Review: Maiden Flight by Bianca D’Arc

maiden flightFormat read: ebook purchased from Amazon
Formats available: ebook
Genre: fantasy romance, erotic romance
Series: Dragon Knights #1
Length: 173 pages
Publisher: Samhain Publishing
Date Released: August 28, 2012 (first edition published February 1, 2006)
Purchasing Info: Author’s Website, Publisher’s Website, Goodreads, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, All Romance

A chance meeting with a young male dragon seals the fate of one adventurous female poacher. The dragon’s partner, a ruggedly handsome knight named Gareth, takes one look at the shapely woman and decides to do a little poaching of his own.

Sir Gareth both seduces and falls deeply in love with the girl who is not only unafraid of dragons but also possesses a rare gift—she can hear the beasts’ silent speech. He wants her for his mate, but mating with a knight is no simple thing. To accept a knight, a woman must also accept the dragon, the dragon’s mate…and her knight, Lars, too.

She is at first shocked, then intrigued by the lusty life in the Lair. But war is in the making and only the knights and dragons have a chance at ending it before it destroys their land and their lives.

My Review:

dragonriders of pernWhen I read Bianca D’Arc’s Maiden Flight I couldn’t help but compare life in the lair to life in the weyr, as in dragon’s weyr. I don’t know if the author intended the story as a more liberated, or at least kinkier response to Anne McCaffrey’s Dragonriders of Pern, I’d be astonished if some parallel wasn’t meant.

And the sexual aspects of McCaffrey’s Dragonriders world really did need to be addressed, but we’ll get there later.

Meanwhile, about this particular set of dragons, instead of thread and a red star, we have a brewing war, and a young woman poaching game to feed herself and her mother, only to have her kill stolen right out from under her.

Make that stolen from above her, by a dragon. And she starts an argument with the beast! (Clearly she’s never seen the t-shirt “Do not meddle in the affairs of dragons, for thou art crunchy and go well with ketchup”!)

Belora knows the dragon is not a beast. Her mother’s childhood friend was a dragon, so Belora has grown up on stories of Mama Kelzy the dragon. From her mother, Belora has inherited the rare ability to speak to dragons, mind to mind. Kelvan, the dragon who poached from the poacher, is enchanted with the spitfire. So much so that he entices her to fly with him to meet his knight, Gareth.

Belora goes along with Kelvan because she really needs that meat. She hopes that Gareth will hear her out. Kelvan brings her because women who have the dragon-speaking gift are rare, and there are extremely few women in the dragon lair.

Kelvan is being selfish. He can’t claim his mate unless his knight is mated. He hopes (and it turns out that he’s right) that Belora will be Gareth’s destined mate.

But Belora and her mother have lived a relatively isolated life. Belora is not just a virgin, she has less idea than most women of what to expect from lair life. (And yes, we’ve heard this before, on Pern again)

The knights, the dragons, and the lairs that support them have come up with some very creative, not to mention kinky solutions to the scarcity of women in the lairs. Will Belora’s growing love for Gareth help her to overcome her shock at a range of sexual experiences that her life had never prepared her for?

Escape Rating B-: Maiden Flight read a bit like two stories glued together. And maybe it was. This was originally written in 2006 and recently revised and updated.

The scarcity of women in the lair provides a thinly veiled excuse for the menage. On the other hand, why not? All the knights are men (although why that is required is a whole other question that was never answered) and there are very few women who can hear the dragons. And dragon sex is so overwhelming (shades of Anne McCaffrey again) that the dragons can’t mate unless their knights are mated. Dragons, of course, do come in both sexes. Instant menage, every time. (I do wonder if any of the knights are going to be gay in later stories?)

For someone who has never even been in love before, Belora is awfully accepting of everything that happens to her, and everything happens very, very fast. Including at least one lovemaking session where the dragon participates. Just a bit. It’s not quite as “eww” as it sounds, but this is not a dragon-shifter we’re talking about here. It’s an actual dragon. And Belora was totally inexperienced less than a week prior.

It was better than the initial dragon mating in McCaffrey which only escaped being rape because the right dragon won the flight. In D’Arc’s world, the woman has to give consent first to both the men and the entire arrangement before hand. The consent may not be 100% informed, but it is way ahead of force majeur.

That being said, I still loved McCaffrey’s Dragonriders and was almost as swept away by that scene as Lessa was. Maturity is not all it’s cracked up to be sometimes. (For a completely different view, read my friend Draconismoi’s post on The Draconic UnMentionables at Book Lovers Inc.)

In the case of Maiden Flight, I found the teasing hints of a possible relationship between Belora’s mother Adora and General Jaden very teasing indeed. I’m looking forward to their story.

***FTC Disclaimer: Most books reviewed on this site have been provided free of charge by the publisher, author or publicist. Some books we have purchased with our own money and will be noted as such. Any links to places to purchase books are provided as a convenience, and do not serve as an endorsement by this blog. All reviews are the true and honest opinion of the blogger reviewing the book. The method of acquiring the book does not have a bearing on the content of the review.

Life after Harry

When I say “Harry”, I mean Harry Potter, of course.  Who else could I possibly mean?

The movie poster for Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2, pretty much says it all, doesn’t it?

Harry Potter fans have been in a curious kind of limbo since July 21, 2007, when the last book was released. We’ve all known how the story ends. But as long as the movies were still being released, the “illustrated” edition was, in effect, still putting out supplements. There were still some unknowns, just not very many. Now that saga, too, is complete.

There are generations yet unborn who will discover Harry for the first time, but there will never be another who will grow up exactly as he does, while he does. Even for those of us who read the series as adults, the experience of waiting for the next book, and speculating on what might happen will never be the same. All has been revealed.

The magic of Harry Potter was not in Diagon Alley, or even at Hogwarts Castle. It was in the overwhelming desire it created in both children and adults to pick up a book and READ! What comes next? Or who?

The inevitable lists have come out, suggesting books that people can turn to as alternatives. For example, Kirkus Reviews published a list of books called “For those suffering from Harry Potter withdrawal“. It’s a great idea, but I’d love to have seen more suggestions for adults suffering from Potter Withdrawal Syndrome (PWS, anyone?) and not just books for kids. And, of course, some of my favs are missing. Tamora Pierce belongs on any list for the magically inclined, either starting with Song of the Lioness or the Circle of Magic. And so does Diane Duane’s series starting with So you want to be a wizard.

Of course, Hollywood is looking for the next big blockbuster. Deathly Hallows 2 had the biggest opening weekend of any movie in history. It’s too bad they didn’t split it into three parts. Just think of all the money they could have made!

Or, if George R.R. Martin had held out for a series of movies instead of an HBO series for The Song of Ice and Fire. On second thought, that’s one saga that is better as a mini-series. Those books are huge. Condensing them to a mini-series was probably difficult enough.

However, io9‘s Facebook users have leapt into the breach and suggested a list of 10 fantasy book series that could replace Harry Potter at the movies. People were supposed to suggest series for their movie-worthiness; whether the books in question were “good” books or not is, as always, a matter of personal opinion. What was interesting about the list was that the books were not necessarily new, not necessarily popular, and not necessarily good. Having read 7 out of the 10 books listed, I’m can definitely testify to any of the above.

The number 1 listed series was Fritz Leiber’s Fafhrd and the Gray Mouser. From 1936! These are classics. I mean, really classic. As in, Leiber not only coined the term “sword and sorcery” but Fafhrd and the Gray Mouser are arguably among the foundation stories in the genre. If you’ve never had the pleasure the first book is Swords and Deviltry. Or, for a real treat, try the graphic novel version.

Anne McCaffrey’s Dragonriders of Pern series was also listed. This is not a big surprise. The series is not just long, but it has a huge number of fans. Artemis Fowl was also mentioned, as he is frequently listed as a successor to Mr. Potter. I haven’t read him, but I have the first three books in the vast TBR pile.

The surprise of the list was Dragonlance. I had to groan. And I did read them, so I am entitled to my groan. I read the Dragonlance Chronicles on a Trans-Atlantic flight, when those were the only three books I had. I can’t sleep on airplanes. If I could have slept, believe me, I would have. Essentially, someone took a Dungeons and Dragons campaign and wrote it up into three books. The trilogy sold well enough that they managed to sell a second trilogy. That first book, Dragons of Autumn Twilight, was almost painful. But as I read it, I could see the writers learning their craft as the book progressed. By the end, it wasn’t too bad. But filming it?

I’d rather see anything else on the list. But then again, the first time I saw the trailer for Cowboys & Aliens, I thought it was either a joke or a video game. Whatever it is, it’s not a substitute for Harry Potter. Or John Wayne either, come to think of it.