A book review: Talon - book 1 - by Julie Kagawa (I have tried to keep it spoiler free!)
‘To the outside world Ember Hill is an ordinary girl, but Ember has a deadly secret. A dragon hiding in human form, she is destined to fight the shadowy Order of St. George, a powerful society of dragonslayers.
St. George soldier Garret is determined to kill Ember and her kind. Until her bravery makes him question all he’s been taught about dragons.
Now a war is coming and Garret and Ember must choose their sides – fight to save their bond or fulfil their fate and destroy one another.’
Talon is the first in a series of 5 books about Dragons. Set in a busy beach town location, Ember and her brother Dante are 16-year-old dragons who are given the summer to assimilate into human society. Early on it is clear that Ember, whilst enjoying her freedom away from Talon - a secret society of controlling dragons - misses being able to shift into her true form. Dante, on the other hand, is a rule follower and is in constant fear that Ember’s actions will get them sent back to their Talon base. We learn that Talon has an enemy, a highly trained group of soldiers whose purpose is to kill dragons. Julie Kagawa’s story truly begins when a St George solider is sent to find the dragons posing as humans; this erupts into a gripping tale of joy, lust, misplaced loyalty and heartache.
Julie Kagawa writes in the first person, cleverly switching perspectives through different chapters so that the story is told from the main characters’ perspectives. This gives the reader the chance to understand the thoughts and motivations behind each character but can also make you feel frustrated as only you as the reader know all points of view!
As much as I enjoyed reading Ember’s point of view, my favourite character was a solider of St George - Garret. The St George solider was sent to find who the dragon was that Talon sent to infiltrate human society (obviously we know this is Ember and Dante). Garret is only 17 but we learn that he has been through a lot in his life. As the story progresses, I felt that he was growing as an individual and felt truly conflicted in his cause. It was the age old story of feeling torn between what felt right and duty. In the interest of trying to stay spoiler free, I won’t tell you which side I was rooting for! I will tell you, however, that he read as a very handsome and fit individual and that can help a reader get along with a character!
The interactions between characters felt realistic. When I read Ember’s chapters, I felt as though I was a 16 year old girl who just wanted to be free to fly as a dragon. At times, she did annoy me but only because she just didn’t seem to grasp what I wanted her too. Again, this could be because I knew other perspectives - a great tool in getting me to keep on turning those pages! When I read Garret’s chapters, I felt torn and confused, wanting to do the right thing. I also really liked the romance that blossomed and found myself reading quicker to find out what happened next.
One interesting thing to note was how my feelings towards certain characters changed. Without giving too much away, a rogue dragon threatens the mission and at first, I did not take too kindly to his presence in the book and how he came between my favourite characters. However, the author’s clever storytelling slowly led me to a sudden and unavoidable realisation that I actually cared for this character. I was slightly irritated but pleasantly surprised how I had completely changed my mind on him and ultimately, this altered what I originally wanted to happen in the end.
Was the story gripping?
Yes! Absolutely! I started reading this book on a girly weekend away with my best friend. By Sunday afternoon I had finished and was onto book 2. I have to stress that it is the characters that drew me into the story. I read one review somewhere about how they didn’t like it because there wasn’t much ‘world-building’. Now, reading is a very subjective experience and for me, the foundation of this book was how the characters brought the story to life. I was only vested in the outcome because of the character arcs (and Garret, I really like Garret).
Talon is the perfect book if you’re looking for:
I would recommend this novel to teenage readers (and, let’s face it, to those of us older than a teenager but loving the feisty drama that normally accompanies such an age), who enjoy mythical creatures in a modern setting, with romance and mystery sprinkled on top.
Overall, I would rate this book ***** out of 5 stars.
Whether this is because it has been a while since I read a book I liked, or because it was a genuinely fabulous story, don’t just take my word for it and have a read!
Let me know what you think about Talon when you brave this world of scaly dragons!
Book 5 is out now - and, if you’re like me, you’re waiting patiently for the paperback to arrive on your doorstep on the 3rd May.
A lot of you now know that this past year has been a bit busy for me. Firstly, I moved jobs. I am still a teacher but I’m in a different school now with year 6. Year 6 is the last year of primary school and so my role is to get them through their end of Key Stage Tests (SATs) and prepare them for secondary school. This last part was made for me as I started work in a secondary school working with year 7’s where part of my role was to help students transition. I feel confident and love the work that I am doing - mostly. Of course, as many teachers are aware, the constant paperwork, the marking (and in year 6 they write a lot!), the planning and everything else can be a huge strain on a work life balance. I am so incredibly lucky to have a great partner in life as he also teaches and so understands when work crosses into our evenings, weekends and holidays. He is also doing his work!
Outside of work, I got married! Saturday 10th February 2018 was the day I married the man of my dreams. Getting ready for it took up a lot of my spare time so when I wasn’t planning, marking, doing assessments, paperwork, you name it, I was doing all things wedding. My mum was an absolute godsend. She was the one that trailed to my numerous dress fittings, to the shops to look at pretty girly things, round my house to help me make stuff and, of course, she made my cake. My mum used to own her own cake business where she made wedding cakes (this was before she went into teaching herself - secondary school though) and so made our cake as part of her gift to us. It was beautiful. I wanted to keep it so it was a four tier cake dummy decorated with objects that meant something to my new husband and me. I saw a cake idea on Pintrest that I liked and basically asked Mum if I could do my own version! So we had the Death Star from Star Wars, the Golden Snitch from Harry Potter, the Stark Logo from Game of Thrones, Simba from Lion King, the red rose from Beauty and the Beast, the Chelsea Lion, Captian America’s shield, Thor’s hammer, baby Groot from Guardians of the Galaxy and I’m not even sure if I’ve listed everything! (I will post pics with this!).
Considering how many months of planning it took, the day itself went by in a blur. In fact, if wasn’t for our wedding video and photos, I’m not sure I’d believe we’d got married! They say the day goes quick which I fully believed but not sure I was prepared for. Our Bailey boy was there, causing chaos as usual. We’d hired someone to be his ‘chaperone’ so that we knew he was taken care of, we know our boy and we know he’s not the easiest of dogs and so didn’t want to be worried about a guest (most likely my brother) missing out by taking care of him. We hired someone who walks dogs and boards them so she came really early to look after him, could give him cuddles and treats while we were at the church and then was hand to help with photos and after, drove him to the kennels where he stayed inside the owners home with my husband’s family’s dogs Alfie and Mollie.
Normally, Bailey is pretty photogenic as he likes the attention, but there was so much going on that day it was nice he had a constant with him to get him through the meets and greets (he lapped it right up!). Apparently, he totally freaked out though going over floor boundaries such as going from the carpet to the tiled flooring and vice versa - who knew we had a weird dog? My family dog Chester was also there but being a senior boy, he was easily looked after by my dad or brother, Chester was just happy to bimble along with guests, getting strokes where he could. Due to his back legs, he isn’t one for jumping or pulling so was a very relaxed, quieter version of my two year old! Chalk and cheese you might say!
So the day started with my bridesmaids and me getting ready; hair and makeup arrived at 7am to get us all done. We had stayed the previous night at the place we were getting married: Stoke Rochford Hall - it is an absolutely beautiful place. We got married at 12.30pm although I have been reliably told I was about 15/20 minutes late. Whoops. To be fair, I had no concept of time and isn’t the Bride supposed to be late? It was apparently freezing in the church. On our wedding video you can see the air we breathe as we speak! The service went smoothly (from what I remember!) and then we went back to the Hall for our welcome drinks. Again, this flew by! We hired musicians, a string duet called Chapel Hill Duo, who played absolutely beautiful music. We asked for their twists on modern songs and we even had them play the theme for Game of Thrones! We had some photos, got cuddles with Bailey, had a drink and then it was time for our meal. My main was a gorgeous mushroom risotto and my husband (it still feels weird saying that) had beef fillet with some fancy potato. I won dessert though as my choice was a raspberry and white chocolate brûlée and the other option was strawberry trio - see? Mine was bellissimo! The party after was brilliant, my friends stayed dancing with me throughout the night and I had a really great time. Can’t believe months and planning and it was over in 24 hours. Every moment was worth it though when I look back at photos and see how happy I was.
I’m going to leave it there for now but feel free to have a look at a collage of our wedding day! Let me know what you think of the amazing cake and how cute do my boys Bailey and Chester look?!