The Dragons of Summer
I’ve been enjoying Jeffe Kennedy’s Uncharted Realms fantasy romance series since I picked up The Crown of the Queen, a bridging novel between the author’s Twelve Kingdoms series (which I’ve yet to read) and her Uncharted Realms series (which I’ve now read almost to completion). The end of that series is out now (The Fate of the Tala), but before I get to it, I wanted to catch up with a novella released in 2019, The Dragons of Summer. Originally it was included in the Seasons of Sorcery anthology in 2018 but is available now on its own. The author has also released a high fantasy (not fantasy romance) series, Chronicles of Dasnaria, which links to these others as well. I don’t think you have to have read every story previously to enjoy this one, but some familiarity with the characters and overall plot is definitely advantageous. This review may contain spoilers as a result of its multi-series background.
Former Prince of Dasnaria Harlan Konyngrr became a mercenary and is now consort to High Queen Ursula. A formidable enemy has found a way through the magic shield protecting the Kingdoms, and a defining battle is looming. When news comes to light that rocks Harlan to the core, he must choose between secrets and vows that will determine who has his true loyalty. Ursula has his heart – but is that enough?
Anyone who enjoys fantasy romance should be reading Jeffe Kennedy. What started as a trilogy about three sisters and their fates has spawned into three linked series with excellent worldbuilding, unique characters and magic systems that combine the gifts of foresight and shape shifting with the ever present battle against evil. In this case, it’s the followers of Deyrr, a religious cult that feeds on death and whose high priestess has found a way for her zombie-like minions to infiltrate the Twelve Kingdoms due to breakdowns in the magic barrier that has previously protected them. Harlan is a unique individual in that he knows the political ins and outs of Dasnaria, a neighbouring kingdom not under Ursula’s rule, and when a missive comes from his brother King Hestar about making an alliance while having Dasnaria’s military amassing on Ursula’s borders, Harlan concedes it makes the most sense for her to marry one of his brothers. After all, he’s always expected her to make a marriage of state for the good of her people, no matter his own personal vows to her. Ursul,a though, has other plans.
The story is told from Harlan’s point of view, and includes insight into his upbringing in Dasnaria, the plight of his younger sister Jenna (featured in the Chronicles of Dasnaria) who escaped a brutal marriage to parts unknown, and the vows he made to Jenna and his other sisters in those days that prevent him from being entirely open with Ursula. The strain on their relationship comes to a head with the offer from his brother. The underlying tension of waiting for an attack from the Deyrr minions is ever present, making for an exciting story with high points of action, battle scenes, and magic used to its full advantage (and yes, there are dragons too!). Yet through it all, the feelings Harlan has for Ursula are ever present and they share a passionate love scene, a brief moment of respite from the ever present reality of their tenuous situation.
Time and again, I return to this author because of her ability to weave personal stories into broader political and social contexts. Her magic systems are well developed and build on each other and similarly, the worlds are continuously and smoothly expanding. The fight between good and evil is always at the heart of a good fantasy story and the author has that in personal conflicts as well as larger ones. And the passionate and sexy romances are full of strong characters for whom you want to see a happy ending. Harlan and Ursula come out of this particular tale with a bond that’s stronger than ever, and are ready to face the unknown together. I’m ready for the finale!
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I'm a biochemist and a married mother of two. Reading has been my hobby since grade school, and I've been a fan of the romance genre since I was a teenager. Sharing my love of good books by writing reviews is a recent passion of mine, but one which is richly rewarding.