Fenn’s first and only memory is finding himself in the middle of a forest, face to face with a dragon spirit mocking him, all knowledge gone apart from his own name.
Lost and confused, his only hope for answers is Calidra—a woman living on the edge of the world with her partner. Forced to return home when her father dies, Calidra has put off facing her estranged mother for seven years, and she begrudgingly helps Fenn, forging papers for him so he can avoid the Queen’s Inquisitors.
But her mother is the least of her worries when they discover an ancient enemy is rising again. It should be impossible with the Iron Crown in power—and Fenn is terrified he might unwittingly be playing a part in the war’s resurgence.
Surrounded by vengeful spirits and powerful magic, Fenn’s desperate attempt to find his way home might well alter the fate of Tassar, and every power in it.
A new high fantasy series bursts into life with the DRAGON SPIRITS who reign supreme in the magic-drenched world of Tassar.
PUBLISHED ON: 28 May 2021
GENRE: Epic Fantasy
STARS: 3.25 Stars
BOOK 1 OF DRAGON SPIRIT TRILOGY
The Iron Crown by L.L.MacRae was the SPFBO Finalist for the year 2021
CONVINCING YOU TO READ THIS IN 6 WORDS:
Memory loss, Dragon Spirits, Tentative peace, Found family Blessings and Curses.
READ FOR: ARC provided by the Author via The Escapist Tours
CHARACTER GROWTH: Less than what I expected
After waking up and realising Fenn remembered nothing except his name, he was lost. What was even worse than that was that he found himself in the middle of a lake sinking. Slowly, he untangled himself and pulled himself out of the lake, only to encounter a Dragon Spirit. Being at a loss of who he was or where he was, he was even more at a loss when he talked with the Dragon and when the Dragon finally disappeared. The whole encounter left Fenn with more confusion than clarity and of course, a splitting headache. The only good thing that came after waking up was meeting Jisyel and Calidra. He convinces them that he isn’t the enemy that Calidra believes him and is just in need of a little help.
The series of help commenced and he found himself back at their Inn, resting. A sudden letter from Calidra forces her to leave the comfort of the tiny island and go back to her home. Her childhood home and face her mother. Trying to find much-needed help and having no other option, Fenn accompanies Calidra and Jisyel. Despite his constant efforts, he could not recall anything and the fact that he keeps on seeing creatures that no one else could, added to his constant headache.
Due to the increase in Lost Souls, everyone entering was thoroughly checked. While Fenn was scared for his life but Calidra’s influence at being the Laid’s daughter gave him temporary relief. That relief was short-lived because he was caught in a dispute with Torsten, the Master Inquisitor. Torsten recognises Fenn for who is, a Lost Soul and was about to take him to prison when Varlot saved Fenn. But it seemed the series of unfortunate events followed Fenn and they are face to face with the creature. The face-off with the creature separates the group; Fenn and Jisyel drowning in the water while Varlot and Calidra are on the ground trying to find them.
Fenn and Jisyel slowly find themselves on the ground. Cold and wet yet unharmed, they slowly try to find their way to meet Calidra. But they are without any supplies, tired and hungry. Having no other option, they decide to visit the Shrine and seek some help. Both being cursed by different spirits, the hopes for help vanished. But Selys decided to help them. And so in the quest to help Fenn get his memories and find answers to defeating the Myr, the three of them decide to proceed further.
Calidra was at a loss for words after seeing Jisyel drown. It was because of Varlot that she somehow pulls herself and they find themselves tracing the path to Fellwood in the hopes that they will meet Jisyel and Fenn on the way. It is after some hardships and not a welcome at home, they finally unite. The group leaves Fellwood as soon as possible with two goals in their mind. Reach Myrish construction and find memories for Fenn. And reach Foxmouth to meet her long lost, dead sister for Calidra. The group was together till a point, facing some problems and more fainting later- they finally reach the midpoint and part on separate ways.
But that is just the beginning. With the Myrish creatures back in sight, the Iron Queen traced her steps back and understand why the Peace treaty was broken. Her answers reach to a Key and a person, an ex-thief, Apollo. In an attempt to know the truth, Apollo is plucked back from his beautiful life and tortured for information by the Master Inquisitor. Escaping from the Palace again is difficult but he somehow manages it. But the escape doesn’t go as smoothly as Apollo hoped and found himself in the makeshift hospital of Eastbrook. And pondering on the thoughts of his lost family, the Myr and the key, it is the company of some familiar faces and an unfamiliar face that he finds himself on the back of a Griffin.
The answers that Fenn was searching for were more complex than what he believed. What he needed was an object. An object that will help the creature to restore his memories. And while all this would be simple if the spirit of Neros hadn’t blessed Selys and given a warning. A warning that only he was aware of.
An unexpected group, an unexpected alliance, spirits of dragons roaring and The Myr on rising- what will happen when suddenly everything is at stake?
A silver of gold. A blade you cannot fight with. A bow from which an arrow cannot fire.
I picked up The Iron Crown only for one reason. And that was the first line. Fenn’s first and only memory is finding himself in the middle of a forest, face to face with a dragon spirit mocking him, all knowledge gone apart from his own name. I was reading the Licanious Trilogy and suddenly the memory loss phenomenon interested me. For whatever reason I picked the book, I am glad I did.
The Iron Crown by L.L.MacRae was a different and interesting read for me. It promised epic fantasy and dragons. Two things that I am excited to read. This book unlike others started out very slow for me. While it is expected in Epic Fantasy, I was still bumped about it. It took me a long time to get invested and find myself rooting. I think it was way past 80% that I finally found myself interested. Don’t get me wrong- the 1st half of the book is very important, it’s just I found it extremely slow. But after that mark, as stakes started to get higher and things started to intertwine, I was excited. I stayed up till 2 AM just to complete the book.
Let’s start with the pacing of the book. There are two types of slow, I fell. The one where the book is slow and not important. While one where it is slow to have the build-up. The Iron Crown definitely falls in the second category. When it seemed that you were just browsing in the first half, the sheer amount of information you consumed is enormous. And when you finally reach that point, the point where you find that connection with the book, everything pays off. For me, that point of connection was Chapter 25.
Why has my little brother touched you? Protection from their influence, perhaps?
Now, consider the plot of the story. According to me, the plot is quite fascinating, not overwhelming you with too many characters and at the same time slowly introducing them, giving you a chance to get familiarized with them. Every scene, every conversation somehow gives you a hint about what has happened or what will happen. The story at the basics is still Good vs Bad but it is so much more. We still don’t know who is the Good and who is not. The idea of Amnesia is so beautifully executed. Talking about anyone person who lost memories is difficult. Here, we have a whole group of people who have lost their memories, who don’t know what is wrong with them and I loved this plot so much. And the emotional punch that came with it- how Inquisitors didn’t believe that they lost their memories, how they were convinced that they are all scheming with The Myr.
I am a big fan of Character Growths and their arcs. At times, I love the characters more than the plot. While there were too many diverse characters somehow I felt them be too similar, too common…if that’s a thing. In the back of my mind, I understand that their growth can be witnessed in the sequels but for The Iron Crown- the Characterization aspect lost me.
But…Dragons. Dragons in any book are a plus point. And here we have so many Dragon spirits. From the plot point of view, I love how the Dragon spirits are connected to forests, seas or lakes etc. That is a mystical aspect to it. Also, the fact that they can bless or curse someone. You got me there. Though, I would have loved some more history about how and whys- it didn’t damper my mood. More than that what was fun to read was how the strength of the Dragons depend on their connection. The backstory for Miroth, the dragon spirit was well-written.
So many people were chosen at random by dragons, and blessed or cursed without their consent-sometimes even without their knowledge.
I think reading two characters here was a highlight for me- Apollo, an ex-thief who started his new life, putting his shady past behind him. He was living happily with his wife and his daughter. But when the past came knocking on the door, all his dreams for a peaceful life were shattered. And reading about Varlot, the ex-general who has fallen from his ranks. Gambling, Drinking and finding contracts is how he lives. But when opportunities come to regain his lost fame, he grabs it at an emotional price.
One thing that I genuinely loved was how when Fenn was in connection with anything Mryish or in that context, he could somehow witness the memories? I mean it is scary…but isn’t it so fascinating?
Explaining some of the things.
They are not necessarily spoilers but some points are going to be explained using names. So if you are someone who hates to be spoiled, read after below. (I have separated and marked this zone)
- Apollo. I really think his characterisation is brilliant. The best scene for him or probably the best scene in the whole book was when he sat with the Lost Soul when he was dying, repeating that they are not alone. He sat there not with the aim to run away but to be with the man. Yup, definitely my favourite scene in the book.
- Varlot’s betrayal. Throughout the series, we see him constantly referring to Fenn as his son. And when that point came, I wasn’t shocked. I just wanted to know Why. And judging on the basis of the Epilogue, I guess we do have an idea.
- Nadja was someone else who I came to admire. Unlike Torsten, she was not driven by personal vengeance or madness. She wanted to do well by her Queen. She wanted The Myr dead and peace for her people. I liked her straightforwardness and determination. Her ability to question things, judge them and make decisions is something I admire.
- Calidra & Jisyel. They somehow ended up being the typical grumpy and a ray of the sunshine trope. And while I admire that trope, they didn’t even bring justice to that trope. They had their stories, the reason for them being how they were and yet I don’t know…I felt them a bit bland.
======== END OF MENTIONNING THE NAMES=======
Bad Luck is what it is. You don’t visit battle sites. Too much death
Overall, I enjoyed The Iron Crown and I can’t wait to read the sequel. I would recommend it to anyone who enjoys fantasies based on plot and especially with a touch of Dragon spirits.
On some other note: I genuinely think this one of the hidden gems Self-Published books has to offer and deserves much more love. The sheer amount of research and depth of The Iron Crown shows how much effort L.L.MacRae put in and I appreciate it. I wish nothing but success for The Dragon Spirit series.
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