Review: Moth and Spark by Anne Leonard

May Contain Spoilers

Review:

Moth and Spark caught my eye because it has dragons.  Ever since my introduction to Anne McCaffrey’s Dragonriders of Pern when I was a young, impressionable girl, I have been hooked on dragons.  Who wouldn’t want to take flight with a majestic beast and save the world from whatever dangers beset it?  Aside from having dragons and dragonriders, though, I would consider Moth and Spark more like A Game of Thrones, with less bloodshed, fewer heartrending deaths, and a lot more romance.  The focus of this novel is on politics and the machinations behind the war that is unleashed on Prince Corin’s small kingdom.  Chosen by the dragons to free them from their slavery to the Empire, Corin is challenged at every step to find a way to fulfill his duty to the stolen dragons. 

 

Corin’s world starts to pull apart at the seams after he is approached by a dragonrider and told of his role in the upcoming war.  He has been chosen to free the dragons, and Emperor Hadon knows that he will soon try to liberate his dragons.  The Emperor will do all in his power to cause his ruin; befriend his enemies, turn his friends against him,  bring war to his kingdom.  Then, the dragons force Corin to forget everything he has just been told, only to remember once the change is complete.  How unfair is that?  Send him back into danger, with no knowledge of the awful things to come, until it’s too late for him to do anything but go along with the dragons’ wishes. 

Tam is a commoner, the daughter of a doctor, and she’s visiting the court for the season with her sister-in-law.  Well-educated and inquisitive, she becomes Corin’s unwitting accomplice after witnessing the death of a lord.  She and Corin share a forbidden romance, only to have their lives shattered when the city falls to enemy soldiers.  Both of them are on the run, separated by the war.  As they struggle to survive and reunite, they learn about the powers they have both been given.  It will require both of their sacrifices to free the dragons and save their loved ones.

Though the events in Moth and Spark take place over a short period of time, there is so much packed into this story.  A passionate, forbidden romance, epic sword fights, the lush elegance of life in the court, the bitter loss of their way of life after the city walls are breached.  Hadon’s betrayal bites deeply, propelling Corin forward and giving him the strength of will fight back against the man he has sworn fealty.  Both Hadon and Corin are pawns to the dragons, and once events are set in motion, there isn’t anything either can do to change their inevitable final encounter.  The only question is whether Corin will find a way to break the powerful magic binding the dragons to the Empire before he meets his own grim end.

While the pacing was a bit uneven, I loved the world building and how Corin’s world is slowly revealed to him.  There are secrets and hidden magics that even he is unaware.  Tam discovers that she has the power to See, which becomes instrumental in the efforts to free the dragons.  Corin, too, has been granted power by the dragons, and he’s going to have to rely on every bit of it to save his kingdom.  The groundwork for the final confrontation between Corin and Hadon is painstakingly paved at the beginning, but events crescendo out of control near the end of the book.  I couldn’t put it down once I hit the half way mark, and even though all of the loose ends were neatly tied up, I would like to see what happens next.  How do Corin and Tam rebuild Caithen, and will the dragons just turn their backs on them, even after all they sacrificed for their freedom?

Though not quite what I was expecting, Moth and Spark is a complex, romantic tale of two people fighting to save each other from their destiny.  If I have any quibbles, it’s that the dragons aren’t in the story as much as I was hoping.

Grade:  B/B+

Review copy provided by publisher

From Amazon:

A prince with a quest. A commoner with mysterious powers. And dragons that demand to be freed—at any cost.

Prince Corin has been chosen to free the dragons from their bondage to the Empire, but dragons aren’t big on directions. They have given him some of their power, but none of their knowledge. No one, not the dragons nor their riders, is even sure what keeps the dragons in the Empire’s control. Tam, sensible daughter of a well-respected doctor, had no idea before she arrived in the capital that she is a Seer, gifted with visions. When the two run into each other (quite literally) in the library, sparks fly and Corin impulsively asks Tam to dinner. But it’s not all happily ever after. Never mind that the prince isn’t allowed to marry a commoner: war is coming to Caithen. Torn between Corin’s quest to free the dragons and his duty to his country, the lovers must both figure out how to master their powers in order to save Caithen. With a little help from a village of secret wizards and a rogue dragonrider, they just might pull it off.