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TPG Reviews: Talon, by Julie Kagawa

March 20, 2015

Slow, tedious and annoying.

Long ago, dragons were hunted to near extinction by the Order of St. George, a legendary society of dragon slayers. Hiding in human form and growing their numbers in secret, the dragons of Talon have become strong and cunning, and they’re positioned to take over the world with humans none the wiser. 

Ember and Dante Hill are the only sister and brother known to dragonkind. Trained to infiltrate society, Ember wants to live the teen experience and enjoy a summer of freedom before taking her destined place in Talon. But destiny is a matter of perspective, and a rogue dragon will soon challenge everything Ember has been taught. As Ember struggles to accept her future, she and her brother are hunted by the Order of St. George. 

Soldier Garret Xavier Sebastian has a mission to seek and destroy all dragons, and Talon’s newest recruits in particular. But he cannot kill unless he is certain he has found his prey—and nothing is certain about Ember Hill. Faced with Ember’s bravery, confidence and all-too-human desires, Garret begins to question everything that the Order has ingrained in him—and what he might be willing to give up to find the truth about dragons.



Alright, people, confession time: I originally passed up Seraphina for this. Instead of Seraphina – a deep, original and engaging piece of YA fantasy – I decided to start with Talon. There are many words I could use to describe Talon, but deep, original or engaging are not among them, Irritating springs to mind, certainly. Bechdel and test do, too, but only because this book almost certainly fails it. In many ways, Talon was just…not a good read.

But I’m getting ahead of myself; lets start with the premise. In Talon, dragons can take human forms and live among humanity in secret. The majority live as members of Talon, an organisation aimed at the complete take-over of the human world. Standing against Talon is the Order of Saint George, an organisation of dragon-slayers that has operated in secret for centuries. Dragons who oppose Talon are hounded from both sides, with seemingly nowhere to go.

In the middle of all this is Ember Hill, a young dragon sent to California to learn how to infiltrate humanity. Infiltrating humanity, as it quickly turns out, involves little besides enjoying the Californian surf and gossiping about boys, Unfortunately for Ember, the Order know about her mission (because…I dunno), and send in their top soldier to find and eliminate her.

Said top solder is one Garret Sebastian – a seventeen-years-old teen with no experience whatsoever of civilian life. Naturally, then,his mission largely involves fitting in with local teens until the “sleeper” can be found. This doesn’t make much sense; but then, naming a dragon “Ember” in this context doesn’t make sense. Naturally, when Garret and Ember see each other, it’s love at first sight. A series of barely-connected romantic set-pieces quickly follow.

I soon came to dislike Ember. What she’s supposed to be is a dragon who can take human form; what she comes across as is rather a spoilt and whiny teen girl who just so happens to be able to become a dragon. Talon insist on giving Ember extra training, resulting in her having to get up early in order to be done by midday; this, for Ember, is an unspeakable hardship. Admittedly, it gets worse for her later on, but still: she’s hardly the sort of person I’d like to be rooting for.

Ember is far from the only issue I had here, though. Her romance with Garett quickly devolved into tedium for me, simply because neither one of them would get the hint. Ember’s name and reluctance to discuss her past are not sufficient clues for Garret; likewise, Garret’s claw-like scars and gift for arcade light-gun games (no, really) are not enough for Ember. It takes most of the book for them to get past this point – and by the time they did, I’d long since stopped caring.

This isn’t even getting into the love triangle, which added little to the plot besides a whole bunch of teen angst…except for during the action-packed finale, anyway, which was pretty much the only point I was properly on board with this book. Said finale, unfortunately, ends on a blatant cliffhanger. And given that I probably won’t be continuing with this particular series…well.

To be fair, this is clearly not a book that was intended for me. This is a book intended for readers of Paranormal Romance. and judging from all the four- and five-star reviews it seems to have found its mark. But the best books can entertain more than just their primary demographic, and that is where – for me at least – Talon ultimately falls down.

  1. I actually haven’t seen that many positive reviews for Talon. The bloggers I follow who also reviewed it made the same comments you did. I haven’t read it myself (and don’t intend on it), but I read Kagawa’s very first novel The Iron King a month ago and also didn’t really care for it. Maybe it’s like you said: We’re not meant to be part of Kagawa’s audience.

    • It has a lot of good ratings on Goodreads and Amazon, though I haven’t checked how many of those are from big reviews (rather than one-line reviews and review-less ratings). But yeah: I guess some books just aren’t meant for us.

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