Fantasy Review: ‘The Waking Fire’ by Anthony Ryan

Nathan, what the hell are you doing now? I thought you were writing a review for The Waking Fire.

I was, but I got to looking into carnivore populations and I am pretty sure there is no way the dragons in this book could survive in the numbers they have been shown.

Oh geez, I thought you liked this book. Didn’t we already go over this with Novak’s dragon series?

Well, I thought about it, sure. But I never actually did any research. But this time I am sure of it; the numbers just don’t add up. The largest population of large carnivores I found was brown bears and they topped out at a hundred grand in Asia. The Greens in this book are at least twice that size AND THEY FLY! That has got to require a crazy metabolisms. And the greens are just one species of dragons! We see them in herds like buffalo; you never see carnivores in that large of a herd.

Ok, it is a fantasy book Nathan. Dragons have magic metabolisms, can we move on?

I…I guess. Magic metabolism, sure.

So, you didn’t like Blood Song but decided to give the author another chance. Outside of dragon population distributions did this one work better for you?

See? Who says I didn’t like Blood Song? I gave it a decent review, I just didn’t rave about it! Just because I don’t give five stars doesn’t mean I don’t like a book.


Oh, sorry. Yes, I enjoyed this book quite a bit. It had three very distinct point of view characters with three very different paths. A spy, a mariner, and a criminal and all very enjoyable. It was like three separate stories that wove together very well (well, the sailor story kinda fell to the background but it was still entertaining). The young criminal roped into an inland expedition was my favorite; it read like an old timey adventure story. Lost civilizations, monstrous creatures, rival expeditions, it was all a lot of fun. It even had ‘savages’ that avoid being orcs; though it takes spoilers to explain why they differ from old representations of stereotypical natives.

Plus it had dragons! I know you like dragons.

I am a sucker for dragons. I am knocking a few points of for color coding them though. Blue for water dragons, green for forest dragons, it all feels a bit too Legend of Zelda and really out of place in an other wise well crafted book. Plus the extract made from their blood actually being the same color? Some weird mix between a video game and Mistborn.

Damn it Nathan, I thought we were done comparing things to other authors works!

Oh come on. People ingest different materials for different powers, the influence is pretty obvious.

Moving on…

Fine. What I really like about this book was the corporate run state aspect of it all. East India Company times ten; where there isn’t even a monarchy they pretend to report too. It was an interesting aspect and strangely enough one I have seen in several recent releases. It makes for interesting philosophical questions and allows different dynamics than other fantasy. Especially a company whose power is based on one limited resource that they may have tapped out. To be honest I would have loved to see more about the company itself.

And what you didn’t like?

It kind of dragged on and the pacing was pretty uneven. The third story line was lost for most of the book and the two story lines that were more interconnected was kind of stretch if I thought too hard about what the spy was doing for the adventurer. But most egregiously? This book had four or five Dues Ex Machina moments; timely interventions were commonplace. Messed with my belief once or twice.

Seriously. So…Much…Dues Ex Machina.

There you go Nathan, you have put together something resembling a review finally. Now wrap it up with a bow.

Ok, so one dragon is eating at least one cow sized creature every few days if he wants to fly…

Never mind.

3 Stars


25 thoughts on “Fantasy Review: ‘The Waking Fire’ by Anthony Ryan

  1. I literally just bought this and then saw your review. I’m getting a dragon tattoo next month so I thought it would be nice to have a new dragon book to read then. Looks interesting! Although I’ll probably have the whole population thing in the back of my mind now :’)


    • Dragon tattoo, I approve of this. Thus far I have only done animals (though the turtle on my leg could be seen as something of a Discworld tribute). Id like some fantasy themed stuff too.


  2. HA. Love it. This book has been on my TBR (and will remain there – I’m really intrigued by the corporate state / East India Company angle), but now I may not be able to read it without worrying about food supply chain πŸ™‚

    And I’m perfectly happy with that.


    • I don’t usually nitpick stuff like that, and it didn’t really mess with my enjoyment at all (i knocked a star just because of the dues ex machina overload really). I will be reading the next book though for sure.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. LOL

    This title did cross my attention threshold and having thoroughly enjoyed your interview-style review (or was it inner-monologue review?) I will move it into the “next” section of my… waiting list. πŸ™‚
    Thanks for sharing!


    • I am not usually the nitpicker- I don’t care how fast a horse could run with a man in plate or any of those things. But this time it stood out. But it isn’t exactly original, I remember discussions about the dragons in Pern going way back.


  4. The magic system was TOTALLY Mistborn. No if ands or buts about it.

    Despite that though, I enjoyed this book. Probably up there with Blood Song (which I did enjoy) which was a refreshing change considering how I felt the Raven’s Shadow trilogy went downhill after that.

    And heh, now I’m kinda curious what you’d make of Marie Brennan’s dragon distribution/populations in her Lady Trent books. Of all the dragony fantasy series I’ve read, I think hers makes the strongest attempt at being “scientific”.


  5. Hahah that’s an awesome review!! I wanted to check this book, but I think I’ll only read it if I see it at the library or if it’s in a ebook sale! Thanks!


  6. Loooove the format of the review! Definitely very engaging and informative! I think, every reader compares books.. it’s kind of like having a standard with that 5+ book and everything else measures around it πŸ™‚


      • Oh? Not a Sanderson fan? Interesting… You’re the first I’ve come across since about 3-4 people keep telling me to read Sanderson’s work… This is cool… I like knowing that the glowing recommendations might fall flat- suspense! πŸ™‚


  7. Haha – I read your review and thought damn (because I’ve just bought this – in fairness it was on sale on Amazon so only Β£1.99!). Thankfully it seems from the comments that others enjoyed this – even with the magical metabolism of the dragons – I must admit, I do nitpick sometimes, it’s just that once you’ve got that thought into your head it annoys the hell out of you if it isn’t addressed! I will eventually read this although it’s behind a very long list of books.
    Lynn πŸ˜€


    • I had wanted to read it when it came out, then actually borrowed it once and ignored it, and finally borrowed the audio copy from my library. It was a long road.


  8. I am also a sucker for dragons – magic metabolisms or otherwise – so this one sounds pretty cool. That said, deus ex machina is not exactly a sophisticated way to wrap things up…especially if it’s used multiple times. I may have to focus on finishing the Temeraire books rather than starting a new series, even if there’s no explanation for what the dragons eat!


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