Backlist Burndown Review: Nice Dragons Finish Last By Rachel Aaron

Backlist Burndown Review: Nice Dragons Finish Last By Rachel AaronNice Dragons Finish Last by Rachel Aaron
Also by this author: One Good Dragon Deserves Another (Heartstrikers, #2)
on July 11th 2014
Pages: 286
Length: 13 hours 2 minutes

Thanks to for providing me with a copy of this book in exchange for my honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

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As the smallest dragon in the Heartstriker clan, Julius survives by a simple code: keep quiet, don't cause trouble, and stay out of the way of bigger dragons. But this meek behavior doesn't fly in a family of ambitious magical predators, and his mother, Bethesda the Heartstriker, has finally reached the end of her patience. Now, sealed in human form and banished to the DFZ--a vertical metropolis built on the ruins of Old Detroit--Julius has one month to prove he can be a ruthless dragon or kiss his true shape goodbye forever. But in a city of modern mages and vengeful spirits where dragons are considered monsters to be exterminated, he's going to need some serious help to survive this test. He only hopes humans are more trustworthy than dragons...

I’ll admit it. I would never have picked up this book if it were not for rave reviews and recommendations from fellow bloggers. I know I really shouldn’t, but I guess I sometimes judge a book by its title. As a reader who tends to prefer darker books a title like “Nice Dragons Finish Last” just leaves me a bit less interested. Not that all the books I read and enjoy are dark, but hearing a title that feels the opposite of dark, a book that sounds like it could be about a “Nice Dragon” just didn’t really appeal to me much. But you know, a title is just a title, and four words are incapable of really giving a potential reader a reliable indication of all the words in the book.

So, lesson learned. I did enjoy this book, and while the protagonist Julius is a “nice dragon”, dragons, particularly his family, are particularly brutal and cut throat. Being “nice” by their standards pretty much just means not being a self entitled bully. But really, Julius is a nice but likable character. He’s not perfect, but he does his best to, well, not be an asshole, and be a nice guy. And really he is. He is also a dragon that liked to spend his free time doing things like play video games, things that us humans can really relate to. Perhaps that is part of the reason he relates better to humans than the rest of the dragons. He sees us individuals instead of disposable cattle.

In his clan, he is the youngest, smallest (and nicest) dragon. For this, his mother has has sealed him in his human form, placed him in a very dragon hostile city and given him an almost impossible task, with an even more unrealistic deadline. Oh, and with no money or means of survival. He is in DFZ (or Detroit Free Zone). A city built on the ruins of Old Detroit, a city that is full of magic with mages and creatures. As long as those creatures are not dragons who are banned.

He quickly pairs up with Marci, who does magical jobs for hire. I really enjoyed her character. She’s just  incredibly fun and draws in some interesting plot lines from her own history. I hate to get into that too much, but she does come with a ghost cat. Who doesn’t want to read about a ghost cat? Right? 🙂 Marci brings in an  attitude and outlook that helps give Julius a bit more motivation and backbone. You have to love that. There’s also a bit of undeniable chemistry between the two.

Overall, this was a very enjoyable read and I definitely plan to continue the series. The world and magic, not to mention the dragons and the dynamics of the clan relationship are worth reading. Then bring in Marci and all of the mage world. Yes, I will be reading on and can understand all the recommendations as I will add my voice to them.

For the audiobook, I did enjoy listening to this one. My only complaint is that some of the voices for characters were a bit overly dramatic for my taste. In some ways it works out because it was always very clear which character was speaking, which is good. If I paused the book, and came back I never doubted which character was speaking.




I have challenged and committed myself to reading at least one book from my backlist every month and posting the review on the last Friday of the month. I invite anyone interested to join me and link up their own Backlist Burndown reviews. I will offer the link at the bottom of my monthly Backlist Burndown reviews, and also will keep a running record of the reviews on my Dracarys! Backlist Burndown page available from my top menu.

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15 thoughts on “Backlist Burndown Review: Nice Dragons Finish Last By Rachel Aaron”

  1. I had the opposite reaction to you what I saw the title. The phrase “nice (blank) finish last” isn’t all that appealing to me, but put the word ‘dragons’ in there, and suddenly I’m interested in what it is about. And that dark fantasy fan in me was thinking maybe it was about a ‘nice dragon’, who turns bad to seek vengeance.
    DJ (@MyLifeMyBooksMyEscape) recently posted…Backlash Burndown: Book Review: Eat Fish and Die by S. Ron MarsMy Profile

  2. I found your review through Starships and Dragonwings, and I’ve already added it to my neverending TBR list, haha. I’ve been looking to read more about dragon shifters and this does sound good even though I also tend to like darker books. I think we may have similar tastes. I’m about to go look at some of your other reviews for more books I can add!
    Kristen Burns recently posted…Soundtrack Saturday: Book Playlist for Never Sleep by Cady VanceMy Profile

  3. I’m so glad you liked this one, Lisa! If you thought Marci was awesome here, just wait until you get around to book two. There’s even more Marci & Ghost epicness to be had. How awesome was the DFZ? I think it’s probably one of my favourite settings in UF at the moment, especially since I’d never read a book set in Detroit (even an alternate version) before!
    Danya @ Fine Print recently posted…Graphic Novels, Tough Chicks: Vol. 10My Profile

  4. I’ve caved in and bought a copy! I admit two things – yes, the title put me off, and kind of reminded me of How to Train your Dragon – and the cover, don’t ask me why, it’s irrational, but the person on the front sort of reminds me of Harry Potter – don’t even ask why. And so, yes, as silly as it may seem, and in spite of many excellent reviews by people that I trust – I resisted. Your’s was the final straw.
    Lynn 😀
    Lynn recently posted…Twelve Kings in Sharakhai by Bradley P BeaulieuMy Profile

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