Review: No Good Dragon Goes Unpunished by Rachel Aaron

No Good Dragon Goes Unpunished

No Good Dragon Goes Unpunished by Rachel Aaron (Heartstrikers #3)

Genre: Urban Fantasy

Publisher: Aaron/Bach, LLC on August 5, 2016

Source: Author

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My thanks to the author for providing me with a digital review copy. No compensation was provided for this review, and all opinions are my own.

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Once again, Rachel Aaron has knocked it out of the park with her character development, world building, and the overarching series plot arc. This series just keeps getting better and better! After the events of ONE GOOD DRAGON DESERVES ANOTHER, the Heartstriker dragon clan is in turmoil. Centuries-old beings like dragons aren’t exactly fond of change, but Julius Heartstriker, nice dragon extraordinaire, is hell-bent on changing the dynamics of Heartstriker…hopefully for the better.

But one dragon alone can’t pull it off, so Julius co-opts his siblings into helping him. I love the banter and snarky dialogue between the Heartstrikers, and found myself chuckling along as Julius tries to navigate his way through the mire that is dragon politics. The bizarre yet cunning seer Bob, mercurial clan enforcer Chelsie, and Justin, the macho dragon with a heart of gold, all join Julius in his quest for reform and his attempts to destabilize Bethesda Heartstriker’s power. Talk about some serious mommy issues! Seeing them all work together was so gratifying after their previous scuffles, and proved to be one of my favourite elements of NO GOOD DRAGON GOES UNPUNISHED.

This instalment also introduces some new dragons, including the previously unseen F clutch (a little of dragons, all of whom have names beginning with the letter “f”). Aaron does a great job explaining why we’ve never met – or even really heard about – these dragons before now, and the explanation both expands the Heartstriker universe and made me hate Bethesda more than ever before. That’s a truly impressive feat, since I love to hate her! Bethesda is one of my all-time favourite villains, because while she’s loathsome, her motives actually do make a lot of sense – so long as you discount compassion and ethics, of course. If you’ve read the series then I’m sure you know what I mean!

The shake up in power within Heartstriker combined with a certain hostile presence in the DFZ means that NO GOOD DRAGON GOES UNPUNISHED necessitated a change of setting from the previous two books in the series. We finally get more than a brief glimpse inside Heartstriker Mountain, the clan HQ located in the Arizona desert. I absolutely adored this change of scenery because it gave insight into the complexity of dragon politics and the alliances and feuds of the almost 200 Hearstriker siblings. We also got to see inside Chelsie’s suite of rooms, which revealed a ton of really interesting information about her backstory. Chelsie has suffered so much but she’s so strong! You guys, I love her. Girl has secrets, and I can’t wait until Julius puts two and two together and realizes exactly what went down in China…because when that inevitably gets out, it’s going to be explosive.

While all this dragon drama is going down, everyone’s favourite mage Marci is dealing with her own problems. Her bond with the spirit cat Ghost is growing stronger, providing a source of comfort and increased power while also starting to scare her. And the events of NO GOOD DRAGON GOES UNPUNISHED make it pretty clear that while Ghost does love Marci, she should definitely be scared. As a crazy powerful mage who associates with dragons, it’s not a surprise when Marci comes to the attention of big-shot mages who essentially want to co-opt her power. Very draconic behaviour, ironically! I absolutely adored seeing Marci stand up to these people, especially since it meant that she had to forego the opportunity to rub elbows with her magical idol. She’s really come into her own throughout the series, just like Julius has. I can’t wait to see where her story arc goes from here!

If you’re not reading this series, you should correct that immediately. There’s truly something for everyone in the Heartstriker series, particularly if you want to read about atypical protagonists and fascinating world building!

Are you reading the Heartstriker series? What did you think of NO GOOD DRAGON GOES UNPUNISHED? What’s your favourite series at the moment?

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  • I so want to try this series, but so hard to get a hold of here

    • Oh no, I didn’t realize that! I guess you’re looking for a print copy rather than an ebook? Because I’m fairly certain the ebook is available internationally!

  • I’m very, very glad you liked this one, too! It was one of the best books I read this summer. I kind of wanted to shake Julius from time to time (and I *definitely* would have set Justin on a warpath if dragons treated me like that) but I’m glad he stayed true to his ideals.

    And yeah, Chelsie’s secret!! O_o OMG is all I can say and I hope she gets her HEA in the end! 🙂

    Justin DOES have a heart of gold, right? As much as he’s presented as this half-brained fighter, he’s adorable. And Bethesda is amazing, her conniving schemes never fail to impress me.

    And I want to see what a baby dragon looks like. <3

    • I absolutely love this series! Rachel Aaron’s books can always be counted on to put me in a good mood – I’ll have to try her space opera books under the name Bach to compare.

      CHELSIE! Ugh that poor girl. So strong, so precious. We must protect her! Shit is going to hit the fan with her in the next book, I’m sure of it.

      Justin has really grown on me over the past few books! Sure, he’s got some of the less appealing draconic traits like arrogance and selfishness but underneath it all he clearly loves Julius — and seems to have a soft spot for Marci, too! I was very impressed by his memory of tactical info too; it’s nice to see him presented as smart for a change. LOL!

      Me too! That baby dragon is going to be a total game changer!

  • Sounds like a great series! I’ll have to pick it up after I finish the Greatcoats books.

    • It’s so much fun! Definitely a different tone and pace from the Greatcoats series (from what I’ve heard about it) but I have a feeling that you’d really like it. 🙂

  • MaddalenaSpaceandSorcery

    This is the second mention I see of this series in a few days, so I think there must be some subliminal message trying to reach me… 🙂

  • Lisa (@TenaciousReader)

    I’m still trying to decide if I want to continue this series. The second one fell really flat for me.

    • The second book seems to be the most divisive for people. This one is a lot longer than the other books in the series, so if that’s a contributing factor you may want to steer clear. But I personally loved it!

  • Lynn Williams

    I’ve just seen a glowing review over on Bibliosanctum – I really do need to start this series – I’ve had the first one for a while now!
    Lynn 😀

    • Yes Lynn, join us in our Heartstrikers fangirling! These books would work SO well for you, I just know it. 🙂

  • I loved this. I thought it was less funny and “slower” than the previous book, but I also liked the dragon politics and the more family-oriented theme of the novel. It was a wonderful chance to learn more about Julius’ relationships with his siblings, and find out their secrets. I can’t wait for the next one to see the repercussions of some of the things that happened…that ending!

    • Oh yeah. definitely a bit slower-moving than the previous ones but the politicking was totally worth it in my opinion. I’m so impressed by Rachel Aaron’s ability to introduce this mountain (heh) of characters and still manage to keep them all distinct and interesting!

      OMG I know! That ending blew my mind…I have some theories but I’m also a bit worried!

  • I love a really good villain. Especially one whose motives make sense in a twisted way but completely lacks a moral compass. I might have to give this series a shot just for that.

    • Same! It’s such a shame that many villains seem to be motivated by “pure evil.” Like okay, maybe one or two can be pure evil, but every other villain? It’s just too much to be believed, even in fantasy novels. A motive that you can understand (even if you don’t agree with it) just makes the villainy that much more compelling.

      Let me know what you think of the series if you end up picking it up, Samantha!

  • What a clever title! I haven’t heard of this series before, but it sounds like one that’s right up my alley. I love the sound of the dynamics between the characters especially. I love some good snark and banter. And the villain! She sounds amazing. I always find villains to be one-dimensional, so it’s great that this one was so multi-faceted and someone that you understand!
    I’m going to check this series out ASAP!

    • Aren’t the titles great? The best part is how directly they tie into the events of each book – the author clearly spends a lot of time brainstorming, haha.

      YES! I really hope you enjoy this series, Nick! I think it’s a very original, fun, and well-written urban fantasy. And such a refreshing change of pace to read about a “nice guy” protagonist who’s actually, you know, nice.

  • Haven’t heard of this but “spirit cat ghost” , has me very intrigued, also kudos to an author who doesn’t make the villain into a caricature.

    • Right? That’s pretty much the only kind of cat I could have around, thanks to some pretty strong allergies, haha. Rachel Aaron does a fantastic job with her villains, and with all the other characters too. She’s really impressed me with this series!