The Iron Crown – Dragon Spirits Book 1 by L.L. MacRae

Today I am excited to be taking part in the Book Blitz for The Iron Crown by L.L. MacRae, organized by Storytellers on Tour. Thank you to Justine and Timy for having me along for the ride! There is a giveaway near the end of this post – so don’t miss it!

Book Information

The Iron Crown by L.L. MacRae
Series: Dragon Spirits #1
Published: May 28, 2021
Genre: Epic Fantasy
Pages: 592
CW: Swearing

Book Description

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.

Goodreads | Ebook | Paperback

My Review

I read The Iron Crown on my Kindle, thank you very much to Justine, Timy and L. L. MacRae for sending me a copy in exchange for an honest review! Before I get to the actual review I just want to acknowledge how beautiful this cover is! I love the gorgeous colour combination – it has to be one of the best covers I’ve seen this year!

Set in the same world of Tassar, ruled over by Queen Soraya as the novella, The Citrine Key, which I recently reviewed, The Iron Crown begins with a mystery. A young boy, Fenn, finds himself stuck in a bog with no memory of how he got there, who he is or where he is from. The mystery deepens as he encounters a prickly vine which talks to him and a bad tempered dragon, Hassen, the spirit of the forest he finds himself in. The damaged vines cry out in pain and the spirit of the forest answers and knits the torn parts back together. Enter the dragon:

“The hiss shifted into a low growl, and the mist coalesced on top of the frozen mud pool. It churned like water over a fall, until solid shapes formed. A sinuous, reptilian body. Scales. Claws. Wings. A tail. Two golden eyes with vertical slit pupils that stared directly at him.”

Image by Snowskadi

“The dragon’s nostrils flared, sending up a plume of smoke that joined the mist wreathing the trees. Its skin was mottled green, like the forest around it, with darker stippling along its back and legs. Its wings were thin and membranous, the pattern on its skin identical to the tree’s leaves. Four large horns protruded from the back of its head, and long, green vines dangled between them. Although easily as large as the bear Fenn feared it had been, it wasn’t as bulky, and it shimmered in the pale sunlight—becoming translucent every few seconds.“

The mystery of who exactly amnesiac Fenn is continues when he meets two other main characters, Calidra and Jisyel. He doesn’t know much about living forests and doesn’t seem to have been in one before. Kindhearted yet naive Jisyel and suspicious, stubborn Calidra are confused by him, but agree to take him back to Jisyel’s grandmother’s house with them while he recovers from his ordeal in the muddy bog.

In this way, the beginning of the novel hooked me right in and things only got more gripping over the next few pages! The scene is set for a world full of spirits – some helpful, such as Miroth, the spirit Torsten is bonded with, some mischievous, like Hassen the dragon spirit of the forest on the Isle of Salt, and some antagonistic, like the shadow creature that attacks people in Bragalia. The queen uses her affinity with Toriaken, the dragon spirit of iron to keep in contact with her Inquisitors. Each of them carries an iron dagger for this purpose and uses it like a form of magical telepathy, talking to the queen via her dragon spirit, conjured by the dagger.

The story continues as Fenn heads off to the mainland with Calidra and Jisyel in hopes of discovering who he is. In following his mysterious story we learn more about the terror-inspiring Myr, a deadly enemy from the past, who may have returned, and we encounter Griffin riders, shadow monsters and an unholy priestess. A couple of old friends from the prequel novella, The Citrine Key, the thief, Apollo Tamlin, and his wife Malora, also return.

Throughout the novel there is a magical feel to the worldbuilding:

“Lamps were being lit, with several burning in an ethereal purple that cast peculiar shadows on the walls between buildings. Fenn was quite sure he heard the fire whispering, but the words were just too low for him to catch any detail.”

I really enjoyed the vivid descriptions which encompass many of the senses at once – just like in real life. This passage has us imagining smells, sights, sounds as well as Fenn’s feelings of concern, and I feel this is one of the author’s strengths:

“Incense burned somewhere deep within the shrine, and the scent of salt, honey, and something pungent like moss hit his nose. His eyes watered at the strength of it, and he struggled not to cough in case it would be disrespectful. Inside was vast, the ceiling so tall it was bathed in shadow far above him. Deep alcoves had been carved into the walls at regular intervals, the sound of running water somehow louder, and Fenn wondered if there were more waterfalls inside, even though he couldn’t see them. It certainly felt like a shrine to the sea.”

The book is written from multiple points of view, which help the reader to get to know these characters better and to experience their thoughts and emotions more deeply. We feel Fenn’s confusion at his lack of memory, Calidra’s grief at her father’s death and trepidation at having to return to her homeland for his funeral. We also experience her fear of water and then guilt at not being brave enough to jump in and save her friends when they are swept away by the river. When the point of view switches to Torsten, the Master Inquisitor’s impatience and arrogance are fully on display.

The Myr drain the life from everything around them and leave dead landscapes behind them. It seems that the growing number of ‘lost souls’ who have lost their memories like Fenn are ‘Myr-touched’. He is told that a Myrish construct exists which may be able to help him find answers and regain his memories.

Fenn’s story arc merges with that of Apollo, who is consumed by guilt caused by his actions in The Citrine Key. He is given a chance to redeem his actions and hopefully bring an end to Tassar’s deadly enemy. Sounds like a quest! I can’t wait for the next book, The Shadow Gate to find out if he and Fenn are successful.

I have been lucky enough to read a lot of brilliant indie books this year, many of them thanks to Storytellers on Tour, of which this is one. I really enjoyed it and can’t wait for the next books in the series. The Iron Crown will definitely be joining my top ten favourite books of the year!

The Giveaway

Prize: One (1) of three (3) signed copies of The Iron Crown by L.L. MacRae –International!
Starts: July 14th, 2021 at 12:00am EST
Ends: July 18th, 2021 at 11:59pm EST

Click here or on the banner below to enter!

About the Author

Lauren is a fantasy author of character-driven stories and epic adventure. Her books usually contain dragons, rarely feature romance, 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 (it’s just more fun to write about dragons than corporate copy!) She has previously published under the name L.L. McNeil.

Website | Twitter | Instagram | Facebook

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