Steal the Dragon
Author: Patricia Briggs
Title: Steal the Dragon
Series: Sianim 2
Genre: High Fantasy
Rating: Three Petals
On the Author's Website:
Slave. Swordwielder. Spy. Some girls have all the luck...
When Rialla was young, slave traders from Darran ambushed her clan, killing all the men and enslaving the women and children. For years, Rialla lived in bondage, until she escaped and fled to the mercenary nation of Sianim.
Now she can strike back at her former masters. A lord in Darran seeks to outlaw slavery—but there are plots to kill him before he can. Rialla is chosen by the Spymaster of Sianim to prevent the murder—and is plunged into a world of deadly magic...
I first read Steal the Dragon, book two in the Sianim series, after When Demons Walk, book three, and I've always been glad I did read them out of order. Steal the Dragon is not a bad book, at all, but it's not anywhere near as good as When Demon's Walk. Something just feels stilted in the story and sometimes I feel I should be cringing during certain scenes even when it's clear from the tone of the writing that the author disagrees with my reaction.
Rialla is sent on a mission to keep a prince from being assassinated and to do that she has to don the guise of a slave, a life she once escaped. The entire premise of slavery is unpleasant and, while Briggs definitely agrees with that, she wrote scenes that made me feel uncomfortable to read and treated them like any other part of the plot. I needed a bit more negative emotion from Rialla to really feel like the issue was being portrayed properly. Much of the book lacked any emotional weight, which detracted from the horror of slavery and the plot as a whole.
The romance in the story also felt ill timed. Rialla is masquerading as a slave and, when she's injured, Tris is the healer entrusted to get her well enough to return to slavery again. It's not a match made in heaven, but rather a match made in convenience and mutual respect. Again, I was missing the emotion that would have elevated their relationship to something beyond friendship.
With all the bad stuff out of the way, let's turn to what I did like. The world of Sianim is a very complex one with layers of plot and intrigue that Briggs has laid out very neatly. The twists and turns were perfectly timed and kept me flipping the pages through to the end. Steal the Dragon is worth reading just for the plot. It is also the only way to really understand what happens in When Demons Walk because Steal the Dragon actually explains the war and the politics that went into the invasion, information that was unfortunately left out of When Demons Walk.
I particularly liked the concept of the sleeping gods and how one child could wake a god and suddenly change the world. What was once normal in Masques, book one in the series, is entirely altered by the time of When Demons Walk, and that is all due to the magic of the gods. I would have loved it if Briggs were able to elaborate more on that concept, but that would require an additional book in the series.
I do recommend this book, but with some reservations. There needed to be more of an emotional connection in the book to make it a great read, but the overall plot and the series as a whole makes it worth reading. I would suggest reading When Demons Walk first, and then reading Steal the Dragon to get the backstory of When Demons Walk.
Maggie reviews paranormal and fantasy novels and novellas. She also interviews authors and hosts giveaways.