Here be Dragons

This is the third and final part of the Draykon trilogy. I very much enjoyed the first two parts, ‘Draykon’ and ‘Lokant’, and this continues in the same vein, a wonderfully eccentric mixture of unique world-building, believable characters and an action-packed story. In the first book, I was very nervous that Llandry, one of the main characters, a diminutive person with wings, might actually be a fairy. In fact, I can safely say she is nothing at all like a fairy, and not in the least twee. During the course of the three books, Llandry transforms herself from a shy child-like girl who suffers from panic attacks into a self-reliant and formidable person. And by person, I mean draykon (more or less a dragon), of course.

The setting for the story is one of the most inventive I’ve ever encountered. I’m not going to attempt to describe it, but it’s a truly magical array of places, populated with some bizarre creatures and plants. Some of the animal life is, not unexpectedly, tending to the fearsome and toothy kind of monster, but there are also some charming little beasties. I love the way the upper and lower realms change dramatically in moments, so that the landscape is constantly roiling and flowing unpredictably. This book explains a great deal of why this happens. I love, too, that some parts are in constant daylight and some in constant night light, kept that way magically. That’s a really ingenious and (possibly) unique approach to world-building.

The plot continues without a pause from where book 2 left off. The draykoni are attacking Llandry’s home in Glinnery, and villain Krays is cooking up some vague but evil scheme. There is high drama and action right from the start as everyone scrambles to find some way to protect themselves. The humans are trying mechanical weaponry. Llandry and her fellow friendly draykoni are exploring their new powers in the hope of finding alternative defences. And Eva and Tren are – well, this was the point for me where the plot lurched into implausibility. Eva dreams up a scheme so downright dangerous and with so little likelihood of success that, honestly, I don’t know what she was thinking. It’s not unusual in fantasy for characters to be set some impossible task, in order to accomplish some worthy outcome, but it’s never very convincing, frankly, and in this case, it’s not imposed on them, they decide to attempt it themselves. So I just had to switch off the logical part of my brain and go with the flow. This isn’t so difficult, fortunately, since the story rattles along at unstoppable and unputdownable pace.

The second clunky moment is the transition from chasing around after villain Krays to haring off to investigate the mysterious seventh realm, Orlind. Since this is the title of the book, it’s not unexpected that this turns out to be the key to everything, but the way the characters are led there by the nose feels a bit contrived. But it really doesn’t matter. This is the book where everything boils to its dramatic conclusion, and there’s not a dull moment in it. The true nature of the Lokants is revealed in all its duplicitous glory, and the final confrontation is a wondrous explosion of creative magic and whimsy (believe it or not). I’ve never read a book before which so successfully blends together powerful magic, dragons, steampunk, sentient furry insects and multi-coloured mushrooms. It all makes sense, too. And there’s humour, even at the tensest moments. A thoroughly enjoyable, fast-paced read, with some memorable characters, absolutely fizzing with brilliant ideas. Only the slightly not-quite-believable plot contrivances let it down. A good four stars.

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