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Dragon Coast by Greg Van Eekhout
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A dramatic conclusion to the story, and a great read. This magical Southern California is a delightful place to read about, but you wouldn't want to live there. Awesome. ( )
  Jon_Hansen | Apr 2, 2017 |
Amazing! I loved it! Best of the three. I really hope Greg Van Eekhout writes more books set in this alternate Earth. He's created such a fascinating world. ( )
  LongDogMom | Sep 27, 2016 |
It’s really interesting to me how the Daniel Blackland trilogy has evolved over the three books, and reading Dragon Coast made me want to cheer because we were going back to the series’ heist story beginnings. I am a total sucker for caper stories, so not surprisingly I loved the first book California Bones. On the other hand, the second book Pacific Fire took a different direction, and was more like a coming-of-age tale that explored the characters’ histories and relationships. To me, what’s great is that this third book felt like a combination of both, tying up loose ends to bring it all home. Throw in a fire-breathing dragon, and I really can’t ask for more than that.

Right away, Dragon Coast resolves a few questions left open at the end of the last book, so if you haven’t read Pacific Fire yet, you probably should first. This review won’t be revealing spoilers beyond what’s available in the publisher description, but they might be unavoidable anyway because each book builds on the previous one, and I would not recommend reading either of the sequels as stand alones. The focus returns to Daniel in this book, though Sam still plays a big role. A golem made from the magical essence of the late Hierarch, Sam was taken in by Daniel as an adopted son. Together they’ve been on the run for a long time, until things came to a head with a Pacific firedrake, a magical creature constructed by Daniel’s half-brother Paul.

Everyone thought Sam was lost when he was consumed by the firedrake, but it turns out the boy’s consciousness is still alive and aware inside the dragon, albeit in magical form. This leaves Daniel and his friends with a bit of a dilemma. They cannot kill the firedrake without losing Sam, even while the huge creature rampages across Southern California turning huge swathes of it into fiery ruin. Daniel comes up with a plan: he will find a way to subdue the dragon, then use a magical substance called the axis mundi to draw out Sam’s essence, before replacing it in a new constructed golem body. Great plan, except for one problem – axis mundi is one of the rarest substances on earth. To get it, Daniel will have to pose as Paul—whom he killed—to sneak into the kingdom of Northern California, win a promotion to become the Lord High Osteomancer, then steal a piece of axis mundi on the ceremonial jeweled scepter of the Northern Hierarch herself as she uses it to confirm his position.

It’s like stealing the crown jewels…meets Face/Off. I love it.

I’ll also say this about Daniel: the man never does anything by halves, even when it comes to planning the riskiest, most impossible of heists. However, this time he’s going into the enemy’s lair without the usual caper crew, with only Moth by his side as his bodyguard. He sends his Cassandra, his go-to safe-cracker, with Gabriel the water mage and Max the hound to track down the firedrake. Meanwhile, Sam is stuck in the belly of the beast, so to speak. We as readers are treated to a somewhat abstract concept of the boy’s consciousness trapped within the half-organic, half-mechanical insides of the dragon. The team is split into those three main threads that make up the story.

For obvious reasons, the most compelling of these was Daniel’s sections. It’s intense and exciting watching him pose as Paul, working against the clock to achieve his goals while also struggling to familiarize himself with all the intricate customs of the Northern Kingdom in order to pass as his dead half-brother. Of all the supporting characters, Moth also shines in Dragon Coast as the muscle and the brains of this operation, taking over some of Daniel’s duties as mastermind to gather intelligence. Next up was Cassandra, Gabriel, and Max’s sections, which featured a bit of sleuthing and espionage, adding intrigue to the equation. Finally, even though Sam is my favorite character, unfortunately his sections were the weakest in my eyes. This has a lot to do with my own preferences; I just don’t do well with abstract conceptualizations and I also felt those bizarre glimpses inside the dragon were less relevant to the story and seemed more like dream-like interludes.

This isn’t a very long book, which means there’s a lot happening in a relatively small number of pages. It’s great because there is absolutely no slowing down, and Greg Van Eekhout’s writing has a very cinematic quality that helps the story drive you ever forward between these three separate plot threads, so one thing you can count on is snappy pacing and a quick read.

On the flip side though, this also means there’s little opportunity to delve deeper into anything else. Our time with Daniel in Northern California feels far too brief and there’s not much to his challenge to become Lord High Osteomancer. Remember in Face/Off, when John Travolta’s character with Nic Cage’s face finds himself in his nemesis’ hideout, meets his lover and his child, and realizes then that even the bad guys have their lives, their loves, and their families? I sense this book going for the same kind of deep, heartfelt revelation but it never quite manages, simply because there was so little time to know everyone in Daniel’s — or rather, Paul’s — life. Dragon Coast should have been a more emotional story, exploring the painful side of one’s self and past, but realistically, the novel was just too short to be effective with that.

Still, this series has long established itself to be more fun and adventurous than weighty and profound, though it has a deep and very complex magic system and some pretty dark themes, what with osteomancers cannibalizing each other for their powers and all that. The world-building remains one of my favorite aspects, and I love how each book has given us more osteomancy as well as the author’s strange and dystopian version of a flooded and divided California. If you’ve enjoyed the previous books, Dragon Coast is not to be missed. It wraps up the series with a bang, and gives satisfying answers to a lot of character conflicts and plot questions besides. And if you’ve always been curious about these books, now is the best time to check out the whole completed trilogy. It’s one I highly recommend. ( )
  stefferoo | Mar 8, 2016 |
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0765328577, Hardcover)

Dragon Coast: the sequel to Greg Van Eekhout's California Bones and Pacific Fire, in which Daniel Blackland must pull off the most improbable theft of all.

Daniel's adopted son Sam, made from the magical essence of the tyrannical Hierarch of Southern California whom Daniel overthrew and killed, is lost-consumed by the great Pacific firedrake secretly assembled by Daniel's half-brother, Paul.

But Sam is still alive and aware, in magical form, trapped inside the dragon as it rampages around Los Angeles, periodically torching a neighborhood or two.

Daniel has a plan to rescue Sam. It will involve the rarest of substances, axis mundi, pieces of the bones of the great dragon at the center of the Earth. Daniel will have to go to the kingdom of Northern California, boldly posing as his half-brother, come to claim his place in the competition to be appointed Lord High Osteomancer of the Northern Kingdom. Only when the Northern Hierarch, in her throne room at Golden Gate Park, raises her scepter to confirm Daniel in his position will he have an opportunity to steal the axis mundi-under the gaze of the Hierarch herself.

And that's just the first obstacle.

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 06 Jul 2015 16:15:56 -0400)

Daniel's adopted son Sam, made from the magical essence of the tyrannical Hierarch of Southern California whom Daniel overthrew and killed, is lost-consumed by the great Pacific firedrake secretly assembled by Daniel's half-brother, Paul. But Sam is still alive and aware, in magical form, trapped inside the dragon as it rampages around Los Angeles, periodically torching a neighborhood or two. Daniel has a plan to rescue Sam. It will involve the rarest of substances, axis mundi, pieces of the bones of the great dragon at the center of the Earth. Daniel will have to go to the kingdom of Northern California, boldly posing as his half-brother, come to claim his place in the competition to be appointed Lord High Osteomancer of the Northern Kingdom. Only when the Northern Hierarch, in her throne room at Golden Gate Park, raises her scepter to confirm Daniel in his position will he have an opportunity to steal the axis mundi-under the gaze of the Hierarch herself. And that's just the first obstacle.… (more)

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