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Nice Dragons Finish Last by Rachel Aaron

Nice Dragons Finish Last

by Rachel Aaron

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1781595,268 (3.99)16
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    The Enchantment Emporium by Tanya Huff (LaPhenix)
    LaPhenix: Unexpected fun, lighthearted yet never campy with little treats for your inner geek.

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Enjoyed this - imaginative creation of a a future world where magic has returned as has dragons who can pass as humans. Julius is a dragon who doesn't fit in and finds himself "locked" and pushed into Detroit where he soon teams up with a fugitive human mage and discovers that he is not as useless as his mother keeps telling him. Entertaining and an easy read. ( )
  infjsarah | Aug 27, 2018 |
Ambitious. Fierce. Calculating. Arrogant. All things that a good dragon should be and none of which Julius is. As the runt of the family's latest clutch, Julius has spent his short life avoiding his stronger siblings by staying hidden in his room playing video games, a tactic that his mother finds undragonlike and a waste of his potential. Dragons aren't meant to be meek or nice. Sealing him in his human shape Julius's mother drops him in the DFZ, a multi level metropolis built on the ruins of old Detroit, and tells him he has until the end of the month to prove that he's a real dragon or she'll eat him. This is not a threat to be taken lightly as this has been the fate of under performing dragons in the past. Dumped in an unfriendly city without any money or resources, Julius will need some serious help if he's going to survive this test.

Nice Dragons Finish Last is the first in the Heartstrikers series by Rachel Aaron. I went into this book with moderate expectations and I was completely blown away. This was such a fun read! Julius is highly undragon-like, having no interest in family politics or ambitions for himself. He even likes being nice to others. Being dropped into the DFZ is quite the wake-up call for a guy thinking he was successfully flying under the radar the whole time.

Aaron has created an interesting world for her characters to live in. It is blend of science fiction and urban fantasy, a future dystopia where magic has returned to Earth and many magical species have come out of hibernation yet technology continues to work and is integrated into daily life. The DFZ, or Detroit Free Zone, was taken over by a powerful spirit who destroyed old Detroit in a flood and rebuilt the city as a sanctuary for other spirits. Humans are tolerated but dragons are strictly forbidden. Naturally this is where his mother drops Julius. What better way to motivate an under performing offspring than the constant threat of death around each corner while being unable to use his full draconic abilities?

Now for the characters. Julius is a great guy to root for. He's likeable, optimistic, intelligent and highly creative in his solutions to his problems. Then there's Marci Novalli, a Thaumaturgic mage running away from her past. She's down on her luck and needs to make some money. She manages talks Julius into hiring her to help him on his mission and ends up with a lot more than she bargained for. Even the secondary characters grew on me. We're given a small look into the Heartstriker clan through a few of Julius's siblings. Bob, the family seer, is downright hilarious. What kind of dragon keeps a pigeon as a companion? Justin is a fairly typical older brother, trying to help out his weaker sibling with some rough love. There are some actual feelings in there too as he genuinely wants Julius to succeed. We're also introduced to a rival dragon clan which gives a nice contrast for other factions in the world and I believe is to set the stage for future books.

Over all, this is a super fun, fast paced uban fantasy that's full of heart. There's lots of magic, good action, a little romance and I was completely charmed by the characters. This self published gem was a joy to read and I will definitely be continuing this series. ( )
  Narilka | May 28, 2017 |
Previously I had read Aaron’s The Spirit Thief, I thought that book was okay but opted to not continue with the series. I was curious when I saw she had an urban fantasy series and decided to pick up the audiobook for Nice Dragons Finish Last at an Audible sale. I ended up really enjoying this book a lot. It starts kind of slow but by the end I was hooked and immediately wanted to read the next book.

The audiobook for this is very well done. Adam does a great job with matching the tone of the story. He does great with character voices and emotion. I would definitely recommend listening to this on audiobook if you enjoy audiobooks.

The world for this book is interesting. It’s set in some sort of future Earth where a flooding disaster happened when the Lady of Lake was awoken. As a result magic flooded back into the world and dragons, mages, etc. came back to be part of human society.

The characters were a lot of fun. Julius is a dragon part of the infamous Heartstriker clan, but he’s just too nice to be a dragon. His mom kicks him off the mountain and seals his dragon form because he never leaves his room and is bingeing on video games and getting a million online degrees. He is forced to make something of himself or be eaten by his formidable mother.

I enjoyed Julius’s character a lot. I also enjoyed Marcy who is a witch that Julius ends up teaming up with. The side characters are just as interesting as the main ones; with witches, shamans, dragons, and seers making up the bulk of the zany cast.

The story was pretty straight-forward but did have some interesting twists and turns. I enjoyed some of the interesting magical monsters we ran into and loved Julius’s non-conventional way of solving problems. Things were wrapped up well and left the story at a place that resolved the main story but still left me desperately wanting to read more.

Overall this was a great start to this urban fantasy series. I enjoyed the world, the characters, and the story a lot. My only complaint would be that I thought the story started a bit slow. However, once things got moving I really enjoyed it. I plan on continuing reading this series. I would recommend to those who enjoy lighter urban fantasy. ( )
  krau0098 | Jan 19, 2017 |
This urban fantasy novel was incredibly fun!

Julius is an unusual dragon. For one thing, he’s not ambitious or obsessed with destroying his enemies. He tends to spend most of the time avoiding the larger dragons in his family, until his mother grows tired of him lurking in his room and banishes him to the DFZ – a dystopic version of Detroit – with a month to prove that he’s a proper dragon. Oh, and she’s magically locked away his true dragon form and threatens to eat him if he doesn’t shape up.

Something that really stood out to me about Nice Dragons Finish Last is how original the world building was. The story’s set some thirty years after a comet hit the earth and brought back magic. As a result, there’s magic right alongside sci-fi high tech and dystopic ruins. The DFZ is a city state run by a powerful lake spirit who allows pretty much everything except dragons. Most of the city is built on upper level platforms that lift it above the old ruins, but there’s still life moving in the darkness of the city below. All in all, Nice Dragons Finish Last had some of the most creative world building I’ve ever encountered in urban fantasy.

At the behest of his brother Ian, Julius is sent to try and find a runaway from another dragon clan. If he succeeds, Ian promises he’ll put in a good word for him with their mother. Julius soon realizes that he needs some help, and he employees the services of a mage named Marci.

I liked both Marci and Julius a lot. Marci has her own mysteries. She’s somehow managed to anger the leader of a mob, and hit men keep coming after her. She’s brave and a bit more ruthless than Julius. Julius has spent his twenty-four years of life being constantly told that he’s an improper dragon – for one thing, he’s much too nice. It was a delight to see Julius grow throughout the book, becoming a lot more confident in who he is and what he thinks is right.

Nice Dragons Finish Last managed to be constantly fast paced and exciting. I read the entire book in a little under twenty-four hours, because it was so good I had trouble putting it down. I can’t wait to read the next book in the series!

Originally posted The Illustrated Page. ( )
  pwaites | Dec 18, 2016 |
I liked this even more than the Eli Monpress series. It's the right mix of light, fun, and geeky. ( )
  oswallt | Nov 25, 2016 |
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As the smallest dragon in the Heartstriker clan, Julius survives by a simple code: keep quiet, don’t cause trouble, and stay out of the way of bigger dragons. But this meek behavior doesn't fly in a family of ambitious magical predators, and his mother, Bethesda the Heartstriker, has finally reached the end of her patience. 

Now, sealed in human form and banished to the DFZ--a vertical metropolis built on the ruins of Old Detroit--Julius has one month to prove he can be a ruthless dragon or kiss his true shape goodbye forever. But in a city of modern mages and vengeful spirits where dragons are considered monsters to be exterminated, he’s going to need some serious help to survive this test. 

He only hopes humans are more trustworthy than dragons..
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