Rating: 5 stars
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This is the fourth and final book of an epic fantasy saga in the Dragon King series, and this review will likely have spoilers for previous stories.
Prince Raiden of the Sixth Realm is a battle-tested warrior and fierce leader in his own right, now that he has led several missions including his most recent—a rescue of his true love and bonded mate, Egan. Egan is a dragon shifter, one of few in the seven realms, but there are legends of them from the first days of the Dragon King who had originally united all the realms, before spitting them for each of his seven heirs centuries ago. A prophecy exists that a new Dragon King will rise again to unite the realms, but it had mainly been forgotten by Raiden’s time.
Egan is healing since his captivity, as are the other four dragons rescued by Raiden’s raiding party. They managed to kill the Second in Command of the Fifth Realm, a brutal human who’d managed the dragon capture and torture operations. And, who’d procured thousands of dragon-forged musket and cannon balls, which are much stronger than usual metal. Additionally, they’d removed the fluid/gas mixtures from the dragon’s lungs to create explosive missile-bombs to be used in attacks. Raiden knows that all of this stockpiling of weapons has only one objective: all out war to overtake the other Realms. Raiden wants to attack the Fifth and their allies, to destroy those dragon-forged weapons and ensure peace and safety for all man and dragon kind, but his father, King Rodick, is concerned. He doesn’t have the forces to take on the Fifth—plus any other realms—and he doesn’t want Raiden to get killed in a fruitless battle. It causes a rift, and Raiden declares he will seek his own allies to fight against the unjust and cruel leaders of the Fifth and any others who ally with them.
Egan, who loves Raiden dearly, believes that Raiden could be the Dragon King of prophesy. He is fully well going to support his heart-bound prince, and their love is only further cemented by a formal betrothal. With battle looming, Raiden and Egan leave the Sixth to seek allies, and are joined in the quest by the other four dragons Raiden had rescued with Egan.
The Dragon King series is an amazing set of books, and I will honestly say that I was nervous this final episode would not live up to the previous three. Those each reflected more personal battles for Raiden and Egan—overcoming their initial trepidations, becoming men and lovers, rescuing one another from smaller foes and battles. They all had some high stakes, but they were more locally isolated. This book brought the entirety of their world into conflict, good and just rulers versus greedy, grasping ones. And apathetic ones. We saw a new world where dragons lived in peace and harmony, and Raiden was not just the Prince of Dragons, but also a high ruler stepping into his destiny. There are so many pieces on this chessboard, but Raiden and his dragon warriors were crafty and thorough and his human soldiers eager and passionate. Their world is poised to accept dragonkind, now that they know these beings are real and not legend. And, leading the charges is Egan, a hero seven times over, saving humanity from the worst of itself.
This series is a bit YA, a bit New Adult, but the emotional centerpoint is the love between Raiden and Egan. They know this battle could mean their end, and they take moments to connect when possible. Expect these to be fade-to-black moments of physical intimacy beyond kissing. The fantasy world is lush and vibrant, with characters that feel every ounce real. There is magic and history and strong family bonds, and people (and dragons) worth rooting for. I enjoyed the love and humor and ached with the pain and sacrifice as the pages flew past me getting to the big battle. My own eagerness was richly rewarded; it never felt as if there was a pause that did not makes sense and did not enhance the story.
If you like high fantasy, underdog victories, and absolutely joyous happy endings, this whole series is for you. I would not recommend picking up books out of order, though the author does a good job of grounding and centering the conflict for each book. Raiden’s mission is to make a world safe for his future husband to be his full and authentic dragon-y self, and with Egan at his side, and the help of his dragon warriors—as well as his enlightened human allies—they succeed in epic fashion.