Legend of the Oceina Dragon by J.F. Jenkins.

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Book One in The Dragon Saga.

Kindle Edition, 187 pages

First published February 21st 2011

Tai lives on a small island where water dragons fly overhead and there are priests who communicate with them. Every eight years, a sacrifice is made to one of the dragons. A pure young woman of their choosing will be presented to the dragon for, it is thought, consumption. The truth? Those dragons can turn into men, and the girl they choose becomes their bride.

Darien has been watching Tai from afar for years, hopelessly falling in love with her. Once they are married, Darien takes Tai to the mainland, far from her island home. She can never return, as everyone thinks she is dead, and the dragon’s secret must be kept hidden. Tai is unimpressed with being forced into a marriage with Darien, but promises to stick around – at least for a little while.

Darien’s father is the Great Dragon Lord of the Water, and seems to be grooming Darien to follow in the political ways, so Darien keeps having to leave his new bride to attend meetings with his father, much to his despair. Still, Tai seems to be thawing towards him. But what will it mean for the couple when the fire dragons threaten the water dragons?

This was such an amazing idea for a story, and there are so many cool aspects involved as you read it. The flaw, for me, is that it seemed kind of rushed and jumpy. Also, I wish that the world building had been more developed – Legend of the Oceina Dragon was set in modern times, which interested me, as the idea of a small island being protected by dragons with a whole dragon related religion just seems so opposite of modern. I wanted to explore that some more, but this book, at least, didn’t quite deliver.

Still, I feel like this series will get better as it goes on, so I am going to read some more and see how it goes.

My rating: 3/5

Goodreads rating: 3.67/5

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Mistborn: The Final Empire by Brandon Sanderson.

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First published July 25th, 2006 by Tor Books

The Mistborn series must have sat on my shelf for over a year before I got around to reading the first book. A guy from work recommended them to me. He seems to have really good taste in fantasy – he also got me onto The Name of the Wind – so I probably should have had more faith in him and got onto these books sooner. No matter. It’s done now.

Mistborn: The Final Empire is so good. It’s about a group of skaa(lower class people) rising up against their oppressors and overthrowing the empire.

One thousand years ago, the world was green and lush with flowers and sunshine – unfortunately, there was a darkness threatening the land. One man – the hero of ages – attempted to fight back against this evil, but he failed. The world is now bleak – vegetation is all a yucky brown, there are regular ash falls, and the nefarious Lord Ruler – a supposed god – runs the show with the help of his ministry Obligators and the creepy, seemingly indestructible Inquisitors.

Kelsier is a half-skaa (half nobleman) who survived the Pits of Hathsin – a place no one has ever managed to escape from before. He’s also a serious allomancer – a mistborn (more on that later) . He gathers up a crew of thieves and mistings for his rebellion.

Vin is another Mistborn. She’s a street urchin, basically. She grew up with her brother, who constantly belittled and abused her, making her the suspicious, skeptical little thing that she is now. Before Kel found her, she was working in a thieving crew, with only an inkling of the power she possesses.

Together, and with the help of Kel’s group of mistings, they set out to destroy the Lord Ruler’s regime . . .

Allomancy is the ability to ‘burn’ different metals (that you’ve ingested) to enhance senses, make you stronger, faster, etc; also, you can ‘push’ or ‘pull’ on metals outside of your body. You could use a coin as a weapon by ripping it through someone’s body, for example. You can even fly. Most allomancers are only mistings: they have one of these abilities. But Kel and Vin are Mistborns, meaning that they have all of them. I’m afraid that I haven’t explained all of that very well – but trust me, it’s all very cool.

I love the world that Brandon Sanderson has created here. He answered a lot of questions and tied up most of the loose ends, but still left a few little things out there. I want to jump straight into the next book and discover it all!

The Magicians by Lev Grossman.

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Paperback, 516 pages

First Published August 11, 2009 by Viking

IBSN: 9780452295766

Quinten Coldwater is seventeen, brilliant, and dissatisfied. He is heading to a college interview on a blistery cold day when a strange encounter leads him instead to the sunny grounds of the exclusive Brakebills, a college that teaches magic. Amazingly, after extensive testing, he is admitted.

Throughout his years at college he finds friendship and first love, tastes true terror for the first time, discovers the complicated wizardry game of welters, drinks a lot of alcohol, gets in a punch up, partakes in an amazing journey and, of course, learns a lot of magic.

But after college is over, Quinten’s restlessness rises up again. So it’s just as well that he and his friends make a discovery too awesome to be true – something that he has never dared to hope for before. The odyssey that follows is both horrible and fantastic.

From Brooklyn to Brakebills, to Antarctica and back again, from the real world to the wonderful other, and spanning many years, the Magicians is truly epic.

For whatever reason, I loved this book. It has stark symmetries with Harry Potter and the Chronicles of Narnia, but instead of seeming like a blatant rip off it is more like a respectful nod. The fictional Fillory and Further series that exists in this world is very similar to Narnia, especially with all the siblings in wartime and the world between the worlds, but the events that happen within the Fillory books are original and exciting. I really wish that those books existed so that I could read them!

Sometimes the characters in this could be very unlikable. I wanted to give Quinten a good shoulder shake and slap for his behaviour at one point. And I’m not sure if I ever liked Janet – but that could be hindsight talking. I think that the unlikeable thing works as a part of the story – imagine how you would be if you could do magic. A god complex might emerge, or a severe detachment from ‘lesser’ non-magic using humans and their way of life. The boredom of having everything.

The last chunk of this book is particularly excellent. There is lots of action and little twists and moments that make you go, ‘oh!’ But I won’t divulge any more than that, just know that it’s very cool.

What’s also great is that all those little loose ends that show up throughout the book get tied up.

And, this is not a series- oh, wait, scratch that. A little research has proven that there is in fact a second book. I’m not sure how I feel about that, as I was just about to praise the Magicians on it’s standaloneness. Nevertheless, this is the kind of story that some other author may have needlessly dragged across a four part series (several young adult series come to mind).

I’ll think of this book from time to time, and remember parts of it vividly and fondly, as if I’d only just read it. I mean that in a good way.

Expect to see a review of book two sometime in the future . . .