Book review by Kristiana Reed
Under an Azure Sky by Wil Chan is the first in a series based on the character Elysia Dayne, renowned dragon slayer and hero to many. This debut instalment explores Dayne’s journey after rescuing Princess Isabella with narrative and tense shifts as we learn more about Elysia, her past and what motives her.
The more I read contemporary fantasy fiction, the more I feel refreshed by how this genre has taken on diverse characters and storylines. Chan centres the relationship and love between two women in this story and what I appreciated the most was how Chan wrote about this love no differently than any romance. The LGBTQIA+ element is treated normally and both women are confident in who they are and their sexuality.
The character development overall was strong, with Chan’s use of flashback enabling us to understand Elysia’s determination, flaws and strengths as the story and her journey with Isabella progressed. Chan also writes combat incredibly well - the pace in these sections was at its best - with a clear knowledge of movement and action. Most of the description was pertinent too, especially with regard to the world building within this series - it was interesting to see how Chan drew upon recent fantasy worlds alongside medieval history and the Latin language.
At times the pacing could have been improved - not because of the flashbacks - but because of the frequent lulls in Elysia and Isabella’s journey on foot. This felt very slow and I found myself itching to read ahead, especially towards the end when the resolution was nigh and the description felt like filler rather than important.
The resolution itself, if read as a standalone book, is disappointing. While the final page build up is well done, the final moments seemed to sap all I had invested thus far into these characters, especially Elysia. But, it must be noted that this is the first in a series. Thus, I have no doubt the resolution you read in this book is not a permanent end at all but a cliffhanger to entice you into book two of the series; which, based on book one, promises to be another good story! Elysia is certainly a character I want to spend more time with.