Reviewed by Christine
TITLE: A Destiny of Dragons
SERIES: Tales from Verania #2
AUTHOR: TJ Klune
NARRATOR: Michael Lesley
PUBLISHER: Dreamspinner Press
LENGTH: 16 hours, 40 minutes
RELEASE DATE: November 17, 2017
Sequel to The Lightning-Struck Heart
Once upon a time, the wizard’s apprentice, Sam of Wilds, got his happily ever after in the arms of his cornerstone, Knight Commander Ryan Foxheart. A year has passed, and while Sam’s been captured five or six more times since then, things are pretty great. His parents are happy, Gary and Tiggy still eat sass for breakfast, Randall is somehow alive despite being older than the gods, the King rules with a gentle hand, Kevin the dragon is as gross as ever, Morgan sighs a lot, Ryan continues to be dashing and immaculate, and Sam is close to convincing Prince Justin they will be best friends forever. Life is good.
Until it’s not.
Because Vadoma, the leader of the gypsy clan and Sam’s grandmother, has come to the City of Lockes with a dire prophecy written in the stars: a man of shadows is rising and will consume the world unless Sam faces his destiny and gathers the five dragons of Verania at his side.
And she brings along her second-in-command, a man named Ruv. Ruv, who Vadoma says is Sam’s true cornerstone.
Still full of equal parts sass, charm, inappropriateness, and good intentions (mostly), Sam of Wilds and his band of cohorts are back for more adventures and misadventures in the land of Verania. Sam has his man, but things are not going as well as they could be. He is captured yet again, but this time the stakes are much higher if he doesn’t succeed in vanquishing the darkness that threatens not only his beloved Verania and all its inhabitants, but the entire world.
This second installment in the Tales of Verania series by TJ Klune takes place about a year after the conclusion of The Lightning-Struck Heart. I thoroughly enjoyed the listening to the first story, the introduction of the quirky characters, the “monologuing” villains, and the lovely little kingdom known as Verania. This sequel, which still boasts uproariously funny scenes, mental tangents, and a tender love story as its predecessor did, has a darker, more ominous tone. While it remains true to the zaniness, hilarity, and borderline ridiculousness of the series, the threats that loom over the characters’ heads are much more sinister. Additionally, Sam’s visions are heartbreaking and somber, stopping all lightheartedness in its tracks. This book contains scenes that are more disturbing and gripping, robbing the reader of breath when just moments before, laughter had prevailed. I love that!
The arrival of Sam’s grandmother brings a portent of evil and doom, and Sam is reluctant to believe his “destiny” is to gather the five dragons and vanquish a mysterious man of shadows. Sam is, of course, immature and lacks the right amount of training to harness and control the power his magic holds. It is obvious in this story that there is something larger at work, and Sam isn’t prepared for it. I like that we are witnessing a character who is flawed, who is continuing to grow and grapple with what life is throwing his way. He leads a charmed life, and when truths are revealed, we see some qualities in Sam that are perhaps not that likable. Yet he is still compelling, still the young hero with the great sidekicks, still a believer in true love, family, and loyalty. There’s some learning to be done and some growing up to do, but the question remains as to what sacrifices will be made along the way.
I loved listening to A Destiny of Dragons, and Michael Lesley is an amazingly talented, diverse performer. Though at times the story dragged a little during the desert scenes, and I got a bit annoyed with Kevin’s constant sex talk (he makes up for it with some rather poignant and tender moments, however), I am enamored of this series and am anxious to listen to the third installment. Listeners beware: A Destiny of Dragons ends on a cliffhanger, but I highly recommend you take the leap.