Book Review : Nice Dragons Finish Last

Book Review : Nice Dragons Finish LastNice Dragons Finish Last by Rachel Aaron
Series: Heartstrikers #1
Published by Aaron/Bach, LLC on July 13th 2014
Genres: Fantasy
Pages: 490
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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 that 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...

I cannot say enough good things about this Nice Dragons Finish Last! It has everything I LOVE—great character development, humor, supernatural/fantasy elements, hints of romance, and of course—dragons!! In fact, my only problem with this fun ride of a book is that I didn’t write it!


Julius is a dragon of a large and infamous clan named the Heartstrikers. But unlike his fearsome brother and sisters, he doesn’t see people as tools to be acquired and discarded, he isn’t greedy or ruthless, he doesn’t try to take things over, and well, he’s nice. Too nice, according to his mother, the clan founder and famous dragon Bethesda. She decries, “Being a disappointment within your own family is one thing, but can you imagine what would happen if the rest of the world found out that my son, my son, spends his days locked in his room playing video games with humans? Humans, Julius. And you don’t even win!” (Let’s ignore how well I can relate to the not winning part xD)


If this acerbic barb weren’t enough, she declares that she should’ve eaten him years ago. Instead, Bethesda seals all of Julius’s magical dragon powers and throws him into the one place where dragons are illegal, the Detroit Free Zone (DFZ for short). It is there where Julius meets a capable mage named Marci, who’s on the run from some serious thugs who even murdered her father. But Julius soon finds out that Marci is anything but your typical damsel in distress. Teaming up, the two face trouble not just limited to thugs, but also demonic ghost cats, magic eaters, rival dragon clans, and possibly most troubling, other members of the Hearstrikers clan. Most notable of these Hearstrikers is Bob, Julius’s eccentric older brother, who actually is both one of the three most renowned seers in the world and one of the most feared and threatening dragons in existence, enjoys life by stirring up trouble and watching Julius’s latest efforts. Notably, this is all while having a pigeon on his head.


Through all of these difficulties, Julius and Marci form a solid friendship, with the strong possibility of something more developing. But this romance isn’t too much or sickening, in fact, it’s just the right amount of sweet. And for Julius, it’s everything. Marci is the first creature—dragon or human—to even thank him! But she goes even further than that, making Julius feel like a worthwhile person and soon, despite the fact that “friendship was as undraconic as generosity…..when he clenched his fists and stepped up to stand beside Marci, Julius felt more draconic than he had in a long, long time.”


The relationship between these two characters and the emergence of Julius’s newfound confidence is purely a delight to read. What’s more is that when Marci finally finds out that Julius is a dragon, she blows his mind, by being the first creature ever to proclaim that he is, in fact, a “fantastic” one. I could literally feel my heart swell with happiness for Julius, that’s how attached I became to these characters. Besides this great friendship, I also love that Julius doesn’t lose his sense of self when he becomes more confident in his own abilities. Instead of becoming more like his sword wielding, prone-to-violence siblings, Julius maintains his strong moral compass, claiming “…if I’m going to be taking risks, I’d rather take them doing what I think is right.”


What a breath of fresh air Julius, the other cast of characters, and the entire book are in a genre that is often filled with overly confident, strong, and perfect heroes that often make magical overnight transitions into badasses! But Julius is still a dragon after all and even with his dragon powers sealed he still manages to take a bullet, supercharge Marci’s mage powers, track down missing persons—er, dragons—, bring a first ever treaty to rival dragon clans, start his own business, and destroy dangerous magical creatures repeatedly for a bounty—all while having a dangerous dragon family breathing down his neck. I’d say that if anything this unique book proves that nice dragons finish anything but last and I can’t wait to read the next book in the series (and everything else the author has ever written, for that matter).

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Posted September 12, 2015 in Book Reviews, Fantasy, Favorite Books

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