Fergox Spearthrower, the conquering tyrant of the most of the continent and worshipper of a vicious war god has set his eyes on the two last independent countries: the mainland country of Gerfal and the formal Blue Crescent Islands. Knowing that they cannot withstand the attack of Fergox alone, the two nations plan a marriage alliance to cement the collaboration of the Gerfalian army and the Blue Crescent navy.
But a marriage cannot be easily forged between the two nations with very different cultures. Prince Ramil of Gerfal is the son of the nomadic Horse Followers, young, wild, and untested in a world of politics and war. The newly crowned Fourth Princess of the Islands, Princess Taoshira, was a former goat girl. Her recent (and suspicious) appointment to the position has made her dedicated to the rigid ritual and formality of her religion and homeland.
Cultures clash when the two meet and the alliance is on the brink of falling apart. This is, until both Prince Ramil and Princess Taoshira are kidnapped on a riding trip. Can the couple learn to work together before their lands fall to war?
Dragonfly is a fun, lighthearted read about romance, religion, and cultural differences. In terms of plot, it’s not particularly special. It’s pretty obvious where the plot is going, especially the romance, and the action that ensues is pretty standard YA fantasy adventure.
No, the strengths of this novel are it’s characters and world building. The protagonists, Ram and Tashi, grow a lot in this novel, and their progression as individuals as well as a couple are very well done. It’s a simple coming-of-age progression, and that’s all the story needs it to be. Since the coming-of-age isn’t really new, what makes it entertaining is the environment in which they grow.
The war torn land that they travel in is full of a variety of people and cultures. Tashi’s culture is definitely my favourite, riddled with ritual and formality and tradition and faith that it allows for so much imagery and cultural boundaries. Tashi’s culture also allow for the two plot lines that I enjoyed the most after the romance: (1) Tashi’s journey to retain her faith, and (2) the struggle to accept and respect cultural difficulties.
What makes these two plot/themes work so well is that Golding has an interesting writing style. Within a scene, she will switch cleanly between one point of view to another. This might be annoying for some people because the novel is in third person, but I feel like it’s essential.
Another note on the romance: a lot of readers tend to see that Ramil only starts to like Tashi after she takes off her makeup and he sees how beautiful she is. The way I see it, Ram starts to get interested in Tashi without her makeup because for once she isn’t the statuesque princess doll—she looks like a real person. And that’s what I like the most about their relationship. They allow each other to be themselves.
That being said, this book does have it’s flaws. The plot is a little cheesy and predictable and I wish there was a little more about Ram’s religion. But all in all, a good read.
Recommendation: Read. If you’re looking for a sweet, fairytale-like romance, fantasy adventure.