Rating: 4 stars out of 5
Dragon Najlah is on the hunt with his fellow shifters in the Royal Shifter Corp. His quarry? The court assassin who just tried to kill the King and his brother in the process. So far the mage has eluded them, but now Najlah and his battle brothers have chased the betrayer to the snowy Shide Mountains where few would dare venture, including themselves. The cold is beyond frigid and the peaks fearsome in their height and ruggedness. The Shide territory controlled by the Lukos, the wild wolf shifters. And it is the Lukos who meet them as they enter the range on their hunt. The feral wolves hate interlopers but agree to help in the search for the mage, if for no other reason than to get the hunters out of their territory.
Barkus, the head of the Lukos pack that intercepts the King’s Shifters is amazed to see a dragon among them. Dragons are so rare in the Shide that they are assumed to be folklore, beings used to scare small kits. But there roaring and unhappy in the cold, appears Najlah and Barkus is intrigued. Najlah returns his interest but first the race is on to find the mage and navigate the treacherous conditions they find themselves in. When a fight turns deadly, Najlah and Barkus must use every advantage they have to survive, including one that just might bind them together forever.
Lukos Heat is another intriguing start to a new series by Megan Derr. Heart of Fire’s first story, Lukos Heat introduces us to the Kingdom of Restuel, its Rulers, and the non humans among them. At the top of the group are the Dragons, not dragon shifters but dragons who can assume a somewhat human form but remain always dragons in mindset and action. Derr starts laying out her universe and beings almost immediately.
There are 3 types of dragons. Najlah is a hornless black scale, the most fearsome warriors. His brother Fayth? Huge, horned and a protector who just happened to have married a human who is royalty. And then there are the Bitches, the awe-inspiring female dragons who live in the caves, have the young and are basically the rulers in dragon society. Najlah’s home is inside a volcano where the fires sooth and refresh him. I expect more dragon natural history to appear along with more stories. What Derr gives us is fascinating while provoking more questions.
By royal marriage and agreements set between their rulers, dragons have come to live in Restuel, along with bird and cat shifters. The wolves? They are a feral group that lives apart in the Shide territories, content to remain aloof and isolated by choice and geographical and meteorological conditions. But a war is brewing and the attempt on the King’s life is just the start of the attacks. Who is behind it and how will they stop it? More questions pop up then are answered here.
This short story is all about the hunt for the poisoner and the meeting between wolf and dragon. Each is a fierce warrior, courageous, loyal, and impulsive in their actions. Both Najlah and Barkus recognize like souls immediately and how they pull together is the charm of this story. I love the descriptions that let us know that Najlah retains his poisonous claws, scales and even fangs in his human like form, fangs so long that he is unable to talk but communicates through growls and hisses. Barkus is as entertaining as he is savage and able. The two make an aggressively attractive pair. I can’t wait to see where Derr takes them and this series.
I recommend this story and will be waiting along with the rest of you to see what happens next to our dangerous duo and the Kingdom of Restuel. I can imagine the battles and snark now, and that’s just the courtship between wolf and dragon! Whatever it turns out to be, I am sure it will be entertaining, inventive and a must story for all lovers of dragons and fantasy!
Cover art by Julie Wright. Love that cover, works perfectly for Najlah.
Sales Links: Less Than Three Press (preorder)
Expected publication: October 22nd 2014 by Less Than Three Press LLC
(first published May 17th 2013)
original title”Lukos Heat” published in Dracones
series: Heart of Fire