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Nice Dragons Finish Last (Heartstrikers, #1)
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Group Reads > May 2018 - Nice Dragons Finish Last

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Yoly (macaruchi) | 795 comments This month we will be reading Rachel Aaron's Nice Dragons Finish Last.
This is the official discussion thread.

Don't forget to use the spoiler tags! :)

Gary | 1472 comments Apparently, book 1.5 (a short story/novella "Mother of the Year") is up for free on her website. You have to sign on to her mailing list, but here's the page for anyone interested:

Yoly (macaruchi) | 795 comments Oh nice, thanks! Downloaded it.
I'll read it after I'm done with the novel. I'm only on the second chapter and I like it a lot so far. I love it when a book grabs me from the first chapter.

Gary | 1472 comments I've just started. I liked the Prologue quite a bit. Interesting/intriguing little techno hints at the futuristic and fantastic nature of the world-building and a nice "bang!" conclusion then a move off into the sunset as it were. The jump to the actual story read as a somewhat odd transition to me. That reads as more tongue-in-cheek, and I kind of wanted that Prologue as Chapter 1 so she just continue from there. The Prologue felt more like an introduction to something Noir, and the beginning of the rest is more like a YA novel. I'm just barely into that first chapter, though, so we'll see how it pans out.

message 5: by Gary (last edited May 06, 2018 07:07PM) (new) - rated it 3 stars

Gary | 1472 comments OK, I got through to the reintroduction of Marci, so that Prologue makes more sense. Even though there are life/death issues going on the tone seems to stay light through the rest of the story after that first, rather serious introduction. I'm wondering if, aside from being about Marci rather than Julius, that's why it's called a Prologue rather than just "Chapter 1."

I like her world building. There are a few info dumps, but they are relatively brief and she works them into the story pretty well. A (view spoiler) is a pretty unsubtle bit of background information, but I really just went with it as presented. That might be for reasons having to do with just myself as a reader, so I'm curious if it took anyone out of the story.

I like that she doesn't just have magic return along with dragons and such, but that she works that return into the "geopolitics" of the world building. That is, magic returns and magical beings start taking over. It's not just America with magic, but if there are creatures with god-like powers, they effectively stamp their influence on the political structure of whole regions. Other urban fantasy type books often do that thing where there are certain people who can see "behind the veil" into the "world of shadows" or whatever. That can be done well or not, but at this point it's something of a trope.

The Narnia reference was funny.

I'm wondering how dragons being "illegal" in the DFZ would work. Aside from there being a lot of them running around there, there was a brief explanation of that dynamic, but I'm hoping that gets filled out more as the story progresses.

message 6: by Jo (new)

Jo (glitchyspoons) | 25 comments liking so far😎

Gary | 1472 comments I'm right about at the halfway point and I'm getting a little paranoid about Marci. As in, she seems under-incentivized to stick around, let alone go the extra mile given the contract/magic-user relationship, and her "you're my client" explanation strikes me as insufficient. Plus, for someone as familiar with and educated about magic as she is, she's awfully slow on the uptake about Julius' true nature, especially after seeing Justin in action. Or, at least, she seems that way.... I'm starting to suspect she's hanging around because she realized that Julius is a dragon relatively early on and she either is studying him or thinks there's an opportunity in it for her. I don't think that's what the author was going for, but it's starting to seem like that would explain her behavior better than what she tells Julius.

The "illegal" nature of dragons appears to be as part of the general bounty system of the DFZ. If they can get $10 each for (view spoiler) then a dragon would probably fetch a goodly sum. Again, not spoken outright so far, but I'm guessing that's the idea.

Gary | 1472 comments I finished this up yesterday. I gave it three stars here on GR.

My major impression was that it reminded me an awful lot of playing D&D back in the day. Several of the action sequences and aspects of the setting itself reminded me of late 80s/early 90s campaign settings. During the fight scene with the (view spoiler) in particular I thought, "Well, that's how a DM would set up/run such an encounter..." and that whole sequence tracked like a traditional dungeon crawl.

Gary | 1472 comments I never got my book #1.5 for this series after signing up on the email list. Probably something goofy I did or didn't do when signing up or something. Has anybody had a look at it? Is it worth me working my little fingers to the bone by signing up again to get a free copy?

message 10: by Yoly (new) - rated it 5 stars

Yoly (macaruchi) | 795 comments I'm halfway through the book and I love it! I'm listening to the audiobook and the narrator is amazing.

I got the book after subscribing to her mailing list, but I haven't read it yet. Check your email to see if you got a confirmation email. Most of these lists require you to confirm your subscription via an email they send you after subscribing. I still haven't received an email from the actual mailing list, she doesn't seem to be spammy, so that's good.

If you still don't get the book I could maybe send you a copy, she is giving it away for free after all. I'm sure we wouldn't be doing her any harm.

message 11: by Mary (new) - rated it 4 stars

Mary Catelli Re-reading this book after reading the later books in the series gets -- interesting.

message 12: by Yoly (new) - rated it 5 stars

Yoly (macaruchi) | 795 comments I finally finished it today. I really enjoyed it.

Gary wrote: "My major impression was that it reminded me an awful lot of playing D&D back in the day. "

I agree that the book had a D&D kind of feel, and I think that's one of the reasons I liked it so much.

I think the story was clever and I also liked her characters a lot. The only reason I'm not going to read the next one right away is that I don't like reading books in a series one after the other because I get saturated very easily.

She has a new book coming out next Friday Forever Fantasy Online which from the description it seems like it's a LitRPG with a female main character (or at least, one of the main characters is female) which is kind of refreshing since most of the LitRPG books that I've seen seem to be a "dude-fest". I'm looking forward to that one.

message 13: by Gary (new) - rated it 3 stars

Gary | 1472 comments I never played Vampire: The Masquerade but I'm vaguely familiar with some of that stuff, and for some reason the setting/world building reminded me of that, but with more of a fantasy emphasis, say, than contemporary gothic horror.

The intriguing thing to me about this book is that it's a Romance novel, but inverted. That is, it's a pretty standard girl meets boy story, but told from the perspective of the boy—and in this case that boy is a dragon. Marci is in many ways the classic Romance novel heroine. She thinks she's physically a drab brown mouse, and she's bookish, but Julius finds her attractive in ways that one wouldn't normally associate with the way she seems to behave. His attraction isn't just physical, but he clearly is interested in her in a way that one might not necessarily think makes sense in context given that he's apparently a real physical specimen as a human—plus, he's a dragon.

Julius is that weird unattainable male. An ideal who has a secret, but is still drawn to the Romance novel heroine despite his upbringing, their socio-economic differences and, in this case, their respective species.... Usually the motivation of that character is portrayed as mysterious and inscrutable until there's some sort of reveal. That's the case here as well. We get a big "reveal" in that he's been keeping his dragon nature secret, but we see behind the curtain the whole time, and I found that an intriguing way of going about the storytelling.

Marci does seem to kill in a way that I would think Julius would object to. He doesn't see her kill people in the Prologue, but later she does a (view spoiler) and her "What?" doesn't seem to get much of a rise out of him, even after he's spent most of the novel trying to avoid that kind of cold bloodedness. He doesn't reassess his opinion of her at all, which struck me as insufficient.

There's a lot of potential to the world-building. The dragon/seer thing, for instance, gets some attention, but apparently Algonquin is a major protagonist later, and that's where my mind went very quickly when reading through the description of the DFZ. She's basically a god from what I can tell, and that seems like it needs to play a part in the plot.

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