Last Dragon Standing
Author: G. A. Aiken
Title: Last Dragon Standing
Series: Dragonkin 4
Genre: High Fantasy
Rating: Three Petals
On the Author's Website:
I know what they see when they look at me. The charming, soft-spoken dragoness bred from the most powerful of royal bloodlines. A disguise stronger than any battle shield that allows me to keep all suitors at tail’s length. A technique that’s worked until him. Until Ragnar the Cunning, handsome barbarian warlord and warrior mage from the desolate Northlands. Unlike those who’ve come before him, he does not simply submit to my astounding charm and devastating smile. Instead, he dismisses me as vapid, useless and, to my great annoyance, rather stupid!
Yet I’ll allow no male to dismiss me. Soon he’ll learn my worth, my many skills, and the strength of my will. For this one challenges me enough to make me want to ruthlessly taunt him, tease him and, finally, when the trap is set, bring him to his knees.
When I learned Keita was the main character of this book, I became concerned. Aiken has an unfortunate habit of allowing a touch of ludicrousness into her stories and in previous books Keita was as idiotic and vapid as any of Aiken's worst characters. I had to remind myself that every story in this series is gradually improving, so Keita couldn't be too obnoxious. I am so glad I was completely proved wrong.
Aiken's best improvement in this book over the previous ones in the series are her characterizations. Keita has always acted dumb and rude to the point that her siblings and parents would be happy to toss her off a mountainside. It turns out, Keita was acting, fooling most of her siblings with the facade as she worked as a spy and assassin to keep the dragon throne safe from all harm. She completely snowed Ragnar with her act. One of the most interesting parts of the book to read was his eventual realization that Keita is much more than what she appears. That slow build allowed for a real romance to grow between them as Ragnar becomes willing to accept that Keita has much more depth to her and Keita realizes that Ragnar is intelligent enough to have figured out her game.
Unfortunately, my biggest disappointment in this book was all of the plot outside of the romance. Multiple characters are having foreshadowing dreams of a fearsome army coming to kidnap Annwyl's children and much of the book is spent preparing for them, yet when they arrive (spoiler alert!) there's a brief and bloody battle and then the enemy pledges their undying loyalty to Annwyl. It was unbelievably anticlimactic. The rest of the buildup to a great war the Iron dragons are preparing to wage against the Fire dragons was pushed to the next book in the series, leaving no conclusion to the overall plot in this book. Without the romance to give this book some structure and closure, I don't think I would have enjoyed this story at all.
I am looking forward to reading the next book in this series, so look for that review soon.
I still recommend the entire series and as it has to be read in order I suggest you read Dragon Actually first. This book showed off Aiken's skill with crafting her characters, but fell a little short on plot. I'm looking forward to reading the next book soon.
Maggie reviews paranormal and fantasy novels and novellas. She also interviews authors and hosts giveaways.