Book Reviews

The Dragon’s Legacy by Deborah A. Wolf Book Review

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  • The Dragon’s Legacy.
  • Deborah A. Wolf.
  • 486 pages.
  • Fantasy / Epic Fantasy / Sand & Sorcery.
  • My Rating: 4.5 stars.

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Book Blurb:

The last Aturan King is dying, and as his strength fades so does his hold on sa and ka. Control of this power is a deadly lure; the Emperor stirs in his Forbidden City to the East, while deep in the Seared Lands, the whispering voices of Eth bring secret death. Eight men and women take their first steps along the paths to war, barely realizing that their world will soon face a much greater threat; at the heart of the world, the Dragon stirs in her sleep. A warrior would become Queen, a Queen would become a monster, and a young boy plays his bird-skull flute to keep the shadows of death at bay.


Book Review:

I received a free copy of this book courtesy of the publisher in exchange for an honest review.


After the prologue, the story focuses mainly around Sulema, an outlander to the Zeera, raised from a young child, now on the verge of womanhood, we find her in the last stages of her training to become a Ja’ Akari, following through to the subsequent culmination and her acceptance into the Ja’ Akari. Not long after a mysterious stranger appears in Aish Kalumm, complete with a shocking revelation regarding her parentage that will irrevocably alter Sulema’s world, finding that unfortunately, you can’t outrun your birthright or your past, somehow it always catches up to you in the end.

Along with Sulema’s story arc, you also have that of the Daeborn Jian taking place within Khanbul (the Forbidden City) in the land of Sindan and home to the Sindanese emperor. The Dae are a race who live in the Twilight lands and who on occasion procreate with the Sindanese, the resulting spawn are referred to as ‘Daeborn’ and if they are born at the right time, they are then sent for brutal training to become Daechen (warrior). This is my only niggle with the book, not much time was spent on this part of the story, and I personally really enjoyed it, finding Jian’s arc to be a good counterpoint to that of Sulema, but we only got around 6 chapters interspersed throughout the entire book. Saying that however, the chapters move Jian’s story along nicely, and the end of his final chapter leaves you expectant of what’s next to come from both Jian and the Sindanese.

If she had a heart, it would have broken. If she had tears, she would have wept. But she was dead, ash and dust, and had none of these things.

A large part of the story takes place in the Zeera, a vast desert landscape, the zeerani fortress of Aish Kalumm and the surrounding area, but it’s not just simply ‘the location‘ where most of The Dragon’s Legacy is set. No, Wolf does a great job of making it feel like a living and breathing integral piece of the pie, and it’s as much a part of the tale being told as both the characters and story. After The Sundering (a cataclysmic event that took place approximately 1,000 years prior to The Dragon’s Legacy) life is hard in the Zeera, every year fewer children are born to the tribes, more people die and less vash’ai choose to bond with the zeeranim (people of the desert). Wolf makes the Zeera feel alive and dangerous.

This was no small hatchling, but a red-wattled old bitch of a grandmother snake. The tattered and faded crest of plumes stiffened and shook, and venom-sacs along her jaw swelled. She drew breath in a long, rattling hiss, and shrieked.

The vash’ai are a fantastic creation, very large intelligent cats with very large tusks, not your average house cat, simply put, they are pretty fucking cool! With members of the zeeranim who they deem worthy they bond, becoming zeeravashini (a zeerani who has bonded with a vash’ai) kithren to each other, aiding in protecting the Zeera. The vash’ai can converse telepathically, as a member of the kin (descendents of the first races also including wyverns and mymyc) they are intelligent creatures capable of cognizant thoughts, awareness and some quality lines. Aahhh who’s a clever kitty, but be warned, while the vash’ai have that same proud and self-centred aloofness that most cats have, these aren’t purring furrballs of fun!

When the story moves to Atualon, the seat of power for Wyvernus (Ka Atu, the Dragon King) and sole wielder of the atulfah (sa and ka combined to create the song of creation). Sa and Ka are the magic in The Dragon’s Legacy, two sides of the same coin. Sa, the female half, offering an amplified sense of harmony and Ka, the male half, offering an amplified awareness of your surroundings. You have a city locale making for a more standard setting and part of the book, but the change in location works well, giving the zeerani who travelled there a fish out of water vibe, and is a nice change of pace to the harsh desert.

The Dragon King, in particular the atulfah he commands is an integral part of the story, Ka Atsu is the only man capable of keeping the dormant dragon within the world quiescent. If the dragon awakes, then the world would crack open like an egg, or if you prefer the grimdark version, like a cleaved skull! 😉

While we have Wyvernus in Atualon and the Sindanese their emperor in Khanbul, both are males in predominant roles. In the Zeera the roles are reversed, you find the females the dominant sex and fighters, with the Umm Nurati (first mother) being in charge. In the culture the men are relegated to husbands and farmers, with some becoming Ja’ Sajani, the wardens of the Zeera, but the Ja’ Akari, the protectors of the Zeera are all ferocious female warriors, and it works really well, making for a refreshing change and giving you a bountiful abundance of strong female characters.

The Dragon’s Legacy is a very character driven read, featuring an ambitious list of characters, some major, some minor, with some who you will love, some who you will hate, some who play far more pivotal roles than others and some who you will question their actions, including, Sulema, Hannei, Hafsa Azeina, Daru, Leviathus, Jian, Char, Mattu Halfmask, Ismai, Istaza Ani and Askander to name amongst others. My favourite character would have to be Hafsa Azeina, the former Queen consort of Atualon, current dreamshifter (means she can kill people in their sleep, how cool) of the Zeeranim and Sulema’s mother, she’s such a complex, intriguing, fascinating and slightly scary character who ran from her previous life, changed herself, and went down dark paths all in aid of protecting her daughter. While not all of the main characters are instantly likeable, they are all fully fleshed out, believable and given distinct personalities adding to the story.

When those legs gave a twitch and began to uncurl, Leviathus did what any proud soldier-trained son of a king would do.

He flung the fucking thing as far as he could, arrow and all, and screamed like a little girl.

Wolf has a descriptive and detailed writing style that flows well with great pacing, there’s enough action to satisfy and it’s never overly visceral or bloody, politics, intrigue, betrayal, humour, dark times, some lighter times and emotion are all added to the mix, she sure knows how to spin a good yarn – I used yarn instead of tale or story, due to ‘yarn‘ as in a ‘ball of yarn‘ that cats play with, as the vash’ai are cats, it’s the obligatory bad humour you often find in my reviews! 🙂

With a broad overarching narrative that is epic in nature The Dragon’s Legacy, particularly for Sulema and Hafsa Azeina is also a very personal story. The world and the subsequent world building found within the pages is intricate, vast and fully realised. Wolf has made the lands luxuriantly rich in culture, history and lore. Luckily she largely manages to avoid the trope of ‘info dumping‘ on you as she weaves her exquisite tapestry that is The Dragon’s Legacy, evoking vivid imagery in your mind, immersing you in her setting and the story being told thanks to her writing.

With The Dragon’s Legacy Wolf has created an elaborate read and a sprawling fantasy, as such isn’t the easiest of books to get into when you first open it up. In a similar vein to the beginning of Gardens of the Moon (Malazan book of the fallen #1) by Steven Erikson and other suck ilk found within the fantasy genre, you are thrust straight into the action and story, and at times it can be slightly confusing as there are a lot of various different names and places for you to remember. Wolf doesn’t hold your hand or comfort you like a mewling babe, you’re expected to find your own way and the glossary (luckily located at the front of the book) will on occasion be needed, but as you progress, becoming accustomed to the plethora of names, you become invested in the characters and story, finding that you are losing yourself in the book.

The Dragon’s Legacy is the first book in the series, due to this a few aspects of the story and locations are only vaguely visited and alluded to throughout. I’ll be looking forward to delving deeper in the next installment, after all you have to keep a little something back for the following books. 🙂

This was my first foray into what I’ve recently seen as being dubbed the ‘sand and sorcery‘ genre of fantasy and I absolutely loved it. Finding The Dragon’s Legacy to have everything that a great fantasy book needs, add in a conclusion that leaves you questioning both what happens next and wanting more, and you find yourself with an exceptional debut and a top quality book that deserves to be read.

Highly recommended.


The Dragon’s Legacy (released 18th April US & 21st April UK).

Amazon UK  /  Amazon US  /  The Book Depository


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17 thoughts on “The Dragon’s Legacy by Deborah A. Wolf Book Review

  1. Whoa!!! OK… throughout your review I was finding it pretty difficult to keep track of all the character names, cultures, etc etc… and then you commented on it as well, that it is difficult to get into BUT… gotta love books that imply some persistence and thinking and using ones brain… because it sounds like it pays off big time, overall…
    Brilliant review, Drew… I think if I read the book, I wouldn’t know where to even begin writing the review as it seems there’s a lot to cover! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Lol, yeah, that’s true, for me, I do like deep and complex fantasy, that’s why it’s so nice to step away from the genre every once in a while and just read something fun, like The Hatching and Skitter, books that don’t require much thought, as often fantasy does, complex is good though, I like it but the occasional break is also good.

      But yeah, definitely had to mention it was complex in the review as it was, and I did find it tough to keep track at times, I don’t normally say that but I really did, even needed the glossary a few times, that hardly ever happens!lol

      Certainly a lot to cover, there often is with the first book in a series, needs to set the world into motion and introduce all the characters and overarching story. It’s really deep but definitely a great book though.

      Ha, I doubt that Lizzy, I’m sure you’d be able to write a quality review, you always do, your reviews are far better than mine, you get way more comments, way more popular in the blogging community (fully deserved) and add way more personality into your reviews!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Ha! Speaking of Hatching- Lashaan informed me that he won a copy of it on Goodreads 😀 hahahaha… I laughed my arse off… and told him to read it and if he survived I’ll read it as well! 😀

        Mmm… you know… with the complex writing… yeah, totally need to set the ball rolling with book 1 BUT if the second or additional books in the series aren’t out yet, you’re likely to forget about the characters and what the hell was going on again… bit risky… then again, complex is good… I;m not complaining about it… as humans we’re so comfortable with everything else already, gotta at least keep the brain activity up! 😀

        Hahahahaha, Drew.. you truly are daft! my reviews aren’t better than yours and I don’t get anywhere near as many comments and hits as you do 😀 but let’s just call it a tie- we’re both awesome and we’re both totally rocking the blogging commune 😀 😀 😀

        Liked by 2 people

      2. Lmao, yeah Lashan told me he’d won a copy of it to, bit confused why he entered the giveaway if he doesn’t like spider books and/or didn’t want to read it!! Oh well, I guess we all do it with goodreads, think oohhh book, enter, no chance of winning usually! lol

        It’s just a fun read, I get that people with arachnophobia or who just don’t like spiders might not like it, but I guess it’s how you take it (ha, now ‘how you take it’ sounds really rude) but some seem to class it as a thriller and serious, maube it is supposed to be BUT….I just found it fun and entertaining like a popcorn film that you switch your brain off for unwind and enjoy, no need to think about it just watch/read.

        Ah, see, you have a point, but I read lots of fantasy series, a few have years between books, not just a year like Mark Lawrence, etc churn out, and I like to think that I have quite a good memory over remembering stuff that happens in books, even if it’s a few years ago, weird perhaps, I dunno, can remember stuff in books from a few years ago but forget the important things that happened not long ago!lmao

        True, we are both awesome and if the PC brigade ever takes over the blogging community it will be for us both how does the Queen say it, oh yes ‘off with their heads!’ 🙂

        Liked by 2 people

      3. You’re one of those good memory people… yeah… my husband is can tell you facts from the 90s without batting an eyelid, but something I told him a day before doesn’t dawn on him at all… sometimes, I’m quite jealous if this kind of ability! 😀
        But yes, the good memory defo helps with the facts! Lucky you!:)

        Hahahaha… yeah, I’ll pull the Queen card!

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Damn… this review has me craving for more fantasy novels than my reading speed can handle. Really love the sound of this, from characters to plot. Even sounds like the author does an impeccable job in how she delivers everything (no info-dumping). Great review man!

    P.S. Thing is with spiders… I 200% don’t want to deal with them in real life. But when it comes to fiction, there’s this “power” where I am their masters that helps me reduce that 200% to a much more manageable 100%. And… you know what they say about your fears… You gotta face them if you want to overcome them! Bats made Bruce Wayne Batman after all! If there’s a chance I could become Spider-Man, I’m in. 😀 😀

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Lmao, Spiderman!😂 You’ve got to read The Hatching, especially as Liz said she’d read it if you did, I can only imagine the colourful language and phrases that she’d use in her review to describe certain parts!😂

      I definitely feel that about reading speed, I’m not a fast reader and fantasy books are big, damn, it always seems sarcastic when I write that but it’s true as they seem to be anywhere upto 1,000+ pages in length, wish I could read faster as there’s so many series I haven’t had the chance to read.😞

      Thanks, yeah, it’s definitely a great read, and no ‘info dumping’ is good, it’s not something I mind in fantasy books but I do prefer when it doesn’t happen and it’s spread throughout the story in manageable levels, not just one big pile, also prefer when it’s subtle too.

      Liked by 1 person

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