The Citrine Key (Dragon Spirits #0.5), by L.L. MacRae
A stolen artefact.
An ancient dragon.
One man’s final chance.
Life-long thief Apollo Tamlin has been marked for execution. When the mage Queen Surayo offers him a pardon, he doesn’t ask questions – any task she has is better than a walk to the gallows.
Succeed, and not only will it preserve peace in his homeland, but Apollo can rebuild the life he’s ruined.
Sent to a distant continent to feed a stolen artefact to an ancient and powerful dragon spirit sounds simple, but things quickly start going wrong. His companions are not what they seem, the dragon would rather eat him, and the artefact displays its own magic – throwing the entire mission into peril.
My Review (4 out of 5 )
The Citrine Key is a prequel novel situated on the Dragon Spirits saga, by the British author L.L. MacRae. It serves as an introduction to the world, the different actors and powers that are implicated in the story, doing a great job on all these aspects. Despite being such a short novel, it is excellent in developing characters and relationships between them, being a perfect way to set foot into the Dragon Spirits series.
We are going to follow Apollo and his mates, the enigmatic Yorick and Malora, a former spirit priestess, on a mission to make Paragos, the blizzard spirit, eat an enigmatic artifact. Seems not the best of journeys right? Well, when the other alternative is to get executed, and Queen Surayo offers to clear his past crimes, it doesn’t seem a bad alternative for a thief.
For such a short novella, the amount of character-building and world-building that is done is insane. The pace is excellent even taking these two elements into account. Apollo quickly became my favourite character in the novel, being a good-hearted person whose past is just a heavy slab he’s trying to run away from, and that’s mostly why he accepted this dangerous mission. Clearing his past, making Malora free of debts, and for some reason, helping Yorick (later we will know more about this enigmatic character) are his only ambitions.
Let’s stop a moment to talk about the concept of dragons in this novella, and by extension in this series. Being a classical creature in the genre, it is difficult sometimes to find a new twist on it, but MacRae managed to do it. In this world, the dragons are basically nature spirits, nature forces who can materialize themselves, and extremely intelligent; so, my props to her. The enigmatic Myrs are also an integral part of the plot (and at some point, my mind wondered how close they are to Phyrexians), being introduced close to the end, and setting the plot for The Iron Crown, letting so many questions to answer.
My name is Lauren, I’m a fantasy author of character-driven stories and epic adventure. My books usually contain dragons, bucket-loads of magic, and are typically fun and hopeful.
I have a degree in Psychology and a fascination with MBTI (I’m an INFJ!). I’m a petrol head and thalassophile, and adore castles, sunshine, and dragons. I’ve always lost myself in fantasy worlds, and it’s been an incredible achievement to publish my own.