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.