#SPFBO Review : The Iron Crown (Dragon Spirits #1) by LL MacRae


Stage 2 of the  SPFBO competition is now well underway and the Critiquing Chemist and I have been reading the finalists.  Today we post our review for our eighth finalist The Iron Crown (Dragon Spirits #1) by LL MacRae.  Don’t forget to stop over to the Critiquing Chemist to check out their review.


The first in the Iron Crown sets up the story for your basic epic quest with a bunch of strangers eventually coming together in search of answers, all with different motivations, hopes and fears.

As the story begins we meet Fenn as he struggles to survive. Fenn is a young man who seems to have found himself drowning in a bog with no idea of how he came to be there – in fact no idea of who he is as he seems to be suffering from complete memory loss. In rather swift measure Fenn meets with a dragon spirit before being discovered by two females who are travelling through the forest and reluctantly come to his aid.  From there the three, through necessity, find themselves travelling together from the Isle of Salt to the mainland where a number of adventures befall them.

I liked the world imagined by the author.  This is a world of fantasy creatures such as Griffins and dragon spirits that are able to connect to people, imbuing them with power or cursing them depending on their whim. These spirits are usually tied to places such as forests or lakes which unfortunately leads to restrictions, particularly, for example, if the place the dragon spirit is linked to begins to experience decline, ultimately leading to a loss of power for the spirit itself together with the person they are connected to. The Queen is a perfect example of how linking to a dragon can create power.  She personally links to one of the most powerful spirits in the land and for the past five years has kept the country at peace following their turbulent history with the Myr.  The Myr are a strange enemy and one that I’m not quite sure I’ve got a total grip on so I’m going to avoid descriptions.

There are a number of POVs.  Fenn is perhaps the foremost character.  He’s desperate to recover his memories at the same time as staying alive and surviving whatever event landed him in his current predicament.  As it happens there seem to be a lot of similar ‘lost souls’.  People popping up with lost memories and no idea of who they are.  This brings me to a slightly lesser POV, a character called Torsten who is the Master Inquisitor for the Iron Crown.  He’s not the nicest of characters, something of a religious zealot who takes a strange delight in persecuting others and makes it his mission to round up the ‘lost souls’ believing them to be involved in a new uprising of the Myr.  Finally we have Calidra.  A young woman living on the Island of Salt for a number of years following estrangement from her family.  She is called back to the family home following the death of her father and seeks to reconcile with her mother.There are other prominent characters.  In short a love interest, a Priestess, a battle hardened General and a thief.

The plot is a little thin in my opinion and in some respects this feels very much like a set up book, particularly as so many questions remain unanswered at the conclusion and also because all the characters end the story poised for the next instalment.

In terms of criticisms.  I had difficulty connecting with some of the characters, without going into depth they felt a little juvenile, particularly the dialogue, even the General who is a battle hardened character.  A couple of the characters seemed to have no hesitation to draw knives and wave around axes with abandon at the slightest provocation threatening all sorts of repercussions and it felt over the top to me.  I would suggest this is YA but there is some language and certain scenes that I don’t think fit that audience, not to mention the length of the book.  On top of this there was a good deal of coincidental meetings of people along the way which made the place feel a lot smaller than I originally imagined.  Finally, I feel like this needs cutting some.  It’s simply too wordy but more than than it feels drawn out.  Whole chapters come and go and bring very little progress to speak of.  Clearly this is an author who loves the world and characters and doesn’t want to give anything up and I do understand that desire but I think if this was reined in a little the story would pack a much better punch.

Issues aside I recognise that whilst this story didn’t totally work for me I think readers who enjoy an epic quest with dragon spirits and griffins might enjoy this one.

I received a copy courtesy of the author for which my thanks.  The above is my own opinion.

My rating 7 out of 10 stars (or 3.5 of 5 for Goodreads)

The Critiquing Chemist rating is 6 stars

Our combined rating is 6.5 stars


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