No Good Dragon Goes Unpunished by Rachel Aaron

No Good Dragon Goes Unpunished (Heartstrikers #3) by Rachel Aaron
Published on August 5, 2016 by Aaron/Bach LLC (self published).

Links: Goodreads.

Source: ARC via author. Thank you Aaron/Bach LLC (self published) for providing me with an e-copy of this novel in exchange for an honest review.

Genre: urban fantasy.

My rating:

When Julius overthrew his mother and took control of his clan, he thought he was doing right by everyone. But sharing power isn’t part of any proper dragon’s vocabulary, and with one seat still open on the new ruling Council, all of Heartstriker is ready to do whatever it takes to get their claws on it, including killing the Nice Dragon who got them into this mess in the first place.

To keep his clan together and his skin intact, Julius is going to have to find a way to make his bloodthirsty siblings play fair. But there’s more going on in Heartstriker Mountain than politics. Every family has its secrets, but the skeletons in Bethesda’s closet are dragon sized, and with Algonquin’s war looming over them all, breaking his clan wide open might just be the only hope Julius has of saving it.

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Again, my dragon page dividers are just the most appropriate ever. I love dragons. *happy sigh*

This is the review for the third part of the series, so there are surely some serious spoilers for the first two books. You can read my reviews of those here: Nice Dragons Finish Last and One Good Dragon Deserves Another. And you should really just give in, listen to my advice, and give this series a try.

I was lucky enough to be contacted about this advance copy by the author (or rather her husband), and you can bet it made my day! This was one of my most-anticipated reads of 2016 – mostly because Julius is one of the best characters I’ve ever read (he is such a good guy. I recently read The Goblin Emperor, which has a similarly kind-hearted protagonist and I can tell you again I am firmly in the good guy camp – as opposed to the bad boy camp).

Anyway, the review!

This was a really good sequel to what Marci and Julius’s story has been so far. As usual, I want to deal with the “bad” stuff first, so here’s a list for you:

  • I wished the book was shorter. Sometimes, a long book can seem short but here, some scenes just seemed dragged out. And I found some details to be unnecessary, especially with the world-building, which is as impressive as always (this was my complaint with the first two books as well).
  • There are so many subplots! I’m not sure how many parts this series is supposed to have but it’s difficult to see how everything will tie together in the end.
  • Marci and Julius spent most of the book apart. Okay, this is only a problem because I love these two together and wanted more of the romance (you know I love romance). Theirs is as slow-burn as they come and it’s getting to a point where I’m shuffling in my seat, thinking: “Just get ON with it!”
  • So many magical things! Yeah. We have the Mortal Spirits, the spirits of the land, and then there are things like the Leviathan that I just can’t wrap my head around – and I know we’ll be hearing more about them in the future and I’m wondering if they’re absolutely necessary. But hey, the magical-flying-monster-squid-thingy is pretty impressive, so yeah.

And I think that’s it. As I said, the book was really good and I enjoyed the hell out of it for the most part.

I have to say that I adore Aaron’s characters. Julius is absolutely the best, he’s a bit naïve at times but also smart and determined to make the world better for all Heartstrikers. Marci is the best mage out there but still has flaws and makes serious mistakes that cost her dearly. What I love most about them is the fact that they’re just so consistent, they do nothing out of character and yet they manage to surprise me – they are complex and layered but very, very “tight” characters (am I making sense here?).

And don’t even get me started on the other dragons. Aaron just writes the best dragons I’ve ever read (and considering my blog’s name, you can bet I’ve read a lot of dragon books). She’s also one of the rare authors who writes male and female characters equally well – I found Bob, Ian, and Justin just as compelling as Bethesda, Amelia, and Svena, for example (There’s this one scene where Svena and Amelia are discussing Svena’s future babies and I laughed out loud because they were just so draconic). But Chelsie, oh, Chelsie. She’s the best. Such a fierce warrior with a slightly charred marshmallow core.

As for the plot, well, apart from the fact that I thought it meandered a bit, I really like where things are going so far. I figured most of the stuff out before we got to the big reveals, but I think we were meant to – I won’t go into details because of my obvious hate of spoilers. Let’s just say that this part is just as action-packed as the first two. There’s a bit of a lull where we get to see the politics of the largest dragon clan on Earth, but even that’s interesting, especially if you’re into political intrigue. The book goes out with a bang, which is Aaron’s style, I think (based on these three books I’ve read), and I can’t wait to read what comes next.

All in all, this book was a joy to read and I’ll definitely be following Julius and his crew when the next book comes out (Goodreads currently has it listed as “untitled” with the expected publication date in 2017. I’m hoping more details will follow soon). If you like dragons at all and if urban fantasy is your cup of tea, do yourself a favor and read this series.

Also, make sure to follow Aaron on Twitter because she writes good writing advice posts + has a great online presence! (You know I usually don’t point out author Twitter accounts…)

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Have you read any of the Heartstrikers books? What did you think? How about Aaron’s other books?

Do you have any recs for books with such loveable protagonists? 

I’d love to hear from you! :)

Let’s be friends: emailbloglovin’twitterinstagramgoodreads.

  • I just finished this one, and holeeee shite. I loved it. Very different from the previous novel in that this is more about dragon politicking and Julius running around telling people not to kill each other. And he and Marci sadly did spend most of the book apart, but I think that was nice set up for his regret at the end. Speaking of the end though, that epilogue? Whoa! Svena’s going to be reeeeaaaaally surprised when her brood is born!

    • I know, the political intrigues were great in this one. I love Aaron’s dragons SO MUCH!
      And that’s a great point – Julius’s regret WAS greater because he spent his time trying to get Hearstriker into order instead of smooching with Marci.

      Yes, I know, Svena will be pissed as hell and I can’t wait to see what the baby dragon will be like! I’m guessing Julius and Marci will have a hand in bringing her up.

  • I liked this too and am definitely looking forward to the next book–especially after how we left certain things. My one big complaint with this book was the first half; it was almost all political intrigue and set-up for the rest of the story, and it dragged for me. Once we hit the halfway point and the action picked up I was a happy. :)

    • Yep, the second half of the book was definitely faster and better paced than the first half, but I did like the intrigue and Julius’s efforts to do things his own way. I kind of wanted to shake him sometimes (I’d unleash Justin on half his siblings) but I’m glad he stayed true to himself!

  • Greg Hill

    This sounds good just like the first two. There can be such a thing as too many subplots but if they all get a chance to grow into the story and don’t feel forced they can be okay. Hopefully that happens here. I like the sound of the layered characters. And dragons! I need to read this. Another killer cover on this one too.

    • YES it’s good and you need to read it! :) I think the next book should be the last one so I think this won’t be one of the abnormally long UF series.

      And yeah, this cover is my favourite one so far, it’s the badass dragon enforcer Chelsie – her character is the best.

  • Jolien @ The Fictional Reader

    I was so excited when I saw your review in my blog feed! I’m so excited to read this one. Like you, I’m firmly in the “good guy” camp. And Chelsie is just so amazing! I do agree, that the characters are all always doing things in line with their character, yet still manage to surprise. I am quite sad to hear Marci & Julius spend most of the book apart…

    Great review!

    • Thanks, Jolien! :)

      If you’ve liked Chelsie in the previous books, she really shines in this one! I can’t wait to read her story in the next book.

      And yay for another “good guy” lover! I mean, bad boys can sound good on paper but if I think about dealing with such a guy in real life… nope, not for me! :)

      Well, as another commenter remarked, maybe Marci and Julius spending time apart serves a reason; I am impatiently awaiting the next book to see what happens!

  • Lisa (@TenaciousReader)

    I enjoyed the first book, but the second one just didn’t work for me as well. Glad the series is still going strong for you!

    • I’m sorry you didn’t enjoy the second book more. Will you be continuing with the series? I really liked this one – but then I enjoyed Book 2 as well. I’m definitely invested now and will continue reading!

  • Sofia

    According to Rachel, the last book will be titled Last Dragon Standing.

    • Ah, well, that’s kind of ominous, no? :)

      Do you know, will the next book also be the last? (Will the series have 4 parts?)

      • Sofia

        Yes, this will be the last one.

        • Ah, okay! I’m glad – not because I don’t want to read more of Rachel’s books but because I don’t like over-long series.

          Thanks for the info! :)

  • I think the fact that Marci and Julius spent the book apart is my one complaint about this book. Their interactions are just so damn delightful, I need more! I was happy about the progression of their relationship though. Ride a dragon…*snorts*

    LOL slightly charred marhsmallow is the perfect way to describe Chelsie’s heart! Her secret is so obvious, and so obviously heartbreaking…I truly hope it works out for her. I’m a bit mystified by Bob’s mercurial pronouncements at the end of the book (but this is par for the course…it’s Bob) so I’m very intrigued to see what happens!

    Rachel Aaron is such a nice lady, and her Twitter feed really is awesome! It’s rare that an author’s online presence makes me want to buy their backlist, but it’s happened with Aaron. I just bought Fortune’s Pawn a couple weeks ago, and hopefully I’ll have time to read that in the fall. Ooooh…maybe you, Becky, and I should do a buddy read for that series if neither of you have read it yet!

    • Yeah that “I’ll take you flying” promise that Julius made to Marci was very sweet. If it came from anyone OTHER than Julius, I’d have suspected he had other plans as well, but Julius being Julius, I’d bet he was simply trying to spend as much time with Marci as possible.

      And yep, Bob is always cryptical. I am VERY curious about his pigeon! :D What a fun creature to counterbalance the effing LEVIATHAN. Wow.

      I*hope* Chelsie gets a HEA. It would be sooooo good!

      And I am very interested in reading Aaron’s other works, as I said, but with Baby coming, I probably shouldn’t commit to buddy reading anything before I figure out if I’ll be reading a lot or not. I did with Kiddo, I read a lot while nursing/rocking him to sleep (my Kindle was great because it’s easy to hold one-handed lol), but since not all babies are the same, I can’t be sure. Also, now I have Kiddo, too, so my days will probably be busier despite the fact that I’ll be at home and not working. We’ll see. But I’m looking forward to hearing your thoughts on Aaron’s work! :)