Talon was written by Julie Kagawa and first published in 2014. It is a paranormal romance story which focuses on a young dragon as she experiences life as a human for the very first time. The book is the first instalment of The Talon Saga and is followed by Rogue (2015). A second sequel, provisionally titled Soldier, is expected to be released next year.

Ember Hill and her twin brother, Dante, have just reached a vital part of their training. For most of their lives, they have been restricted to a Talon compound, learning about humans so that they will be eventually able to hide among them. Now, that day is finally here. Their first mission is to spend the summer in a Californian beach resort, befriending humans and learning to imitate them.

It sounds like fun and games but a dragon’s life is never so easy. Ember is now forced to balance her new found human freedoms with strict combat training. Her instructor is always quick to remind her that she is not one of them. Dragons are predators, humans are prey. Her job is to learn how to manipulate them to her advantage.

But there are humans that pose a threat to Talon. The Order of St George have taken it upon themselves to wipe them out. To further this end, Garret Xavier Sebastian is sent to California in order to root out and destroy Ember. He’s grown up believing that dragons are monsters but Ember’s passion and courage soon gives him pause for thought. Yet when a rogue dragon also appears at the resort, everything changes. Suddenly all that Ember once knew – Talon, St George, humans – is thrown into doubt. She must decide which path she wishes to tread but it’s not an easy choice to make. No matter who she sides with, the others will surely want her dead…

I think I should probably start by saying that I was pleasantly surprised by this book. I mean really pleasantly surprised. You’ve probably sussed by now that paranormal romances aren’t exactly my favourite genre. That’s not to say that I hate them (Shiver and The Winter People were both great) but they’d still never be my first choice to read for pleasure. Please take it as the highest of compliments that I really enjoyed Talon.

The story was pretty standard for a paranormal romance, basically being your tale of human meets supernatural-being-in-human-form, but the important thing for me was that it handled this fantastically. As a romance story, it worked really well. The pacing of the novel is steady, building up to a very exciting climax. There is plenty of time for a realistic relationship to bloom between Ember and Garret, starting out from their initial spark of attraction and building to something more serious. The romantic element of the story is incredibly sweet but all the while tension mounts as you wonder how long it will be before Garret and Ember realise that they are mortal enemies.

The balance between the romance and the overarching plot is very even and I think this is part of what drew me to the story. My problem with many paranormal romances is that, once the romance is removed, there’s no substance to the tale. However, I was completely enthralled by Talon’s world. The novel begins from Ember’s perspective, showing her belief that Talon was inherently good and that St George hunted them because they were horrible people. Yet the cracks in her logic quickly begin to show. As Ember interacts more with Riley the rogue dragon, she soon starts to see that Talon haven’t been entirely honest with her and are nowhere near as benevolent as they seem.

Stories are always more interesting when there is no good and evil and, in Talon, that’s definitely the case. There are fanatics on both sides and the innocent people (and dragons) who get caught in between. My only problem was that I wanted more. The two conflicting forces were both fascinating but the novel didn’t really focus on either. The story was largely set on a Californian beach and so we never saw much of Talon or St George’s inner workings. Given how the novel ends, I imagine the sequel will go into this more. I hope this is the case anyway. I know what it’s like to be human. I really want to learn more about factions that shaped Ember and Garret’s lives.

Beyond this, my only real issues with the story were mild (and personal) annoyances. I didn’t really rate the love triangle. In my opinion, these are rarely ever effective and the one in Talon felt particularly tacked on. It didn’t go anywhere in the story as Ember never really reciprocated Riley’s feelings. While she did comment on being drawn to him a couple of times, I was never really in any doubt that she loved Garret.

Beyond this, it was only a couple of the descriptions that got on my nerves. In particular, Ember and Riley both constantly referred to their instincts in a way that made them sound possessed (“my dragon had other plans”). I don’t know why this annoyed me so much but just…why? They are dragons, their human appearances are just disguises. These instincts should be natural to them so why describe them as though they’re foreign? The author also had a real liking for certain adjectives. The Scary Talon Lady’s eyes were described as being a poisonous green many times over the course of the novel. I got the point the first time. She has green eyes. I don’t know why we had to be reminded of this every time she appears in the story.

However, this didn’t prevent me from loving the characters. Even the secondary characters in this book felt pretty solid and likable. Dante is a particularly interesting character and I really liked the chapters that showed him gradually growing apart from Ember. I also liked Riley and his little band of rogues whole awful lot. Nettle and Remy were pretty late additions to the cast but I hope they have more to do in Rogue. They were both utterly lovable.

Yet it was the primary cast that really shone. Ember is a fantastic character. She’s fiery, witty, independent and more than capable of taking care of herself. Her relationship with Garret serves to make her stronger, helping her to see past Talon’s brainwashing and make her own decisions. There is no sense that Garret needs to protect her – the two of them are really there to save each other. Garret exists to teach Ember that humans are more complicated than Talon make out and Ember exists to teach Garret that not all dragons are monsters. It was really refreshing to find a paranormal romance where the lovers complimented each other so well.

I don’t really have much more to say about this story. Talon isn’t perfect but it is a lovely romance novel, possessing an enthralling plot and really lovable characters. It formed an excellent introduction to Kagawa’s world and I really do hope that Rogue is able to expand on these ideas further. I rarely finish a book and find myself desperate to read more but Talon totally sucked me in. I really can’t wait to find out where Ember’s adventures take her next.

Talon can be purchased as a Paperback, eBook and Audio Book on Amazon.co.uk

6 Comments (+add yours?)

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