indie reviews: starfire dragons

What up, world? A couple months ago I started reviewing books for a site called Reedsy Discovery, which hosts (mainly) self-published books and helps them get discovered! Pretty sweet, eh? I thought so! And I also thought I’d republish my reviews for them here on the blog (which they encourage, provided I wait until it’s live in the site first). I do about one a month, so you can expect those to pop up here from time to time. Here’s the first one, a review of StarFire Dragons by Dawn Ross!

starfire dragons by dawn ross

3/5 Stars (okay, but, I used their rating system, and 3/5 means “worth reading,” so I think in most people’s conception it should actually be more like 3.5 or 4, but that’s what I put so I gotta stick by it I guess!)

A subtle space opera that explores the ethical conundrums of intergalactic relations with main characters who are worth rooting for.

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The year is 3790. In the galactic region just beyond Cooperative territory lives a brutal warrior race. When a starship on a mission of science finds two warriors have crashed on a Cooperative planet, the crew is divided as to what to do. Principles, politics, and prejudice clash as more is discovered about these young warriors and their remarkable abilities. Commander J.D. Hapker, new and unsure of his position as second in command, risks both his career and his crew by taking charge of them. His struggle between what is right and what is necessary intensifies as every option threatens to ignite a war.

StarFire Dragons is a space opera about a crew of intergalactic explorers who rescue two enemy children after their ship crash-lands onto a terraforming planet. Commander J.D. Hapker is tasked with gaining the trust of one of the boys, Jori, while his brother lies in a coma. Loyalties are challenged, prejudices are unearthed, and the prospect of war looms ominously in the distance as Hapker and Jori navigate their moral and cultural differences.

I was immediately struck by this book’s similarities—at least in the worldbuilding—to Star Trek, but fans of the franchise are likely to find this appealing. The one thing about this world that I really liked was that there were no true “aliens,” just humans who had terraformed other planets and evolved to those conditions. Personally, I found it refreshing.

My major criticism is that after the inciting incident, it felt like it took a long time for the plot to move. Now, as someone who’s not a huge fan excessive action to begin with, I’m not asking that it be something that it’s not. But there were a lot of chapters where it felt like the characters were rehashing the same conversation over and over again. The story was so focused on the main plot line that I honestly forgot what the ship was meant to be doing in the first place. I felt like there should’ve been something going on in the background, even if it was disrupted by the arrival of the boys. But for most of the book, the ship doesn’t seem to have any purpose short of harboring its enemy passengers… it felt more like a set than a location.

However, what this story does try to do, it does well. The relationship that develops between Hapker and Jori throughout the book was my favorite part, and on the whole, I thought the character development was strong. It felt natural, it took its time, and it made you care.

Aside from that, there were some places where I felt like the narrative didn’t trust the reader to pick up on things like character motivation. But overall, I enjoyed the interplay of ethical conundrums, the well thought-out worldbuilding, and the likable protagonists.

I recommend this book to fans of Star Trek and other such intergalactic space exploration stories that are more character-focused. I would totally read the next book to see what happens next.

Here’s a link to my review on the site: https://reedsy.com/discovery/book/starfire-dragons-dawn-ross

Book cover © not me, I couldn’t find an artist credit so Dawn Ross I suppose?

Featured image by Craig Melville from Pixabay

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