Friday, August 12, 2011

On Wyrs: A Review of Dragon Bound by Thea Harrison

Iggy makes a dragon friend.
I've seen practically nothing but rave reviews for Dragon Bound by Thea Harrison, so I'm sorry to say that I was a little underwhelmed. I didn't hate it, and certain parts of it were fantastic, but I have enough complaints that I'm going to have to label it as average.

The book opens with Pia, our heroine, escaping after stealing an item from Dragos' lair. This feat was supposed to have been impossible, but Pia has some hidden talents--and furthermore, she was threatened and blackmailed into the act. Dragos is beyond pissed at the insult of being robbed, and pursues Pia as she flees into the territory of his enemies. To say more would give too much away, so I'll just say that with Dragos being the leader of the Wyrs (shapeshifters, I guess), he has some pretty nasty enemies.

I'm going to start with the world building, because the concept of a book containing dragons, elves, and fairies as main characters is what drew me to this book in the first place. Books with such a variety of supernatural creatures and concepts often suffer from info dump and exposition overload. Thankfully, this one wasn't too bad--the author keeps it simple. I actually wished for a little more information at certain times--some clarification on the distinctions between fae and elf and so on, for example. But overall, the world building is pretty solid.

That said, there isn't anything spectacularly innovative going on in this book. It follows a lot of the traditional patterns you'll see in paranormal romance, and uses many familiar tropes. If you swapped out the dragon and other mythological creatures for vampires and werewolves, every reviewer would be calling this a boring cliched flop. And the thing is, you really could make that swap without damaging the plot too much.

Let's take Dragos as an example. Initially I was impressed by the fact that he acted so much like the mythological dragon I hoped for. He's acquisitive and possessive, violent and uncivilized, a leader but a loner, and of course ancient and immortal. But other than the actual turning into a dragon, the above traits are ones I'm used to seeing in the vamps and werewolf alphas of other books. He just isn't unique in my mind. He's a nifty concept, but his personality is underdeveloped and unoriginal. As a result, I never fully connected with him.

Then there's Pia. I liked Pia, because she seemed to act, and react to events, much the way I would expect a rational person to. She isn't too perfect, she has plenty of  moments where she freaks out. She makes some bad decisions, but still demonstrates competence. Throughout most of the book, it's a mystery as to what Pia actually is. The payoff is not disappointing.

The timeline of the book spans a little over a week. That's a pretty short time for two people to fall in love and commit to one another. That leads me into my biggest issue with this book. I'm just going to say it, SPOILER though it is...this is a fated mate book. The relationship is destined to be, no point fighting it, don't know if they could live without one another, etc. The mate bond (in this book) is pretty much entirely used as a substitute for a real emotional connection, a contrived way of putting two people together who would probably not commit to one another otherwise. The sex scenes were sensual and intense, so I believed that Pia and Dragos have the hots for one another. And yes, I guess I believe they're bonded as mates because the book tells me so. But I'm not satisfied that they feel real, absolute love. I'm not even satisfied that they know each other very well. This book felt like the prelude to a real love story, not the love story itself.

Overall, I'm not hugely disappointed in this book. I would probably read the next book in the series if I came across it. I just feel pretty neutral toward this one. 2.5 stars.

As a P.S. I want to mention the end, but it's a big spoiler so I'm putting it down here. For the love of God, don't click this if you actually intend to read the book.

This book used what I call the "Happily Pregnant After" ending, wherein the pregnancy is thrown in at the last 1/5 of the book as a pretty weak plot contrivance. And in the last 10 pages, all parties decide that their totally cool with it, that the baby will in fact strengthen their relationship. Ugh! I'm never a fan of this sort of ending, but in this particular book I was really REALLY annoyed because the hero and heroine have only known each other a grand total of 10 days. What a bummer to bring a kid into the mix before the relationship has even really started.

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