“‘The Dragon Eater’. My reaction to reading this title was, “I have so many questions already.” The rest of the back cover blurb didn’t help that problem much. In fact, it raised many more.
A small one, sure, but now his arms are growing scales, the local wildlife is acting up, and his snarky AI familiar is no help whatsoever.
Raven’s best friend Aik is a guardsman carrying a torch for the thief. A pickpocket and a guard? Never going to happen. And Aik’s ex-fiancé Silya, an initiate priestess in the midst of a magical crisis, hates Raven with the heat of a thousand suns.
This unlikely team must work together to face strange beasts, alien artifacts, and a world-altering threat. If they don’t figure out what to do soon, it might just be the end of everything.
My curiosity had me cracking into J. Scott Coatsworth’s latest fantasy novel (the first in a new series) within minutes.
Near the front of the book, you’ll find two maps. I love maps of fictional places, so I paused to study them. I advise you to do the same. The map of Tharassas gives an overview of this part of the world. The second map features Gullton, a city spanning five islands. Take some time to mentally wander around Gullton and get familiar with the lay of the land, as most of the story takes place here. I’m happy I did that, as it enhanced my visualization of where the action was taking place.
The world of Tharassas is well-thought-out, with attention paid to even the smallest of details, such as delicious pink cheese. I like the naming conventions, with characters given exotic-sounding formal names, but also much more manageable nicknames. Rav’Orn is nicknamed Raven. Sil’Aya goes by Silya, and Aiken Erio naturally goes by Aik.
Bigger concepts include plenty of animals with strange (yet at times, slightly familiar) names, and berried bushes that are much more than they seem. We’re given tantalizing bits of old history, including mentions of colonizer spaceships from Old Earth crashing on Tharassas. Some of the locals believe those tales, others don’t. Really, that twisted pile of metal out in Landfield might just be an artist’s bold statement, right?
This story revolves around three friends. Well… friends probably isn’t the right word. You’ll see. Raven, Aik and Silya are well-crafted characters, with personalities, traits and histories that help define their actions and decisions.
Minor characters feel just as real, and even a certain large, terrifying creature waiting in the dark manages to share her innermost thoughts with us. One being that isn’t technically ‘alive’ nevertheless displays an abundance of personality, and quickly become one I looked forward to hearing from. “Spin” is Raven’s smartass little ‘familiar’. At least that’s what Raven calls him. But, watch for hints that the little silver ay-eye is more than just a pocket-pal for a thief.
At its heart, The Dragon Eater is a love story, even though the smitten boys would be chagrined to hear me say that. The author also explores in depth what it means to be a friend, the bittersweet bliss of young love in spite of the odds, why mothers and daughters fight, why some people embrace possessions for comfort, why a devotee might question their religion, and how to cope with that little voice in the back of everyone’s mind that likes to whisper, ‘am I good enough?’
Young-ish readers will identify with the hopes and fears our unlikely trio face time and time again. I found Tharassas society’s natural acceptance of Raven and Aik’s affections honest and refreshing. And those of us who’ve swallowed small dragons will… wait. We all need to know what that’s about, for hencha’s sake!
What starts out as an act of petty thievery escalates steadily, with action and intrigue ramping up to an ending that already has me tapping my fingers while waiting for the next book in the Tharassas Cycle series.
Bonus! Get a free book!
The author is giving away the prequel, Tales From Tharassas with all preorders, as well as any purchases made during the first week following the March 16th publication of The Dragon Eater. This prequel contains The Last Run, The Emp Test, and a brand new short story, the Fallen Angel. Just order the book and email him a proof of purchase at firstname.lastname@example.org, and he’ll make sure you get the book.
Lori Alden Holuta lives between the cornfields in Michigan, where she grows herbs and vegetables when she’s not playing games with a cat named Chives. She’s fond of crafting, reading in the dark, literary worldbuilding, and pulling up dandelions. Visit Lori at brassbrightcity.com and ceejaywriter.com.