“Blood Calls” (this was the books previous title) is the story of a man-child, Corbin, and his sarcastic dragon, Blood. Both face prejudice because of their outsider status, and thus use drinking and a healthy dose of withering sarcasm to survive. And they aren’t afraid to fight back against bullies. Which means that Corbin’s war hero uncle can only protect Corbin for so long before his antics and womanizing cause more trouble than his uncle can fix. He ships his nephew off to a sleepy country as the nation’s junior ambassador, where Corbin doesn’t necessarily abandon his drinking, but at least the people there don’t automatically hate him and his red dragon, either. While there, Corbin is able to make friends for the first time in his life, and stand up for what’s right when his adopted country gets invaded, rather than just standing up for himself. He and Blood are able to show that the abilities they have, while considered evil, in the “right” hands, aren’t any more monstrous than any other weapon of war. Don’t let this book’s cover fool you, underneath is a really fun and funny story that never takes itself too seriously, even with the serious topics it tackles. Plus, who doesn’t love a telepathic, sarcastic dragon?
This is a long book, but it honestly never felt long. The world building is interesting, the religions, the different cultures, and how they view magic and war beasts are all well developed and creative. You get enough background information on Corbin and Blood to understand why they are the way they are, and even with the messages about unfounded prejudicial hate and the various twists this story takes, it’s always light hearted. Maybe too light hearted, as even the conquering armies seem rather friendly, outside of the fanatical leaders, that is. The numerous fight scenes, from large scale battlefields to smaller duels are all done well and each one is a page turner. Seriously, this book is A LOT of fun.
The only thing lacking in my opinion was some of the development for the female characters, and the romances. First, there are really only two female characters of any note. Even the background characters from merchants to random soldiers are predominately male, which can get uncomfortable. Especially when the female characters are viewed through a very male gaze all the time. Namely, they are only ever looked at in regards to how other male characters want to have sex with them, or their dialogue revolves around male characters. Corbin is a womanizer (which I never love) so his instant attraction to one character and his desire to properly court her felt unnatural and a bit forced. I won’t name names because I don’t want to spoil anything, but this woman never felt fully developed and if she hadn’t been involved, I honestly don’t think the story would have suffered at all. Unfortunately, all the romances feel a bit insta-love and underdeveloped, so whenever the story focused on those elements, they felt the least fun and interesting to me. We never really see Corbin mature beyond wanting to just bed any attractive woman so the effort he exerts for this one woman didn’t feel like the growth I think the story intended it to be. Also, every character is pretty witty in the book at times, which is great! But the dialogue isn’t always tagged so it can be hard to keep track of who is speaking from time to time in the larger sections of dialogue, since all their “voices” start sounding the same. When you add this all together, that's ultimately why this story is getting 4 stars.
But all in all, I really enjoyed this book! It was silly and fun, action packed and funny, it had creative creatures, magic, and of course: dragons. If you enjoy humorous action adventure novels with a fun twist on blood magic, then I encourage you to look past this books’ cover and give “Blood Calls” a try! Just be forewarned: there are a few scenes of attempted rape, just in case that is a trigger you are worried over. Nothing happens, but one is a little bit prolonged, so just know that going in… And thank you to the author for sending me a copy for an honest review.
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