Over two hundred years ago, when dragons were hunted for their blood, the King of Torsere offered them sanctuary. In return, the dragons bestowed a magical gift on the King’s people, allowing those born with the mark to become dragon riders and forge a mental connection between dragon and rider.
King Ryneq of Torsere is undeniably attracted to Nykin, a young dragon rider. Ryneq’s sister, Cerylea, encourages him to pursue the relationship. But with the stresses of ruling Torsere, a romantic attachment is low on Ryneq’s list of priorities. Nykin admires the king from afar, but wants more than to warm his bed for a night or two.
Torsere remains under threat from the lowland armies of Rodeth and Athisi. To protect their kingdom, Ryneq and Cerylea intend to form an alliance with the elves through Cerylea’s marriage to elf prince Morkryn. On the road to the wedding, the lowland army attacks the party. Cerylea escapes, but Ryneq is captured and taken to the impenetrable Risvery Castle. In the aftermath, Nykin volunteers for a perilous mission, endangering the lives of him and his dragon. The odds are against him, but Nykin will risk everything for his duty and his king.
First impressions. I wish the cursing had been more creative. Each and every fuck pulled me out of a story I quite enjoyed and was reading—in parts—obsessively. Despite all my minor quibbles, I did liked the book and want to read more.
As plots go, rescuing the captured king and escaping villains is straightforward and quite simple. However, it gives a reason for Nykin and Ryneq to interact and advance the romance naturally. I was mildly surprised just how well Nykin’s plan works because I was expecting more complications during the middle rather than just in the beginning and at the end. There is also the obligatory ridiculousness of stopping to have sex while on the run, but this case wasn’t nearly as bad as some cases I’ve read. Quite good, all things considered.
There were some problems with the characterisations in the beginning. Nykin’s attraction to his king is well-explained and his restraint appropriate. However, for Ryneq, Jacobs takes a few emotional shortcuts. I found it unlikely that a king whose kingdom relies on these dragon riders would not recognise a rider by his uniform, face, or name. If I’m to believe that Ryneq and Cerylea both visit the Eyrie regularly, it’s impossible to understand how they would not know Nykin by name. It would have made more sense for Ryneq to have watched Nykin from afar for a year before realising his own attraction rather than to start acting possessively immediately upon meeting him.
Luckily it gets better. For Nykin and Ryneq, but all other characterisations remain paper-thin. Cerylea’s is a step above everyone else, though.
I liked the writing even though it felt a bit unpolished. For example, whenever a certain uniform was seen, the characters felt the need to iterate their thought process in deducing the meaning of said uniform. Once would have been enough for the reader. Characters in-world would’ve surely internalised this knowledge and jumped straight to the expected conclusion. It was also unnecessary to refer to Kalesh as Selene’s dragon repeatedly in the same paragraph. It would have been fine to name her and later remind the reader that she’s a dragon. The constant repetition made me feel like the Jacobs doesn’t trust her readers to remember these scant details or to infer from context.
The world building is on the light side. There’s a map, several nations featured on the page, and a casual mention of world beyond the previously mentioned map. And dragons with magical bonds. A dragon heated shower is all well and good, but what I missed were the little details. When Nykin turns on the lamp, how exactly does he do it? Does he flip a switch, wave his hand over it, or reach for the flint and steel to strike a spark for an oil lamp with a wick? Also how do communicate over long distances in this world? Do they send magical instant messages or dragon rider messengers? Crows? Telegraphing is not a word I expected to see in a fantasy book with swords and dragons, although that would answer my question.
Capture isn’t a long book, but a start of a series and I can only hope some of these questions will be answered later.
P.S. There’s a Glossary at the end of the book. It would have been lovely to know this when I started reading the ebook.
I received an Advanced Readers Copy of this book from the publisher.