Dragon Coast by Greg Van Eekhout
Published by Tor Books on September 15, 2015
Series: Daniel Blackland, #3
Genre(s): fiction, adventure, dystopia, fantasy, young adult
Format & Length: hardcover, 320
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Dragon Coast: the sequel to Greg Van Eekhout’s California Bones and Pacific Fire, in which Daniel Blackland must pull off the most improbable theft of all.
Daniel’s adopted son Sam, made from the magical essence of the tyrannical Hierarch of Southern California whom Daniel overthrew and killed, is lost-consumed by the great Pacific firedrake secretly assembled by Daniel’s half-brother, Paul.
But Sam is still alive and aware, in magical form, trapped inside the dragon as it rampages around Los Angeles, periodically torching a neighborhood or two.
Daniel has a plan to rescue Sam. It will involve the rarest of substances, axis mundi, pieces of the bones of the great dragon at the center of the Earth. Daniel will have to go to the kingdom of Northern California, boldly posing as his half-brother, come to claim his place in the competition to be appointed Lord High Osteomancer of the Northern Kingdom. Only when the Northern Hierarch, in her throne room at Golden Gate Park, raises her scepter to confirm Daniel in his position will he have an opportunity to steal the axis mundi-under the gaze of the Hierarch herself.
And that’s just the first obstacle.
Dragon Coast, the third and final book in the Daniel Blackland trilogy, was a quick, easy, entertaining read.
“I love it when wizards die ironically. Please lead the way.”
Picking up where Pacific Fire left off, this follows the perspectives of a few of the main characters on their exploits and adventures. While it ultimately wraps the story up nicely, both the plot and the characters lacked some focus, making for a few head scratching moments. The pacing was perfectly on point, though, pulling me past these moments with a shrug and a need to know what happens next. And the ending was an excellent conclusion to this trilogy while leaving some strands open for possible future additions or spin-offs.
Van Eekhout’s writing style not only works well for this genre, but it really hits home for me. Sharp and snappy with bits of humor mixed in, he doesn’t mince words, which makes for a fast pace that is easy to breeze through. Because of this, however, along with the fact that the world was well built out in the first couple books, not much is added to the world building in Dragon Coast. Which is unfortunate as the scope is expanded from the southern kingdom of Los Angeles to the northern kingdom of San Francisco. As the two are naturally quite different to begin with, I would have loved to see some more detail on this new setting to bring it more alive.
“We’re what we do, and what we sacrifice, and what we love. And if we choose right more often than we choose wrong, we become who we want to be.”
Although Dragon Coast didn’t quite live up to California Bones, this was ultimately an enjoyable read with a good moral. I’d still recommend this trilogy to anyone looking for a unique young adult fantasy with an alternate history.