Dragonfly is written by Julia Golding. It was published in 2008 by Marshall Cavendish. Golding’s website can be found here.
“Princess Taoshira of the Blue Crescent Islands is appalled when she is ordered to marry Prince Ramil of Gerfal. And he’s not too pleased, either. She is used to a life of discipline, ritual, and splendor. He is used to hunting and carousing. They hate each other on sight. But both of their countries are under threat from a fearsome warlord, and the only chance of peace is to form an alliance.
When Tashi and Ramil are kidnapped, they fear there’s no escape—from their kidnappers or from each other. Can they put aside their differences long enough to survive ambush, unarmed combat, brainwashing, and imprisonment? And will the people they meet on their adventure—including a circus strongman, a daring rebel leader, a sinister master of spies, and the best female fighter they have ever seen—help them or betray them to the enemy?”
What I Liked:
While the romance aspect was obvious, the plot itself was quite good. The dynamic between Tashi and Ramil was interesting, as were the differences between their cultures. Golding is obviously saying something about prejudice and cultural variations as well as tyranny and slavery through her characters and their situations, and none of these are bad things to discuss. In addition, Fergox is meant as a foil for Ramil, which would have been nice to see further developed, but was vaguely interesting as it was.
The religion aspect was…interesting. It wasn’t as fully developed as, say, Rae Carson’s religion in the Fire and Thorns trilogy, but I think I liked the outcome of Golding’s better. She also had some good things to say about the nature of doubt and faith.
I really like the cover art; I think it’s gorgeous (without the creepy face in the background, however).
What I Didn’t Like:
This is one instance where the blurb was actually better than the book (and that’s saying a lot, since the blurb is generic at best).
About halfway through, I really got tired of the writing. It wasn’t quite up to my standards. There were way too many similes, adjectives-replacing-proper-nouns (for example, “the female fighter” rather than “Yelena”), and other things that really irritate me when reading.
The villains were stereotypical tyrannical fanatics who enslave the population, blah blah blah. The only point of these types of villains is to have the heroes rescue the slaves and scorn slavery, which is a good thing, of course, but not very original in terms of plot and development. Was Fergox supposed to be menacing or chilling? Because he really wasn’t. He was mildly creepy, at best, and incredibly boring, at worst. He was also profoundly stupid.
I actually winced at the end of the book when Ramil carries Tashi out of the room. This is romance at its cheesiest, although it starts out interesting.
Recommended Age Range: 14+
Warnings: Violence, death.
Genre: Fantasy, Young Adult
“That ‘stupid paper bird,’ Your Highness, was her personal sign, the dragonfly,” said Lord Taris.
“Didn’t look anything like a dragonfly,” grumbled Ramil.
“To hand your symbol to another is to entrust them with yourself—the fragility of the paper expressing the delicacy of each person’s soul.”
“Oh.” Ramil started to have an inkling of what he had done.
“Your son took this gift, flattened it out, and made it into a paper dart.”
“Ramil!” growled the King.
“I’m sorry about what I said to you the other night,” he said at length, knowing the words had to be spoken sooner or later. “I should’ve realized that you and Merl weren’t…”
“Well, that you weren’t.”
“That is very well explained, Ram.” She laughed. The sound made his stomach flip over. “And I’d like to thank you for the flower.”
“Did you like it?” he wanted to ask if he had finally got something right.
“I’m afraid I sat on it.” Her shoulders were shaking. He wondered for a moment what was so funny, then realized she was thinking of the dragonfly.
Dragonfly is an interesting book simply because it has a lot of good things to it, but they weren’t developed properly. It has potential, but the writing was hard for me to bear, the villain was bad (as in “badly developed” rather than “bad actions/personality/etc.”), and the romance was extremely obvious and really cheesy at points. Not one of my favorites, not even close.
You can buy this book here: Dragonfly
Coming Up Next: Redwall on Saturday, Mossflower on Sunday, and Ruby Red by Kerstin Gier next week!