E.W. Scott – Dragon Touched

The Eight Boulders Realm has found itself on the brink of civil war after the disappearance of the crown prince and the murder of his father, the king. Will the new king, Damon, be able to control the strong personalities that threaten the peace of the Realm for their own gain? Or will he be forced to go against his beliefs in order to protect his throne…and his life?

Nolan and Mirabel Burnham, Duke and Duchess of Curiochta, are accustomed to keeping secrets from one another. However, when their eldest daughter, Wren, finds herself in the grip of powerful magic that she can neither understand or control they are forced to come to terms with the fact that some secrets are impossible to keep. Their family begins to tear apart, even as civil war threatens to destroy the entirety of the Eight Boulders Realm.

Dragon Touched is the first novel in The Overlord Rising series. While the blurb caught my attention and Fantasy Bytes’ review of the book was very positive, I wasn’t sure what to expect  as it was both an author and a small press previously unknown to me, so I went in to this book hopeful, but with reservations. In the end these were unnecessary, as I enjoyed Dragon Touched very much. E.W. Scott delivered a solid first novel and I had a great time with it.

I’m a character girl, so those are what always catches my eyes first. Dragon Touched‘s characters are enjoyable and while not all the characters are as well-rounded, those that are, form the norm and are all interesting. The Eight Boulders Realm is inhabited by several different races, not just humans, but by centaurs, gryphons, satyrs and dragons as well, along with those that have slipped my mind at the moment and those we haven’t met yet. I enjoyed the different creatures and the way society was build around them, like the centaur/human houses, with ground floor living quarters for a centaur and upper floor living quarters for humans. Scott peoples her story with strong female characters, even if they don’t seem so at first blush. For example, the second Burnham daughter Sara seems to be the perfect little miss, graceful, beautiful, every inch the noble lady her mother wants her to be, but beneath the glossy veneer she’s feisty and turns out to be more capable of taking care of herself than anyone had thought. The same applies to her mother, Lady Mirabel. She’s of the csillite faith, a faith that expects their women to be submissive and abhors magic, punishing any one that possesses it by burning at the stake. While Mirabel is heavily religious, once her csillite convictions threaten her children, she finds a well of courage and steel in herself that helps her stand up for them and for herself. But though she questions her faith, she doesn’t do so lightly and she actually doesn’t lose it. Wren, who could arguably be considered the main protagonist, is a natural leader and very competent. She’s super mature for her age, so I liked that when she’s saddled with unexpected powers, she does act her eleven-year-old self and wonders why her.

The world building is not too extensive, but it’s enough to suit the story. We see a lot of Curiochta, Castle Burnham and Curiochta’s capital Balbreyag and through them we learn about the culture of the Eight Boulders Realm. We also see something of the kingdom’s capital city, Tronwahren, but not much and only so far as it serves the narrative. I wonder whether we’ll see more of the Eight Boulders Realm in the future.

Unfortunately, I did have a few little niggles with Dragon Touched. The naming conventions in the story bugged me; where the towns and places had rather exotic ‘other-worldly’ names, such as Balbreyag, Tronwahren, Oromina and Preyel, but the characters had regular names, such as Mirabel, Damon, Sebastian and Owen. This just struck me as odd and it took me a fair bit to get used to it. Another thing that confused me was the fact that there were several characters that just disappeared from the story in a way that didn’t feel right, they feel like loose ends, but I’m not sure whether they’re meant to be taken up again in the next book. It would have been nice to at least have had a little glimpse of them near the end of the book. Lastly, and this might seem a little nit-picky, but the book could have used another copy edit pass. There were several instances where there was a word missing and at one point a whole sentence was repeated, and it didn’t seem to be repeated for effect. Of course, this doesn’t affect the story as such, but it did jump out at me and could have been avoided.

Despite these niggles, Dragon Touched was a highly entertaining read, one which pleasantly surprised me. With its likeable characters, an interesting story and set up for the overall arc of the series, Dragon Touched leaves plenty of questions to be answered in the next book. If you’re looking for a good, rather old-school – no gritty here – fantasy, look no further than E.W. Scott’s The Overlord Rising: Dragon Touched. I’m looking forward to returning to the Eight Boulders Realm and not only finding out what happens next, but also to see how Scott progresses as a writer.

This book was provided for review by the author.