REVIEW: Resistance (Reawakening: book 2) by Amy Rae Durreson
Resistance (Reawakening: Book Two)
Overthrowing the Shadow that ruled Tiallat was only the first step. For rebel leader Iskandir, rebuilding his shattered country is an even greater challenge. A poor harvest, religious conflict, and years of tyrannical governance combine with the challenge of getting the soldiers of the Shadow’s army home and rehousing the exiled who are flooding back into free Tiallat.
Then people begin to get sick.
A thousand years ago, after the Shadow’s first defeat, a blight fell upon the north: a disease that killed more than the war itself. Now, as this plague returns, Iskandir must look north again to the newly awakened dragon Halsarr, a learned doctor and professor who wants no part in a new war. Even if Halsarr agrees to come to their aid, Iskandir is afraid of the truth he will expose. For the dragon Halsarr once loved a bold and reckless steppes elemental who later transformed into the lonely and powerful Dual God of Tiallat, the two-faced Lord who has been missing since the Shadow entered the country.
Dear Amy Rae Durreson, I reviewed the first book in the Reawakening series here https://dearauthor.com/book-reviews/overall-b-reviews/b-minus-reviews/review-reawakening-by-amy-rae-durreson/ and as you can see I enjoyed it enough in order to preorder the second book the moment I saw it was available. I love dragons, love them – of course I won’t read a horrible book which features them, but dragons are certainly an extra attraction for me.
Readers, I am a little torn on whether you need to read the first book before second one. I am inclined to say yes, simply because there is an overarching story arc about the Second War against the Shadow, with mighty brother dragons who had been asleep for a thousand years after the first war reawakening because they were so badly hurt fighting the Shadow. It looks like these dragons will also be finding lovers (or reuniting with the old ones, in the case of this storyline). And of course the mythology of the world is the same and it builds up in every book.
Having said that, I only remembered the bare bones of the first story and I did not feel lost in this book. I told you I was torn ?.
So, let’s talk a little bit about the love story. I think it is very clear from the blurb that we will be dealing with love in the past and the consequences of that love in the present between dragon Halsarr and Iskandir. If you read my review of the first book, you will note that as much as I loved the men (spirits, dragon and elemental, whatever you want to call them), I did not feel that the spirit acted his age (that would be the understatement of the century), so I guess I thought that at least some of the tension between them in the first book was contrived.
I thought this story dealt with similar dynamics much better – Iskandir absolutely acted his age and his burdens to carry were clear and real (as much as the burdens of the God could be real, but you understand what I am trying to say). Iskandir’s insecurities were relatable and understandable to me and I was not irritated with him at all. And it was really interesting that while there was tension, there was really not much bickering. I don’t know, I just understood why Iskandir was trying to postpone letting Hal to claim him as part of his hoard again.
As in the first book, there is plenty going on apart from the love story/romance, in fact I would say that the love story/ romance is more like a secondary storyline. Important, but secondary – Iskandir and his friends had to rebuild the country after they drove the Shadow away (and you know what happens when you think that your enemy has gone away for good, especially such a powerful enemy) and then the plague strikes. I got the impression that the author meticulously researched real plague epidemics, because it felt so realistic – all that the diseases did, how country dealt with it, the death and more death. I cannot say that I *liked* reading about it – simply because it was so sad to read, but I certainly respected how it was written.
I also love the world building more and more with every book. I especially enjoyed reading about beliefs and Deities in this book, and it seemed to be woven well in the narrative. The religion in this book seemed to be a mixture of Islam, some paganism and some superstitions, and some other things, I guess ?. I did like the result, do not get me wrong. You know how seven is a lucky number in many cultures and Seventh son of seventh son, etc. is usually considered lucky? Well, apparently avoiding seven deaths can transform a regular human being into a God in this book (and there are many small Gods, so it makes sense that they have to appear from somewhere).
“How does a man turn into a god?”
“Some of us were born with a little more luck than others. Ever known a man escape what should have been certain death?”
“Other than you? Yes, once or twice.”
“Seven times, seven deaths averted, and nothing will kill you. Some people only have enough luck in them for three or four deaths. Others have the luck, but live too quiet a life to ever put it to the test. After the seventh death, though, you are transformed and will live forever.”
“It seems too easy.”
“You wouldn’t say that if you had watched your brother bury generation after generation of his descendants while he stayed young.”
This is just one example of how the religious themes were handled.One of the main themes in this book is that people are complex. They may fail one test that God gives them but pass others with flying colors, and those who cast stones should first look upon themselves and at least try to forgive others. It is not a “turn your other cheek” kind of forgiveness by the way – more like, if one is truly sorry and tries to make amends by his or her actions, they should be forgiven. This was my interpretation anyway.
Once again, I was not disappointed with how dragons were portrayed in this book. Tarnamell shows up briefly because his help was needed, but while he did his part, he did not really save the day. In fact I think this book was more about the collective struggle, which does not appear to be completely over.
I really like how dragons and fire are tied together in this world.
“Then the Dual God realized that it was not the Shadow that grew darker. The light in here was growing
brighter than the winter sun, bright as fire and sunlight, warm and dry like dessert and the high mountains in the summer.
Fire came in the window, curling through the frame in great flares and curls of warmth and color. It wrapped around the Shadow like fingers, closing tightly until it had blotted out every tendril of darkness.
It squeezed, crushing the scrap it held, and the Dual God felt a little of the despair and horror in the world cease to exist.
The flames spread out again, swirling around the room, and then twisted together into a pillar of fire that suddenly became a man.
“Protector of Tiallat,” the Dragon King said gravely.”
I have to say though that as much as I liked Hal, there is not much to say about him. I mean, he is a doctor and he tries to win Iskandir back, but I just don’t know. He was a straightforward good guy, I guess, without much conflict in him besides wanting his beloved back?
Overall I really enjoyed this book and am looking forward to the next one.