Where the Cape of the Winds juts into the endless sea, there is Castle Ocean, and therein dwells the royal family that has ruled it from time immemorial. But there is an Empire growing in the east, and its forces have reached the castle. King Reymarro is dead in battle, and by the new treaty, Queen Marioza must marry one of the Emperor’s brothers. She loathes the idea, and has already killed the first brother, but a second arrives, escorted by more soldiers. While Marioza delays, her youngest son, Jeon, goes on a journey in search of his mute twin, Tirza, who needs to be present for the wedding.
As Jeon and Tirza return by sea, their ship is attacked by a shocking and powerful dragon, red as blood and big as the ship. Thrown into the water, Tirza clings to the dragon, and after an underwater journey, finds herself alone with the creature in an inland sea pool. Surprisingly, she is able to talk to the beast, and understand it.
Overall, I found this book incredibly disappointing. I wanted to like it, and even though I decided early on that it wasn't any good, there were aspects of it that kept me reading in hopes that it might improve. It did not. Rather, it continued on in this mediocre state, woven entirely of the very very good and the very very bad.
1. There is a dragon.
2. The protagonist is a mute princess, who the dragon holds captive/befriends (it's complicated).
3. Good family relationships -- mostly between siblings, but the mother is also present and loved, and they reminisce some about their father.
4. The author is not afraid to kill off key characters.
5. The premise? Brilliant. The execution...
1. The dragon appears in the very beginning of the book, then is hardly mentioned at all throughout most of the rest of the book while the focus switches to the princes and their convoluted battle with the emperor's sons for the crown.
2. Why hasn't the mute princess learned to write, or to communicate through gestures or drawing? Why isn't this addressed?
3. The death scenes are described matter-of-factly, and tend to be rather gruesome.
4. There are two or three very sensual scenes that were all entirely unnecessary -- not only did the author give too much detail, but in each case the whole paragraph or even entire scene could have been left out. They were not at all necessary to the plot or character development.
5. My biggest issue with this book is that it should have been 100-200 pages longer. It was far too choppy.