Review: The Iron Crown (Dragon Spirits #1) by L.L. MacRae

My Rating: 8.5/10


Fenn’s first and only memory is finding himself in the middle of a forest, face to face with a dragon spirit mocking him, all knowledge gone apart from his own name. 

Lost and confused, his only hope for answers is Calidra—a woman living on the edge of the world with her partner. Forced to return home when her father dies, Calidra has put off facing her estranged mother for seven years, and she begrudgingly helps Fenn, forging papers for him so he can avoid the Queen’s Inquisitors.

But her mother is the least of her worries when they discover an ancient enemy is rising again. It should be impossible with the Iron Crown in power—and Fenn is terrified he might unwittingly be playing a part in the war’s resurgence.

Surrounded by vengeful spirits and powerful magic, Fenn’s desperate attempt to find his way home might well alter the fate of Tassar, and every power in it. 

A new high fantasy series bursts into life with the DRAGON SPIRITS who reign supreme in the magic-drenched world of Tassar. 


First off, I want to thank L.L. MacRae for the review copy of The Iron Crown. Full disclosure, this is one of the books that was allotted to FanFiAddict for our part in judging SPFBO, but I signed up to review this before we announced that we were judging and before the books were sorted. I talked with David (aka the man behind FanFiAddict) and we decided it would be best for me to get my review out before the actual process starts, which is… June 1st. Just barely meeting deadlines, but I’m here!

“‘You know what it’s like to lose something, then. Some part of you that you’re sure should be there?’ ‘Yes.’ That one word from Jisyel endeared her to Fenn more than any action could.”

I was immediately intrigued by the description and that beautiful cover. From the first sentence of the book, I was pulled in. MacRae is a master in imagery, everything was described in vivid detail and it took me no time to become immersed in the setting. In the beginning, the imagery almost reminded me of reading Robin Hobb describe the different locations in The Liveship Traders. That isn’t to say that MacRae writes like Hobb, as they both have very distinct styles that are all their own. The Iron Crown is cheery and upbeat, but smart and polished. While there are tragedies that happen, there is still a hopeful tone. Here we have a fantasy book that takes you on quite the adventure from the first moment to the last.

This is a decent sized book, clocking in at almost 600 pages. One thing that I enjoy with fantasy novels of this size is the use of multiple POVs. We get that in The Iron Crown and I enjoyed that we got POV from the “good” characters and the “bad” ones. There’s some morally grey characters thrown in and I got quite a few surprises from some of their actions. MacRae does a good job of making us question whose intentions are pure, misguided, or sinister. I’m expecting some exciting twists and turns as the series continues. Our book starts out with POVs from Fenn, a wanderer who has lost his memories. We also have Calidra, estranged from her mother but hoping for reconciliation after her Laird father passes away. We get a bit of Torsten, the High Inquisitor who seems to be a bit touched by madness. There’s also a host of side characters that are just as endearing or infuriating.

I will say that towards the middle, I got into a bit of a lull but right as that happened, we were introduced to Apollo. I found Apollo to be one of the most interesting characters. I loved the way all of our POV characters had connections to the others, even if some of them took a bit to unwind. I enjoyed that MacRae doesn’t make us wait multiple books for them to figure out these connections either. A lot happens in this first novel to bring our characters together. The last thirty percent of the book takes off at breakneck speed and it was easily devoured in a short space of time.

‘I am going to peel back the layers of your mind, one by one, and see what dirty little secrets you have tucked away.’

Another thing that I enjoyed was the total incorporation of the Dragon Spirits from the beginning. Do you ever read a series and it takes you most of the book–or multiple books– to figure out why the series is named the way it is? Not in this one! I don’t want to ruin the magic so I won’t delve in too deeply, but the dragons in The Iron Crown occur and influence the lives of our characters in such a cool way. You will not be disappointed!

All in all, this was a great start to what I’m expecting to be a wonderful series. I can’t wait to read more and I hope that this novel gets some major attention!

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