Title: The Dragon’s Price (Transference #1)
Author: Bethany Wiggins
Genre: YA Fantasy
Publisher: Crown Books for Young Readers
Publication Date: February 21st, 2017
eBook: 304 Pages
When two warring kingdoms unified against a deadly menace laying waste to both their lands, they had to make a choice: vow to marry their heirs to one another, or forfeit their lives to the dragon.
Centuries later, everyone expects the sheltered princess Sorrowlynn to choose the barbarian prince over the fire-breathing beast—everyone, that is, except Sorrow, who is determined to control her own destiny or die trying.
As she is lowered into the dragon’s chamber, she assumes her life is over until Golmarr, the young prince she just spurned, follows her with the hopes of being her hero and slaying the dragon. But the dragon has a different plan. . . .
If the dragon wins, it will be freed from the spell that has bound it to the cave for centuries. If Sorrow or Golmarr vanquish the dragon, the victor will gain its treasure and escape the cave beneath the mountain. But what exactly is the dragon hiding?
There are no safe havens for Sorrow or Golmarr—not even with each other—and the stakes couldn’t be higher as they risk everything to protect their kingdom.
“I, Princess Sorrowlyn of Faodara, humbly submit to give my life,” I say, my voice strong, “to the fire dragon instead of giving it to the Antharian heir.”
I received a copy of this book from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.
The Dragon’s Price was an impulse request on Netgalley. Cynthia brought it to my attention on a recent podcast and I was in the mood for some generic Fantasy. Plus, who doesn’t love a good dragon story? I didn’t have high expectations going in, and I am glad I didn’t. If I had been really looking forward to this novel, I might have had a much harder time reading it.
I was hoping this book would be a girl power filled fantasy romp. After all, the blurb suggested that instead of pledging herself to an arranged marriage, Sorrowlyn chooses to face a dragon. I also found the idea of a matriarchal society to be promising. Sadly, while the crown passes from mother to daughter, the Queen’s Husband rules in her stead. It was clear quite early on that this novel was not going to appease my appetite for powerful female characters. In fact, she doesn’t even truly choose the dragon. She makes the claim initially, but when Golmarr, the youngest son of the Horse King, steps forward and offers to marry her, she instantly accepts. And, of course, when she is informed that her first choice stands and she is to be fed to the dragon, Golmarr goes into the abyss with her. She is a damsel in distress, after all. Princes can’t resist that.
Don’t worry. She doesn’t remain a damsel forever, but her development is extremely sudden. One moment she is the lonely girl who has sacrificed herself to a dragon and the next she is a warrior. There is a plot line that explains it. So, it isn’t completely out of place. That said, I would have preferred to see it progress slower throughout the novel. As it stands the character’s growth plateau’s less than half way through the book, and since the novel is in first person the characters around her suffer a similar fate.
Golmarr is your average knight in shining armor disguised as a Dothraki. If you are unfamiliar with The Song of Ice and Fire series or Game of Thrones, the Dothraki are known to be fierce warriors who breed strong horses and their men measure their prowess by the length of their hair. All of the above applies to the Antharian Prince. The Dothraki are, however, far more brutal than the Horse Clan featured here. While Golmarr fits the description on the outside, he is your typical fairy tale prince on the inside. He offers to marry a girl he has had two conversations with because he feels sorry for her and then when that falls through and she is lowered into a pit as dragon food, he follows her. Again, out of pity. Oh, and then when they manage to survive the dragon fight, which he was unconscious for a significant part of, he takes all the credit.
Their romance is essentially insta-love. The author attempts to combat this by stating that Golmarr only offers himself as Sorrow’s betrothed because he pities her. It is quite clear that he does not love her. But, once they are alone with the dragon that is forgotten. He moons over her, she drools over him, and they are committed to each other before they leave the Dragon’s lair. Having known each other for just a few days at this point, the entire relationship feels forced. And since the majority of the novel (including the extremely predictable plot twist at the end) focuses on their love, I found myself losing interest around the halfway mark.
What drove me to finish the novel (aside from the fact that I hate to leave books unfinished) was the interesting concept of the Dragon’s Treasure. Now, we have all heard the stories of dragons and their hoards. In this tale, the treasure passes immediately from the dragon to the person who slayed it. Standard, right? Wrong. Dragons in this world don’t hoard gold and jewels. Their treasure is less tangible and can be anything. I was intrigued by the concept, but the portrayal of the dragons got in the way. I wanted them to be terrifying. Instead they were about as scary as the giant in Jack and the Beanstalk. You know they want to eat you because they told you so a million times… in the cheesiest way possible.
If you are looking for a quick and easy read on a Saturday afternoon and do not mind that the characters aren’t believable or that the dialogue is cringe-worthy, then this might be for you. Unfortunately, it really didn’t do anything for me.