Review: ‘Heart of the Dragon’ by Jamie Sullivan

“Lord. Are all knights this dumb, or just the ones who run around trying to fight dragons?”

Rating:

4.5/5 stars

What’s This Book About?

Genre: Fantasy (dragons)

Publication date: June 15th 2020 (re-release from Riptide Publishing)

Synopsis: The dragon Madfall is the greatest thief in the kingdom, stealing crowns off the very heads of kings. But when he snatches a basket of gold from the castle but finds a baby inside, he’s at a loss. What’s a dragon to do?

Seventeen years later, young knight Richard of Benfro sets out to slay the dragon, expecting death or glory….only to be captured by the dragon’s human—and handsome—son.

Oenyn has been happy living with Madfall, but he’s always been curious about humanity, and jumps at the chance to learn about Richard and where he comes from…while Richard makes a startling discovery of his own.

Caught between the human world and his old life, Oenyn is faced with an impossible choice. He won’t give up his father, or his human family, without a fight.

What I Thought:

I’ve found a new favourite trope. It’s called the *takes deep breath* grumpy-prickly-hermit-dragon-reluctantly-adopts-a-random-human-baby-they-accidentally-found-and-ends-up-being-an-incredibly-loving-supportive-and-kind-father…trope. We’re off to a great start with this premise!

Up until the ending, this book was potentially a solid 5 stars. I enjoyed reading it SO much, it’s compulsively bingeable (I read about 80% of it in one sitting), utterly hilarious and the dragon Madfall is ICONIC. One of my favourite fictional dragons – I’m not lying when I say I would lay down my life for Madfall. I really would. Madfall’s sarcasm, personality and relationship with his adoptive son Oenyn are truly the stars of this book. He never fails to crack me up!

“Of course I have a goat[,” Oenyn said to Richard.]
“Why is that an ‘of course’? It’s not like everyone has a goat. I don’t have a goat.”
“How sad for you,” Madfall drawled, cutting in.

Madfall has certainly nurtured his son’s wit and cleverness, and I loved Oenyn’s character too – to be honest, all the characters were great to read! I even liked the sheep (Nani) and goat (Gaf). I’d also like to add that despite the abundant humour, there were a few sobering moments which made the story more grounded and less fanciful.

“[M]en fighting wars do not follow the rules of the tournament… Fame and fortune mean nothing on a battlefield.”

While I enjoyed the gay romance, I think the primary love story here is between Madfall and Oenyn. It was so heartwarming, reminiscent of Hiccup and Toothless from ‘How To Train Your Dragon’, and I could absolutely see this as a Disney/Dreamworks/pick-your-studio film (provided it’s made PG-13 of course – there were a couple of more, ahem, raunchy scenes in here).

“If you choke, you will die,” [Madfall] warned…
“Nah,” Oenyn replied, the words practically unintelligible around the bread in his mouth. “You’d save me.”
Madfall lowered his head to his forearms, watching the boy, his heart fuller than any hoard. “I suppose.”
As Richard’s most meaningful role in the plot is his representation of Oenyn’s human side (more so than his role as a love interest), I did wonder if a more open-ended romance storyline would’ve made this symbolism clearer. That being said, though, Oenyn’s dilemma over choosing his humanity or his dragon father was very realistically and emotionally portrayed.

Literally my only niggle was with the ending. While the main plot revelations were done well – nice foreshadowing – I just didn’t find it believable with how the story closed. I really can’t elaborate without spoilers, so: (highlight for spoilers) it’s a feel-good ending, especially in an alternate vaguely medieval universe in which no homophobes exist, that doesn’t seem realistic given how entrenched the kingdom’s enmity against dragons is. I wasn’t expecting ‘Maleficent II’ level carnage, but SOMETHING should’ve happened.

Pick this up if you’re looking for a laugh and a cheer-up! Bonus if you love dragons.

“Being a dragon is like…freedom. Like flying through the sky, clothes and hair dripping from diving in and out of clouds, steaming from the heat of Madfall’s fire, whales in the ocean looking as tiny as anchovies from a thousand feet above them. It’s…your eyes watering in the wind, clothes flapping around you, knowing that you’ll never fall.”

Thanks to Netgalley and Riptide Publishing for a copy in exchange for an honest review.

Thanks for reading! Have you read this book or do you plan to? Hope you’ll enjoy it as much as I did! Let me know any thoughts below…

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