I love anything written by Julie Kagawa. Her Iron Fey series was my introduction to the Fae and started me down the path of young adult fantasy. Her Blood of Eden series filled a vampire void I didn’t even know existed. Yet it is her Soul of the Sword series and its finale Night of the Dragon that made me an emotional wreck.
What makes her novels so good is the fact that Ms. Kagawa does not allow any of her characters to maintain easy paths. Her characters face death, destruction, and nearly impossible choices with very real and sometimes harsh consequences. No one is purely evil or purely good. Each character maintains the capacity for some level of each within him or herself. Similarly, much like in real life, the situations in which her characters find themselves are rarely simple. There are layers upon layers of past actions and consequences that lead up to the situations in which her characters now find themselves. For novels that are firmly in the fantasy realm of gods, demons, and magical beings, her stories are as realistic as one will read.
There is a lot to love within the entire Soul of the Sword series. Its messages of love and honor are ones that hit particularly hard after three years with an administration that has no honor and is incapable of love for their fellow citizens. Its lesson of size being inconsequential and unrelated to capabilities is another reminder that even the smallest person can institute change. Plus, it introduces most readers to Japanese folklore and myth in a way that is fascinating.
As for Night of the Dragon, I loved every word. I cringed. I feared. I worried. I laughed out loud. I cried. Seriously, I cried. After ten years of writing reviews, I can still count on two hands how often a book made me shed tears. Ms. Kagawa brought me to tears with her ending for Kumeko, a character I absolutely adore.
While I am sad that my time with Kumeko and her friends is at an end, I am happy that I got the chance to meet this remarkable girl. Her unwavering loyalty, as well as her strong belief in duty and honor, gave me hope that such traits are admirable and needed in our world. Her refusal to cave to her fears and others’ expectations of failure is pure inspiration. Fantastical but still applicable to reality, Night of the Dragon is the perfect ending to a truly spectacular series.