Sunday, October 23, 2016

Lady Dragon, Tela Du Blog Tour: Review

Hello, everyone! The other day, I interviewed Petra, one of the heroines of Lady Dragon, Tela Du. Today, I'm back on the blog tour- not with another interview, but with a review of the book.

A year and a month ago, Kendra E. Ardnek released Water Princess, Fire Prince , the first book in the Rizkaland Legends. I enjoyed it; it wasn't amazing, but it was creative and a fun read and had a cute main couple and a good theme. I expected roughly the same from Lady Dragon, Tela Du- but when I opened the book, what I found blew me away. Why? I'm glad you asked.

(But, first, a bit of background to this review: I beta-read Lady Dragon, Tela Du before Ir ead it for this review, which basically means that I got to send the author hopefully-helpful comments, which were really more like half helpful and half fangirling. The main effects of that, as far as this review goes, are (A)I've read it twice and therefore have had more times to organize my thoughts on it, and (B)I have a more comprehensive stock of comments to look back on regarding my reactions to certain things. Anyway. On with the review.)

The Awesome:
- The Characters: Are generally awesome, with a few exceptions (which I'll get to later). A quick rundown of my favorites:
--Petra is the main character and the titular Tela Du. She's also rather snarky, quite practical, and not particularly pleased at being tossed into a fantasy world and a destiny. Thankfully, she gets over it quickly and proceeds to be awesome. She's a very human character- she makes bad decisions at times, gets annoyed at people, and harbors a fair bit of resentment over certain events. But her determination and desire to do her best even with a destiny she didn't want make up for it (as does the aforementioned snark). And she loves tea and BBC television and long skirts and chocolate and apparently has a bit of a British accent, so, yeah. What's not to like?
--Reuben is Petra’s best friend and also love interest . . . though I feel like it’s a little bit unfair to call him a love interest, because he’s way more than that. He balances Petra out while still being totally his own character: steady, dependable, and an immense lover of fantasy-fiction. I’m pretty certain that he and I would get along famously if only he was real- we could chat about The Lord of the Rings and The Chronicles of Narnia and shove other favorite books at each other to our hearts’ content. I was a tiny bit disappointed that Kendra didn’t make more use of the opportunities for humor with him (having a fantasy-lover in a fantasy world is practically begging for some kind of jokes about genre-savvyness or “in stories” or predicting what’s going to happen based on common narrative tropes), but I still love him.
--Amber is the titular Lady Dragon and the center of an amazing work of character and narrative development on Kendra’s part. Some of you may remember a certain Goodreads status update of mine from Water Princess, Fire Prince in which I essentially expressed my desire to be Petra so I could kill Amber in a fairly painful manner. I still held that opinion at the start of Lady Dragon, Tela Du, though I enjoyed getting to see some of the story from her perspective . . . but then, as I learned more about her, my hatred began to weaken, and by Part 4 or somewhere thereabouts, I was hoping that Petra would find some loophole by which she could avoid killing Amber. But, yeah. Amber’s a sympathetic villain, and a tragic one, and a very well-written character on the whole. (Also, she enjoys writing, so who can argue with that?)
--Granite is Amber’s husband. He tends to make me sad- he truly loves Amber, and she loves him back, but her heart has been stolen by a particular aspect of her magic, and so he’s left in her shadow. He’s not evil; he’s truly a good character. But he’s bound to Amber and it’s just so sad. And he does his best to try to temper Amber’s wrath and turn her from her ways, but there’s so little he can do and yeah. I love him muchly.
--Laura is the Doorkeeper. Occasionally there’s two of her. She’s mysterious in a very friendly sort of way and tends to drop a lot of hints about the future and plot twists and everything else, and because of her role, sometimes she’s the main one moving the plot along. She also tends to do unexpected things and not really give a great deal of explanation for them until later. She’s also the one responsible for getting people from Earth to Rizkaland and back again, so, yeah. Very fun character.
--Other characters: I liked Summer and Tyler, though I didn’t connect with them as much as I did others. Ritis was pretty cool as well.
-The couples are generally adorable, particularly Reutra (Reuben and Petra) and Amber and Granite (who currently don’t have a ship name, though they should). I fangirled over them quite a bit in my beta comments . . . so much so that Kendra, at one point, literally told me to stop encouraging her characters to kiss. (Sorry, Kendra. Not really, though. They’re just so sweet together!) So, yeah. Kendra absolutely Does Not Do love triangles, which means that any difficulties in the relationship come from the characters being actual people and not from ridiculous drama and it’s a very nice change of pace from the fantasy standard.
-Family emphasis. Petra and Reuben both come from mid-sized families (each has 3 siblings) and they care very much indeed for their siblings . . . even the ones that only they remember. Their parents also play a somewhat larger role than is common in fantasy books- not a huge role, no, but they know what's going on and give advice when they can. So that's awesome. And I love Ashna's relationship with her parents and her family-related struggle at one point in the book.
-Plot twists were masterfully executed. There's one particular twist regarding Amber . . . I might've had a vague idea of "Hey, maybe this" at the very beginning of the novel, but quickly dismissed it . . . AND THEN IT HAPPENED. And it caught me totally off-guard. And as a general rule, I've read enough fantasy to see most plot twists coming- if not a mile away, then still before they happen. There's a second pretty big twist as well after that first one, and I did start getting a suspicion towards that one before it was revealed, but I wasn't sure. But both twists are really well set up, particularly on a second read-through. As I think I mentioned in one of my status updates, I kept finding hints (some rather obvious in hindsight) and I got very excited. 
-No weaponry prodigies are present in this book. I know this is kind of a weird thing to put in the "awesome" category . . . but, honestly? I get tired after a while of reading about one character after another who's almost supernaturally skilled with their weapon of choice, regardless of how much actual training he or she has had with it. In LDTD, very few characters actually end up fighting period, and the only super-amazing ones are Amber and Granite . . . but they've lived roughly 6,000 years, so, yeah, I think they would be by now.

The Non-Awesome:
-Some of the characters came out a little flat . . . and by some I mostly mean Noraeto. I feel like the only reasons he really existed were (A)as a love interest for one of the main characters, and (B)as a son and grandson for two minor characters. So, yeah. He honestly doesn't seem to do much, and on one hand, having him do more would've taken the spotlight away from Petra and Amber and Reuben and Granite and the excellent plot twists (which, let's face it, were what I was actually reading the book for), but on the other hand, if you're going to give a main character a love interest, at least make the love interest decidedly his own character.
-Part one is kind of hard to get through. It's not as bad as part one of Water Princess, Fire Prince, because there are Amber sections and those were awesome. But it also wasn't amazing, mostly because- like in WPFP- I didn't connect very well with (one of) the main viewpoint character(s). More on that in a moment. Once you get through that first part, it's much more interesting (again, like in WPFP), but yeah. Here's hoping that Kendra can break the trend in book three.
-The writing can be a little rough in spots, particularly with regards to conversations between characters. That being said, this complaint might just be the beta-reader side talking. I was looking for that sort of thing the first time I read it, and my instinct was to look again when I got the reviewer copy. Either way, it's not significant enough to be a real problem, but it can be a touch distracting at times.

The I-Don't-Know-How-I-Feel-About-This:
-Ashna. On one hand, I didn't really connect with her that well, particularly in the first section (as I mentioned before). And I did come to like her a bit better later in the book. But she still didn't quite click for me- which is sad, because I wanted to like her more than I did. She's a sweet girl, and she's a nice change from the current cliche of warlike, hot-tempered, ultra-skilled female main characters in fiction (as I also mentioned previously). But, for some reason, that click just didn't happen.
-Karyn. I hate Karyn. I really do. I quite literally spent the majority of two chapters yelling at her to shut up every time she said anything. (She was being an idiot at the time, for the record.) But there's certain other things about Karyn . . . things that would be spoilers . . . so I can't completely hate her. And she actually is a well-written character, particularly when you have all the information about her- I can understand why she did what she did. But I still don't like her, and my usual reaction to seeing her on-page is still "Shut up and go away."

On the whole, Lady Dragon, Tela Du is a pretty clean read. There's next to no violence and no swearing. There is romance, as previously mentioned, which is the only area of (very mild) caution. A particular aspect of Petra and Reuben's abilities give certain scenes very intimate overtones, though younger readers may not fully pick up on them. Two of the couples are married, and do sleep together (we see them go to bed and wake up; nothing in between). Couples kiss- mostly the married ones, though there's one unwed kiss (which is both applauded and reprimanded). So, there's nothing of real concern, and the two main romances (Reutra and Amber/Granite) actually provide two very good portrayals of romance and marriage- one how it ought to be, one how it can be broken and then mended.

Overall, Lady Dragon, Tela Du is not only a worthy sequel to Water Princess, Fire Prince, but it defies Second Book Syndrome in actually being far better than the first book in the series. Well-drawn characters, astounding plot twists, adorable romances, and poignant themes all combine to make this a must-read for any lover of the portal fantasy genre. 

About Lady Dragon, Tela Du:
Two girls with one face
Two girls with twisted fate
One in purple, one in red
One shall speak the other’s death
Who shall win their final war?
Lady Dragon or Tela Du?

Amber, the Lady Dragon, has been promised a fifty-year reign over Rizkaland and nothing can stop her from claiming it. But when you've lived six thousand years, fifty is such a pitiful number. Only one person can keep her from making this reign permanent - the Tela Du, a girl who shall share Amber's face.

The last thing Petra wants is a magical world interrupting her plans for a normal life, let alone an ultimate battle against the Lady Dragon with only one prophesied survivor. She has her childhood best friend, Reuben, at her side, but she's not sure if he's more of a help or a hindrance right now. Though she'd much prefer to just return home and forget about this whole crazy affair, things change when she discovers that the world has surprising connections to her own family - including her sister who disappeared without a trace two years before. Still, Rizkaland can't possibly expect her to risk her very life, can it?
Find It On:

About the Author:
Kendra E. Ardnek is a homeschool graduate who picked up a pen at an early age and never put it down. The eldest of four, she makes her home in the Piney Woods of East Texas with her parents, younger siblings, giant herd of giraffes, and honor guard of nutcrackers.  
Find Kendra Online At:

Haven't read Water Princess, Fire Princess yet?
No problem! Today's the last day to get it free on Kindle. I definitely recommend picking up a copy. It's a fun read- and, hey, who says no to free books?
And don't forget to check out today's other tour stops:
Kendra: Petra and Clara  
Lianne Taimenlore - Colors of LDTD Guest Post

Thanks for stopping by!
-Sarah (Leilani Sunblade)


  1. I love your detailed analysis of each character! Your descriptions and reactions are spot on!

  2. Amber and Granite do have a ship name. It's Amberite. I've seen Kendra use it several times.
    I hate Karyn too. As a person, not a character.
    And I also agree that some characters would have been nice with more development, but there wasn't room. It can't be everyone's story.

    1. Which Kendra told me when I posted this on Goodreads. But I forgot to update it for this review.
      Yeah. :P (Isn't it interesting how you can make that distinction, though? I think it's interesting. Or maybe I'm just tired.)
      Very true. LDTD is pretty long as it is . . .

  3. I love how you described each character! It was fun to read about them :). I've heard a lot about 'Lady Dragon, Tela Du' lately, so I might have to give it a try *nods*.

    ~ Savannah

    1. Thank you! And definitely give LDTD a try! (You should probably read Water Princess, Fire Prince first, but, yeah. LDTD is excellent.)
      Thanks for stopping by!

    2. I read 'Water Princess, Fire Prince' a few months ago and enjoyed it quite a bit - so if LDTD is any better, I'm sure I'll enjoy that, too :D.

      ~ Savannah

    3. Great! And yes, I am positive you will love LDTD! I hope you can read it soon!

    4. *whispers* also, I tagged you :).

      ~ Savannah

    5. Danke! I shall check that out now!


I'd love to hear your thoughts! But remember: it pays to be polite to dragons.