Reviews of The Firedragon
From Brooke Three Eagles, author of Valkyrie:
I received an in-house copy prior to release for this review, and so, here it is...
Ok, first things first, I've got to say it... This book is AWESOME!
I'm not one for spoilers- I'd rather leave the surprises for future readers to discover on their own, so you won't find an over abundance of detail related feedback here in.
The wedding of an excellently crafted dystopian setting to a fantasy realm crawling with terrifying monsters was brilliant, and the writer's skill weaves them together perfectly, so that neither element feels out of place or forced.
The main character is a young girl of (mixed?) Asian descent. She's an arrogant and quick tempered loner-type, having only one friend in all the world... and she's a total badass. I loved her by the second chapter.
As for the plot, well, it's ensnaring, well- written, and original. The excitement levels rise and fall in all the right places, building enough anticipation early on to hook the reader, and then carrying through right to the end.
If I had one complaint, what would it be?
The ending... it's not a cliffhanger, per se, but it leaves you wanting so much more. That's not my complaint, just the lead in. My gripe is that I now have to wait for the next installment in the series to find out what happens!
From Tash McAdam, author of the "Psionics" series:
Well, now I am really excited for Flynn Nightsider and the Edge of Evil!
What an excellent introduction to a complex mythology; I really enjoyed learning about the different beasts our hero, Aurelia Sun had to face in her adventures. A gutsy, quick thinking young woman, who is easy to empathise with, she is a character in the vein of Alanna of Trebond. In fact, I feel like readers of Tamora Pierce will be very on board with Mary Fan's writing in general.
Believable combat, and fast paced action scenes kept me glued to my kindle as we raced to the final show down. Can't wait to see what happens next!
From fantasy author Will Herr:
Full Disclosure: I recieved the pre-pre release of the final editing copy for Firedragon, by Mary Fan, with the request that I offer an honest review. I will do so now.
First star, for clarity. There is no question on the plot of the book, which is appropriate for YA literature. You know what the characters have to do, and you know why they want to do it. That said, the plot is its own form of brilliance. Mary Fan has taken the classic tale of Pelleus and Ettarre, and twisted it on its ear. In her version, the roles are modified. Pelleus is, in this case, Ettarre. Ettarre's identity you will discover when you read. It is, after all, part of the plot. Gawaine is there too, if you know where to look. Vivian is not so spiteful as we remember, but you cannot have everything when you write a rollicking adventure. Of course Pelleus must lay her sword across the necks of... well... I won't spoil the plot for you. Excellent, Mary. You've tickled the classicist in me.
Second star for rollicking adventure. Mary's Fan's imagery reminds me of a Jackie Chan movie (actually, quite a lot, considering the content), except her heroine never uses a ladder or a bucket as a lethal weapon. Next book in the series, maybe? The action is well thought-out, exceptionally painted, and easy to visualize. It tickled the 'guy' in me.
Third star for language. The protagonist is not so much educated, as trained. As a result, much of her language is simple and bombastic. The protagonist, for instance, would never say the word 'bombastic'. As the book is written from her POV, the language of the book reflects this. So, how do you roll in the beauty of varied language, when your POV is under-educated? You'll have to buy the book to find out, but I was impressed.
Fourth star is for freshness. I have not seen an author tackle a classic plot with the same zeal and fun, and that deserves something. To do so in a genre riddled by consistently predictable stereotypes takes guts. To do it right takes skill. All of the above gets a star.
Fifth star is for--well, I have to admit it. I liked the main character. She might be an anti-social borderline-narcissist, but you have to love her. You root for her, and you want to follow her story through the following books.
So, five stars for Firedragon. I look forward to the next in the series, and heartily recommend it.
From Stephen Kozeniewski, author of Braineater Jones and The Ghoul Archipelago:
I was delighted to receive an advance review copy of this novella from the author. This will not affect my review in any way.
Aurelia Sun is a brash, arrogant young heroine...well, perhaps "arrogant" is not strong enough of a word. She thinks very highly of herself, and her confidence seems well-founded for she is indeed the greatest monster hunter or "Defender" in her world. She is known as the "Firedragon" or monster to the monsters.
Being inside Aurelia's headspace is a fun romp for the length of a novella. Imagine Batman's inner monologue if her were a pubescent girl. I imagine Aurelia's excessively healthy sense of self esteem would get grating over the course of a long book, but luckily THE FIREDRAGON is a very short, fast read, the perfect length at about 80 pp. (I'm estimating as the novella is only available in e-format right now.)
Aurelia is a strong young heroine who teenage girls will admire and probably sympathize with. She is by no means perfect, and while she is something like superhuman in her fighting prowess, her emotional journey is fraught with the sort of insecurity about decision-making and questioning of authority that all young adults must go through.
I highly, highly recommend this YA read. As a (debatably) grown-up male I enjoyed this as a fun action adventure that definitely whetted my appetite for the upcoming FLYNN NIGHTSIDER series. For the YA audience it's geared towards, I think they'll find even more to love. 5 well-earned stars out of 5.
From Linda Foster, author of the "Realm of the Claimed" series:
I received a pre-release copy of Firedragon by Mary Fan for an honest review. All comments reflect no ones view but my own.
I realize many who have read this raved about her crazy world-building skills, but I'm going to repeat it, because it DESERVES to be repeated! Mary takes hold of you and tosses you into a flawlessly written dystopian world. Feisty Aurelia - who I envision winning the hunger games with her hands tied behind her back - wants to show everyone that she can kick butt from page one, and does it! I really wish I could gush more about it without giving anything away!
Mary's an amazing writer, with fluid and beautiful writing and characters that jump off the page. I can't wait for the book to come out so I can find out what happens next with Aurelia! Everyone needs to go out and order a copy RIGHT NOW! You will not be disappointed!!!
From publishing consultant Jacqueline Simonds:
Disclosure: I was given an advance copy to review.
In this fast-paced novella - the introduction to a series - Aurelia Sun is an orphan trained to fight actual no-kidding people-killing monsters since she was four. The future America she finds herself in is ruled by an oligarchy of magic-users, after the Lord of the Underworld breaks free and unleashes his monsters upon an unsuspecting world. Those who have magic defeat him, but the monsters still have full run of Earth, and it’s people like Aurelia who protect the populace. Aurelia is a non-magic user - called Norms - who are oppressed by the magical overlords. Aurelia aspires to be the best Defender (non-magical monster killer) in the world, and so she is excited when the Enchanters have an international Challenge to display monster-killing skills. But it isn’t until she meets others of her type that she discovers there is MUCH more going on than what she thought.
Where was Mary Fan’s Firedragon when I was a girl? I had lots of fierce feelings that weren’t considered girlish back then (and still do), and Aurelia Sun certainly lives up to the “fierce” model!
There is so much depth to this novella, it is hard to tell you what and how much I admired this clever piece of world-building and character development. Aurelia is a character that is almost primitive on page one, and already grows at the end of this story. You know she will develop further in subsequent outings. The fight scenes alone are well-planned out and should be studied by anyone writing fight scenes. The political and cultural crosscurrents already evident in this world create an expectation of something with far more depth than say, Divergent or Hunger Games.
If you don’t finish this and think, day-um, I have GOT to have the next book the minute it comes out... check your pulse, you may be as dead as one of the monsters Aurelia kills.
From George Ebey, author of the "Phoenix Saga":
I can’t begin to express how excellent this story is. It has everything. Monsters. Swords. And enough action to drop your jaw ten times over.
Picture a future where supernatural monsters roam the world. The human race is split into two classes: magic-wielding humans known as Enchanters and those without magical powers known as Norms. In this world, the Norms are looked down upon as second class citizens. But one of them, the feisty Aurelia Sun, is having none of that.
Aurelia is out to prove that Norms can kill monsters just as effectively as Enchanters can, and you can bet that she puts her heart and soul into every monster-basing moment of it.
I won’t say more; except to say that it is a ride worth taking and then some. I can’t wait to see where it’s all going from here.
From P.T. McHugh, author of the "Stone Ends" series:
I loved every word of this story. Wonderfully crafted, Mary has a great gift for writing. I cannot wait for her next book!
From Elizabeth Corrigan, author of the "Earthbound Angels" series:
I enjoyed Mary Fan’s previous books, but I was especially excited about this one because it was a young adult novella. It did not disappoint! Firedragon tells the story of fourteen-year-old Aurelia Sun, aka the Firedragon, demon fighter extraordinaire, as she competes to become the champion monster-killer. She thinks she’s got it in the bag, even though she’s up against some of the toughest fighters—and toughest monsters–the world has ever seen. But she is about to discover that things are not as they seem.
Aurelia is an interesting, fully fleshed-out character. Yes, she is arrogant beyond reason, but some of that may be justified, as she seems to be quite as good a fighter as she claims. She is also fiercely loyal to her friends (or friend, really, with an emphasis on the fierce) and capable of recognizing injustice. Okay, so she most notices injustice when it is done to her, but she has greater concerns as well.
Also of note is the unique world that Fan has developed. She has created a dystopia where the ruling class is both necessary for the survival of the species but also corrupt and in need of some knocking down. So we get fights with scary monsters AND political intrigue. Ooh, maybe someday there will be a ball!
The closest thing I can compare Firedragon to is Angelbound by Christina Bauer, which I also loved, because both books are about kickass girls who are intimately familiar with the ways to kill different kinds of demons. I am super excited to read the Flynn Nightsider series when it comes out!
From Christopher Vale, author of the "Dracengard" series:
"The Firedragon" is a short action packed story about a fourteen year old girl who is in a competition to decide the greatest monster slayer of all time. Aurelia is an orphan who the despotic government that now controls North America has trained since diapers to fight and kill monsters that were unleashed during humanity's war with the Lord of the Underworld. Humanity is now split into a caste system that includes the upper class of magical humans and the lower class of normal humans, known succinctly as "norms." Dubbed "The Firedragon" by her peers, because she is so badass, Aurelia dreams of showing the world that norms are just as good as magical humans. The monster slaying tournament is her chance to prove it.
This was a terrific story. I read it in one sitting and absolutely could not put it down. Aurelia is young and cocky, and, therefore, often does dumb things that you would expect an arrogant, fourteen year-old, monster killer to do, but she certainly is good with a sword. The book tackles tough topics like inequality, government corruption, revolution, the liberty/security debate, and others all without letting up on the action.
The story is very well written and the pacing is almost perfect. The descriptions of the world, the characters and the monsters are illustrated well and character development is good for such a short action story. I did feel that one character died too early and would have liked it if he had stayed alive a bit longer so that the reader and Aurelia, would feel a little more attached to him when he died.
My biggest complaint is that the ending seemed a bit rushed. I think the author could have slowed that down some and I would have enjoyed it more. The story has closure (though not complete closure), so you can read this book and feel like you don't have to read any other stories in this world if you don't want to, but apparently there is going to be a series about a different character in this world named Flynn Nightsider. I do intend to read that series and I certainly hope there is some overlap with this story.
If you like action stories with butt-kicking, sword wielding girls (and those of you who have read my "Dracengard" series and my review of "Mila" know that I do), then you're going to enjoy this one.