No Good Dragon Goes Unpunished by Rachel Aaron
No Good Dragon Goes Unpunished (2016) is another fun installment in Rachel Aaron’s HEARTSTRIKERS series about a race of shapeshifters who can take on both human and dragon forms. The main character, Julius, is the youngest member of the powerful Heartstriker dragon clan, which is led by his ruthless mother. Unlike the rest of his family, Julius is a nice guy who, for most of his life, has felt like he doesn’t fit in. His mother, his siblings, and the members of the other dragon clans think Julius is a weakling. He gets absolutely no respect… until recently, when everything has turned around for Julius.
If you haven’t read the first two books, Nice Dragons Finish Last and One Good Dragon Deserves Another, you should stop here to avoid spoilers. If you decide to read this series, let me recommend the audio editions by Audible Studios. They’re narrated by Vikas Adam who is such a great performer.
While still being nice, Julius has succeeded in dethroning his cruel mother Bethesda. He even forced her to agree to a three-seat council. Bethesda’s got one seat, Julius has a second, and the third is open. As some of Julius’s siblings complain about the council and wrangle for the open seat, the Heartstriker family risks being fractured just at a time when they can’t afford to be distracted because their enemy, the spirit Algonquin, has plans to destroy all dragons.
The threat from Algonquin is so dangerous that an envoy from the United Nations has been sent to Heartstriker Mountain to try to negotiate an alliance between the UN and the dragons. This is surprising since the last UN envoy sent to Heartstriker Mountain had been eaten by Bethesda, but the UN is determined to protect Americans from Algonquin and if, to do so, they have to ally with the dragons, they’re willing.
While Julius struggles with his family drama, his girlfriend Marci, a minor mage, is rapidly gaining knowledge and skills as she interacts with a mage from the UN envoy and with her new friend Amelia, Julius’s oldest sister. (Clearly Amelia and her brother Bob, a seer, are up to something, but nobody knows what they’re planning.) Alarmingly, Algonquin also has plans for Marci. It will result in an intense showdown in the DFZ and Marcy will never be the same again.
In No Good Dragon Goes Unpunished we learn more about the F-clutch dragons (Bethesda’s sixth clutch, who all have first names starting with the letter F). They all serve as their mother’s domestic servants. Why? We don’t know yet. But now they are eager to serve Julius in the hope that he will free them. Their sister Chelsie has also been enslaved by their mother, so Julius is determined to free her, too. She’s been keeping a lot of secrets and has refused to tell her siblings why she’s under Bethesda’s thumb, but we finally find out in this novel.
No Good Dragon Goes Unpunished is exciting, action-packed, and funny, just like the previous two novels. There are multiple showdowns and a couple of huge plot twists that you won’t see coming. Make sure you’ve got the fourth novel, A Dragon of a Different Color, on hand before starting this one!
The one cover owes a lot to Dune.