The Flood Dragon’s Sacrifice – Sarah Ash
Release date: April 23rd, 2014
Age Group: Young Adult
Source: Received from the publisher in exchange for an honest review
Two rival clans. Two sacred pearls, the Tide Jewels, that can summon the Tide Dragons to protect the empire.
Two young men, Kaito and Naoki, one a Black Crane healer, the other a Red Kite shinobi, are sucked into an ancient, unresolved conflict between the gods of land and sea, when the exiled Red Kites steal the Tide Jewels and re-ignite a bitter clan war. Kaito must find a way to restore the emperor’s jewels – but how can it be done without betraying his own clan or angering the gods?
I am a big fan of Sarah Ash’s work so far. I devoured the Tears of Artamon trilogy and was eager to read more. I was thrilled to learn that Sarah had self-published a new novel: The Flood Dragon’s Sacrifice. I enjoyed the story of Naoki, Masao, Kaito and Satami, but it didn’t grab me as much as the Tears of Artamon did. The story was entertaining and special enough to keep me reading, but I missed something that I can’t quite put my finger on.
Just as her Tears of Artamon books, the book doesn’t have a Western setting and explores some supernatural beings that aren’t featured in books often nowadays. Where Tears of Artamon had a Russian-like setting, The Flood Dragon’s Sacrifice takes us even further East to an alternate Japan. The Far East has an interesting and rich mythology and Sarah uses some intriguing aspects of it to shape her story. The framework of the book are the Tide Jewels, jewels that bind two ancient Princes to the will of whoever possesses them. They are however not ordinary Princes, they control Ebb and Flood. The jewels can be used to summon Ebb and Flood by the person controlling the jewels. How these jewels came to exist and how the two Princes got involved in it all makes for a very interesting tale that is slowly revealed over the course of the book.
I was also pleasantly surprised to read about Kitsunes or Fire Foxes. Being a fan of Teen Wolf (the TV show) I already knew a bit about these mythical creatures and it was great to read about them in another context.
The Flood Dragon’s Sacrifice has all the ingredients to form an exciting read. Years ago two clans, the Red Kites and the Black Cranes, started a clan war. There had been a degree of rivalry already as the Emperor had given the Black Cranes the task of protecting the Tide Jewels. When an unstoppable fire broke out in the Red Kites’ castle, their Lord begged the Black Cranes to use the Flood Tide Jewel to stop the flames. The Black Cranes had however promised to protect the Jewels and to not use them without the Emperor’s permission. Crazed by grief and anger, the Red Kites attacked the Black Cranes, killing their Lord and Kaito’s father. The Red Kites are exiled and peace is restored. Several years later however, the Red Kites steal the Tide Jewels and ignite the clan war once again. This time the heirs, Kaito, now a Black Crane healer and Naoki, a Red Kite Shinobi warrior, are at the centre of it all. They are however more connected than they know. Kaito is the Flood Dragon’s Sacrifice, while Naoki is the Ebb Dragon’s Sacrifice. But do they know what this really means?
There’s more however than the tension of the feuding clans. There’s also room for romance, intrigue and the supernatural. The only minor thing I didn’t really like was the predictability of the relationships. It was quite easy to see who would end up with who. That didn’t really take away from the sweetness of the romance, but it did diminish the excitement a bit.
I liked how I didn’t have to wait ‘till the very end for the revelation of the mastermind, the one behind it all. We find out together with the main characters in the latter half of the book, which gives us quite a few pages of anxiously awaiting if they will be able to reveal the culprit to the rest of the realm or not.
The ending of The Flood Dragon’s Sacrifice gives us a lot to think about and sets the tone for a subsequent volume. I hope there is another book coming in the future, because I’m very curious to find out how Naoki, Kaito and Masao’s story will proceed and what will be the consequences of the events at the end of this book.
If you like a fluently written YA book set in a non-conventional background, with diverse characters and a splash of mythology, I would suggest you give this one a try. This book has no complex storylines or a myriad of characters, but a straightforward story with a lot of emotions and based on an interesting culture. Enjoyable, but it missed some of the things that made me fall in love with the Tears of Artamon trilogy.