A Bogged Down Fantasy | Review of ‘The Waking Fire’ (The Draconis Memoria #1)

By Cynthia Ayala

The Waking Fire by Anthony Ryan
Image Credit: Goodreads

The blood of drakes offers powers and abilities to those considered blood-blessed. Out there lies a drake with untapped power, bringing an unregistered blood-blessed into the control of a powerful blood-blessed syndicate who seek to use him and hunt down the mythical white drake. But with empires clashing together and the drakes rising out of the depth with anger and hatred, these characters will discover that they may be the only thing that stands between humanity and destruction.

Published on July 7, 2016, by Orbit, The Waking Fire by acclaimed author Anthony Ryan is the first in his fantasy series The Draconis Memoria.

There is no denying that this is a unique and creative novel or the fact that it is well-written. The story itself is very interesting following various characters as they seek to solve a mystery about the drakes, and the mystical white drake in particular. That is the end-point of the novel, finding all the pieces and figure out if there is any truth the mystery of the white drake and if it connects to the widespread and dangerous behavior of the other drakes. But the problem with the novel isn’t the storytelling necessarily but rather the fact that the three character arcs don’t necessarily mesh well together.

The story breaks itself into three character arcs, following each on their adventure to solve the mystery and connect all the pieces in order to figure out what happened and what’s going on in their world now. With a very steampunk like texture to the story, it offers up something interesting to read, however, much of the interest is bogged down by the authors’ inability to really connect two of the arc to the third. Two of the arcs are interwoven together putting the story and their individual discoveries into context. They balance off each other and tie them together excellently. Those two arcs are the well-crafted ones in the novel. They bring a lot to the table on who the characters are and define then excellently. They each have their own stories as well. Each one could probably serve as their own novels because of how well defined they are. There is a lot of action and plot-driven tension in each to serve the story well as a whole. Then there is the third character arc. Compared to the others it is bland and there is no strong sense of definition on the protagonist within his sect.

Additionally, there isn’t much tension either. Not only that but there is a sense of disjointedness within these sections. In trying to give the reader a sense of the character, the story doesn’t flow, it doesn’t clearly showcase past and present for some scenes. Moreover, there is no clear indication of how this character is going to interact with the other two. It is somewhat just there and it feels very out of place. The reader could skip over and not miss anything important regarding the story within these scenes.

The story offers the reader a strong female protagonist as well as a strong male protagonist within a steampunk-esque story with action, adventure, and dragons. The only problem is the third character arc that doesn’t offer anything to the story and instead bores the reader, and with a novel as long as this one, keeping the reader interested is key, and that arc just doesn’t do that. (★★★☆☆ | C+)

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