My rating: 5 of 5 stars
To be honest, I went into Lawless a little warily. I had a rocky start with it--liking the snarkiness between Kesia and Zephryn, but stumbling a little to figure out what was going on. Fleetwings? Talents? Congruency? Scepters? What? But confusion soon cleared and then it was off on an adventure!
The dragon-human war has dragged for years with no resolution. On the dragon side, Kesia, convicted murderer, serves as a soldier for the Pinnacle in hopes of redemption; her fleetwing and tactical partner, deposed Prince Zephryn, too has little choice in his involvement. On the human side, Captain Shance Windkeeper has been conscripted into the war, hiding his distaste for it with alcohol and sex everytime he can. Unlikely partners, it would seem--and yet all three must work together to find the truth--and hopefully, stop the war.
I love the way Ippolito has created a dragon culture that's almost tangible and the world comes alive. It's also more interesting when the dragonshifters themselves constantly rediscover parts of their culture and lives that have been stolen away from them due to the war. But really, the best thing about Lawless is how fun it is. True, there's war and conspiracy, death and betrayal, but there's also the lighthearted side of life: Kesia muddling through confusing human social customs; Zilpath's gentle teasing; Shance constantly making a fool of himself for love; the banter between Kesia and Zephryn, Kesia and Shance.
However, it's not just a flighty read. Interweaved into this lightheartedness are broad themes of worth and redemption, strength and conviction, and faithfulness. Kesia struggles with her self-worth and is constantly fighting to redeem herself. Yet, as she remembers more about her forgotten past, and discovers more about what brought her to that place, she also learns that her past doesn't have to define her future, the actions of others don't necessarily demean her worth, and that who she is is strong enough.
Since this is book 1, obviously the story doesn't end yet. It reaches a sort of pause, and I have questions. But they can wait. Until book 2.
Note: I received an ARC from the publisher. This review is my own independent and fair evaluation.
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Janeen Ippolito is two authors for the price of one! She creates writing resources and writes speculative fiction with monsters, misfits, and mushy stuff. She's also an experienced author coach, editor, teacher, and the Fearless Leader (president) of Uncommon Universes Press. In her spare time, she enjoys sword-fighting, reading, geeky TV, and brownie batter.
A lifelong misfit, she believes different is beautiful and that everyone has the ability to tell their story. Two of her goals are eating fried tarantulas and traveling to Antarctica. This extroverted writer loves getting connected, so find her on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and at her two websites: janeenippolito.com and writeinsideout.com
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