June 7, 2015

Book Review || Steal the Dragon

Steal the Dragon
Sianim Quartet, Book 3
Patricia Briggs

This edition published: 2008
Originally released: November, 1995

ACE Fantasy, mass market, 275p.
ISBN: 978-0-441-00273-3

Slave.  Swordwielder.  Spy.  Some girls have all the luck...

When Rialla was young, slave traders from Darran ambushed her clan, killing all the men and enslaving the women and children. For years, Rialla lived in bondage, until she escaped and fled to the mercenary nation of Sianim.

Now she can strike back at her former masters. A lord in Darran seeks to outlaw slavery—but there are plots to kill him before he can. Rialla is chosen by the Spymaster of Sianim to prevent the murder—and is plunged into a world of deadly magic.

At a glance...

First and foremost, I do love the new cover.  The original was a little too much 80's fantasy movie for me, and because of that, I was a little hesitant about purchasing this book.  Why?  Well, because each time I visited one of the online bookshop I use, all they showed was the old cover.  I have the rest of the Quartet in the re-issued covers and I really wanted to have a matching set.  But when I couldn't see the new cover, I just ordered it.  I'd just have to live with a mis-matched set.  

Thankfully when my order arrived on Friday this was the cover that greeted me when I opened the parcel.  With it's eye catching colours - and the action pose of model - it made me very eager to start reading this immediately... which I did ;-D

World building

Once again, we're back in the world established by Briggs in Masques.  The world has been added to, and further expanded, in each book.  This has made each of the countries, and cultures, more believable.  It is not as extensively set up as it might have been if these books were 500 plus pages each, but I didn't find anything that jarred me out of this reality while reading, so a big thumbs up!

My one criticism about the world building is the lack of a map in the book for quick reference.  I'm a visual person, so I do like to have an idea as to where landmarks, towns, countries, are located so I'm not trying to map it out in my head while reading.


I can't really go into this in depth without giving away major spoilers, so I'll just put my thoughts on the main characters down.

Rialla: a feisty, smart and resourceful woman.  An ex-slave and survivor.  

I liked her a lot.  She is willing to sacrifice a lot (personally) for even the chance to see slavery laws changed in her former country.  Rialla has a presence and I would have liked to read more about her.

Laeth: ex-slave owner, and member of the royal family.  
Strong and loyal, but not a dominant personality.

Laeth, Laeth.  What am I going to do with you?  He seemed like the love interest in the story for Rialla, and while he is someone's honey, I would have been disappointed if the author had of paired them together.  He is a central character, but disappears for parts, which wasn't a bad thing as his story and Rialla's diverged.  Would have loved to follow Laeth and his love interests story.

Tris: strong, powerful, magical, protective.

This mysterious stranger pops up a handful of chapters in.  To start with I only thought he was going to be an incidental character to help move the plot along.  However, he turned out to be a major character, and I really did like him.  His mysterious past, when revealed, was very interesting.

Ren: Spymaster, magic user, manipulative SOB.

Ren has been the one character that has popped up in the first three books.  A point of continuity, he moves the plot along, and imparts important information (for character and reader alike).  We find out more about him in this book, but not a lot.  Secretive old bugger.

Winterseine and Terran: Father and son duo, cruel, magic users, slavers
... but which one is a killer?

From the get go I really disliked these two.  The further into the book you get, the more you hate them.  However it isn't until Terran demands Rialla's presence that I would have happily killed him off.  The author doesn't go into the scene, and for that I'm grateful.  But it alters the story, and the fallout changes everyone's future.

Warnings - Yes.

This book has references to rape, slavery themes, plus self mutilation (face).  They are not graphic, but may upset some readers.

Reading order:  Masques, Wolfsbane, Steal the Dragon, When Demons Walk

However you can read these out of order as they are only loosely connected - and some not at all.

Sounds a little depressing after the warning, but I did enjoy this book.  It is probably my least favourite of the Quartet, but it does answer some questions that I'd had after reading the final book, and my favourite, When Demons Walk (I'll try to post a review soon).  We discover the genesis of the Altis religion - main theme in book four - and for that alone I found Steal the Dragon interesting.

I would recommend this book to anyone who loves an fantasy, especially if you're after something that's not too complex and taxing on the grey matter.

I hope you enjoyed this review.  If you've read the Quartet, or this book, let me know what you thought of them.   

Until next time, my lovelies.

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