Resistance, exile, plague. Raif has survived them all, but now he finds himself in search of a new purpose. Traveling north to wake the dragon Arden, he hopes he has finally found a leader worthy of his loyalty, but Arden turns out to be more of a frivolous annoyance than an almighty spirit lord. Now bound to Arden’s side despite his frustration, Raif follows the dragon to the rich and influential lagoon city of Aliann, chasing rumors of the Shadow that once cursed his homeland.
With the election of a new duke at stake, Raif struggles to make sense of the challenges he meets in Aliann: a conspiracy of nixies and pirates, selkie refugees in desperate need of a champion, a monster that devours souls, a flirtatious pirate prince, and a machine that could change the world. For nothing in the city of masks is what it seems, from the new friends Raif makes to the dragon he follows—or even himself.
This is one of my all-time favorite series. With each book, the story gets better and better. This high fantasy world is fresh and thought provoking while still telling the story of the struggle be good and evil. Every time I crack the pages I became immersed in a rich colorful world filled with people I cared about.
In this installment, Raif is sent to awaken the dragon Arden. With his disappointment in Iskandir, Raif is searching for someone worthy of his devotion and what he has heard about Arden gives him hope. His journey takes him to Aliann, a city sitting at the mouth of the river and filled with a diverse population that only confuses Raif. From there he journeyed to the head of the river and the last known location of the dragon Arden. What Raif finds there isn’t what he expected. Arden joked and laughed, gambled and drank when Raif expected someone more stern and righteous. Where Raif is ridged, Arden bends. They are very much two sides of a coin.
The loveliest part of the book is Raif’s transformation. I loved watching him grow and evolve, how his perceptions were challenged and he slowly began to bend. Raif struggled to find purpose, to help those around him. He went from detesting Aliann to finding peace there even with all its half-truths and masks. With the other characters that share Raif’s journey and the diverse world of water spirits, dragons, walking gods, selkies, and the mystery of the hydra the book was hard to put down.
The one thing I didn’t expect was to enjoy the political setting. Such plots usually bore me but the way the city was run with the ten voices was interesting. I was pretty sure I knew where the shadow was hiding by a certain point, so that didn’t surprise me but a couple of the other characters did throw me for a loop. The world itself, the lore, the perfect prose… just gah! Yes, just give me more. I want the next one right now.
Recovery is beautifully told and a book that I will be thinking about for days. I would give this more than five stars if I could. Highly recommended.