I am so happy to be a part of this tour. I, like many others, were first exposed to L.L. MacRae’s writing through her SPFBO 7’s semi-finalist The Iron Crown. I was immediately hooked and needed more so when I saw she was re-releasing Moroda, I knew I had to get in on this tour. To see all of the posts from the Escapist Tour click on this link and there is also a giveaway associated with the tour to enter click here.
About the Author
Lauren is a fantasy author of character-driven stories and epic adventure. Her books usually contain dragons, eclectic characters, and are typically fun and hopeful.
She lives in a tiny village in the UK, has a degree in Psychology, and was a professional copywriter before going full-time as an author—swapping corporate copy for magic and dragons!
She has previously published under the name L.L. McNeil.
Content Warnings: some mild violence and swearing
I’m going to try something a bit different for this review, just because I thought it could be fun. I’m going to give my first impressions just based on the synopsis & cover, the first paragraph and the first chapter. Let’s review the hook and the intrigue firstly, and then I’ll add some additional overall thoughts.
In Linaria, dragons are revered as gods.
Airships command the skies.
And across the land, war is brewing.
Devastated by their father’s death, Moroda and her sister struggle to make ends meet. Things go from bad to worse when a rogue dragon destroys their city.
Fleeing on a sky pirate’s airship to escape the chaos, the sisters find themselves penned in by untrustworthy companions, a bloodthirsty warlord, and dragons on the rampage.
For Moroda, who would do anything to protect her sister, nowhere is safe. Not even the sky.
The balance of power in Linaria is tipping. Can one woman make a difference?
Thoughts: I love the combination of airships and dragons, I think it makes for some really cool air-born battle potential. I just finished reading His Majesty’s Dragon by Naomi Novik so that is the first comparison that I’m thinking of, especially since that book also centers on a war (though it’s a more alternative history of the Napoleonic Wars). I also think of Burn Red Skies by Kerstin Espinosa Rosero (SPFBO 7 semi-finalist) because that book has the dragons and airship combination too. Both great books to be compared to, I’m intrigued.
I’m drawn in by this synopsis for a few reasons, first being a sister relationship seems like it’ll be integral, I myself have three younger sisters and a younger sibling, so I always enjoy books with siblings at the centre. The second being sky pirates, need I say more on that? I am interested by this idea that Moroda and her sister are orphaned but then there may be some sort of hidden magical power involved too because looking at the cover, a woman (who I assume to be Moroda) is holding a glowing blue orb. Either way, based on this cover and synopsis, this book was a definite pick-up for me.
“Morning dew flavoured her skin with the taste of autumn. Pale sunlight filtered in through the narrow, steel-barred window, and Moroda shivered in the cold cell of Rosecastle Dungeon.”
Thoughts: Prison is an interesting way to open up a book and I think it allows for some subtle world-building opportunities that people may not even realize are occurring. By showing how prisoners are treated, there’s a sense of what the overall city atmosphere is like being developed. By seeing who else is in prison, there’s implications of the society’s values and often what sort of class system is in place. Regardless, I’m hooked and I immediately need to know what Moroda is in prison. My sense from the synopsis is that perhaps she was caught stealing, but we’ll see.
There was a lot introduced in this first chapter, first we have some key characters: Amarah (the sky-pirate and her vessel Khanna), Morgen (the guard), and Eryn (Moroda’s sister). There was another race introduced as well, the Varkain, a race of magical beings that can turn themselves invisible. They’re despised throughout Linaria and thought to be slimy, probably due to their snake-like appearance. At this point the Varkain they meet isn’t introduced, but they do come back around. I absolutely love when I come across a new race, I find the author’s creativity really shines through.
Eryn comes and springs Moroda from the prison and they flee the keep. Moroda develops a bit more as a character as we learn that she was thrown in prison for an outburst at a demonstration from an out of town individual in the square. It was the kind of thing where the demonstration was perhaps a bit oppressive and/or elitist and Moroda was speaking out against it. She also as she’s fleeing leaves the keys behind so that the others can escape. I think both of those actions speak volumes about who Moroda is as a character and I’m interested to see how she continues to grow at this point.
I’m not going to lie, the end of June snuck up on me and I’m not quite to the end of this one as I write this up. But some thoughts are: there were more races introduced, I continue to love that. There were more dragons, and a very fun dragon-related magic that is very fun. Moroda and Eryn’s relationship is such a great and realistic sibling relationship and especially the situation where they’re fundamentally different. Moroda ends up being much more open and adventurous compared to Eryn. I think it’s a great sibling portrayal because siblings aren’t often identical, even my twin sisters have different hobbies, different experiences and career paths.
So I won’t give this one a rating at this point, but I hope my first impressions encourage you to check this book out!