Recommended Reads Saturday: Dragon Bound by Thea Harrison
I am recommending this book because I am recommending this book because it is the start of a very enjoyable series. I discovered it when I was released last year and have subsequently pushed it on my entire family. It has magic, paranormal creatures, intrigue, paranormal politics which are really messy, an unlikely heroine. It was a lot of fun to read and enjoy with the strong characters, vivid world and a nonstop pace.
The following is an excerpt from Dragon Bound posted with the approval of Thea Harrison
When he discovered the theft, Dragos Cuelebre exploded into the sky with long thrusts from a wingspan approaching that of an eight-seater Cessna jet.
Modern life had gotten complicated. His usual habit was to focus Power on averting aircraft when he flew or, simpler yet, just file a flight plan with the local air traffic control. With his outrageous wealth and position as one of the eldest and most powerful of the Wyr, life scrambled to arrange itself to his liking.
He wasn’t so polite this time. This was more a get-the-fuck-out-of-my-way kind of flight. He was blinded with rage, violent with incredulity. Lava flowed through ancient veins and his lungs worked like bellows. As he approached the zenith of his climb, his long head snapped back and forth, and he roared again. The sound ripped the air as his razor claws mauled an imaginary foe.
All of his claws except for those on one front foot where he held a tiny scrap of something fragile and, to be frank, inconceivable. This tiny scrap was as ludicrous and as nonsensical to him as a hot fudge sundae topping an ostrich’s head. The cherry on the hot fudge sundae was the elusive whiff of scent that clung to the scrap. It teased his senses into frenzy as it reminded him of something so long ago that he couldn’t quite remember what it was—
His mind went white hot and slipped from its mooring in time. Existing in his wrath he flew until he came to himself and began to think again.
Then Rune said in his head, My lord? Are you well?
Dragos cocked his head, for the first time coming aware that his First flew behind him at a discreet distance. It was a measure of his rage that he hadn’t noticed. Any other time Dragos was aware of everything that happened within his vicinity.
Dragos noted that Rune’s telepathic voice was as calm and neutral as the other male’s physical voice would have been had he spoken the words aloud.
There were many reasons why Dragos had made Rune his First in his Court. Those reasons were why Rune had thrived in his service for so long. The other male was seasoned, mature and dominant enough to hold authority in a sometimes unruly Wyr society. He was intelligent with a capacity for cunning and violence that came close to Dragos’s own.
Most of all, Rune had a gift for diplomacy that Dragos had never achieved. That talent made the younger male useful when treating with the other Elder Courts. It also helped him to navigate rocky weather when Dragos was in a rage.
Dragos’s jaw clenched and he ground massive teeth shaped for maximum carnage. After a moment, he answered, I am well.
How may I be of service? his First asked.
His mind threatened to seize again in sheer incredulity of what he had found. He snarled, There has been a theft.
A pause. Rune asked, My lord?
For once his First’s legendary coolness had been shaken. It gave him a grim sense of satisfaction.A THIEF, Rune. He bit at each word. A THIEF has broken into my hoard and taken something of mine.
Rune took several moments to absorb his words. Dragos let him have the time.
The crime was impossible. It had never happened, not in all the millennia of his existence. Yet it had happened now. First someone had somehow found his hoard, which was an incredible feat in itself. An elaborate fake setup complete with state-of-the-art security was located below the basement levels of Cuelebre Tower, but no one knew the location of Dragos’s actual hoard except himself.
His actual hoard was protected by powerful cloaking and aversion spells older than the pharaoh tombs of Egypt and as subtle as tasteless poison on the tongue. But after locating his secret lair, the thief had managed to slip past all of Dragos’s physical and magical locks, like a knife slicing through butter. Even worse, the thief managed to slip out again the same way.
The only warning Dragos had received was a nagging unease that had plagued him all afternoon. His unease had increased to the point where he couldn’t settle down until he went to check on his property.
He had known his lair had been infiltrated as soon as he had set foot near the hidden entrance to the underground cavern. Still, he couldn’t believe it, even after he had torn inside to discover the indisputable evidence of the theft, along with something else that trumped all other inconceivability.
He looked down at his clenched right foot. He wheeled in an abrupt motion to set a return path to the city. Rune followed and settled smoothly into place behind him, his rear right wingman.
You are to locate this thief. Do everything possible, Dragos said. Everything, you understand. Use all magical and nonmagical means. Nothing else exists for you. No other tasks, no other diversions. Pass all of your current duties on to Aryal or Grym.
I understand, my lord, Rune said, keeping his mental voice quiet.
Dragos sensed other conversations in the air, although no one dared direct contact with him. He suspected his First had begun giving orders to transfer duties to the others.
He said, Be very clear about something, Rune. I do not want this thief harmed or killed by anyone but myself. You are not to allow it. You should be sure of the people you use on this hunt.
It will be on your head if something goes wrong, Dragos told him. He couldn’t have articulated even to himself why he pressed the matter with this creature who for centuries had been as steady and reliable as a metronome. His claws clenched on his implausible scrap of evidence. Understood?
Understood, my lord, Rune replied, calm as ever.
Good enough, he growled.
Dragos noticed they had returned over the city. The sky around them was clear of all air traffic. He soared in a wide circle to settle on the spacious landing pad atop Cuelebre Tower. As soon as he settled he shifted into his human shape, a massive six-foot-eight dark-haired male with dark bronze skin and gold raptor’s eyes.
Dragos turned to watch Rune land. The gryphon’s majestic wings shone in the fading afternoon sun until the other male also shifted into his human form, a tawny-haired male almost as massive as Dragos himself.
Rune lowered his head to Dragos in a brief bow of respect before loping to the roof doors. After the other male had left, Dragos unclenched his right fist in which he held a crumbled scrap of paper.
Why had he not told Rune about it? Why was he not even now calling the gryphon back to tell him? He didn’t know. He just obeyed the impulse to secrecy.
Dragos held the paper to his nose and inhaled. A scent still clung to the paper, which had absorbed oil from the thief’s hand. It was a feminine scent that smelled like wild sunshine and it was familiar in a way that pulled at all of Dragos’s deepest instincts.
He stood immobile, eyes closed as he concentrated on inhaling that wild feminine sunshine in deep breaths. There was something about it, something from a long time ago. If only he could remember. He had lived for so long, his memory was a vast and convoluted tangle. It could take him weeks to locate the memory.
He strained harder for that elusive time with a younger sun, a deep green forest and a celestial scent that drove him crashing through the underbrush—
The fragile memory thread broke. A low growl of frustration rumbled through his chest. He opened his eyes and willed himself not to shred the paper he held with such tense care.
It occurred to Dragos that Rune had forgotten to ask what the thief had stolen.
His underground lair was enormous by necessity, with cavern upon cavern filled with a hoard the likes of which the world had never seen. The treasure of empires filled the caves.
Astonishing works of beauty graced rough cavern walls. Items of magic, miniature portraits, tinkling crystal earrings that threw rainbows in the lamplight. Art masterpieces packed to protect them from the environment. Rubies and emeralds and diamonds the size of goose eggs, and loops upon loops of pearls. Egyptian scarabs, cartouches and pendants. Greek gold, Syrian statues, Persian gems, Chinese jade, Spanish treasure from sunken ships. He even kept a modern coin collection he had started several years ago and added to in a haphazard way whenever he remembered.
On the ostrich’s head was a hot fudge sundae. . . .
His obsessive attention to detail, an immaculate memory of each and every piece in that gigantic treasure, a trail of scent like wild sunshine, and instinct had all led Dragos to the right place. He discovered the thief had taken a U.S.-minted 1962 copper penny from a jar of coins he had not yet bothered to put into a coin collecting book.
. . . and on the hot fudge sundae atop that ostrich’s head perched a cherry. . . .
The thief had left something for him in place of what she had taken. She had perched it with care on top of the coin jar. It was a message written on a scrap of paper in a spidery, unsteady hand. The message was wrapped around an offering.
I’m sorry, the message said.
The theft was a violation of privacy. It was an unbelievable act of impudence and disrespect. Not only that, it was—baffling. He was murderous, incandescent with fury. He was older than sin and could not remember when he had last been in such a rage.
He looked at the paper again.
I’m sorry I had to take your penny. Here’s another to replace it.
Yep, that’s what it said.
One corner of his mouth twitched. He gave himself a deep shock when he burst into an explosive guffaw.
I think this is still my favorite of the series so far. I loved seeing Dragos and his heroine work out their relationship.
At least this one won’t cost me money. I bought it when it first came out.
I’ve seen a lot of good things about this series, and I’m interested but cautious after reading the first page. How big of a commitment is this series? If I read this book, will I need to read the rest of the series to get an hea? How much of the messy politics do I have to remember from book to book? (I know that sounds like I’m a lazy reader and I guess it’s true.) I’m already heavily committed to the psy/changeling series and I’m not sure how much extra brain power I have left – how does this series compare?
It’s a great series and well worth the investment of time and emotion. Each book stands on its own merit but as the series progresses you get tiny flashes of interwoven stories that make the experience richer. The lead off story of Pia and Dragos was both tender and funny and Ms. Harrison has a genius for witty one liners. While I would recommend starting with Dragon Bound first, as it remains my favorite, I believe all are enjoyable reads and you will definitely find the HEA that you are looking for.
I read and enjoyed this book. Afterwards I eagerly returned to Amazon to look for the other books in the series. Then I stopped. When I read Amazon reviews, I like reading the negative reviews because of how easy it is nowadays to buy 5 start reviews (and because I’ve been burned several times buying based solely on glowing reviews). And the points identified by the majority of negative reviews in the other books in this series resonated with me. I’ve followed too many series that ended up in disappointment, and I’m kind of gun shy at this point. So I have not yet bought another book by this author.
I liked this book a lot, and I’m not generally a fan of shifter books. That said, the big reveal of what the heroine shifts into…well, I LOL’d. I otherwise thought this book was great, but I still giggle about that, and not in a good way.
I feel mixed about the sequels – I like the heroine a lot in #2, but the hero seemed like Generic Alpha to me; #3 focused on a character that I found unappealing and so I didn’t read it; #4 was fine but not particularly memorable.
Love this series. I love how the books are different each time – it’s not the same recycled plot over and over. They’re great on audio too.
I loved this book so much that I turned around when I finished it and read it straight again. Awesome! Then I read #2 which was really meh for me. Re-read Dragonbound. Yep, still awesome. Read #3. I really enjoyed it, but it wasn’t !!OMGWTFBBQ!! awesome like the first one. Re-read Dragonbound, still awesome.
I haven’t bothered with #4, but I think I’ve re-read Dragonbound about 6 times now. There is just something about it that really works for me. I would DEFINITELY recommend reading this book, but maybe as a stand-alone.
I love love all her books.drago n bound and her latest book 4 is the best.
I liked this one. The world building is great. Dragos is an interesting character, Pia is…okay. The world building is awesome, the story line is solid.
The second book was totally DNF by page 60. Tricks drove me bats and there was nothing that caught me, hero was non-memorable, not enough new worldbuilding to keep me interested.
Third book? Honest never got page 8. Mostly because of the lingering aggravation over the second and the fact that this ancient vamp was using the name Carling with no explanation. The name & the given bit of the heroine’s history by page 8? just drove me nuts name and character’s background clashed to badly in a wtf sort of way to me (maybe it was explained in book 2 but not subjecting myself to book 2 again to try to force my way through to possibly find that)
Fourth book I liked. Lots more world building in it. The heroine was stubborn and determined more than “fiesty” which goes a long way in not driving me crazy. Stands alone as a good solid Rom Suspense w/ the paranormal elements and worldbuilding worked in well.
The two novellas I really like. The True Colors one the heroine manages to be gentle and sweet without being a doormat or a neurotic twit unhinged (Tricks in book two at least prior to page 60) Natural Evil’s heroine was awesome. The ending of Natural Evil was a bit abrupt and the hero kinda needed a thump upside the head for it but the couple is believable, little rocky ahead at the ending but believable.
Of the two upcoming? I’ll definitely get the novella following the tarot cards since I liked True Colors and Natural Evil so well. The next novel is going to be a definite pass. It seems to be returning to Dragos and Pia and a grand destiny arc that I’m too wary of to give a chance.
@~L: An explanation for the name Carling comes later in the book, there *is* a reason for it.
It think Dragon Bound is a wonderful, wonderful, book. But the rest of the books in the series fall far short of the standard set by Dragon Bound.
@ms bookjunkie: I’m the first to admit I didn’t give the third a fair shake. I read them one on top of the other, and was still very frustrated on the DNF of an 8 dollar book of the second. The third one is still sitting here waiting for me to have the patience for the heroine’s name. Was in exactly the right mood for that to throw me and say forget this one for now when I attempted the book. :) Good to know that there is an explanation for Carling’s name somewhere. Makes me more inclined to attempt the book again.
The explanation of the name is actually one of the major plot points and a clue to the final resolution of the mystery of Book 3. I will say that these books are not for people who want grand sweeping philosophical or political epics. They are rather light hearted with memorable characters and great dialogue.
See, one of the things I most like about this series is what I theorise to be the reason a lot of people didn’t seem to like books 2 and 3. That is, the books are very different to one another. The stories are different. The world is so huge, there is room for vastly different tales to be told. There is not a lot of Pia and Dragos in the subsequent books (at least until the next two which, I believe, feature them as the main couple again) and each of the other books take off in a totally different direction and explore other domains. I loved that. But, if someone picked up book 2 thinking they were going to get more of the same (and I don’t mean that in a boring way) then they might well be disappointed, because I think they’re all pretty different.
Maybe it’s because I listened to them on audio and that may have made a bigger different to my experience than I had factored in, but I gave Book 1 an A, book 2 a B+ and Book 3 an A-/A with Book 4 a B/B- (mainly because I felt most of that book was lacking in conflict, as much as I enjoyed Grace and Khalil).
But, the wonder of Dragon Bound was that it was so different to what had been going around in PNR. Then book 2 was different again but not in the same way and I think that might have got people upset. That’s just my take anyway.
I guess if I were to try and come up with a comparison to try and illustrate my point, I’d say that some fans of the Nalini Singh’s Psy/Changeling series don’t really like the book where there is a human paired with a Psy (Bonds of Justice) – there’s not enough Changeling action and that’s the big draw of the series for some readers.
Ultimately, it’s horses for courses. I’m often an outlier, not liking books everyone seems to rave over and vice versa. And this is just my theory. YMMV and if it does, it’s all good.
@ms bookjunkie: Yes, it comes late in the book and I thought it was really sweet. :)
@Kaetrin: I actually had the opposite problem of ‘too different’. The hero (who’s name I’ve actually forgotten) of book 2 was basically Dragos Lite. The rest of book 2 worked well for me, but when the hero echoed so strongly of the hero from the first book, it kind of squicked me out, like Dragos was cheating on Pia with Tricks. Shrug. There ya go.
Also, in Book 2 we have the God of Thunder and a bunch of his beer drinking, testosterone ridden buddies who all live together and there isn’t ONE single fart joke?! Come on. That right there totally ruined my suspension of disbelief.
@eggs: LOL! I actually thought Tiago was quite a bit different from Dragos – after all **mild spoiler** he gave up his position to be Tricks’ consort – he was very much the alpha male but subjugated his own power/prestige to her position. (At least, that’s how I saw it). I get that not everyone will agree with me. No worries. I liked Rune’s book better than Tiago’s and Dragos’/Rune’s are neck and neck with Dragon Bound edging it out. I have seen quite a few reviewers saying that subsequent books didn’t work as well for them. I just wanted to chime in to say that’s not true for everyone. :)
@Kaetrin: Nah. Wasn’t looking for Dragon Bound 2.0. Just wanted a fun story. But instead, for book 2, we got Tiago. I hated him with the fire of a thousand suns because he was so immature, running around throwing tantrums. I wanted to put him over my knee and beat a lot of snese into him. The other stories were just meh for me (nothing much happening in bk 4, Rune being lesser than I expected in book 3).
I was all set to buy this book, unfortunately it’s $13.17 best I go check out my library.
In case the discussion about later books in this series has muddied the waters, I just wanted to reiterate that I LOVED Dragonbound!