The Dragon's Legacy by Deborah A. Wolf. Titan Books, 2017. Hardcover. 320 pages.
(can we talk about how fantastic this cover is? I'm in love!)
This review is a long time coming, and I actually meant to get it out weeks earlier, but alas, things happen. The good news is that it is finally here and I am thrilled to share my thoughts with all of you.
The Dragon's Legacy is a beast of a new addition to the world of epic fantasy and I was completely blown away by Deborah's Wolf's writing. I'm always looking for some refreshing new fantasy series to discover, and this one did not let me down.
The most remarkable aspect of this book is the worldbuilding. Wolf has created an immensely detailed, complex world that is fascinating to explore and learn about. I'll be honest here and admit that I was fairly confused in the beginning of this book and I was worried that I wouldn't want to continue on, but at some point I found myself completely captivated by everything about this book. It takes some time to get into, but once you start to really 'get' what's going on, it becomes hard to put down.
There is a fairly large cast of characters with somewhat confusing names, but I promise it's doable and completely worth it to follow them all (plus there is a cast list of the most important characters in the beginning of the book, which I found incredibly helpful!). The main character that we follow is Sulema, a young woman who is in the midst of training to be Ja'Akari warrior. However, she is interrupted by a strange visitor during her training who changes everything by telling her just whose daughter she really is, and thus the story really begins. I really enjoyed reading the beginning of Sulema's journey in this fantasy series. I found her difficult to connect with at first and I didn't really get a completely sense of who she was in the first half of the book, but by the end I really felt like I had a much better sense of who she was and what her personality was like. Sulema ended up being an extremely developed character that has a mix of courage, naivety, stubbornness that lent itself well to the story.
Another character we follow is Jian, a Daeborn boy, meaning he was born by a Sindanese and Dae match at a specific time of the year. As a result, he is sent off to a rather intense training 'camp' to become a warrior known as the Daechen. Jian did not have nearly the same amount of chapters as Sulema, but I still really enjoyed the snippets of his journey when we did. I would have liked to read more chapters of Jian, but at the same I am very satisfied with the amount of time his story received.
One of the my favorite elements of this book were the creatures known as the vash'ai, which are essentially large, extremely intelligent - and snarky - cats with equally large tusks. They're not the most cuddle-friendly, but they sure are fantastic. Vash'ai choose to bond themselves to chosen Zeerani warriors, though one of the problems in this book is that less vash'ai are choosing to do so, and less and less Zeerani are being born each year. I loved the bond between certain characters and their vash'ai, and I truly enjoyed the witty exchanges that are telepathically communicated between them.
I found Wolf to have a beautiful writing style with a great blend of poetry, philosophy, and distinctive writing. I thought there was a perfect balance of action, politics, social and cultural discussion, and emotion throughout the entire story. (Oh! And did I mention that it is the women of the Zeerani that are trained to fight, while the men must remain at home because they are important to the reproductive process? I thought that aspect was pretty great and a very, very welcome new outlook to this genre.)
Overall, I have given The Dragon's Legacy four-and-a-half stars! I definitely would recommend this to fans of high/epic fantasy and don't mind some more detailed and complex worldbuilding.
*I received a physical ARC of The Dragon's Legacy courtesy of Deborah A. Wolf, though this in now way affects my review.*
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