Summary from GoodReads:
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.
I was very excited to read this book. Just to give you a little background, I haven’t read Kagawa’s original Iron Fey series or the Blood Of Eden series, but I have read the two Iron Fey spinoffs and I LOVE them. I need The Iron Warrior more than I need my next breath. The way The Iron Prince left off was just dreadful. I drove all the way to Kentucky to meet Julie for the release of Talon. That was a 7+ hour drive one way from my home in NC. It was crazy and awesome and I actually ended up getting to have dinner with Julie which is something I still can’t wrap my head around because DINNER! FAMOUS AUTHOR!
So, yeah, very excited to start this, very high expectations. Knowing that, please proceed.
It took quite a bit longer to get into this book than I expected it to. I think it was mostly because I found Ember annoying in the beginning. She’s rebellious and sassy, qualities I normally enjoy, but for some reason it just didn’t sit well with me on her. I felt like she was fighting her future, but she didn’t know what her future was. In the beginning, she knows nothing of the bad side of Talon and she has no idea where they plan to place her so her rebellion seemed a little dumb at first. Later on, it’s totally justified and I’m behind her 100%, but I just wanted to smack her when it started out.
The beginning is told in dual perspective, so the other half of that is Garret. I liked him more than I liked Ember, but in full disclosure, that may be because he is read by MacLeod Andrews. I LOVE MacLeod Andrews. He is, hands down, my favorite narrator. Seriously. I love him. MacLeod, if you ever read this for some reason, know that I love you in a completely non-stalker type way. You, sir, are awesome. More on that later. Anyway, Garret instantly made me happy because McLeod’s voice always puts a smile on my face. Beyond the voice, I liked Garret’s dedication to his cause. I think killing dragons is abhorrent, but Garret really believed in it, that he was doing the right thing for mankind and it easy to like him. How often is anyone that sure of their beliefs? I mean, besides the fanatics that start religious wars. I knew he was wrong and I knew he’d eventually learn that too, but he was interesting to watch in the meantime. Speaking of when he learns the truth, can I just say wow?
His actions are incredible. I might have been swaying slightly to the Riley side of the love triangle but that just pushed me back to Team Garret immediately.
Speaking of the love triangle, the other end of the triangle is Riley, a rogue dragon. I liked him a lot too, but more in a friend/ally capacity than soul mate. He shows up slowing feeding Ember information on Talon to try and really open her eyes. Once you get about halfway through, you get his perspective as well. He’s smart and defiant and a little bit swoon-worthy. Like I said, I was swaying a little towards his side once we get his perspective, but nope, Garret for the win. I really support his cause and I’m not sure I want to know all the things he knows about Talon.
The finally big player in this game is Dante, Ember’s twin. I wanted to like him from the start, but something just felt off. That’s all I’m going to say on that.
My biggest issue with this was that it took me a while to get into it. It’s not that it was bad or uninteresting, it just didn’t grab my attention the way the Iron Fey spinoff did. My husband and I always have an audiobook going for whenever the occasion calls for car rides or just listening at home. Lately, we have been listening a little each day during my lunch break. It always takes a while to get through any book. We adored Cress but it still took us about a month to finish it. If we really enjoy it, any we use any excuse to listen to it. If not, we listen when in the car, but that’s it. Talon was in the later category for about a month before it started picking up. It took us about 3 months total to finish it. Even listening to it at lunch, that’s only 30 minutes 5 days a week. Audiobooks are LONG. 30 minutes is NOTHING. Again, once you get about halfway in, it picks up. Once you get to the last quarter or so, it was impossible to stop. Those last few chapters were fantastic.
There is no need to go into writing and plot. This is Kagawa and she’s amazing. This was on par with the other things I’ve read. I had no issues at all there. It’s smart and funny, though I didn’t have many true laugh out loud moments. It has a serious tone to it that I felt served the story well. This isn’t the type of story that should have a lot of humor. This is a secret war between dragons and humans.
What was really interesting is the two sides and how accurate (or not) the information they were given was. Especially within St George. These soldiers are taught that all dragons are heartless monsters that kill humans on sight. These creatures have no emotions, no soul, no human qualities at all. Their training is hardcore and it was fascinating. Talon was a little opposite of St George, opting for just not answering questions over outright lies. I’d really like more detail on both sides, so I hope we get a glimpse or two behind the curtains further down the line. This is supposed to be a 5 book series, so we have plenty of time for that!
Also, not that it should be that surprising, but CLIFFHANGER ALERT. This does not end in an overall happy place, so I’ll be starting Rogue sooner rather than later to see how everything pans out.
As I mentioned, I love MacLeod Andrews. A big part of my decision to audiobook this instead of reading my beautiful hardcover was seeing his name. He is a fantastic narrator. He does perfect voice differentiation for all the characters. He is that narrator that is so talented that you completely forget it’s just him. At this point, I would listen to books I otherwise have no interest in just for his narration. I’ve not listened to Caitlin Davies or Chris Patton before, but they both did well enough. My initially dislike of Ember colors my feelings on Caitlin a bit, but not that much. She does a fair job of changing her voice. They all have good pacing and clear reading voices. It was a highly enjoyable experience. I definitely recommend audiobooking it if possible because I feel like their performance adds to the novel a good bit.