House of Dragons

House of Dragons
House of Dragons Book One
Written by Jessica Cluess
Fantasy, Dragons, Magic, Romance
Published June 16th 2020
448 Pages
Add to Goodreads
★★★★
Five royal houses will hear the call to compete in the Trial for the dragon throne. A liar, a soldier, a servant, a thief, and a murderer will answer it. Who will win?

When the Emperor dies, the five royal houses of Etrusia attend the Call, where one of their own will be selected to compete for the throne. It is always the oldest child, the one who has been preparing for years to compete in the Trial. But this year is different. This year these five outcasts will answer the call.

The Liar. Emilia must hide her dark magic or be put to death.

The Soldier. Lucian is a warrior who has sworn to never lift a sword again.

The Servant. Vespir is a dragon trainer whose skills alone will keep her in the game.

The Thief. Ajax knows that nothing is free, he must take what he wants.

The Murderer. Hyperia was born to rule and will stop at nothing to take her throne.
The five eldest children of the royal estates of Etrusia will answer The Call, their kingdom seeking a worthy competitor to succeed the Emperor, chosen by the Great Dragon and overseen by Their Graces, high priests of the temple of Delphos. Except the second born, the servant, the bastard child and the pacifist are chosen in their stead, those untrained and ill prepared. In the kingdom, the eldest member of each royal linage is conditioned and trained to take part in a series of tests known as The Calling, where the mythical Great Dragon chooses a child and their dragon mount to compete. The narrative is told from five points of view, each character easily distinguishable and a glimpse into their lives before and after The Calling, as they struggle with the expectations placed upon them.

Emilia has lived in isolation, her parents believing she is dangerous and concealing her illegal ability. Being chosen for The Call is an opportunity for Emilia to escape her confines, she hadn't expected to find former childhood friend Lucian also competing in the trial. Lucian has conquered lands and its people alongside his father and warmonger sibling, leaving the young man traumatised and vowing to atone for his brutality and using a pacifist approach to conflict. Emilia and Lucian are both wonderful characters, gentle, compassionate and both wanting to avoid the brutality of the trials. It was lovely to see them reconnect as tentative friends and watch their subtle attraction develop.

One of my favourite characters is Vespir, the servant and dragon keeper. Vespir is a servant within one of the royal houses, treated with contempt and seen as less than human. Her true companions are the dragons within her keep until she falls in love with the boss' daughter. Vespir shouldn't be underestimated, she's a survivor, she's resourceful and deliciously crafty. Although in a gentle, totally non backstabby kind of way unlike Ajax. Ahh Ajax, the bastard son, among a sea of bastard children, created from a sexual assault and tormented by his noble father and his legitimate children. Ajax has always struggled to fit in, surviving through any means necessary. He's well aware his lack of attractiveness means he can slip under the radar, a little like a cheeky cat burglar, although not as slick as he pretends to be.

A fair warning about our last competitor, she's ruthless and bloodthirsty beyond compare. Hyperia isn't a young woman to be played the fool, she's cold, calculated and will allow no one, absolutely no one to stand in her way of becoming victor. Oh my goodness, this girl makes Mia Corvere look like a Catholic school girl. She lives for her kingdom, the admiration of her father and the fear she instils in others. 

The world building is breathtaking. Spiralling cities steeped in history and grandeur, rustic villages and desolate woodlands, beautifully atmospheric and wonderfully imagined. And the dragons! When a dragon hatchling is born, they choose their human companion, connecting to their spirit as dragon and rider become one. When their human companion passes, their dragon eats them which wouldn't be an altogether bad way to go. I loved Dog especially, Ajax' companion. He's playful, loyal and befitting of his name. 

House of Dragons was glorious and left me wanting more! The brutality, the loyalty, companionship and moments of friendship among the fierce competitiveness is entwined so beautifully, shades of a young adult Game of Thrones that even reluctant fantasy readers will enjoy. Best be off, need to see a man about a dragon.

14 comments

  1. You know, I don't think I've read that many books where there are dragons. This one sounds fascinating. I especially like all the different characters. I had to laugh at this though: "this girl makes Mia Corvere look like a Catholic school girl" Man, she must be brutal! I've only read Nevernight - need to finish that trilogy. But back to this book!!! Thanks for sharing. You're always introducing me to new reads.

    -Lauren
    www.shootingstarsmag.net

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    1. I've read a few over the years and this is right up there with my favourites Lauren. Each character is incredible and it's so beautifully written, looking forward to seeing what you think of it!

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  2. eeek! I'm a BIG fan of books with dragons, but struggled to get into Game of Thrones because of how big and heavy it was. I feel like House of Dragons might be the perfect mid point for me to read so I will definitely be adding it to my TBR.

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    1. I wasn't a fan either Lara, or the adaptation either. House of Dragons is far milder by those standards but a brilliant read. It's one of those books that even non fantasy readers will enjoy.

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  3. "rustic villages and desolate woodlands, beautifully atmospheric and wonderfully imagine" This sounds so good! And I don't think I've read a good dragon story in ages.

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    1. They're pretty few and fair between. This one is magnificent though, super excited for book two!

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  4. This sounds like a fantastic read and one I definitely want to check out. I mean I saw dragons and was interested but was wary of quite so many POV but each of the characters so distinct and interesting. My usual struggle with multiple POV is that I find I get confused with the characters and the voices aren’t distinct enough.

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    1. I usually struggle with any more than three of four characters but didn't have an issue with this one at all actually, each character is very distinctive and really well developed. And dragons! You can't go wrong really.

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  5. I've never heard of this book before, but it sounds really epic! it's been a while since I read a satisfying fantasy, so thanks for sharing!

    Tasya // The Literary Huntress

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    1. I think you'll really enjoy this one Tasya, would love to see what you think of it!

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  6. House of Dragons sounds very character driven and so I'm excited! Also very excited about the use of "bloodthirsty."

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    1. Ohhh it's brutal but in the best possible way. It's been a long while since I've read a decent fantasy with dragons and this was brilliant!

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  7. I didn't even realize Jessica Cluess had a new series coming out. This sounds amazing so it's definitely going on my TBR. :)

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    1. It's a brilliant read Suzanne, looking forward to seeing what you think of it!

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