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The Awakening: The Dragon Heart Legacy, Book 1


The Awakening: The Dragon Heart Legacy, Book 1

With THE AWAKENING, the first book in her Dragon Heart Legacy trilogy, Nora Roberts has created an intricately detailed world that has all the charm and natural beauty of Ireland but is populated by witches, fairies, elves and dragons.

Breen Kelly’s life in Philadelphia has been very ordinary. She teaches middle-school language arts to students who don’t inspire her. Or do they not inspire her because she doesn’t love teaching? The truth is that Breen became a teacher because her mother told her that was all she was capable of doing, and she is miserable. Her biggest support system is her best friend and roommate Marco, who is flamboyantly gay, fiercely loyal and wonderfully perceptive. She loves spending time with him in their apartment and in the bar where he works.

"[L]et’s get lost in Talamh, where we can forget about our own failings and live in a fantasy world filled with beautiful rolling hills, waterfalls, deep green forests, dragons, fairies --- and horrific danger."

The first hint of something not being quite right occurs when Breen notices a man with silver hair who appears at odd moments and occasionally catches her eye. But he also disappears when she tries to follow him. One afternoon, while Breen is taking care of her vacationing mother’s house, “wind” blows open a file cabinet that had been unlocked. While putting away the documents, she sees a bank account in her name and realizes that her father, who disappeared when she was 10 years old, has been sending her huge sums of money. Yet her mother is always complaining about finances and refuses to help her with college expenses.

With her newfound wealth, Breen travels to Ireland over the summer with Marco. She is determined to track down her father and find out why he never returned to America to be a part of her life. Marco stays for two wonderful weeks, but Breen is planning to be there for three months. The cottage she rents on the waterfront is perfect --- charming, quaint, filled with beautiful gardens --- and Marco has convinced her to write a blog about her adventures.

After following a seemingly stray dog into the woods, Breen falls through a portal to Talamh, a world inhabited by magical beings. She discovers that her father was the leader of its people, and that she, too, has powers that heretofore have been hidden. What she learns, and the extended family and friends she meets, shakes her to her core. She must overcome her feelings of insecurity and failure that had been drilled into her for decades, while embracing her strength, ability to write, and empathy for living animals and plants.

Talamh is on the brink of disaster. An evil being who had been vanquished has returned, and he is intent on harming Breen. Keegan, the leader of this alternate world, begins to instruct her on self-defense as others show her the ways of magic. We see Breen grow and blossom into the person she already might have been had her father not left.

At over 400 pages, THE AWAKENING is not a quick read. There is a lot of description, and some of the dialogue and dream retellings seem repetitious. But through it all, the plot thickens, and there is still a hint of danger and evil lurking and threatening Breen.

Nora Roberts is a talented writer. We are drawn into this fascinating world with its universal problems. Those who have the most, for example, often are not satisfied with their power. She addresses the fickle nature of man and religion through the Pious, a group that was persecuted but also did “some persecuting of their own.” While those in Talamh just want to live in peace, there are those who crave more power and land.

Breen’s grandmother, Marg, who had been a leader herself, comments, “But there are always some, aren’t there, who believe what they believe is the only. And will do whatever it takes to force that belief on all. For me, those who would kill and burn and enslave in the name of a god, well, they don’t hear the god they claim to worship. Or the god is a false and cruel one.”

This statement is true not just in this fairy tale land of magical creatures; it is a cruel commentary on our own world. But for the moment, let’s get lost in Talamh, where we can forget about our own failings and live in a fantasy world filled with beautiful rolling hills, waterfalls, deep green forests, dragons, fairies --- and horrific danger.

Reviewed by Pamela Kramer on December 4, 2020

The Awakening: The Dragon Heart Legacy, Book 1
by Nora Roberts

  • Publication Date: October 5, 2021
  • Genres: Fantasy, Fiction, Paranormal, Romance
  • Paperback: 464 pages
  • Publisher: St. Martin's Griffin
  • ISBN-10: 1250770483
  • ISBN-13: 9781250770486