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Ratings and Book Reviews ()

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4.6 out of 5
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  • Solid writing, lacks creativity beyond mythos.

    "On the night of the thousandth year.. before the dragon stars fade from the skies and concede the heavens to the red bird of autumn, the Harbinger of Change can be called upon by one whose heart is pure." 'Night of the Dragon,' the third and final book in the 'Shadow of the Fox' trilogy by Julie Kagawa, centers around a group of companions that are determined to stop the Master of Demons from using an artifact called the Scroll of a Thousand Prayers. The Dragon's Prayer is a ritual that can be used once every 1,000 years to summon the god called the Great Kami Dragon, who will grant the summoner one wish. If they should fail on their quest to stop the Master.. Genno.. from using the scroll, the empire will fall to chaos. This was my first Kagawa read, so I didn't really know what to expect from her. I knew she seemed to have a pretty big following and certainly the concept of the story sounded interesting. Unfortunately, unpopular opinion time, I just wasn't impressed. You're going to find this is a mostly positive review, even though she didn't rock my world. Don't get me wrong, she's a very solid writer. She understands the acts and how to move the story along. She understands the importance of relationships and various types of intimacy. The quality is there, the story just lacks the factors that could make it stand out and become something exceptional. In fact, there are a ton of things she's actually great at. "Fighting hordes of the dead seems a fun way to spend an evening. Unless we vote to stay here and make sure all the sake doesn't go to waste...? No? Fine, blood mages it is." Her battle scenes were very visual, without being so blown out that you couldn't focus on anyone. She did touch on different parts of the fights, but she lingered long enough with each group to give the reader a good understanding of what was happening, what the characters were feeling, and enough play-by-play to let you 'see' what occurs, before moving on. Telling the story from multiple view points, she does a fine job of transitioning between them, though they did lack those distinctive voices that make this approach work to it's best. Other than who they were talking to and/or about, they mostly sounded the same. Character wise, the group is likeable. Yumeko, the kitsune shifter and main character, is sweet and determined. She does suffer from a little of that 'can figure out how to do just about anything in a couple of seconds' syndrome, but we're going to chalk that up to her unique heritage. "The Dragon is almost risen, and all the world trembles with the end of another age. But whether the Wish brings ruin or fortune is yet to be decided." She's accompanied by Kage Tatsumi, a shadow clan shinobi, who is stuck sharing his body with the First Oni, Hakaimono. Now, the demon General is actually my favorite character in the book. Don't ask me why. He's the Beast, I suppose. He's the most powerful, most dangerous oni in the demon army, he's a bit brooding, he's always a bit disgusted with everyone, but he's still the one for me. There are others, of course.. Reika the shrine maiden and Chu the komainu guardian, Daisuke the noble warrior prince, Okame the ronin, and a host of smaller characters that still play pivotal roles. Daisuke and Okame, especially.. have a rather soft, beautiful relationship for a pair of warriors.. and I absolutely loved that. Yet.. all these things aside, the characters still felt like we were really only seeing the surface layers of who they might have been. "Baka noble. Why do you always have to fling yourself at the biggest thing on the battlefield?" As I read the book, I constantly felt as if it was really just very average. Most of it seems to rely heavily on the hope that readers will just be fascinated with the idea of the mythological Japanese characters to begin with. There's no impression of the author reaching to be creative with them at all, but rather to keep things "interesting," she would just throw in another creature and then do pretty much nothing to expand on the existing mythos surrounding them. Instead of foreshadowing, she outright telegraphs what's ahead and honestly, the story just feels like she combined a lot of existing cliches from long standing Asian stories and put them forth like they were unique in some way, without putting in the work to make them that way. And frankly, I didn't feel any investment or interest until I was over 60% through the novel. I love seeing diverse content published and on a personal level, I obviously love seeing content that relates to my own heritage, being consumed. But this felt like a mediocre effort. Like.. hoping the majority of the audience just wouldn't be that familiar with the other media much of it seems to be drawn from. I did like that she's not afraid to let go of a character-- (Complete review at BetwixtTheSheets.com) - (I received this title as an ARC. All opinions are mine and freely given.)

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  • Bittersweet and I love it

    This was one of the most beautiful finales I've ever read. There, I said it! I quickly fell back in love with these characters and this epic fantasy world. The story moved quickly, focusing straight on the action and rounding out character arcs. Still, there were multiple surprises, devastating twists, and a bittersweet ending. I can hardly express how much I loved this ending. Kagawa has always been skilled at putting her characters through the ringer, but few have suffered more than the collection in this story. I absolutely adore Yumeko and Tatsumi, and would have loved to spend more time with Okame and Daisuke. Each character had a remarkable personality, courage, honor, and given an excellent goodbye. That of course meant it tugged at my heartstrings. I was on the brink of tears more than once, but I never felt cheated or that anyone was given less than they deserved. Every arc filled me with emotion, and I am truly going to miss every single one of these characters. I adore this trilogy so much, and highly encourage anyone who loves epic fantasy, adventure, and culture to pick this up and read it. Such an emotionally rewarding read, and it is not to be missed.

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  • Satisfying conclusion to an epic trilogy

    There are books that you read, enjoy, finish and then go about your day. Then, there are books that you wait for, agonize over, let them consume you and then hold them in your mind and heart for days after finishing. These are the books that you remember, the books that you ruthlessly collect and throw at every person you see because everyone NEEDS to read it. Each release in the Shadow of the Fox trilogy IS that book. I’ve been surprised by books before but nothing could have prepared me for the shock that I got when I first picked up Shadow of the Fox. The premise sounded interesting but I’ve never really had much experience with Japanese mythology, Samurai or even the author herself so this wasn’t a book I would have normally just picked up and started reading because there just wasn’t enough for me to commit to. What it DID have was a stunningly beautiful cover that I simply couldn’t resist. That’s right – I took a chance all because of a pretty face. I’m so superficial. Luckily, it worked out and this trilogy became something that completely changed my outlook on an entire genre that would have passed right by me. From the first page, the first paragraph, the first chapter I fell head over heels in love with Kagawa’s beautiful writing and captivating characters. I wanted to both devour and savour each and every word and became so invested with this magical world and the unique group that travelled it. I didn’t want it to end but desperately looked forward to seeing how it would all wrap up. Night of the Dragon has to be not only one of my most anticipated finales ever but also one of the best. Kagawa presents us with an emotional rollercoaster packed with action, heartbreak, betrayal and romance leading to one of the most surprisingly satisfying conclusions I have ever read. I’ve felt every emotion possible and I wouldn’t change a thing. This is one series I highly recommend picking up. Not only will it look amazing on your shelves (this has to be one of the most beautiful collections I have ever seen) but this is a world that you’ll want to revisit time and time again.

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  • an amazing end to an amazing series

    I'm afraid of repeating myself – my thoughts about the setting and the writing have pretty much been the same all throughout the series; aka it's been phenomenal. Read this series if only for the rich and amazing Japanese culture and the really great writing! Overall, the characters were also amazing. I GOT TATSUMI BACK, BLESS. I had missed him so much. I fell even more in love with both Okame and Daisuke (and both of them together), and even though Reika never got completely through to me I still really liked her. We didn't really get to know Suki that well, but I liked she got a bigger part of the story in this book. Also I remember writing in my review of the previous book that I thought Seigetsu was cool. I take it back. This book was really action packed from beginning to end. You definitely never got bored!! But... that was also a little bit of a bad thing for me. On the one hand, it was great, but on the other, the climax of the book lasted for so. long. It just got a little tiring. I felt like the author dragged out some scenes that could have been shorter and cleaner. Otherwise, I was about the throw my book (kindle) out the window at the end. Like seriously I was so angry. And then the prologue happened. This book was hovering between a 3.5 stars and 4 stars the entire time, but then the very end made me give it a solid 4 stars!!! In the end, this series was a really great one and I really recommend it! While it might not have been (at least for me) a book you just can't put down – and I'm not really sure why that is? Once, I read it, it was fine, but I wouldn't necessarily be aching to pick it back up after I put it down – it is still sooo worth the read. I will definitely miss all of the characters a whole big lot!

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