Antonia's Antics

Talon by Julie Kagawa

Summary: Long ago, dragons were hunted to near extinction by the Order of St. George, a legendary society of dragon slayers. Hiding in human form and growing their numbers in secret, the dragons of Talon have become strong and cunning, and they’re positioned to take over the world with humans none the wiser.

Ember and Dante Hill are the only sister and brother known to dragonkind. Trained to infiltrate society, Ember wants to live the teen experience and enjoy a summer of freedom before taking her destined place in Talon. But destiny is a matter of perspective, and a rogue dragon will soon challenge everything Ember has been taught. As Ember struggles to accept her future, she and her brother are hunted by the Order of St. George.

Soldier Garret Xavier Sebastian has a mission to seek and destroy all dragons, and Talon’s newest recruits in particular. But he cannot kill unless he is certain he has found his prey—and nothing is certain about Ember Hill. Faced with Ember’s bravery, confidence and all-too-human desires, Garret begins to question everything that the Order has ingrained in him—and what he might be willing to give up to find the truth about dragons.

Review: I loved this book when it first came out in 2014 but for some reason I never caught up after the second book. Now that the fifth and final book just came out I’ll be reading and reviewing the entire series.
I’ll start with the basics. I LOVE dragons. Always have, always will. It’s an autobuy topic for me so I’ve read a lot of books about dragons. You’d think I’d get sick of them but somehow authors keep managing to surprise me. In this series, centuries ago when dragons were hunted near to extinction, they learned to become human and now hide among us, still hunted by the Order of St. George, an organization descended from dragon slayers.
Dragons but it still takes place in our world? YES PLEASE. Since dragons can shift between their dragon and human forms, they’re able to blend into human society. Over time this allowed them to gain positions of power to build Talon into an organization that could actually threaten humanity. At first we only see how it directly affects Ember and Dante. It seems overbearing and rigid in it’s control over dragonkind but you can sort of understand their reasons; they remember a time when dragons were ruthlessly hunted and killed and they want to protect their species. Throughout the book though, you learn more and more about what Talon doesn’t tell it’s members. Terrible secrets that make Ember question everything she’s been taught her entire life.
The Order of St. George is basically the same. Two groups that have been enemies for centuries and are on completely opposite sides of this conflict, but they operate in the same ways. They control their members to an insane degree and have no tolerance for anyone being even slightly less than perfect. If their own members go against them, they kill them without question. I enjoyed seeing the parallels between the two groups.
Ember is a 16-year-old hatchling, sent to California with her brother for the next step in their education; observe, assimilate, blend in. They’ve been holed up in the desert with Talon their whole lives and now it’s time for them to learn to act like humans. This part was actually pretty funny because they’ve been taught about humans but you can only teach so much so some of their interactions with their new friends are very awkward. Ember takes to human life really quickly. She loves hanging out with her friends, surfing, and just being a teenager. She knows she’s not supposed to. She’s been taught that dragons aren’t supposed to feel emotions the way humans do. Humans are the inferior species and they don’t matter. But Ember does feel these emotions, she cares about her human friends and even falls in love. I really liked watching Ember as she learned about the organization that raised her as she slowly comes to realize that there is nothing wrong with her, she’s just been lied to.
Garret also had some great character development and I loved that it mostly paralleled Ember’s. They both learn that the “right side” of the war isn’t what they thought it was and that there’s more to their enemy than they were told. This was even harder for Garret to go through because he’s always believed that dragons were evil creatures. Devoid of emotion or anything resembling humanity. Until he meets Ember, he’s killed dragons mercilessly, and it was difficult to watch his entire worldview crumble.
Riley is the third POV we see in this book. He’s a rogue dragon on the run from both Talon and St. George who tries to show Ember the truth about Talon so she’ll run from the organization with him. Riley is my favorite. He tries to show this carefree, bad boy demeanor but as the story progresses you see the side of him that risks his life for others and cares deeply about Ember.
Which brings me to the always unnecessary YA love triangle. I won’t rant again about how much I hate them but I will say one thing about this triangle in particular. The only reason I didn’t throw the book across the room in frustration was Ember’s side of it. There’s two separate parts of her, dragon and human; the dragon is more animalistic and is at odds with the human emotions she begins to feel. It’s not so much one girl loving two guys as a human girl loving a human boy and a dragon loving a dragon. You can see very clearly how these different parts of her are pulling her in two different directions. The reasoning behind it made me tolerate this love triangle more than I usually do.
Overall I loved this book. It’s fast paced, funny and suspenseful. I’d recommend it to anyone who likes YA or fantasy. As always, thanks for visiting our blog and please share your thoughts in the comments.

-Antonia

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