Author: Julie Kagawa
Series: The Talon Saga #3
Genres: Young Adult, Fantasy
Format: eBook, 381 pages
Publisher: Harlequin TEEN
Release Date: May 5th, 2016
Rating: 2 out 5 stars
A fighter dedicated to saving humankind from dragons in strictest secrecy.
That was what Garret Xavier Sebastian thought he was part of as a soldier of the Order of St. George. What he learned from a fiery dragon hatchling twisted all he believed in and set him on a collision course with certain death-but not without a chance to put things right.
Betrayed and on the run again, Ember and rogue dragon Riley discover an unthinkable truth about Talon and St. George. They’ll need Garret’s skills and insider knowledge of the Order to negotiate an impossible deal-and if they fail, there will be no way to stop all-out war.
The third installment in the Talon Saga once again picks up just about where its predecessor left off – Ember and Riley are on the run as ex-soldier Garret Sebastian has left them and now travels to London – the capital of all St. George’s activity. But he is thrust right back into the action with his previous accomplices when he learns of a sinister plan that has been in the works for quite some time now. Garret returns to the States to warn rogues Ember and Riley and help them reveal the truth about Talon and St. George before it’s too late.
This series and I have a rocky relationship. Talon was absolutely unbearable, while Rogue somewhat improved in the plot department and we finally saw something happen (or the beginnings of something happening, maybe.) In Soldier, the plot continues to go forward, much to my delight. There is definitely more movement than the previous two books for which I am extremely grateful as it definitely saved me from feeling guilt over skimming most chapters. In this book, I feel, the story that Kagawa is trying to tell is finally taking some shape and growing from that boring cliché that it started out as.
Of course, I still have some major issues. (Like I said – rocky relationship.) I still cannot stand either main character, be it dragon or human, and I mostly just want someone to come in and punch them in the face. First off, Ember constantly claims that she’s different now, she’s seen things and has grown, but I actually saw none of those things. She’s still a whiny teenage girl, it’s just that now her mind is preoccupied by the action that she isn’t complaining about her life all the time. Riley really disappointed me. He behaved like a juvenile and I really cannot get behind some of his actions in this book. Garret grew on me a little, if only because he acted the most rationally out of the three mains – and that’s saying something, trust me. I liked that we got more backstory on him, even though it was once again sprung on us so suddenly, like Cobalt’s in Rogue. As for Dante – I really don’t understand why we’re still getting chapters from his POV. It’s not like he’s adding anything to the story at this point.
The romantic subplot, again, continues to plague me. I hated how much focus there was on the love triangle – definitely more than it was focused on in Rogue. Riley acts so possessive, as if he’s on the playground and Garret has come to steal his toy. Ember, at some point, is genuinely afraid to tell him what she’s learned about their bond because she knows he’d explode. Speaking of Ember, her main source for whining once again is about how she doesn’t know what she feels and for whom. I started referring to this as the Twilight Saga: Eclipse Syndrome, but more annoying. Garret, again, is the most reasonable out of the three, though he still has that melodramatic flair that I’m not here for.
My main issue with this series remains the narrative and writing style. I have trouble not rolling my eyes every time a character refers to themselves as “their dragon”. In Soldier I noticed how they even refer to both their human and dragon sides as an “us”. This type of writing really reminds me of how, in 50 Shades of Grey, Anastasia Steele constantly refers to her inner thoughts as “her inner goddess” as if she and her consciousness are two separate entities. It’s the same for the dragons in this book, only they refer to their primal instincs as “their dragon” as if they are not the dragons themselves. As if, when they “Shift”, the creatures they become are completely different from their human forms.
Meanwhile, the writing style is still very much depended on the hand-holding method. Readers are taken through the story as if they’re children being led by their pre-school teachers. Another thing that really irks me is how Kagawa is constantly reminding us of things that we should already know by heart. She takes every opportunity to mention who is rogue and who is an ex-soldier and what organization does what to who. Honestly, if you’re still feeling the need to remind your readers of what your key players are in your story, maybe you should think about why that is instead.
Overall, this book is definitely an improvement from both Talon and Rogue. The characters are beyond saving for me at this point but there were other redeeming qualities. At least we begin to see some semblance of a plot. Basically, Soldier, and particularly its ending, managed to engage me just enough to make me consider reading the next book.