Source: purchased for Kindle.
Genre: urban fantasy.
As the smallest dragon in the Heartstriker clan, Julius survives by a simple code: keep quiet, don’t cause trouble, and stay out of the way of bigger dragons. But this meek behavior doesn’t fly in a family of ambitious magical predators, and his mother, Bethesda the Heartstriker, has finally reached the end of her patience.
Now, sealed in human form and banished to the DFZ–a vertical metropolis built on the ruins of Old Detroit–Julius has one month to prove that he can be a ruthless dragon or kiss his true shape goodbye forever. But in a city of modern mages and vengeful spirits where dragons are considered monsters to be exterminated, he’s going to need some serious help to survive this test.
He only hopes humans are more trustworthy than dragons…
Have my dragon page-dividers ever been more appropriate?
Nice Dragons Finish Last is one of those books that came highly recommended by fellow bloggers whose taste I respect a lot. They weren’t wrong. This is a great urban fantasy and though I don’t read that many books from this genre, I thought it was an excellent example of what it should entail.
Julius is a bad dragon. He’s something like the runt of the litter, the tenth litter that his mother, the terrifying Bethesda the Heartstriker has lain in the last millennium. She is the matriarch of an enormous clan of cunning, calculating, cold dragons and feels like her youngest son isn’t good enough. So she seals him into his human form (preventing him from turning into a dragon) and sends him to Detroit Free Zone (DFZ) to prove himself or she’ll eat him. There’s motherly affection for you.
Julius has been trying to lay low and avoid his more fearsome siblings for his entire life (which, at 24, isn’t that long for a dragon), which he mostly did by playing online video games with humans. This gave him a contact with the human world that other dragons lack and also some wicked survival skills (you have to be fast to escape dragons, I can tell you that). So when he lands in DFZ, where dragons are illegal, he befriends an unlikely sidekick – Marci the mage, a young woman on the run from her father’s murderers.
I really liked their adventures and the combined pressure that the gang of Las Vegas mobsters and some really ancient, half-crazy dragons put on this young couple. They are both fighting for survival, fighting odds that are decidedly not in their favor, and they still keep their heads up and struggle on. Julius has this surprisingly accurate moral compass and even though Marci is set on the path of vengeance, her wit is brilliant and very useful indeed.
I have two negative points to make as well, one of which is a complete spoiler, so please don’t read it if you’re even considering reading this book. I’m putting it in white, as usual, but still:
- Detroit Free Zone – I thought the world building was perhaps too well done. The descriptions of this post-magic-wave city (which has been leveled by a tidal wave and is now completely different from its present-day self) are numerous and detailed and I thought they slowed down the narrative needlessly. I appreciate a well-thought-out world as much as anyone but I feel like it shouldn’t be the focus of the story.
- *spoiler in white* I WANTED MOAR DRAGONS!! For 99.5% of the story, all the dragons are in their human forms! Okay, so we’re in a city where dragons are illegal and hunted and Julius is even sealed in his human form but I wanted to look at pretty dragons! Only Julius’s brother Justin shows his true form – which is magnificent – but only for a short time. And by the end of the book, Julius is still sealed so we never get to see him fly! I want more dragons. :( *end spoiler*
And that’s everything – I have nothing seriously bad to say about this book.
Oh, another point in its favor – it’s really funny. I don’t often go for books that say they’re funny – those that proclaim this loudly most often aren’t – but this one made me laugh, which I appreciate immensely.
Have you read this book? What did you think of it?
Do you like your UF funny or dark?
What’s your favourite book featuring dragons?
I’d love to hear from you! :)