DAWN OF COBALT SHADOWS (Burning Empire #2) - by Emma Hamm

Goodreads | Amazon
Published: February 2019.
Genres: Young adult / fantasy / romance.
Pages: N.A.
Triggers/Content Advisory: Strong violence.
Format: ARC eBook.
Source: Thank you so much to the author for sending me this book in exchange for an honest review. I voluntarily read & reviewed this copy. All thoughts are my own.

A tamed dragon may be loyal, but it will forever be free.

Loose from her cage, Sigrid of Wildewyn returns to her homeland with a heavy heart. An army of Beastkin await her orders in a new kingdom made out of animals and forgotten rules. When she begins to lose faith in herself, she embarks on a journey to find her history and that of all the Beastkin.

Far in the desert, Nadir tightens his control over his kingdom. For a time, he’s the Sultan they’ve all waited for. Until an assassin arrives in his palace declaring a legendary warrior has summoned him. A warrior who claims to be his mother. Both struggle to discover their own history, while remaining tied to each other regardless of distance. But a war brews between the kingdoms. Sigrid and Nadir must once again choose between each other, or their people. Only this time, they aren’t certain what they’ll choose. 

Emma Hamm's writing improves with every book she writes, and through lush, evocative language and rich sensory details, she draws you into a exotic and imaginative fantasy world. The dialogue is powerful. The world-building is steeped in rich Arabic culture. Every scene is vivid. Every scene matters. It's a story put together with finesse.
My only qualm with regards to the writing is the unnecessary melodrama that increases as the finale draws near. It's complete personal preference, but melodrama is a pet peeve of mine and I always notice it.

As is the case with most sequels, the plot is slower in this book. The only real physical action happens near the end (which in itself is utterly terrific and heart-pounding) and instead, the focus here is on the characters' development and their internal conflict. It's heavily introspective. And yet, at the same time, it's riveting. Slowness is not synonymous with boring, at least not in this case, because while there isn't a lot of action, Emma Hamm digs deep into her characters' fears, pasts, and vulnerabilities; through this, she not only fleshes her characters out, but she fleshes the story out, as well. It all plays a part in making the novel deep, layered, and human.

Her whole life, she'd been given a designation by other people. She was the daughter of the last dragon. She was the adopted child of an owl but never the same as the rest. She was matriarch, sultana, warrior, all the things she had been told to be.

Sigrid and Nadir have come a long way since Book 1. I love how conflicted, uncertain, and terrified they are in this novel, and how their issues from the first book have only escalated. For most of the story, they're struggling to find themselves and do what's right for their world. The stakes are high. They're both struggling to deal with the events of the previous book, and at the same time find out more about their pasts and how they fit into the grand scheme of things. It's all so thought-provoking and gradual, making for some top-notch character development and growth. Sigrid, in particular, goes through a lot of growth and uncertainty as she struggles with her identity and role in the world. I really appreciate how Hamm makes her characters struggle and bleed for what they want.

The romance isn't a big part of the story. I think this is a smart move, actually, because both protagonists have a whole lot to deal with on their own and forced romantic scenes would only distract from this. Both Sigrid and Nadir have societal and political issues to resolve. A romance would get in the way.
Instead, Sigrid's friendship with Camilla gets more page time. This works wonderfully. I really enjoyed seeing their female friendship develop, and how Camilla plays a bigger role in the overall story, too.

Nadir and Sigrid's prolonged separation makes for maximum impact when they finally do reunite. It's an incredible scene. They've both been through trials and growth on their own, and so when they meet again everything comes full circle. Not only is their reunion fiercely romantic, but it shows off their character development and how far they've both come, and it's powerful and heart-rendering.

Dawn of Cobalt Shadows is a gripping sequel pounding with character depth and development. The climatic action is epic, the romance is fierce. It's a riveting fantasy that takes to the skies. 

← Seas Of Crimson Silk

No comments