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Let the Dragon Wake by Sylvia Volk

Let the Dragon Wake

by Sylvia Volk

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Welcome to a world where flowers are grown for the lower classes and made for the wealthy, by magic, along with birds and sunlight and blades of grass; where a soldier is, literally, married to his blade; where Fate is king, and almost all-powerful. The first thing I thought on firing up the Kindle was that the writing was sheerly gorgeous, thickly embroidered with metaphor and simile like nothing else I've read … and I wondered whether it would pall after a while.

It didn't. There were one or two similes that landed with a thud, but for the most part it succeeded at a grace as light and playful and attractive as the cats that populate the story.

… the first room was a workshop with a counter and display-shelves, and what it sold was obviously dust…

… something painted by a madman on parchment of human ears….

Wyrdrake, driven by a deep need he can barely put words to, goes to King Fate to request a bride. I'm not sure if his freedom to do so is because of his position, or because the land is more egalitarian than most. It is known abroad that not only can Fate and his people create such things as birds and butterflies, he can also create a bride upon demand – and in fact has done, although that lady upon facing her impending marriage determined that she wanted Fate, not her intended husband. The bride can be made – the love cannot. And Fate's apprentice, Marr, wants more than he has. And thereby hangs a tale.

The city where this story is set took some getting used to. "Sondolattis, city of marvels, whose people lived with heaven in plain sight. With mundane magic, and commonplace wonders. They lived so long that they mastered their daily work, and then went beyond mastery and became miracle-workers." It's not only that there is magic there – it is magic. It is built largely of dragon bone, and rests on the back of another enormous dragon, sleeping in the lulled peace of having been married to King Fate long ago. This is the key to keeping the dragon docile and still: she has been given husband after husband through the long years … and that is definitely one of the things that took getting used to. There are, in Sondolattis, two sorts of marriage: the familiar kind between a man and a woman, and this kind, the second marriage, in which a person is bound in devotion and loyalty to … something. It could be a soldier married to his sword, or a guard married to the gate which is his post, or a scholar in a clock tower married to Time.

Somewhere along the way, though, the strangeness fell away or was absorbed, and the city made its way under my skin, and it all seemed perfectly right and natural. Let the Dragon Wake is a novel-length (or novella-length) fairy tale. It makes no attempt to explain logic away its improbabilities and impossibilities, but lets them glimmer and shine in their setting of dragon bone. It is beautiful and unexpected and harsh and sweet. It's a gem. My thanks to Sylvia Volk for putting this up as a LibraryThing Member Giveaway. ( )
  Stewartry | Feb 26, 2012 |
This was a very well written book with a great story line. I enjoyed it completely from start to finish. Anyone who likes a book that flows and never seems to hit a hiccup will love this book. I wonder if this may become a series, I hope so as it was that good.
Very good read for any one, although there is some detail not suitable for very young children, not much, but some. Read this book and I think you will love it as I did. ( )
  roadway2000 | Jan 27, 2012 |
I received this book from Librarything in exchange for an honest review.

This is the most gorgeously written novel that I have read in a long time. Every sentence seemed to float like poetry, magic in itself. I don't usually like scenery or any sort of description, but reading this book was like eating sumptuous candy that you just want to savor for hours.

I loved the protagonist, who to me was Dovizel. She was such a strong headed character that didn't bend to anyone's will except her own, and I loved watching her grow up so quickly and learning what life and death was, what falling in love was like, and at last, what becoming a queen truly meant.

I loved all the description of magic, words that were probably nonsense but sounded perfect and lyrical in the setting of this lush, magical world.

I loved how "marriage" worked in this book and how the kings and queens had their respective roles. In fact, I thought the whole world creation was spellbinding and impressive. A city made of dragon bone on top of a dragon? How cool.

Don't even get me started on how delighted I was that books and libraries played such a huge part in the plot. My favorite characters were Drake's sisters and their absolute delight in books. I smiled when I read about how his little sister would walk around reading and sit out when other little girls rode horses to immerse herself in another one. And I loved how a book saved the day!

I do wish that Drake had been a little more interesting. He was a very flat character for me. And I would have loved more development of Marr-- to me, he had the potential to be even more interesting than Dovizel and steal the show. Unfortunately, he ended up whining most of the book, and reached an unsurprising end.

All in all, I was incredibly impressed by this book. Her beautiful prose stunned me more than anything. Everyone should definitely take a look at this one, it's a keeper. ( )
  chickey1981 | Dec 31, 2011 |
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