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.
Talon is different, because dragons. At the same time, there are some very familiar themes where sometimes a war is fought because of what they are used to, and because of the fear of those who are different.
My Talon review:
First off, I just need to let you all know I’m a huge Kagawa fan! Her stories are always somewhat different, and the universe in which her characters evolve original even while in a genre I am already familiar with. This is also the case in Talon, where the world-building is well done, even if I still have questions after reading the first story in the series. I enjoyed how Ember was trying to think outside of the box, and the way she was questioning the orders she got from Talon and the older, more experienced dragons who were in California to supervise Ember and her brother Dante during their summer of freedom before the final part of their training was to take place.
Assimilate, look human, make friends, act as little as a dragon as possible… these are some of the rules Ember has to follow in order to make sure she won’t be sent straight back to talon for a re-training. And because she and Dante are special – siblings are almost unheard of among dragons – they both want to make sure they ace their tests so they can continue to stay together. Training in different places and with very different trainers and completely opposite curriculum, they slowly drift apart and Ember is mostly left alone with her human friends during the afternoon, after brutal physical training every morning.
I loved the angle with a secret society – St. George – which was there to fight dragons, young men were trained to hate dragons and everything they represented, especially because they were told from the very beginning that their families were gone because of the dragons. When put in a wider perspective, Talon showed me what is so often wrong in our society out here in the real world. So many of us are afraid of the unknown, of what is different, other. This is one of the biggest themes in the story, in my opinion, because the dragons learn from infancy that St. George soldiers are cold-blooded killers, while the soldiers learn that dragons are cold-blooded killers with no emotions whatsoever.
The meeting between Ember and Garret seemed to be one that could only lead to disaster from the very beginning, however, while they got to know each other, end before knowing what the other was, they both started to see things very differently from the way they had been taught. Ember was confused about having human feelings, and Garret started questioning his training because he had never done anything just for fun before.
As their secrets floated closer to the surface, one thing was sure for both Ember and Garret, and that was that what they had been told was not necessarily true. Ember, especially questioned almost all she knew after meeting a rogue dragon who was able to shed some light on what dragons who weren’t able to be incorporated into the plan made by Talon were used for nefarious reasons only.
A complex world, a courageous dragon and a soldier who finally started thinking for himself, Talon made me feel involved in the story from start to finish. I would have liked to have a little more details about the hierarchy and politics of the dragons, though, in order to fully understand the world. Written in first person past tense, both from Ember and Garret’s perspective, I got to know both of them very well, and can’t wait to start reading Rogue!
Some of my favorite Talon quotes:
I’d never gone surfing before, not in my dusty little corner of desert. It looked nearly as much fun as flying, though I doubted anything could compare to soaring the air currents, feeling the wind in your face and beneath your wings. I didn’t know how I was going to survive the summer completely earthborn.
The bright sunlight sparkled off a collection of small treasures: a couple of rings, a gold necklace, and assortment of old coins collected over the years. I picked up a piece of quartz I’d found in the desert one afternoon, and held it up to the light, letting it glitter in my palm. Hey, I couldn’t help it. I liked shiny things; it was in my blood.
Breathless, I slumped to the wall, numb with the realization. This anger, these illogical feelings of rage and possessiveness… I was jealous.
Reading this book contributed to these challenges: