Dragon Kings Trilogy: Prequel & Book 1
Author: Lindsey Piper
June 25th is the official release date of Caged Warrior: Dragon Kings Book One
Since I read the prequel and Book 1, I have combined them for this review.
Lindsey Piper take readers to a dark, edgy, gritty world filled with violence where supernatural warriors, called Dragon Kings live among humans who are either unaware of their existence or take pleasure in exploiting their mythical powers.
Based upon what I have read and pieced together so far, there are five Dragon King clans located throughout the world. Each clan has been gifted with specific supernatural powers. Although many clan members stay together, there are those who choose to live among humans without revealing their identities. However, some Dragon Kings may find themselves in debt or other kinds of trouble that force them into the seedy world of underground fighting to gain money or favors from one of the three nefarious human cartels who run this illicit gambling operation.
Prequel: Silent Warrior (Dragon Kings 0.5)
Purchase on Amazon: Silent Warrior
A silent woman ashamed of her criminal background becomes a Cage warrior to seek redemption. An unrepentant fortune hunter chooses combat over death to appease a mafia family. Although rivals in battle, they find common ground when seeking their clan’s stolen idol, but for vastly different reasons. Neither one suspects that love will begin when he becomes the first man in five years to hear her speak.
Let me preface this review by stating that I read Caged Warrior first, initially unaware that there was a prequel to the trilogy. Once I finished book one, I decided to go back and read the prequel hoping the story would provide more exposition and clarification about the mystical origins and existence of Dragon Kings. Furthermore, I wanted to learn more about humans’ involvement with this secret race of people.
The story opens in the middle of a fight between two Dragon King warriors from the Sath clan, dressed in armor with their choice of weapons. They use whatever skills they have to fight for a win. Silence is a cage warrior from the Aster Cartel who finds herself struggling to outmatch Hark, whose debt forces him to fight for needed money.
Silence and Hark’s alternating point-of-views throughout the story are effective in providing greater insight into their motivations and vulnerabilities. Since volunteering to fight for the Aster Cartel, the woman known as Silence has never spoken a word to anyone. Her persona is a direct contrast to the easy going, talkative Hark, who finds her silence unnerving. His goal besides winning is to make her say something. While Silence intimidates Hark by remaining wordless, he tries to throw her off balance with his excessive talking and atypical behavior.
Although Silence and Hark have contrasting personalities, they manage to fall in love while running from enemies in Hong Kong. Their contentious bantering along with their secret revelations make this story an engaging read. Overall, this short work is packed with action and suspense and leaves you with an uncertainty about Silence and Hark’s future. Because of the story’s brevity, I accepted the “insta-love” between Silence and Hark, even though it is unrealistic, given the time frame.
I already knew the outcome of this story because Silence and Hark continue to play a role in Caged Warrior. Still, I was glad to learn their backstory and the tenderness behind their union. The sacrifice that Hark is willing to make for Silence is touching.
On the other hand, I was disappointed to find that this prequel did not help me to better understand this fascinating world Piper has created. In fact, I think I would have been more confused about the sequence of events if I had not already read book one.
The lack of explanation about the history and current existence of the Dragon Kings kept me from being fully immersed in this fantasy.
Caged Warrior (Dragon Kings #1)
Purchase on Amazon: Caged Warrior: Dragon Kings Book One (The Dragon Kings)
The first installment in this fierce and sensual new paranormal romance series features demonic gladiators, ruthless mafia villains, and a proud race on the brink of extinction.
Ten years ago, Audrey MacLaren chose to marry her human lover, making her an exile from the Dragon Kings, an ancient race of demons once worshiped as earthly gods. Audrey and her husband managed to conceive, and their son is the first natural-born Dragon King in a generation—which makes him irresistible to the sadistic scientist whose mafia-funded technology allows demon procreation. In the year since her husband was murdered, Audrey and her little boy have endured hideous experiments.
Shackled with a collar and bound for life, Leto Garnis is a Cage warrior. Only through combat can Dragon Kings earn the privilege of conceiving children. Leto uses his superhuman speed and reflexes to secure the right for his two sisters to start families. After torture reveals Audrey’s astonishing pyrokenesis, she is sent to fight in the Cages. If she survives a year, she will be reunited with her son. Leto is charged with her training. Initially, he has no sympathy for her plight. But if natural conception is possible, what has he been fighting for? As enemies, sparring partners, lovers, and eventual allies, Leto and Audrey learn that in a violent underground world, love is the only prize worth winning.
Imagine being stripped of your family, tortured, and then enslaved in an underground world where survival depends on how well you can fight. This nightmare has become Audrey MacLaren’s life. Audrey’s real name is Nynn, and she is a Dragon King born of the Clan Tigony. Dragon Kings are an ancient race of supernatural beings with special power endowed to them. They are proud warriors who have kept their identity a secret from most humans.
Audrey is branded as a traitor and exiled from her clan when she marries a human man and later gives birth to a son. Her peaceful life is shattered when her husband is murdered, and she and her son are kidnapped by the Aster family, a human crime cartel who exploit Dragon Kings by using them for scientific experiments and confining them underground where they train as cage warriors who fight for favor and privilege.
Although the reason is never fully explained, the Dragon King race is in danger of extinction because of difficulty conceiving children. Giving natural birth to a Dragon King is a rarity, and the sinister Dr. Aster keeps Audrey and her son locked away in a laboratory where he experiments on them to further his knowledge of this supernatural race. After a year of being tortured by Aster, Audrey is forced to become a cage warrior and fight for the Aster Cartel if she ever wants to see her son again.
I admired Audrey’s perseverance and tenacity throughout the story. She endures endless verbal, emotional, and physical abuse that would easily break others. Despite the odds, she is willing to do whatever it takes to be reunited with her son, even though she knows that it is likely Dr. Aster will not keep his promise.
Leto of Clan Garnis has the responsibility for training Audrey to fight as his partner. He is a multifaceted, dominating character with a brutal nature, which I found hard to like but could understand, since he has spent his entire life training and fighting in the cages, and violence is all he’s ever known. Leto is an undefeated fighter in the cages. He is proud that his wins have given his sister the opportunity to conceive a child with her husband and continue the family line. He believes the sacrifices he has made are honorable. His reputation has made him a favorite to the Asters, and he enjoys the respect and privileges that are given to him.
Leto has never worried about his elite warrior status until he meets Audrey. He is given little time to train her, and if she doesn’t do well, that will reflect upon him and the future of his family. Leo tries to force Audrey into submission through harsh, inhumane treatment. His lack of compassion and indifference to her situation was at times hard for me to read. However, no matter how cruel Leto is, Audrey still manages to retain some form of dignity and defy his efforts to break her spirit. Even though Audrey knows she has to learn to fight for her son’s sake, she refuses to use her incredible powers of harnessing and manipulating energy since she has no control over them. She worries that by doing so, she will lose her sense of self and turn into a ruthless monster.
Much of the book focuses on the dynamic nature of Audrey and Leto’s relationship. Spending so much time together creates a mounting sexual tension that becomes harder for them to ignore. A major turning point in the story occurs when Audrey and Leto become victims of Dr. Aster’s malevolence and begin to trust and work in sync with each other.
As Audrey embraces her warrior prowess, Leto begins to question the illusion of his life. I enjoyed watching both characters grow emotionally and physically closer once they understood each other’s plight. Piper does an excellent job with character development and shows that no matter how flawed, one can always be redeemed.
The greatest drawback of the story is the lack of necessary background to help me fully understand these warriors and the challenges they face: What’s the story behind the origin and powers of the Dragon Kings? Why are Dragon Kings affiliating with human crime organizations? Is it always by choice or are they forced into it like Audrey? How exactly does Dr. Aster “help” Dragon Kings with their fertility problems? I hope the author will flesh out more of this fantasy world she has created to make the read more enjoyable.
I received a copy of Caged Warrior from the publisher via Edelweiss.
About the Author
Lindsey Piper is the alter ego of an award-winning historical romance author. Her hotly anticipated 2013 DRAGON KINGS series is her first foray into paranormal fiction. She lives and writes in Chicago.
Website: http://www.lindseypiper.com —To celebrate the release of Caged Warrior, Lindsey is giving away 2 copies of this book. Just visit her website and post a comment. Winners will be drawn at random on July 2nd!
To post a comment, please click on the green “Leave a Comment” link located at the bottom of this post after the tags.