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Tuesday, May 5, 2020

Night Shift Dragons by Rachel Aaron (reviewed by Mihir Wanchoo)


Official Rachel Aaron Website
Order “Night Shift Dragons HERE
Read Fantasy Book Critic's review of "Forever Fantasy Online"
Read Fantasy Book Critic's review of "FFO: Last Bastion"
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Read Fantasy Book Critic's review of "Nice Dragons Finish Last"
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Read Fantasy Book Critic's review of "No Good Dragon Goes Unpunished"
Read Fantasy Book Critic's review of "A Dragon Of A Different Color"
Read Fantasy Book Critic's review of "Last Dragon Standing"
Read Fantasy Book Critic's review of "Minimum Wage Magic"
Read Fantasy Book Critic's review of "Part-Time Gods"
Read Fantasy Book Critic's review of "The Spirit Thief
Read Fantasy Book Critic's review of “The Spirit Rebellion” 
Read Fantasy Book Critic's review of “The Spirit Eater” & “Spirit’s Oath” 
Read Fantasy Book Critic's review of “The Spirit War” 
Read Fantasy Book Critic's review of "Spirit's End"
Read Fantasy Book Critic's review of "Fortune's Pawn"
Read Fantasy Book Critic's review of "Honor's Knight"
Read Fantasy Book Critic's review of "Heaven's Queen"
Read Fantasy Book Critic's joint interview with Rachel Aaron & Travis Bach
Read Fantasy Book Critic's Interview with Rachel Aaron
Read Eli Monpress series completion interview with Rachel Aaron
Read Fantasy Book Critic's Interview with Rachel Bach
Read Fantasy Book Critic's Heartstrikers interview with Rachel Aaron
Read Fantasy Book Critic's Second Heartstrikers interview with Rachel Aaron
Read "Why A Nice Dragon" by Rachel Aaron (Guest post)

AUTHOR INFORMATION: Rachel Aaron lives in Colorado with her family. She has graduated from University of Georgia with a B.A. in English Literature. She has been an avid reader since her childhood and now has an ever-growing collection to show for it. She loves gaming, Manga comics & reality TV police shows. She also posts regularly on her blog about publishing, books and several other intriguing things.

OFFICIAL BOOK BLURB: They say family always sticks together, but when you’re your dad’s only lifeline and the whole world—humans, dragons, and gods—wants you dead, “family bonding” takes on a whole new meaning.

My name is Opal Yong-ae, and I’m in way over my head. I thought getting rid of my dad’s bad luck curse would put things back to normal. Instead, I’m stuck playing caretaker to the Great Dragon of Korea. That wouldn’t be so bad if he wasn’t such a jerk, or if every dragon on the planet wasn’t out to kill him, or if he was my only problem.

Turns out, things can always get worse in the DFZ. When a rival spirit attacks my god/boss with the aim of turning the famously safety-optional city into a literal death arena with Nik as his bloody champion, I’m thrust onto the front lines and way out of my comfort zone. When gods fight, mortals don’t usually survive, but I’m not alone this time. Even proud old dragons can learn new tricks, and with everything I love falling to pieces, the father I’ve always run from might just be the only force in the universe stubborn enough to pull us back together.

FORMAT/INFO: Night Shift Dragons is 398 pages long divided over fifteen numbered chapters and a prologue. Narration is in the first person via Opal Yong-ae solely. This is the last volume of the DFZ trilogy.

May 5, 2020 marks the e-book publication of Night Shift Dragons and it is self-published by the author. Cover Art is by Luisa Preißler.

OVERVIEW/ANALYSIS: Night Shift Dragons brings to an end the DFZ trilogy and it’s a book that I was highly anticipating after the emotional rollercoaster ending of Part-Time Gods. For the sake of this review, I will talk about certain events from the preceding two titles and it might be considered spoilerific by some so be warned.

Over the past two books, we have come to know Opal Yong-Ae really well. She’s the daughter of the great Dragon of Korea and the opal of his eye. She however doesn’t seem to think of it in those sweet terms. When we first met Opal, she was a cleaner and a mage who’s down on her luck. She however is a fighter and knows that the DFZ is her last option. Opal met Nik and soon discovered why she was plagued by bad luck. Things take some exciting turns and we find out what’s the root cause of Opal’s bad luck.

The start of this book is set a couple of months from the ending of Part-Time Gods and we learn what Opal has been upto and how Yong is recuperating as well. Things aren’t exactly normal and with this being the DFZ, things are beyond the normal. Opal is slowly and surely learning to become a priest while also re-learning how to operate and control her magic. That’s the easy stuff, the tougher part is for her to understand why her father behaved the way he did. The great dragon of Korea hasn’t fared well after the climatic events and he finds himself in a whole new way. Both Opal and Yong will have to learn to reconcile their differences and figure out a way to come back alive as danger circles them and their homeland of Korea.

This trilogy ending was a spectacular read for me as it brought to the fore the emotional crux of this series. The bond between a father and his daughter as they refuse to see eye to eye. This was excellently laid out by the author as we learn about the authoritative dragon father and his equally strong willed and obstinate human daughter who yearns for freedom in the most basic sense. Both Opal and Yong are fascinating & deeply flawed characters, however their charisma is such that we the readers can’t help but look closely at their dysfunctional selves. Clearly Opal is the protagonist of the series and throughout the trilogy she matures massively. Yong is the Korean dragonlord who perhaps has never been challenged by any human as Opal does. He’s also quite different than many dragons as he respects and adores the human race. However his iron will and his intent to control all of his surroundings are suffocative to say the least. I enjoyed how the author peeled back layers about both of them throughout the trilogy and it’s in this book, we get the massively emotional payout. This has been the core conflict of the series and the author gives us a delightfully strong resolution to this issue.

Nik is another character whom we have been left in the dark and in this volume, we learn why he acts the way he does. His relationship with Opal is a cute and funny one but it’s in this book we get to see what love truly means to both of them. After a weird character turn in Part-Time Gods, we see them acting a lot more fluidly and as normal couples would. Lastly rounding up the character cast is Opal’s AI, the DFZ & her mortal shell. All of whom are delightful and writing such characters has been Rachel’s forte. It’s very much evident how good she is at giving us readers so many wonderful characters to root for and chuckle along with.

There’s some wonderful action sequences within the story and none better than the ending climax wherein human, dragon & spirit magic combine to showcase something spectacular. I liked how the action and emotional quotients complimented each other beautifully instead of competing within themselves.

Another funny aspect is that each of the three books offered a look at different aspects of the DFZ world and gave us different villains to root against. In this book, we find out about the main reason why Nik is so secretive about his past as well as meet one of the most terrifying aspects about the DFZ’s negligent attitudes towards those who live within her realm. I enjoyed how the author had a wonderful call back to the Heartstrikers series with regards to creation of spirits/forgotten gods as well a very harsh but effective look against rampant no-holds-barred capitalism. I enjoyed this aspect of the story as we learn how things have been shaped after the events of the Heartstrikers series and this rarely gets addressed.

The worldbuilding in this book takes a bit of a backseat unlike the first book (Minimum Wage Magic) wherein we got to the cool subterranean world below and within the DFZ. In this book however there’s a strong light shone upon the magic system focusing on human mages, preiesthood and more. I enjoyed this aspect of the storyline and the DFZ world is such a rich one that I’m sure we might see more unexplored aspects in the future.

Lastly this is a personal gripe but the author has been very careful to not let this series get overridden by the Heartstriker characters and while I understand her reasoning to the hilt. I’m always on the lookout for callbacks, references and cameos to the previous series. We do get a few well-timed cameos from some of our favourites but the fan in me always wanted more.

This book ended on a strong and emotionally stable note and while we got a terrific trilogy. I’m sure the fans will be wanting more stories set within this world and maybe even a return to the beloved characters. However I trust the author to bide her time and give us a story that’s worthy of her return to this world. Rather than making it a cash-grab.

CONCLUSION: Night Shift Dragons is an action-packed bonanza of a book, it has action, emotional resolutions and a dragontastic climax which is unbelievably cool to read. It offers closure on all the plot threads introduced within the trilogy and yet leaves me wanting more set in the world of the DFZ. Kudos once again to Rachel Aaron for stringing my heart and my mind along superbly and closing out another fantastic series. She’s in a league by herself in this regard and I hope she continues to thrill us for many, many more decades.

2 comments:

E. K. Sommer said...

I have enjoyed this series as well the related Heartsstriker series. Do you happen to know when Night Shift Dragon will be available on Audible?

The Reader said...


@ E.K.,

It's already out https://www.amazon.com/Night-Shift-Dragons-Detroit-Free/dp/B0881XZWFH/ref=tmm_aud_swatch_0?_encoding=UTF8&qid=&sr=

I believe it was released the same day as the e-book.

Mihir

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