Rogue

Rogue

Please note that this review may contain spoilers for is prequel, Talon. You can read my review of this novel [here].

Rogue was written by Julie Kagawa and first published in 2015. It forms the second part of The Talon Saga and is preceded by Talon (2014). The third book in the series, Solider, is due for release next month. Rogue picks up exactly where Talon left off, so you really need to read the novels in sequence to fully appreciate them.

Ember Hill has gone rogue. Following her discovery of how Talon treated its failures, she has gone on the run with Riley and small band of rebels. However, she can’t just forget Garret. Even though he’s part of the Order of Saint George – the sworn enemies of her kind – he sacrificed everything in order to allow her to escape. Riley and the others don’t seem to care if he lives or dies but Ember knows that she has to help him. She owes him that much at least.

On learning that Garret has been sentenced to death by firing squad, Ember and Riley plan a dangerous rescue mission. The only way to save Garret is break into one of Saint George’s heavily fortified bases. If they fail, this means instant death at the hands of fully trained dragonslayers. If they succeed, they will be forced to live a life on the run, knowing that Saint George will never stop pursuing them.

Yet Saint George are not their only problem. Talon is not pleased to have lost Ember as they had such big plans for her. However, Dante has proven his loyalty to them. When Talon give him the important mission of rescuing Ember, he jumps at the chance to show that he is not a traitor like his sister. He firmly believes that Ember has naively allowed herself to be seduced by a terrorist and now has the resources at his fingertips to bring her back into Talon’s clutches…

I reviewed Talon back in October on a friend’s suggestion and you might remember that I was pleasantly surprised by it. While I’m not generally a fan of paranormal romance stories, Talon was an imaginative and original novel with some really strong characters. I light of this, I have to admit that I was rather disappointed by Rogue. I’ll get into that more in a moment but the short of it is that it’s just not as memorable as its prequel and really fails to develop its concepts into anything new.

However, I will start by praising the things that I thought Rogue did handle really well. While Talon was pretty slow-burning, Rogue is a lot faster paced. Although it did lose its fire towards the middle, it was peppered with well-written action sequences that helped it to keep its momentum. While I did find some of the shootouts with Saint George to be a little repetitive, the climactic battle between Ember and another dragon was very exciting and I’m hoping that there is more action sequences of this sort in the next novel.

However, beyond this, I found Rogue to be rather frustrating to read. Talon went to great lengths to lay the foundations of an interesting and original world, one that took a lot of themes common to high fantasy novels and applied them to a contemporary setting. It’s a world where shapeshifting dragons control the economy in secret and marines following the teachings of Saint George mercilessly hunt them down in order to “protect” the oblivious human race. I really hoped that Rogue would show more of the inner workings of both worlds but, other than a brief teaser in the epilogue, we didn’t really discover anything new about either.

The issues actually ran far deeper than this. I’d go as far as saying that Rogue didn’t really have a plot at all. Following Garret’s rescue (which happened about 100 pages into the 444 page novel) the story merely follows Ember, Garret and Riley on the run to Las Vegas where they are forced to escape from both of the factions chasing them. Thinking back now, I’m surprised at how little happened over the course of this novel. This book contains so much padding, so many scenes where the characters just sit in hotel rooms and snipe at each other, but very little that actually feels substantial.

Over this time it also became painfully clear that the narrative quirks that irritated me in Talon, such as the inhuman characters referring to “their dragon” as though it was a possessing entity and Kagawa’s perceived need to tell us the eye colour of every character, were still present and still very jarring. Maybe it wouldn’t have been so bad if this time had been spent developing the characters but, unfortunately, this wasn’t the case either.

The characters were the very best thing about Talon but this time they seemed like entirely different people. Ember’s inner fire seems to burn out following Garret’s rescue. She rarely shows any of the independence and confidence that she displayed in Talon, instead largely having her life dictated for her by the male characters. In the absence of freedom, she becomes increasingly selfish and her characteristic naivety caused me to quickly become frustrated with her.

I can understand why she wanted to rescue Garret, even though the other rebels made quite clear to her that doing so would put them all in danger. However, with this one victory under her belt, she immediately starts to beg for a chance to “rescue” Dante. Dante’s actions in the climax of the previous book and her knowledge of Talon’s brainwashing should have clued her into the fact that he’s now one of her enemies but, no, Ember is somehow completely oblivious to this fact. Hopefully this will have finally sunk in by the third book.

The male characters are all worse still, forever bickering and trying to control Ember. Each of them seem to have her pegged as some kind of delicate flower that needs constant protection (you know, despite the fact that she’s a flipping dragon) and seem reluctant to let her do anything alone. Riley is no longer the laid back character that he was in Talon, instead coming across as possessive, smug and overly aggressive. The vague love triangle between him, Ember and Garret from the first book is now unfortunately the focus of the story, yet I can’t really feel any chemistry between any of the characters. Ember’s feelings towards Garret (the only character I can actually tolerate) seemed most genuine. She and Riley don’t share any romantic scenes and so her attraction to him can only be described as lust. At one point, Ember questions:

“Longing. Love. Which was stronger?”

It’s love Ember. Always love. You should be with Garret. Problem solved. Why do we have to drag this out?

Beyond the main three, there is little by the way of character development. Some of the more interesting characters like Dante and Wes don’t get much chance to grow and the new characters, Ava and Faith, appear late in the story and so we don’t really get to see much depth in them either. I was also disappointed that the hatchlings introduced in Talon – Nettle and Remy – did not appear in this novel at all, meaning that their impact on the story so far has been purely to provide brief exposition to Ember.

Beyond this, I don’t have much more to say about this novel. Rogue felt heavily padded and dominated by an incredibly unsatisfactory love triangle. It made all of the same mistakes as Talon and many more besides. I was really excited to pick up this novel but was left just feeling disappointed on every level. I hope that the series manages to find its feet again in Soldier but I’m unfortunately no longer very optimistic that this will be the case.

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

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2 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Trackback: Soldier | Arkham Reviews
  2. Trackback: Legion | Arkham Reviews

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