Book Review # 40: Talon by Julie Kagawa

Thursday, 14 May 2015
Please note that before you read this review that I am reviewing this publication for Mira Ink. I received an advanced readers copy of this title in exchange for an honest review. In no way is my opinion influenced by the fact that I received this free of charge. Now on with the review!

Title: Talon
Author: Julie Kagawa
Publisher: Mira Ink

Format: Paperback
Publication Date: October 28th 2014
Pages: 449
Review Copy from Publisher/ Maximum Pop Books
Purchase: Book Depository / Waterstones

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.

A dragon book - something that I've always wanted to read but was never quite sure which book to explore to get into the genre. Realistically there are two main competitors in my mind and these were Seraphina by Rachel Hartman and the Talon Saga by Julie Kagawa. Both intruiged me but Talon won out my favours, except for a small detail that I was questioning. As this book involved The Order of St George I was questioning whether this was going to be slightly historical and sometimes that can turn my head away in books. Not always, but sometimes. Thankfully this was not the case. Anyway, the lovely people from Maximum Pop were holding one of their opportunities for ten people to read and review both Talon and it's sequel Rogue for Mira Ink. So on a whim I submitted my application to them and then low and behold almost a week later the two books arrived on my doorstep and they are so beautiful. Their covers are textured to replicate dragon scales and skin. Absolutely beautiful, but enough about their covers, what did I think of the first book in the Talon saga?

Well as I mentioned before, this was not a historical novel. Very much the opposite. Set in the modern day it focuses around our main protagonist Ember, a dragon hiding in the form of a human so that they can blend in to society and slowly gain intel on the humans in preparation for a future attack. However Ember's last summer of freedom doesn't go as according to plan as she would have liked as she meets a rogue dragon called Riley who attempts to fill her mind with negative thoughts of the Talon organisation. In the meantime, theres a new boy in the town, Garret and he has a past of his own that he needs to remain a secret from Ember. He's a solider for The Order of St George and he is tasked with the job of locating a dragon in the costal town of Crescent Beach. As a romance begins to blossom between the two, Ember begins to realise that all of the things Riley is telling her could be true, does she need to escape and become Rogue? What about her twin brother Dante? What about the organisation's cause? I loved this story - in fact no I adored it. I loved that for the first book in the series it had that nice contemporary vibe to it. I find that sometimes with fantasy novels there is often just so much action and elements to them that the story sometimes tends to lack. With this contemporary twist to this fantasy genre, (that I am now naming fantemporary) we get to actually explore the story in a new and unique way. I really commend Julie Kagawa for this element because it worked really well, a great set up for what looks to be a very action packed and intense series.

The pace of this book was a very steady one and I didn't ever feel as if anything was too rushed. We as readers got the glimpse into every aspect that Ember was seeing and due to the pacing being on point, we never felt as thought we were missing out on any action. The romance in this book between two of the characters felt realistic and this too never felt rushed. Some of the scenes in the book were very enjoyable to read from and I found myself loving those particular scenes over some others. Especially the scenes where Ember is teaching Garrett to surf for the first time as well as the cute scenes at the arcade/ amusement park. Very contemporary-esque and I loved it.

So what about the characters? Well this novel is told through multiple POV's, Ember's, Garrett's and Riley. Now often I find that multiple POV's in a novel can distract from the main storyline and also the voices of the characters tend to become blurred, but never once in the novel did I find that to be an issue. Each of the voices was distinguishable and unique, and although I didn't like one of the characters too much in this novel, their POV wasn't actually a turn off to read from. Ember as a character was very intrinsic and yet at the same time quite inquisitive. Learning about this new lifestyle and how to adapt to it, I felt Ember was on a constant learning journey throughout this book. Balancing both her human world as well as that of her dragon one. At times it did feel very split personality with Ember which part of me really enjoyed reading about - although they are one being, the human side and the dragon side seemed to be facing against each other for whom they were drawn too. Perhaps this side will come up again in later instalments and Ember will have to try to decide which side to listen to. That would be interesting! As for Garrett's character, I thought he was extremely well rounded though at times lacked a bit of depth - for such a brutal killer to suddenly change his mind on the sight of Ember. Mmm he let me down slightly in that aspect but I'm hoping we get a glimpse into his killer instincts in future books, possibly against his own order? Dante's character I thought was amazing and I wished we had gotten more from him. He was such a complex character, torn between what he believed was right vs trying to protect his twin sister. I love characters like that and I am desperate to read more from him in Rogue, especially after the epilogue we got for Talon, you can tell it's going to be epic. 

Now a character I feel I need an extra paragraph to discuss is Riley because he really did frustrate me to no end. I understand his part as a rogue and I appreciated his part in the story, but in my opinion he came across as very forceful and at times creepy. Almost perverse if you will. He's lust and desire for Ember to come with him seemed a bit too much for my tastes and I would have liked to have seen a bit of a more relaxed nature to him. I understand the urgency to get away and to try and aid as many dragons in Talon's grasp as possible but I thought there was a line and Riley in my head was beginning to cross it, and I'm glad that at some points Ember's human side was beginning to see that too.

Overall this book was a great introduction to what I can imagine is going to be a very successful and action packed series. Yes this book wasn't heavily packed with action scenes besides the ending, but I felt that a contemporary vibe introduction is exactly what the first book in this series required. The ending sets up the scene for book two, and I can tell you that as I am reading Rogue now, there is definitely more action for those readers who were clawing away for something more intense and suspenseful. Talon is just a fantastic read with all of the elements that a great book should have. I award Talon by Julie Kagawa a 4 out of 5 stars on my classification scale and I am eagerly anticipating more from her extraordinary series!

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