Feel the Burn
by G.A. Aiken
Series: Dragon Kin #8
Other books by this author that I've reviewed include Dragon Actually, What a Dragon Should Know, Last Dragon Standing, About a Dragon, The Dragon Who Loved Me, How to Drive a Dragon Crazy, Supernatural, Light My Fire.
Eighth in the Dragon Kin hysterically funny paranormal romance fantasy revolving around a family of dragons. The couple focus is on Kachka Shestakova of the Black Bear Riders of the Midnight Mountains of Despair in the Far Reaches of the Steppes of the Outerplains and Gaius Lucius Domitus, the one-eyed Rebel King of the Iron Dragons.
It’s been seven months since Light My Fire, 7.
“Gaius smirked. ‘I like their philosophy.’
‘A reader, are ya?’
‘I am. But I never saw that as a flaw.'”
Where do I start? Every one of the characters is a total crack-up. Well, except for Kachka. Yeah, she’s funny, but I also found her rude. If people showed up in her homeland, she’d be expecting them to follow their rules of courtesy. The few there probably are. So why she can’t be minimally courteous, I don’t know.
“Such a big room. Could get whole tribe in here.”
I was annoyed with all the info dumps. I don’t recall Aiken being so bad about it before.
As for any advancement in the story…yes, there is, sort of, but it’s more of a bridge novel as Aiken ties up a couple threads and throws a dozen more out there, dancing in the wind of all that laughter.
Dagmar is absolutely brilliant, in every way, and she is torturing Annwyl about the whole eye incident. Zoya has but one thought in her mind as she hugs her way through the Southland: taking one or more boys home to be husbands. That Gaius is turning out to be one naughty prankster! Talwyn…whoa…Talan is always having to keep her from killing their mother. A fact Talwyn keeps forgetting.
I love tone. Everyone complains about everyone else’s “tone”, and I can just hear that whole “bratty child” voice. Makes me want to go out and be naughty myself.
I should warn you that the f-word is about as common as the, and there is a LOT of sex.
“‘There was so much grunting,’ he complained about finding Zoya in his bed. ‘So much grunting.’
‘Stop it,’ she ordered … ‘If you want me to stop laughing, you must stop it.’
‘I’m trying to wipe it from my mind.'”
Aiken has taken family and twisted up our concept of siblings, uncles, aunts, parents, children into an hysterically funny portrait of family. Self-obsessed with a strong sense of loyalty and supportive of each other even while plotting horrible pranks and tricks to play against each other.
There is affection in here (from the author and from her characters), and there are chunks of satire and parody scattered throughout, as Aiken pokes fun at so much in life: stupid, whiny people, religion, family, sibling rivalry, making love, raising children, vanity…
Angry, Annywyl sets Kachka a task dear to her heart: the total destruction of the followers of Chramnesind who are destroying temples throughout the Southland.
It’s perfect, for Kachka needs a goal, a purpose now that she’s been exiled from any future with her tribe. It’s a task that will become even more dear to her…hmmm-mmm…well, we won’t go there.
Kachka Shestakova, formerly of the Black Bear Riders of the Midnight Mountains of Despair in the Far Reaches of the Steppes of the Outerplains (yes, it’s all part of her name, and Aiken is wicked in her use of the Daughters’ full name, lol!!), Scourge of the Gods, has been hating every minute of being exiled to the Southland (Light My Fire). Elina is her more peaceful sister who is hounded by Keita and mated to the now-Sergeant Major Celyn, a black Dragon and a Cadwaladr, one of Bram’s hatchlings (Light My Fire).
The Outerplains Tribes, a.k.a., Riders, are…
…a group of people led by women. Vicious, brutal women who keep harems of men. Kachka is thrilled that Annwyl cut off her mother’s head, that’s Glebovicha Shestakova in Light My Fire. Anne Atli is the title of the leader of the Outerplains Tribes. Magdalina Fyodorov is Anne Atli’s second-in-command.
The guerrilla Riders are…
…the Riders Anne Atli allows Kachka to take with her on her mission for Queen Annwyl. Marina Aleksandrovna questions everything. Yelena and Ivan Khoruzhaya are sister and brother and excellent trackers and hunters — they actually think Ivan is an equal to the women. Fools. Tatyana Shestakova is a cousin who loves the Southland. Zoya “Pee-Wee” Kolesova of the Mountain Movers of the Lands of Pain in the Far Reaches of the Steppes of the Outerplains is a mountain of a woman with the good nature of a saint — and no one wants her along. Nina Chechneva, the Unclaimed, is unwanted by everyone in the tribe. She’s a witch who worships dark gods, a Dark Soul witch.
Three of Zoya’s sisters, including Nika Kolesova, show up in the Southland.
Garghán Isle is…
… the seat of power of the Southland where Annwyl, the Mad Queen of Garbhán Isle, the Bloody Queen of the Southland, is mated to Prince Fearghus the Destroyer, a Black Dragon and heir to the Dragon Queen’s throne. Bloodletting is the name of her black stallion. Their twin children are the mischievous Talan and vicious Talwyn who are incredibly powerful in their magic. They are currently training with the other Abominations, including Princess Rhianwen “Rhi” who sees only the good in people. Brigida the Foul is a very ANCIENT Dragonwitch who terrifies everyone. She has plans.
Dagmar “the Beast” Reinholdt appears to be a cold, calculating Northlander who married Gwenvael the Handsome, a gold Dragon with chameleon power and absolutely obsessed with how gorgeous he is (What a Dragon Should Know, 3). She’s also Annwyl’s Battle Lord. They have seven children: the oldest, Var, is the intellectual who just wants some peace and is working with Bram; Arlais is the oldest daughter and a nightmare of a selfish little brat; and, their youngest daughters, the Five, have some scary powers, including being able to go through walls. Frederik Reinholdt is Dagmar’s nephew and working in the Northlands.
“‘Stop it! Both of you!’ the dragon called out, ‘I have enough beauty to share with everyone!'”
The happy-go-lucky General “Izzy” Iseabail, a.k.a., The Blood Queen’s Pit Dog, is mated to Prince Éibhear the Contemptible, a blue Dragon and another of Rhiannon and Bercelak’s sons, who is a Mi-runach (we finally get their story in How to Drive a Dragon Crazy, 6).
The Mi-runach are…
…warriors who answer to no one but the Queen. And everyone, and I do mean everyone, is terrified of them. Caswyn and Uther are not too bright and part of Éibhear’s team. The last member, Prince Aidan the Divine, is amazingly diplomatic for one of these terrors.
General Brastias, Annwyl’s commander of the army, is a human mated to Morfyd the White, a White Dragonwitch, and a daughter of the Dragon Queen, which makes her Fearghus’ sister.
Bram the Merciful is the oddball Cadwaladr — he’s peaceful. He now lives in the tower that Annwyl spent so much time building. He’s mated to Ghleanna the Decimator, another of Annwyl’s generals (Supernatural: “Dragon on Top”, 0.4). Yep, she’s a true Cadwaladr. Captain Branwen the Awful is one of their daughters and Izzy’s best friend. Addolgar and Rhys the Hammer, the third born of Ailean the Wicked, are more of Bram’s brothers.
The House of Gwalchmai fab Gwyar is…
…the family of Queen Rhiannon, the White Dragon Queen mated to Bercelak the Great. They live on Devenallt Mountain, the seat of power for the Southland dragons.
“‘She sniffs my hair sometimes. It makes me uncomfortable.’
‘Yeah, don’t let her do that too long.'”
Prince Briec the Mighty, the second oldest child and fourth in line to the throne, is mated to Talaith, a Nolwenn witch and assassin. Together they have two perfect, perfect daughters: Izzy and Rhi.
Princess Keita the Viper, one of Rhiannon’s daughters, appears to be a frivolous, fashion-obsessed She-dragon who keeps pushing colorful eye patches on Elina. She’s actually a Protector of the Throne and will take out anyone who threatens it. Or her. Ragnar of the Olgeirsson Horde, a Northland chieftain, is her mate (Last Dragon Standing, 4). She and Dagmar have their spy networks out.
The Cadwaladrs are…
…a Low Born line of Southland dragons who have two claims to “fame”: (1) Bercelak is a Cadwaladr, and (2) do not even consider coming between them and family or a battle.
Margo is the head of the kitchen sheep, er, staff.
The Quintilian Sovereigns Empire is…
…in the west and ruled by Gaius Lucius Domitus, the one-eyed Rebel King of the Iron Dragons. (We first met him in The Dragon Who Loved Me, 5.) Agrippina is Gaius’ twin sister. Lætitia Clydia Domitus is his and Agrippina’s aunt. Maris is one of Gaius’ guards. Senator Tyrus Gabinius is from an important human family.
Egnatius Domitus is a cousin of Gaius and Agrippina’s with dreams of being overlord of the Quintilian Sovereigns. He’s also Vateria’s brother. Didacus Domitus is another cousin to Gaius and Egnatius and Vateria.
House of Foulkes de chuid Fennah of the Western Mountains is…
…Aidan’s family — Aidan claims “they are horrible, reprehensible detestable beings and should be treated carefully. Like poisonous snakes”. They have a special relationship with the Western Mountain Dwarves and the Dwarf King. Lady Gormlaith is Aidan’s smarmy mother; Lord Jarlath is his nutjob father. Ainmire is the oldest; Harkin is Aidan’s second oldest brother. Airmid and Cinnie are more siblings. Orla is the youngest and the only one Aidan likes.
The cult of Chramnesind is …
…about a god also referred to as The Eyeless One. It insists that everyone join its religion, no matter what. Duke Roland Salebiri is a true believer. Lady Ageltrude is his wife. General Falke de Vitis is a human and Salebiri’s second-in-command.
Abominations are the offspring of a dragon and a human. Run-and-jump is Izzy’s favorite game. She runs over the backs of flying dragons and jumps from one to another. Mingxia is the Eastland goddess of war and love. Rhydderch Hael is the father of dragons, a god. His mate is Eirianwen, the goddess of war and death. Aoibhell is a philosopher dragon.
The Cover and Title
The cover is a very nicely muscled bare back with a black tattoo of flames arching up along his right side and onto his bicep. Yep, his back is to us with his right arm bent, his hand clasping the back of his head in a BIG hand, his head is turned in profile and he stands against a roiling red background — I feel like I’m in the middle of an erupting volcano!
Guess that explains why I Feel the Burn!