Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Review: Talon by Julie Kagawa

(The Talon Saga #1)
Julie Kagawa
Release: October 28, 2014
Links Goodreads Amazon
Summary: Long ago, dragons were hunted to near extinction by the Order of St. George, a legendary society of dragon slayers. Hiding in human form and growing their numbers in secret, the dragons of Talon have become strong and cunning, and they're positioned to take over the world with humans none the wiser.

Ember and Dante Hill are the only sister and brother known to dragonkind. Trained to infiltrate society, Ember wants to live the teen experience and enjoy a summer of freedom before taking her destined place in Talon. But destiny is a matter of perspective, and a rogue dragon will soon challenge everything Ember has been taught. As Ember struggles to accept her future, she and her brother are hunted by the Order of St. George.

Soldier Garret Xavier Sebastian has a mission to seek and destroy all dragons, and Talon's newest recruits in particular. But he cannot kill unless he is certain he has found his prey: and nothing is certain about Ember Hill. Faced with Ember's bravery, confidence and all-too-human desires, Garret begins to question everything that the Order has ingrained in him: and what he might be willing to give up to find the truth about dragons.
Review: Julie Kagawa is one of those authors whose books always look good to me, but I've never read one. Talon look me a little while to get into, which is not that unusual for the first book in a series, but once it got going I enjoyed it. Other than the dragons, there's not much here that I haven't seen before, but nothing that really screams "hey that's just like this other thing" either.

Talon, the organization, is a dragon extremist group masquerading as a government. They claim the survival of their species is their primary goal, but they seem to have some ulterior motives that come out as Ember gets deeper into her training. From birth the dragons are groomed for a specific role chosen by the group leaders. Each job has a reptilian code name - Vipers, Chameleons, Basilisks - which I thought was a really nice touch. The talking in code also obscures the true purpose of each role until the dragons are fully indoctrinated. They are taught to follow orders and not to experience emotions. Ember has difficulty with both of those things and pretty quickly starts to question her training. Her brother Dante, however, drank ALL the Kool-aid and the twins find themselves at odds.

At the other extreme is the Order of St. George, a group of dragon hunters, where Garrett has learned a similar lesson. At first he seems very mature for a seventeen year old, leading a squad of soldiers in an assault. But his experience with Ember makes him realize that the Order hasn't been telling him everything. He then goes through a lot of typical teen angst dealing with his new feelings for her as well as questioning his training. He's also much worse at being a normal human teenager than Ember, even though he is actually human. It's funny to see her showing him all these new experiences when we know they're new to her too.

Both Talon and the Order are hunting the rogue dragons, who are refugees from Talon. Their leader, Riley, sets his sights on Ember, offering to answer her questions about Talon. She is drawn to his dragon as much as the information, feeling an instant chemistry that her human side doesn't want to give in to. This happens often in shapeshifter books, where the human side has one love interest and the animal side another. (Although Ember never really refers to herself in those terms.) If you're one of those people who hate love triangles, you might want to skip this one. I did like getting to see all three characters' POVs, though.

I haven't read a lot of books about dragons, but my favorite thing about them has always been the flying scenes. Kagawa gave me wave flying, surfing in dragon form, and it is glorious! There are also some great action scenes with Ember in dragon form, both in her training and in the real world. All that action made the teen angst bearable for me. I loved the ending and I think I'll check out the next book in the series just to see how that situation turns out.

Recommended for fans of: Richelle Meade's Bloodlines series

3 1/2  stars


  1. While I mostly just skimmed the review, since i still have to read the books but its great you liked it. You really should give Kagawa's other books a chance, they are so good.

    Great review.

    Aparajita @Le' Grande Codex

  2. This one fell short for me. I love Julie's writing, but there was so much missing. Specifically, I needed much more world building. I had no idea why the Order and Talon were so at war. All I knew was that Talon was hunted to almost extinction. Why? Also, I wasn't a fan of Ember. She was raised to be wary of humans, not to trust them, etc. yet she slips into her role seamlessly. I know they are taught to integrate, but I just didn't see this from her. She was more angsty and whiny than anything else.

    1. I'm happy to hear that her other books are not so angsty. That's one of the reasons I don't read a lot of YA. Teen angst makes me feel old.


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