Last Dragon Standing by Rachel Aaron
Last Dragon Standing (2018) is the epic finale of Rachel Aaron’s self-published HEARTSTRIKERS series. I’ve been listening to the audio edition of the HEARTSTRIKERS novels and can recommend them without reservation to readers interested in this fun and heart-warming saga. I listened to them with my 19-year-old daughter and we loved the narration by Vikas Adam. If you haven’t read the previous four books, Nice Dragons Finish Last, One Good Dragon Deserves Another, No Good Dragon Goes Unpunished, and A Dragon of a Different Color, please stop here and read those first. I’ll try to avoid spoilers as much as possible, but it’s difficult to do so this far into the series.
Fans of Julius’s mysterious brother Bob, a seer, will be happy to learn that we get a lot of Bob and his even more mysterious pigeon in Last Dragon Standing. In the prologue we finally learn what the pigeon is, where it came from, and how it became Bob’s closest companion.
Then the story begins where it left off in A Dragon of a Different Color, with suddenly extremely high levels of magic pouring into the Detroit Free Zone (DFZ) because of the events at the end of the previous book. Marci, now a Merlin, suspects that the influx of magic will activate magical powers in people who are genetically predisposed to have them, resulting in a lot of new mages that will need to be trained.
But the biggest problem to be dealt with – an existential crisis, in fact – is the presence of the Nameless End, a creature from another plane of existence that takes the shape of a huge world-eating Leviathan. It managed to manipulate its way into our universe through its alliance with Algonquin and is now threatening to eat everything in existence. Our, by now, large cast of characters, many who were formerly enemies, must band together to defeat it. This conglomerate of unlikely allies could never have happened without the diplomatic efforts of Julius, the nice dragon. Thus, it is the weakest dragon of all who might just save the universe.
An epic battle ensues and everyone has their part to play. Epic final battles are not my favorite fantasy plot – they’re a little cliché and, kind of boring I think – and I haven’t been enjoying the Marci the Merlin plotline for a couple of books now, but fans are likely to appreciate how Rachel Aaron brings her diverse cast of characters together in a common goal. Once again her intricate and careful plotting is obvious. With such a life-threatening situation to deal with, the story is not as funny as the previous installments, but it has its moments.
Readers who love Aaron’s Detroit Free Zone will be happy to learn that she’s written another series set in the DFZ. It’s called DFZ and begins with Minimum Wage Magic. I’m reading the DFZ books now and will let you know how they go.
This series sounds fun!