I put this ARC off for a while, not expecting to enjoy it. I even started it not expecting to enjoy it. And I won’t lie: I didn’t entirely enjoy the beginning; it didn’t click right away. But that didn’t last very long; Tarnamell very quickly turned out to be an engaging character. He’s a dragon, who fell asleep long ago (as dragons do), and now has woken to be shocked at just how many centuries have passed. His people are gone, and a dragon needs people to look after.
So he goes off to find people.
The story of his search, and discovery, and rebuilding, of his reconnecting with the world, is kind of wonderful.
The part that wasn’t quite as wonderful was the romance. No, I don’t care that it was m/m – I would have been at least as annoyed if Tarn had gone out and found himself a woman. It just got a little old. They have a few minutes alone; they make a lot of noise; they hear about it, or talk about it, or get significant looks. Gard, who appears to be a beautiful young man, and is known to be a desert spirit, but is more powerful than he looks or than people know … is often petulant. “‘Nobody respects me,’ Gard complained” – and this happens an awful lot. It gets a little old.
My only problem with the m/m romance as such is that pretty much anyone in the book who found any romance found it with someone of the same gender. It’s something that I’ve seen in several m/m novels, straight people being next to nonexistent; if Tarn is looking to rebuild his clan, he probably won’t get far with only gay couples without adopting a whole orphanage. Just sayin’.
This was a nice moment of real-life insight relating to the hijab: “We wore this before the Savattin came. …There are some things only a lover or the eyes of God should see. The Savattin made it a matter of shame and power. It was beautiful once.”
And I loved this:
“You must hate the Shadow.”
“No,” Raif said, surprising him. “It acts in obedience to its nature. There is a place for evil in the world. How else could we know that God is good? Those I hate are the men who choose to follow it. The Dual God shows us the way to live righteously. He who chooses to give in to the temptations of evil is more to blame than the tempter itself.”
All in all, it’s a very entertaining story, a pretty epic tale of good versus evil, of loyalty and love and rebuilding. I feel a bit guilty I left it alone for so long.
The usual disclaimer: I received this book via Netgalley for review.