The best part about being a book reviewer is when you find an underappreciated gem that you get to psychotically rant about to all your friends, family, and readers. I have now purchased 4 copies of Blood of an Exile for friends because I think The Dragons of Terra series by Brian Naslund is one of the best new series I have read. The final book in the trilogy, Fury of a Demon, comes out on August 31, 2021, and I got a sneak peek at the climactic finale. The third book continues Naslund’s streak of excellence – but it falls slightly short of the incredibly high bar set by the second book, Sorcery of a Queen.
If you are looking for the plot of the books, check out the earlier reviews linked above. In general, the story follows a diverse cast of individuals as they try to combine magic and science to protect the natural world from being abused by antagonists of all kinds. As I mentioned in my Sorcery review, these books are so good because they excel in so many different areas simultaneously that it’s hard to believe that this is Naslund’s first series. They have incredible characters, exciting action, deep and original worldbuilding, a gripping plot, a compelling antagonist, great themes, excellent pacing, strong character growth, and a level of polish and inclusivity that made me positively vibrate with happiness. However, Fury of a Demon takes some new directions that differentiate it to from its predecessors.
What sets Fury of a Demon apart from the two previous books in the series is really how the magic system starts to migrate into science fantasy. There is pseudo magical hacking in the third book that becomes a major part of what the plot revolves around and it makes the series feel like it starts to edge into the science fantasy genre. Personally, I loved this. It gave the book and series a lot of unique flairs and it had my wife (who I immediately gave my ARC after finishing it, thank you Tor) and me talking about the implications and possibilities for hours after we both finished. The conclusion is extremely explosive and fun, and it feels like a great culmination of the conflict. The final antagonist is a wonderful reflection of the conflicting ideals of the characters and the final fights felt satisfying on a number of levels. But, unlike the previous two novels (which I thought were perfect) I had a couple of issues with Fury of a Demon.
One of the strongest elements of the first two books is how organic the character growth felt. Everyone is changing constantly (a theme of the book) but Naslund goes through painstaking work to show you how and why. Demon’s character development is in no way bad, but it felt like it lacked the polish that the first two books had. In particular, the characters Vera, Kira, and Garrett all had major growth and change that seemed to happen off-page and were a little hard to follow. That being said, I will fight you IRL if you try to disparage Jolan or Felgor – they are angels that need to be protected.
In addition, the plot of Demon felt slightly less directed. Normally I wouldn’t have a problem with this, but one of my favorite parts of Queen is how every single set piece seemed to seamlessly flow into the next creating this unbroken stream of wonder that enraptured me from start to finish. There were a few new subplots in Demon that I understand the purpose of, but they could have been blended more seamlessly into the main story.
Back to the specific positives of Demon, it is definitely the book with the most imagination out of the three. Naslund has this brilliant cleverness in how he conveys the power and smarts of his characters that many fantasy and sci-fi writers will envy. Silas and Ashlyn in particular are absolutely terrifying in their power and majesty and Naslund accomplishes this through keen observation and context in a way that is subtle and smart. I found myself constantly thinking about what it would be like to be a peon standing against one of these protagonists and just feeling pants-shitting fear. They were awesome.
In sum, don’t sleep on The Dragons of Terra. Fury of a Demon will be one of my top books of 2021, and the other two books also made huge splashes with me when they came out. This has rapidly become my go-to ace in the sleeve recommendation to give well-read fantasy readers something new and delightful. I literally cannot wait to see what Naslund does next. He is a wildly talented new writer, and I hope he continues making new stories for years to come.
Fury of a Demon – 9.0/10
The Dragons of Terra – 9.5/10