HeartStrikers, books 1 & 2 Rothdas book review RSS
2.5 Stars

"Your strategy was so bad that it confused me" - random Starcraft player after I defeated him, ~2014

An odd but not entirely terrible series of books. They're sort of like YA versions of the Dresden novels, with tense situations and magic and adventure and a tiny bit of romance and a lot of dragons. The plotline is that ~50 years ago magic returned to the world, and with it all sorts of supernatural things have woken up from hibernation, including several hundred dragons. The main character is the youngest of these dragons, but he has been raised on too much modern human media and doesn't want to be a sociopathic asshole like the rest of his dragon family, and so he has Spirited Away type challenges and adventures where it turns out being nice to various supernatural entities wasn't quite as bad of a choice as his family is telling him. The books are not great, but there are charming bits and creative bits & they are competently written. There's a couple of beats that are drawn out too long/repeated too often, but it's still a cut above just generic dreck.

The books are oddly structured though in that very quickly they introduce the idea of Seers, characters who can directly see the future and sift through the likely outcomes of people's actions. There are exactly 3 Seers at any point in time (I like this), but they exert an enormous control over events, since they can manipulate events and lives through both short and long term plots. E.g. any direct struggle against a Seer is 100% doomed, since their pawns will be gifted with extraordinary good luck, while their opponents will just slip on banana peel after banana peel. And you can't really run from Seers, since they can just look ahead to where you will go and then meet you there. So real freedom of action only exists in the boundaries between Seers, where their plots are clashing against each other. And this is a really weird thing to introduce into your book from the very start, the idea that the character's actions are mostly blessed/doomed from the start and have been specifically engineered to have the outcomes that they do. It makes the whole exercise seem even more meaningless than usual? And the author isn't really doing anything meta with the idea, e.g. the idea of Seers as stand-ins for the author or some such. Which brings us back to the main character, who has been specifically chosen by one of the Seers, precisely because the main character's decision making is so bad and unlikely that he can introduce an element of chaos & disrupt another Seer's carefully laid plots. So on the one hand the book is saying that "go ahead, be kind, remove that thorn from the lion's paw and he will reward you later" and on the other hand the book is saying that "the only reason this behavior is working is that a thousand year old dragon-Seer has manipulated events to make being nice work out, otherwise you would be dead". Anyway! It's just an odd conceit to structure your otherwise quite standard adventure books around, the sort of conflicting reality-shaping fields exercised by these three Seers, and where and how characters can act to possibly go against this flow.

There's 3 more books in the series, and I probabbbbbly won't read them, since they're a tad too slow and overwritten for the content they have.

(Book #1 in my Autumn of Auscapism series)