Just got a great review in – well, two, actually – one from Ulysses and one from Maryann at Queer Sci Fi for the Dragon Eater!
Genre: Sci-Fantasy, YA Crossover
LGBTQ+ Category: Gay, Bisexual
Reviewers: Ulysses, Maryann
About The Book
Raven’s a thief who just swallowed a dragon. A small one, sure, but now his arms are growing scales, the local wildlife is acting up, and his snarky AI familiar is no help whatsoever.
Raven’s best friend Aik is a guardsman carrying a torch for the thief. A pickpocket and a guard? Never going to happen. And Aik’s ex-fiancé Silya, an initiate priestess in the midst of a magical crisis, hates Raven with the heat of a thousand suns.
This unlikely team must work together to face strange beasts, alien artifacts, and a world-altering threat. If they don’t figure out what to do soon, it might just be the end of everything.
Things are about to get messy.
The only thing wrong with this book is that it ended. Scott Coatsworth has produced an adventure that is a rich mélange of science fiction and fantasy, creating the world of Tharassas and its denizens with vivid detail.
Raven is a loner, and a thief – a bit Robin Hood and a little Aladdin. He embodies the social and economic disparities of the world in which he lives. Under-educated and legally homeless, he is nonetheless smart and compassionate. He steals to survive, but donates half of what he gets to those even less well off than he is. Raven’s only constant companion is a little bit of technology called Spin, whose pronouns are he and him, even though he appears to be a pocket-sized disk of silvery metal. Spin is the link between the world of Tharassas and the source of its human population. Few people on this planet have any knowledge of their own history, while Spin came from Earth, which is, to Tharassans, nothing more than myth.
Raven’s only close human friend is Aik, a young man who is strong and brave, but not as smart as Raven. He feels very strongly about Raven, but, as one of the City of Gullton’s guards, is possibly an inappropriate love interest. Aik’s loyalties are understandably caught between his duty as a keeper of the peace in Gullton, and his affection for Raven. The nascent romance between these two men provides a warm emotional core to the action.
The other major player in this drama isSilya, the young woman Aik dumped to woo Raven. An initiate at the Temple – Tarassas’s religious center – Silya is from a wealthy family with deep ties to the planet’s earliest settlers. Silya is also the paranormal element in the story, with her deep tiesto the hencha, one of the dominant plant species on the planet. The hencha plants provide varieties of sustenance for the planet, from food and wine to cloth, but it is more than that.
What Coatsworth makes clear right from the start is that there is more than one storyline unfolding here. Two other narrative voices suggest that there are entities on this planet that preceded the arrival of the human colonists. By the end of the book we understand how these three story arcs will collide in the course of the rest of the series.
The first two-thirds of the book takes place over the course of only a few days in Gullton, a strange quasi-medieval city (with electric lights) built on a series of five jagged spines of igneous rock, rising high above the red waters of the Elsp River. Linked only by bridges, the city is symbolic of the precarious nature of life in this civilization.
The final third of the story takes place in the mountainous region of Heaven’s Reach, north and east of Gullton. Everything happens in a fairly short span of time, and the story left me fairly gasping with anticipation.
There is a dragon in the story, but he’s a tiny one, and barely makes an appearance before Raven swallows him – giving us both the title of the book and Raven’s nickname for those who know.
It’s going to be hard to wait for book two.
Raven is a master thief and a loner, living in a cave on Tharassas. His closest friend is his “ay-eye” familiar, Spin. Spin is from another time and place, and retains the history from the past. Even though Raven has a reputation as a thief, he steals for a reason, not so much for himself, but to support an orphanage.
Aik’Erio is a city guard, handsome, menacing and annoying sometimes for Raven. Aik would like there to be more than just a friendship with Raven. But Raven with being a thief and Aik a guard, it just wouldn’t work.
Raven just can’t resist stealing a package from the Sea Master. There’s something about it that he can’t ignore. Aik wants Raven to turn himself in, but Raven resists, afraid of the punishment to come. As the package becomes more tempting, Raven he opens it, and ends up swallowing a tiny dragon that breaks out of the egg inside.
Aik and Spin can’t help Raven, and the only one Aik can think is Silya, his ex. But Silya hates Raven, and she’s not very fond of Aik either, as he was once her fiancé.
Raven, Aik and Silya will have to join forces to find what is happening with the thief. They will discover new things about themselves as they take an adventurous and dangerous journey. Will Raven make the right choice? Will he put himself in danger to save the world? And what will happen between him and Aik?
Coatsworth creates a colorfully written sci-fantasy tale in The Dragon Eater. The novel is well plotted, and has a good flow, which makes it easy to follow as more characters and situations develop throughout the story. The world building, along with the characters, are descriptive and make for a clear and vivid picture. There’s an incredible scene with a collapsing bridge that creates intense suspense in the middle of the story. Along with the fast-paced action, danger, high emotion, fun and romance, also there’s a touch of mystery. And I thought the idea of swallowing a critter was new and brilliant.
Raven and Aik are such a wonderful pairing. They will break readers hearts, and have them wanting so much more for them. The intimate scene between them is perfectly written.
Besides Raven and Aik, there’s a host of delightful and interesting characters. Spin adds a lot of fascinating history to the story. He’s also snarky and brings moments of humor to the tale. Silya is a healer at the Temple and lives in the Hencha Palace, and is facing the realization she may be the Hencha Queen, which she always wanted but now has huge doubts about. There are also a host of Temple Sisters: Daya, Desla, and Tela all have significant roles. And friend or foe, Sergeant Kek, who has his eye on both Raven and Aik and can cause them trouble.
There’s also an interesting world of dragons to find out about: Sorix, Kalix, Velix, Flyx and Aryx. What will happen when the great battle comes? And what of the spore mother – is she good or evil? As the story progresses I’m sure more will be revealed.
Check out the Glossary at the end of the book. It’s very informative and really adds to the story.
I highly recommend “The Dragon Eater” – there is so much more to this story that’s expertly and brilliantly told. I can’t even begin to imagine what the author has planned for Raven next. I’m really looking forward to the next exciting book.
Ulysses Grant Dietz grew up in Syracuse, New York, where his Leave It to Beaver life was enlivened by his fascination with vampires, from Bela Lugosi to Barnabas Collins. He studied French at Yale, and was trained to be a museum curator at the University of Delaware. A curator since 1980, Ulysses has never stopped writing fiction for the sheer pleasure of it. He created the character of Desmond Beckwith in 1988 as his personal response to Anne Rice’s landmark novels. Alyson Books released his first novel, Desmond, in 1998. Vampire in Suburbia, the sequel to Desmond, is his second novel.
Ulysses lives in suburban New Jersey with his husband of over 41 years and their two almost-grown children.
By the way, the name Ulysses was not his parents’ idea of a joke: he is a great-great grandson of Ulysses S. Grant, and his mother was the President’s last living great-grandchild. Every year on April 27 he gives a speech at Grant’s Tomb in New York City.
Hi, I’m Maryann, I started life in New York, moved to New Hampshire and in 1965 uprooted again to Sacramento, California. Once I retired I moved to West Palm Beach, Florida in 2011 and just moved back to Sacramento in March of 2018. My son, his wife and step-daughter flew out to Florida and we road tripped back so they got to see sights they have never seen. New Orleans and the Grand Canyon were the highlights. Now I am back on the west coast again to stay! From a young age Ialways liked to read.
I remember going to the library and reading the “Doctor Dolittle” books by Hugh Lofting. Much later on became a big fan of the classics, Edgar Alan Poe, Mary Shelley, Bram Stoker and as time went by Agatha Christie, Ray Bradbury and Stephen Kingand many other authors.
My first M/M shifter book I read was written by Jan Irving the “Uncommon Cowboys” series from 2012. She was the first author I ever contacted and sent an email to letting her know how much I liked this series. Sometime along the way I read “Zero to the Bone”by Jane Seville, I think just about everyone has read this book!
As it stands right now I’m really into mysteries, grit, gore and “triggers” don’t bother me. But if a blurb piques my interest I will read the book.
My kindle collection eclectic and over three thousand books and my Audible collection is slowly growing. I have both the kindle and audible apps on my ipod, ipads, and MAC. So there is never an excuse not to be listening or reading.
I joined Goodreads around 2012 and started posting reviews. One day a wonderful lady, Lisa Horan of The Novel Approach, sent me an email to see if I wanted to join her review group. Joining her site was such an eye opener. I got introduce to so many new authors that write for the LGBTQ genre. Needless to say, it was heart breaking when it ended.
But I found a really great site, QRI and it’s right here in Sacramento. Last year at QSAC I actually got to meet Scott Coatsworth, Amy Lane and Jeff Adams.