Title: A Destiny of Dragons (Tales from Verania #2)
Author: T.J. Klune and Michael Lesley (Narrator)
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Release Date: November 17th 2017
Genre(s): M/M Fantasy/Comedy
Length: 16 hrs and 40 mins
Reviewed by: ColinJ
Heat Level: 5 flames out of 5
Rating: 5 stars out of 5
Once upon a time, the wizard’s apprentice Sam of Wilds got his happily ever after in the arms of his cornerstone, Knight Commander Ryan Foxheart. A year has passed, and while Sam’s been captured five or six more times since then, things are pretty great. His parents are happy, Gary and Tiggy still eat sass for breakfast, Randall is somehow alive despite being older than the gods, the King rules with a gentle hand, Kevin the dragon is as gross as ever, Morgan sighs a lot, Ryan continues to be dashing and immaculate, and Sam is close to convincing Prince Justin they will be best friends forever.
Life is good.
Until it’s not.
Because Vadoma, the leader of the Gypsy clan and Sam’s grandmother, has come to the City of Lockes with a dire prophecy written in the stars: a man of shadows is rising and will consume the world unless Sam faces his destiny and gathers the five dragons of Verania at his side.
And she brings along her second-in-command, a man named Ruv.
Ruv, who Vadoma says is Sam’s true cornerstone.
The author does it again and pulls off what has to be one of the most difficult things to do in writing, mix high camp humour with traditional tension-driven high fantasy. The full novel format is necessary in this case and allows for transition between the two genres to be paced effectively as the story progresses. As the second in the series there is the ubiquitous reminders of what has gone before but this doesn’t really get in the way of what is to come. The characterisation is very good and all of the individuals are uniquely identifiable. Where credibility is challenged, if that is possible with such a book, it is with regards to the protagonist who at 21 is just a little too mature at times. This is a natural consequence of mixing the genres as the story hinges on the two aspects of his character. That is the difficulty, as he needs to be that young to make the camp realistic and the world revolve around him.
The narration is certainly in keeping with the style and pace of the novel. With an accentuated vocal performance that stretches and enhances the characters. Sometimes the vocal representations are humorous in themselves, certainly it is the first time that I have heard a gruff fusion of Scottish and Russian accent that fits but is not what is anticipated for a dragon. I’m not sure about Tiggy though, as surely this character is naive but loving, sadly the accent sounds more retarded which surely he is not. In addition Morgan is just that little too gruff. That aside, the narration provides an enhancement that is crystallized through the pacing and voice of Sam and Gary. Having read the book first, the voice acting will never be what the reader has in their head, but I did not feel at all frustrated by the narration and that is surely a positive.
There is a huge feeling of love and bonding throughout and this is etched with bitchy humour to stop it becoming sappy. The whirlwind of feelings that surround the hero does tend to dampen the surrounding characters. However, given that this is written largely in the first person it may explain how the actions of others outside his sphere of influence tend to come as a surprise to him. The bond between the hero and his love is very strong but thankfully is peppered with the sorts of petty niggles that go with an established relationship.
That is not to say that all is perfect in the story. The longer format does mean that there are times when either the frenetic pace goes on a little too long or where the linking scenes drag and you want them to just get on with it. However, on balance it is the sort of book that both grips and has you laughing out loud.
Then wow! That epilogue came out of the blue. The story gets to a point where the reader expects more of the same only to get a twist in the tail. Not sure if it works as well as it might, as the momentum shifts due to the change in direction. However the third book in the series is hopefully around the corner.