Yes, Embers is book 5 in a series, and I know that’s a silly thing to do when I haven’t reviewed the rest of the books.
However, I have a very good reason to pick this one, especially in Pride Month: Nikki, one of the main characters, is actually non-binary and uses the pronouns they/them.
Yes, this is consistent throughout the entire book. In my eyes, that’s a real feat by the authors. Agreed, it also poses a bit of a challenge for readers – once in a while I stumbled over this, but it’s worth it to me. I’m a firm LGBTQ+ ally, so there’s that.
And yes, well, it is gay romance because let’s face it, I’ve not been reading much else for my comfort. I went into my reasons for this in last month’s (not a) review post.
The Setting of Embers
The entire Scales ‘n Spells series takes place in an alternate reality world where dragon shifters and magic are real, but it’s based on our modern world. To be more precise, all books of this series revolve around the Burkhard Fire Dragon Clan which has its base near Sonthofen in Bavaria. (Yes, their fairy tale castle is based on Neuschwanstein, quite obviously.)
I find it quite amusing to have dragons dress in suits while in human shape, to watch them use cell phones (not always competently) or to have mages be also internet wizards. SUVs also play a large role, but there are also long flights and train travel.
The Worldbuilding of Embers
Most of the dragons in the series are hundreds of years old, and boy, do they remember their history. There has been a great Dragon War about 500 years ago (most of them were around then) which was the single most catastrophic event for dragons and mages, ever. Thousands died. Basically, they disappeared from the face of Earth, and all lore about dragons became myths.
The series starts out with a young man running across a dragon, completely unaware that he’s a mage. By the time we get around to Embers, four dragons have found their mates in various cute ways and more backstory has come to light – an evil clan of mages are the villains. “Embers” actually presents the end of that particular story arc.
My favorite character in Embers
Well, that’s Nikki, of course, hands down. And I bet that the authors intended us readers to feel just that.
Nikki is smart, determined and truly knows what they want. They are also quirky and not afraid to try any kind of fashion and color. (That’s another aspect of the book I so love.) They are not afraid to wear make-up either – and the dragons are totally accepting. While Nikki is not the first character to do so, they are blatantly colorful.
Yet there is a dark, fearful side to Nikki infused by trauma, and I think the authors handled that gently, as well. It takes time for Nikki to build trust and actually feel that the Burkhard castle could be “home” (for very good reasons). This side also meshes with the immense resilience of the character, and so Embers is not just a gay love story, it’s also a tale of overcoming horrible experiences and achieving emotional growth and healing.
What I like best about Embers
With all those different arcs in it, Embers is a great story of hope.
We do see a love arc with one oblivious character. We see personal growth and much bravery in both. We see thoughtfulness and care. (I love that male characters get to be thoughtful and caring!) We see pain and grief. And we get the classic happy ending for a love story, but they have to work for it, both on their own issues and in the fight against their adversaries.
I don’t think I spoil too much when I say that a big, historical issue for the dragons is also resolved at the end and there is much hope for peace and rebuilding – grounded in cooperation and mutual understanding, paired with determination to never give greed and strife another chance.
And honestly – that is what I would love to see in this world.
Where to get Embers
The entire series is in Kindle Unlimited, which means it’s exclusive to Amazon. I’m giving you the COM link, because I believe you all know how to get to your particular store from that, if needed.
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