter, the second chapter switches to Garret's point of view and that's what cements your attention. So vastly different, both the characters, the setting, the world and the life of the character, you immediately see the obstacles to be overcome by these two characters and you just know that whatever happens after this is going to be nail biting, emotional and damn near, what the hell is the word!? Feelery? It's one of those books where you're sitting there talking to it and shouting at is as you read like a total loon. 


Kagawa gives us more characters that come alive as you read, each character, from main to secondary, is incredibly well written with depth and rich personalities, it's a truly colourful cast, and they made it so hard to leave the world when the book ended! I loved Ember, I connected to her nearly immediately, she's a badass and she certainly can stand up for herself, she's no damsel in distress, you can believe that this strong, lively girl really is a dragon.

I enjoyed the contrast of Garret, order following soldier who's never really had fun and lived before, learning to let go and have fun, and Riley the mysterious bad boy dragon who knows more than he's letting on, and while he screams trouble, he's determined to protect Ember. Both where fantastic counterparts to Ember, both affect her differently and with the whole triangle thing...I really can't call it to be honest.

I also feel I should mention Wes because I totally loved him, and not just because he's also British, but he totally cracked me up every time he was in a scene! I applaud the author for going for it with the British slang without overdoing it as well! So many times I cringe when reading British characters by US authors, but Kagawa pitches him perfectly making him believable. I would have liked to see more of Lexi as well! I liked her and I was sad I didn't get to see more of her and more of her with Ember! I'm excited to see more of Riley and Remy and Nettle in the next book though. Not sure about Dante, I thought he was a total douche. He made me feel so disappointed and heartbroken for Ember and he's not looking to be much better in the next book!

“Rnesh karr slithis," I hissed back, which was Draconic for eat your own tail, the dragon version of go screw yourself. No extra translation needed.” 
I've already mentioned the multi POV, but I seriously thought it was a nice touch, it totally added to the plot, a lot of the time different POV's show the same scene but from both POV's, whereas the different POV's in this one show you what the other is thinking about the other character, some of the scenes overlap, showing you what was happening with one character before they came on a scene they entered in another...if that makes sense? It was incredibly well done. The multi POV's let you see Ember's investigations in to Talon in depth, as well as Garret's investigations and the process of finding suspects for the sleeper with equal depth. These POV's actually add insight to the characters, how they tick, why they act like they do in certain situations, and it genuinely adds to the plot and I can't imagine this being single POV!

Then when you hit part two of the book, you get three POV's because you get Riley's as well! I started off unsure of him, we're told what Talon thinks of Rogues (nothing good) and so when he approaches Ember, I was wary of him, unsure if he genuinely is trying to help her or lead her in to something worse or what. But his POV gives you insight in to a character that would have remained mysterious until the end, perhaps frustratingly so if this was just Ember's POV. You see his intentions, and his deal is, and it's a nice addition to the story that adds another side to it, especially as he's part of the love triangle.

Each character of the three narrating, has a strong voice, different from the others, you can feel the difference in the characters, and if the names weren't at the top of the chapter, you'd still be able to tell it was a different character. Each POV change is smooth and seamless and comes at just the right time to add to the plot and build up the intrigue and the suspense and the danger until you can feel it. Each narrative is utterly engaging, and the story is packed full of action and suspense as well as humour and "awwws".

Like I said, the book was hard to put down, I seriously had to put it down, but I was pretty much tearing myself away because I wanted to keep reading, and it was so hard to find a lull in the story to close it and leave it. I was thinking about it all day before I could pick it up again! I should take this time to warn you all that you will probably stay up until a ridiculous time to read it in one go unless you set aside a day to do it!

So I've mentioned the love triangle multiple times now, and I can practically hear you all shouting at me to start talking about it because I know we're all a little bit wary of love triangles, but trust me, you know you can trust me, Julie Kagawa writes fantastic love triangles. She writes them incredibly and Talon is no exception. Talon's love triangle, that just starts to develop, is well written. It's slow to come to fruition, you can see all three sides of the triangle, and who's feeling what, so you know where each character stands. It's certainly going to be an intriguing one, Garett the hunter would be the whole true love despite the odds and differences option, Riley, the fellow dragon is the older, more cooler (I was gonna say badass, but then Garett is pretty badass too), option but Ember's dragon wants Riley, badly, they have a connection or a bond of some sort. Ember herself, wants Garett, wants to be human for him, so it's going to be an interesting triangle, one that's hard to guess at the outcome of and I don't know whose time I'm on yet, and trust me when I say that's unusual for me, I mean usually I call my team near enough straight away but both bring different elements out of Ember, and both have a different spark with her. I'm excited to see this play out! Kagawa does fantastic romances and triangles, and she meshes them seamlessly and subtly with the plot.

“Observe and blend in," he stated in his cool, unruffled voice. "Learn how to engage with humans, how to be human. Assimilate into their social structure and make them believe we are one of them.” 
Talon is a fast paced, captivating and utterly original start to what's looking to be a promising new series/trilogy (not sure which yet), that is sure to become another of my favourites, that I re-read quite regularly! There's always plenty going on in the book, action, romance, mystery, intrigue, suspense, danger it's all there not to mention laugh out loud moments, and it all, along with the lively characters, rich history and mythology and vivid and engrossing world, combine to keep your attention firmly rooted on the book until the very end.

And what an end it is. The ending leaves you not only wanting more, but desperate for more, to know what's going to happen next, to continue the adventure and see where it takes our characters, and I for one, would quite like to know more of the rich history of the Order as well as the dragons and the rogues!

I should also mention the UK version, which is the one I have (guys it's so beaut, the scales are all shiny and bumpy and it's so pretty), has an excerpt from Rogue in it. It's Garett's POV. It picks up pretty much soon after Talon, and man.....if the ending itself didn't make you desperate for the next book, that little excerpt will! Well played guys!

I can honestly promise you this is a gem of a read, if Smaug collected books like he collected gems this would be the stone everyone is losing their sh*t over in Battle Of Five Armies. For realsies.



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