Book Reviews, Fantasy

Review: Dragonfall by L.R. Lam

Long ago, humans betrayed dragons, stealing their magic and banishing them to a dying world. Centuries later, their descendants worship dragons as gods. But the ‘gods’ remember, and they do not forgive.

Since they were orphaned, Arcady has scraped a living thieving on the streets of Vatra, dreaming of life among the nobility – and revenge. When the chance arises to steal a powerful artefact from the bones of the Plaguebringer, the most hated person in Lumet history, they jump at it, for its magic holds the key to their dreams. But the spell has unintended consequences, and drags Everen – the last male dragon, who was once foretold to save his kind – into the human world.

Trapped, and disguised as a human, Everen soon realises that the key to his destiny, and to regaining his true power, lies in Arcady. All he needs to do is convince one little thief to bond with him completely – body, mind, and soul – and then kill them. Yet the closer the two become, the greater the risk both their worlds will shatter.

Dragonfall is so many things at once, and I loved every aspect. First of all, look at that cover! I’ve been obsessing over it since it was revealed months ago. This was one of my top three most anticipated reads of the year, and I was quite nervous to start it when my preorder finally arrived because I was worried I’d hyped it up too much. The first few chapters were a bit of a challenge as I adapted to the new world I was entering into, but about four or five chapters in I was fully hooked and barely put it down.

After an excellent framing device, the book opens with the moment Everen, the last male dragon and hope for his people, falls through a stormy magic field called the Veil, and lands in the human world that dragons have been exiled from for centuries. In all the prophecies, Everen is the key to returning dragons to their rightful place, and so he arrives with a mission. What he doesn’t anticipate is to magically bond to the human who accidentally brought him through the Veil. And said human, a thief named Arcady, has their own problems… Arcady is my favourite type of character, and I warmed to them immediately. Snarky, quick-witted, and morally ambiguous with a loyal streak and a tragic past… I love to watch characters like that slowly peeling back their layers for both the reader and other characters, and Arcady doesn’t disappoint.

For if there was one thing I’d learned in my life, it was that knowledge was power. Knowledge was escape. Books were thresholds, and you could cross them and leave yourself behind, or use what you found inside to transform into someone else. 

When Everen and Arcady bond, both lose some of their magic, and Everen loses his dragon form – only completing the bond can restore it, but how can these two secretive and hurt souls learn to trust each other, especially when each is working to a deadline? It was a delight to watch the dance unfold, and I never felt that things were moving too slowly or too suddenly between them. And the fact that the central plot of the story revolves around a heist that Arcady is setting up kept things interesting and forced the two to work together. And I have to say, the heist was fun, especially in its planning, but it wasn’t the climax of the whole book so if you’re looking purely for a heist story this isn’t it.

What I think works for Dragonfall is the fact that the stakes are high – dragons trying to return and conquer, misty spirits attacking from the Veil, family accounts to be settled – and the world is fleshed out, dangerous, and full of mystery, but Lam manages to still make it fun. I feel like this comes mostly from the way the characters drive everything forward, and so the story is so coloured by their moods and motives that it they take centre stage. There is still a lot that happens, of course, and it’s not just internal brooding all the time, but everything is shaped by Everen and Arcady’s feelings at any given time. There is also a third point of view – Sorin – that we get sporadically throughout, and I wish we saw more of this mysterious assassin priest, because her having less chapters meant that her arc felt a bit rushed and less fleshed out. Hopefully she gets to develop more in later books.

Another thing I loved about Dragonfall is the fact that the common language of Trade is a sign language, and multiple characters are hard of hearing and Sorin communicates solely through signing. And that the culture is such that everyone is addressed as ‘they’ until sure of their gender identity. It was the little details, along with the hints of history and myth scattered throughout, that made me fall in love with this world. I can’t wait to revisit it! My only complaint would be that the final action sequence at the end didn’t fully make sense to me, and so fell a bit flat. However, because of what comes after I am happy to wait and see how the rest of the story unfolds and it was one small moment in an otherwise very enjoyable book!

Book Info

Published: 2nd May 2023
Genre: fantasy
Pages: 448
Series: The Dragon Scales Trilogy, book one
Narration style: first person past tense and third person past tense
Format read: hardback
Content Warnings: death, plague, cannibalism, loss of parents, some strong language, sexual content

3 thoughts on “Review: Dragonfall by L.R. Lam”

  1. I may have to buy this because it sounds so good! I’m a big fan of Lam’s earlier books, and the fact that there are dragons in this story only makes it more appealing😁 Excellent review!

    Liked by 1 person

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