Soldier (Talon #3)
by Julie Kagawa
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A fighter dedicated to saving humankind from dragons in strictest secrecy.
That was what Garret Xavier Sebastian thought he was part of as a soldier of the Order of St. George. What he learned from a fiery dragon hatchling twisted all he believed in and set him on a collision course with certain death-but not without a chance to put things right.
Betrayed and on the run again, Ember and rogue dragon Riley discover an unthinkable truth about Talon and St. George. They'll need Garret's skills and insider knowledge of the Order to negotiate an impossible deal-and if they fail, there will be no way to stop all-out war.
His fingertips came to rest against the back of my hand, sending a zip of current through my whole body. “I’m done hiding,” he whispered. “Nothing has changed. I know we might not have a lot of time, but what we do have, I want to spend right here.”
That feeling…I know you’re familiar with it…when the air is sucked out of your lungs, when your world collapses beneath your feet, the world ceases to exist as it shatters to pieces around you, and that book you’re holding is all that matters in the world-it’s all I felt as this book came to a close…and for most of the story, really.
It had been her mercy, her refusal to kill a known enemy, that had made me realize the Order was wrong. It was because of her that I was here now, risking my life to protect the creatures I’d once driven toward extinction. Because a dragon had spared the life of a soldier of St. George, and everything had changed.
I’m not going to lie-whenever I get a chance for an ARC by an author I adore, cherish, and have never been let down by before, I feel a lot of pressure. I mean, this is Julie fucking Kagawa we are talking about here-the creator of Ash, the beautiful, deadly, fatal, and loyal Prince of the Fey. Zeke, the unwavering human who fell in love with the thing he once despised-A vampire. And now, here we are again with Ember and Garret (I refuse to acknowledge Riley has a chance-He does, but, no-I won’t support him as a love interest)-A soldier who was brought up to hate Dragons, to destroy them without a second thought, because they are humanity’s enemy-and Ember, the dragon who turned his world on it’s axis, making him fall in love with the enemy…and risk his life for her over and over again, if not only because he is desperately in love with her, but because it’s the right thing to do. Ahhh my beautiful soldier boy. He is just…PERFECTION.
But I would not break. I would not give up Ember’s location, or Riley’s underground. The next few hours might have me wishing I was dead, but I would not betray the girl I loved to the organization. They would have to kill me.
But I digress-Onto my point: Kagawa is the MASTER of forbidden romance. She is the queen of making love triangles almost bearable, making friends out of foes fighting for the same girl’s love. To think… I have finally gotten one of her coveted ARCs-something I have worked to earn for years…and I was super nervous-SO MUCH PRESSURE! But then, like always, I opened up this story and the world of dragons and forbidden love and stolen kisses totally enraptured me…and I was a GONER.
Helpless, I clenched my fists against my back, well aware that every mile, every minute that ticked by, took me ever farther from getting to them in time and closer to losing the red dragon forever.
What pressure is there, really, when one of your favorite authors is in the driver’s seat? From the minute I started reading about my boy, nothing else mattered. But then a different kind of pain surfaced, one that us avid readers know about all too well: The feeling of messy love. The feeling of falling for two different men, with two different styles, with two different ways of winning the heroine’s love. And, for once, Kagawa isn’t making it obvious who Ember is going to end up with…and it might be killing me inside.
“I couldn’t,” he finally whispered. “You were the one who taught me to live, to take chances. For a while, I convinced myself that we were too different, and that it was better to let you go. But now, I’ve come to the realization that my life is probably going to be very short. And I want to spend it doing something that matters. With someone that matters. I don’t want to regret that I gave up without a fight.”
So let me address the, ahem, dragon in the room (har har, I’m so clever). Yes, there is a love triangle. And YES, I like both men. Riley is Ember’s equal in dragon form. He is protective and ambitious, and he is working hard to right the wrongs of Talon by saving as many young dragons as he can. But along the way, he fell for a fiery, red-haired hatchling…while she was in the middle of falling in love with a soldier of St. George-their sworn enemy from as long ago as they can remember.
“Your friends are…interesting,” she said, making me snort. “I would hate to see your enemies.” She looked back at me, black eyes assessing. “You did not mention that one of the ‘friends’ you risked your life for was desperately hoping he could rip your head off.”
“I was a soldier of the Order,” I said wearily. “He’s the leader of a rogue dragon underground. I’m sure I’ve killed a few of his dragons in the past.” I’m also stupidly in love with the girl he considers his, and we both know it.
Should be simple, right? A human couldn’t possibly be in love with a dragon. It’s simply impossible. Weird. Unheard of-They don’t have a chance. WRONG. You are SO wrong. Garret, my loyal soldier, would do anything for this girl who changed his whole belief system. He’d go to the ends of the earth to keep her safe, even at the cost of his own life (How many times do I have to say this before it gets old? I DON’T CARE). His mission was simple: Kill the hatchling…but instead he slowly fell in love with her, even if he didn’t want to. Now, here we are with Garret, Ember, Riley, and Wes doing what they can to bring down the corrupted Talon and to show St. George everything they have been taught and know is a lie. But when more sinister problems arise, things become complicated. How are they going to get to the top of St. George to bring this to light? Who will they have to trust? How much are they willing to bargain? And who will make the ultimate sacrifice?
Our enemies-my enemies-wouldn’t win. The demon lizards had hurt me for the last time. Now, they had a new foe, and I would make sure they remembered my name when I destroyed them on the battlefield.
I would work hard.
I would excel.
I would become the perfect soldier.
To say this was my favorite installment of the series would be an understatement. Yes, book one is so close it’s unreal, because I enjoy when the love interests begin to fall in love, slowly losing their mind to something they can’t control. I love it when things are at the beginning and aren’t complicated with cliffhangers and deaths and perilous moments that test everything they possess in themselves to stay alive and stay together. I’m side eyeing you, Kagawa. But there is just something so sickeningly satisfying and…primal…about watching two guys duke it out for one girl, throwing it all out on the table for her love. There’s something so appealing about declarations of love as the world burns to ashes around them…even as the cries of love are too late. I. CAN’T. HELP. IT. I am a slave to peril and Julie Kagawa is my puppet master pulling my strings this way and that, ripping my heart to shreds with each new installment in each new series she creates. I’d say I hate her for making this crazy, annoying, obsessive, psycho fangirl…..but that would make me a liar, too.
My heart seemed to stop. Garret paused, as if gathering his thoughts, or his courage, then took a deep breath. “I know I’ve made mistakes,” he continued, shaking his head. “But there’s still the chance for me to fix them. I shouldn’t have walked out that night.” His brow creased, a flicker of pain and regret going through his eyes. “Ember, I know you can’t feel what I do,” he said. “I get that. But…I want to be with you. And if that’s not possible, I’ll be content just to be close. Fighting Talon with you and Riley, helping people, saving other dragons from the Order-there is nothing I want more. And nowhere else I want to be.”
I’m sorry, but I would not be ME if I didn’t obsess about MY choice in this race before I closed this review out. Garret is at his best: Declaring his love, using all the skills he possesses to keep his new-found friends safe, trusting with all his heart, even as danger lurks around every corner, so he can get the information he needs, and becoming an-even more-unforgettable BBF. And here is what I hope all of you will take from this: I may be someone who loves all kinds of boys in books, but Kagawa creates some of the most daring, tortured, beautiful, unforgettable male leads ever. If ever you wanted to read a book about a boy who falls madly, deeply, forever in love with the heroine of the story-despite dire consequences-look no further. If ever you wanted a story that is engrossing, deep, creative, vivid, imaginative, out of this world addicting, Kagawa is your woman. She creates a combination of worlds, plots, and men that make it impossible not to love at least ONE of her series, thus making her one of the most popular authors EVER, simply because her reach knows no bounds. I shudder to think of the day when a Kagawa book won’t have me gasping for breath, clutching my iPad/pillow, and sobbing uncontrollably into the dark as I close the final pages within one of her stories where a cliffhanger has killed me slowly from the inside out-once again. I SHUDDER to think.
One hand traced small circles against my back, and I pressed closer to him, listening to his heartbeat. “I used to think that having nothing to live for made you a better fighter,” he murmured. “Turns out I was wrong on a lot of fronts.”
She is the author that brought me out of my comfort zone, the one that taught me it’s okay to love out of this world things like fey and dragons (Dragons…DRAGONS! Really?? I’d have never thought), and not to be ashamed of letting my freakish fangirl flag fly, and I will be forever grateful that she led me to so many outlandish, wonderful series I am obsessed with today. If not for her, I don’t know that I would have stepped so far out of my comfort zone. And if I had, I don’t know that I would have liked it. She writes in a way that captures your soul, even if you are fighting it, and makes you beg for more. For anyone who has not given this woman a chance, I dare you to try her Iron Fey series and not fall in love with Ash. Or to read the Immortal Rules series and not fall for the good boy gone bad, Zeke. And now, I dare you to not get butterflies when Ember falls in love with the boy at Crescent Beach one carefree summer….Or, I GUESS, her Dragon guy, Cobalt/Riley, who would also risk it all for Ember, as well. See? That was hard for me-I really do like all the guys she creates, which is saying something. HOWEVER-this is my disclaimer-DON’T FUCK WITH MY HEART, KAGAWA-Don’t take advantage of my good-natured, and begrudging, like for Riley. I’m totally pointing an emoji finger at you!
We stared at each other, a thousand emotions simmering below the surface. My thoughts and feelings were a tangled mess, woven around each other until it was impossible to separate them. Garret stood there, wounded and beautiful, the shadow of the boy staring out through the soldier’s mask, and guilt settled in my stomach like a lead ball.
Lots of laughs, heartache, and heart dropping, soul-crushing moments invade this story, and if you liked the previous two stories, I know you will adore this addition. I also forgive Ember for the last book (You hear that, Ember? You are forgiven! However…you better keep my guy safe, or else). So, as I finished bawling at the end of the book on a lazy Sunday night, unexpectedly losing my shit and having to contain myself-again-lest I get thrown out of the house by a very angry husband as I silently shook and sobbed beside him in bed, I began to smile and slowly fall asleep, floating in feels.
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ABOUT JULIE KAGAWA:
Julie Kagawa, the New York Times bestselling author of the Iron Fey and Blood of Eden series was born in Sacramento, California. But nothing exciting really happened to her there. So, at the age of nine she and her family moved to Hawaii, which she soon discovered was inhabited by large carnivorous insects, colonies of house geckos, and frequent hurricanes. She spent much of her time in the ocean, when she wasn’t getting chased out of it by reef sharks, jellyfish, and the odd eel.
When not swimming for her life, Julie immersed herself in books, often to the chagrin of her schoolteachers, who would find she hid novels behind her Math textbooks during class. Her love of reading led her to pen some very dark and gruesome stories, complete with colored illustrations, to shock her hapless teachers. The gory tales faded with time (okay, at least the illustrations did), but the passion for writing remained, long after she graduated and was supposed to get a
To pay the rent, Julie worked in different bookstores over the years, but discovered the managers frowned upon her reading the books she was supposed to be shelving. So she turned to her other passion: training animals. She worked as a professional dog trainer for several years, dodging Chihuahua bites and overly enthusiastic Labradors, until her first book sold and she stopped training to write full time.
Julie now lives in Louisville, Kentucky, where the frequency of shark attacks are at an all time low. She lives with her husband, an obnoxious cat, an Australian Shepherd who is too smart for his own good, and a hyper-active Papillion.
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