I received this book for free from my own shelves in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.Dragon Blood by Eileen Wilks
Genres: Urban Fantasy
Published by Berkley on January 2, 2018
Source: my own shelves
Buy on Amazon
Also by this author: Unbinding, Mind Magic, Dragon Spawn
Fourteenth in the World of the Lupi urban fantasy series and revolving around Lily Yu, an FBI agent with Gifts, mated to the gorgeous werewolf, Rule Turner.
It’s a two-mantled wild ride of a story with Lily and Cynna captured by the dragon spawn and Madame Yu, Rule, and Gan struggling to find them through an interpolation of an ancient China with its way of life and manner.
Wilks easily slips perspective from Lily to Rule to Madame Yu with our seeing the story through their emotions and thoughts, a third person global subjective point-of-view.
It’s an interesting realm Wilks has created in Dragon Blood, from the manner in which its Dragonhome population, um, “creates” and its culture. There’s a fascinating backstory as well that explains how dragons became what they are and why they are all born males. And why Europe had such trouble with dragons while Chinese history did not indicate draconic issues, lol. Hmmm, what parents wouldn’t give for this kind of relief *grinning*.
Alice’s explanation of the twin bond she shared with Helen was a combination of depressing and what one would expect of such a bond, although Alice did go further with her analysis of the human need to differentiate themselves from any other human. Quite promising. It does make Alice a much more, I can’t say likeable, but I did view her with more sympathy.
Zhu Kongqi is a conundrum. Cold with a passion for philosophy and scientific experimentation. We’d call it torture. Gan experiences new feelings, about motherhood, about family. She also provides a real ick of a backstory on how demons evolve. Just. Ick.
A very frustrating part of this story was Dragonhome. Not the realm, but the choppy manner in which Wilks wrote and the multiple names she included for the same places. It wasn’t until I was working up the “characters” section that I was able to eventually sort out the overall realm from the spawn realm, figure out which names were the alternates, and how Lang Xin fit into it.
There were quite a few philosophical notes spread throughout from Grandmother’s version of therapy for the rescued eight-year-old Lily to Madame Yu’s fascinating frustration with humans not understanding the truth about God. It certainly does make sense. There’s Madame Yu’s take on strength in a terrible situation. Cynna’s difficulty in explaining the affect of understanding the magic enough to believe in it and an exploration of different realities that also made sense.
Very much a wild ride of a story with a nasty bit of foreshadowing at that cliffhanger of an end.
It’s a desperate mission to rescue the children. One that falls apart in a demon realm ruled by a demon prince who should have been dead.
Worse, Lily is yanked into an alternate realm — and is immediately taken captive by the dragon spawn who rule there. At least she discovers what happened to Cynna!
Although the clock is ticking, time works differently, and Lily has miraculously gained a week. That means seven days to free herself, find Rule and the others, rescue the children, and make it home alive. All before the dragon spawn holding her hostage trade her to the Old One. It would almost be doable if this weren’t Lóng Jia — also known as Dragonhome: the birthplace of dragons.
Special Agent Lily Yu is a touch-sensitive FBI agent who has gained a mindspeech ability, a Chosen, AND married to Rule Turner, a two-mantled Lupi who holds the role of Lo Nuncio, the heir to Nokolai Clan and Rho, the leader for Leidolf Clan. In Dragonhome, Grandmother will name him Wu Tǔ Ní. Dirty Harry is Lily’s cat. Madame Li Lei Yu is Lily’s grandmother who has lived for three centuries and has had a relationship with Sam over many of them. And who shifts into a Siberian tiger. In Dragonhome, she will call herself Madame Chen Chan Ying, the owner of a diamond mine. Li Qin is Grandmother’s companion at home. Beth and Susan are Lily’s sisters.
The lupi are…
…werewolves who are divided into Clans. Rule’s is the Nokolai with his father, Isen, its Rho, its leader. A Lu Nuncio is a Clan’s heir. A Clan’s Rhej is their heart with the memories of the lupi past and their connection to the Lady whom they serve. Dr. Nettie Two Horses is physician, healer, and shaman for the Nokolai. Raina Matthews is Carlos’ daughter and Miguel Guterrez is his father, who works for the Clan’s construction firm. Mateo Ortiz is a cantakerous Leidolf.
Jasper Machek is Rule’s half-brother, who used to be a thief and now runs an antique shop specializing in Victoriana in San Francisco. He’s also learned he is a sorcerer. He is in a relationship with Adam “Angel Eyes” King (Mortal Ties, 9). Mark is a good friend of Adam’s and an actor.
The children who were kidnapped in…
…Dragon Spawn, 13, are Toby who is Rule’s eleven-year-old son; the nine-month-old Ryder (Cynna and Cullen’s daughter); eight-year-old First Fist, Diego, grandson of Ybirra Clan’s Rho; four-year-old Sandy, the son of Czøs’ Lu Nuncio; and, the three-month-old Noah, whose grandfather had been the Etorri Rho.
Those on the mission to rescue the children include…
…the orange Gan, a former demon, a friend, and the Chancellor of Edge. The lupi include Daniel, Mason, Max, the wounded Carlos left in a demon-infested tunnel, Jude, Benedict who is Rule’s older brother, and Cullen Seabourne is both sorcerer and werewolf — Cynna Weaver, Cullen’s wife, is the Rhej for Nokolai Clan.
The FBI, Unit 12, is…
…Lily’s division composed of primarily magically Gifted agents. Martin Croft was Ruben’s replacement. Dead. At least 79 are dead. One hundred and forty-nine are still missing.
Sun “Sam” Tsao is the black dragon absorbing magic in California with a lair in San Diego. “Reno“, a.k.a., the Great Dragon, is a green dragon with an orange frill who was the mother of the original dark-mind hatchlings. Yì Sǐwáng, a.k.a., A Thousand Million Deaths, was the first dragon to learn how to segment his mind.
Gnomes can build gates that allow beings to travel between realms. Michael and Molly “Brown” are a magic couple who had first crossed paths with Cullen in Cravings: “Originally Human”, 1.5. Michael also holds the Codex Arcana. Ed Minsky’s health (and wife, Trish) requires that he jog. That and curiosity cause him to cross paths with a dying not-a-fox. I suspect his actions in this are another bit of foreshadowing.
Lóng Jia is…
…Dragonhome, an alternate high-magic plane — and the home realm of all dragons. Including the dragon spawn, a.k.a., Lóng Luǎn, created when a hatching was botched and the baby dragons were mind-dark. To spare them, their forms were permanently altered to human. An error as it led to supersmart, sorcerous sociopaths with parental issues. They should have been dead, those seven. Zhu means master with Zhuren the plural form.
Wǒmen De, a.k.a., Ours, is…
…the dragon spawn realm in Dragonhome with two levels of law: heavenly law set by the spawn and village law. Zhu Kongqi, the Master of Air who tortures Lily currently serves as Father of Law; Zhu Dìqiú, a.k.a., Dick Boy, is the Master of Earth; Zhu Shēngwù is the Master of Body Magic who had physically altered the Whitehead twins to look European (he’s the current Father of Wealth); Zhu Huǒ, a.k.a., Tom Weng, is the Master of Fire; Zhu Shuǐ is the Master of Water and the current Father of Study; and, Zhu Tú’àn is the Master of Patterns. (The spawn swap administrative positions among themselves, with the leader referred to as Father of Law.)
Lang Xin is…
…the capital, which originated as an entire village that fell through. Qī Jiā is the Home of the Seven. Heart’s Home is the government complex. The Court of Heavenly Justice is the jail/prison. Ah Hai, a.k.a., Li Hai, is a servant with an empathy Gift. Ah Li is one of the finest healers in Lang Xin.
Báitóu Alice Li, a.k.a., Alice Whitehead, is Helen’s twin sister. The Helen Lily killed. Another of Tom Weng’s fellows in crime includes Ginger Harris, Sarah’s older sister, who is serving as an avatar for the Great Bitch.
Fists are soldiers but are really more like prestigious policemen. Li Po is the First Fist of the Heavenly Masters and considers himself a scholar. He believes writing a beautiful signature makes him a good officer. Fang Ye Lì is a Fist Second with an Earth Gift; Fist Second Chen leads the guards who police the city; and, Chu Wen Shan has been a Fist for nine months.
…a town known for its glassworks. Mei Bo is the boat father of a chún-chún boat and is a Beastmaster, a Siji, able to control the chún (oxen). Mei Ling is Mei Bo’s beautiful, impressionable daughter. Shān-jiǎo are beasts bigger than elephants with bony plates.
…another town, the penultimate stop for Rule, Li Lei, and Gan.
Kanas are people of a distant village who raised the dragon spawn. Ah Wen is the leader of the Kanas. Ah Cheng can quench mage fire.
…the demon realm, a.k.a., hell. Turns out Xitil, the demon prince, survived, a Looney Tunes ruler of a region in hell. Some of the demon types include Claws, among the deadliest of Xitil’s foot soldiers, and redeyes.
Sorcéri are loose bits of magic. The Codex Arcana is the Book of All Magic, a.k.a., Shén de Shū. Dashtu is a demon ability to go out of phase, disappear. Üther is a type of energy produced by living creatures. Toltoi is a charm that is part of the ritual of being made part of Nokolai. Xi qi is a type of status, like the Seven, dragon kin. Jùdá téng is a type of body magic that causes great agony. Those we would call slaves are called yāoqiú, the claimed, which is supposedly an honorable status. Mandarin is also known as the Tongue of Heaven. A lái is a human who has fallen through.
The Great War occurred…
…more than 3,000 years ago with the conflict over self-determination versus dictatorship. Earth was closed at the end of that war. The Great Bitch is an Old One who chose the wrong side, and she is THE enemy of the Lupi who were created to oppose her. Robert Friar calls her Mistress. Amanda is her current avatar on earth. Dyffaya had been a god who had wanted to come back to earth.
The Cover and Title
The cover is a range of reds, the blood and the heat of the smoking rocky ground behind Lily with its spooky trees. It’s Lily out front of it all, crouched in her black leather jeans, high-heeled boots (as if!), and a black tank top, holding what I think is the magic cage with smoke curling up before her. An info blurb and the author’s name are in a serif font in white at the top while the sans-serif title is slightly angled with a white-to-neutral gray gradient at the bottom. The series information is below that in white.
The title is about family, about home, about Dragon Blood.