Feature book: Sacrifice
Melangell is a MorwynDdraig or a dragon maiden in training. She is captured by Cai, who wants to ensure his success in presenting his brother, Artwr (pronounced Ar-toor) the pendragon, with a viable Creil (dragon egg). MorwynDdraig are taken from their family and trained from a young age to learn how to care for a Creil. Their training is rigorous, and they are expected to neither wed nor bear children.
CaiapCynr, elder brother to the pendragon, Artwr, is leading a war party, trying to find a Creil, when he encounters Melangell, who he doesn’t realise is a MorwynDdraig. He is somewhat weary of war, but he performs a sacrifice of Melangell to maintain his authority over his troops.
Whilst there is a romance, the story contains more of the drama of Melangell’s life. The relationship between Melangell and Cai is fiery, but they are often apart. Concentration is required as there are both ‘real’ dragons and men who take the name dragon to represent them as being leaders of their clans. The man who ruled all the other chieftains is known as the pendragon.
The story is a little horrifying to start with. There is a massacre and the hero, Cai, slices the skin of the heroine, Melangell, in a display of swordsmanship and leaves her for dead. Cai takes the remaining women as whores for his men, and then he returns to hunt Melangell down, realising he let a MorwynDdraig escape. It’s old school rape and pillage, and it is no doubt accurate to the time frame but nonetheless disturbing.
Being acquainted with Arthurian legend only in passing, this interpretation could be entirely incorrect. However, the book appears to incorporate the lore. It includes a twist of sentient dragons, with Cai probably in the role of Lancelot, and Melangell as a Guinevere object. I use object because Artwr wants the Creil and not Melangell herself, just her dragon maiden skills, and he’s already married in a political alliance.
There are three books to the series (two not yet published at the time of this review), and while the overarching story is not complete, this book gives the story of the relationship between Melangell and Cai. It’s an interesting read, compelling, and it is both a typical and non-typical romance. There is a positive end to the relationship, although I’m not sure happily applies to the struggles of living without land and title during this time period. The title says it all ‘sacrifice’. The book is definitely worth a read. The heroine is feisty and meets and defeats her challenges but not without suffering and pain. The setting and Melangell’s situation is often bleak, so read it when you’re in a good frame of mind.
Reviewed by Gina
A review copy of this book was provided by the author.