An unlikely passion develops between a rage-filled warrior who lays dying on the field of battle and the fearsome dragon that saves her. Fearghus the Destroyer, son of the powerful dragon queen Rhiannon and eldest of her six hatchlings, likes his solitude. When he's not off defending his mother's reign, Fearghus prefers to spend his free alone in his den, deep in the Dark Glen forest. Like most of dragonkind, he detests other beings – especially humans – as lesser beings, making dinner out of any that make the mistake of stumbling upon him.
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Soon after returning from his mother's latest war Fearghus hears the sounds of a sword battle just outside of his home. Ready to make a meal out of those who dared to disturb his peace, he exits his lair to find a dozen armed soldiers fighting a lone human female. She was losing the battle, taking a fatal sword wound to the side, but still managing to continue the fight, killing two of the soldiers before Fearghus decided to intervene. He kills the soldiers and takes the fading female into his lair to heal her. Using his dragon magic Fearghus is able to stabilize her in time for his powerful sister, the white dragonwitch Morfyd, to save her life.
When she wakes she finds herself in the dragon's lair, not dead as she assumed she would be the instant she saw the great black dragon standing over her, but instead healing from her wounds. He enters the room and their brief dialogue reveals her to be Annwyl the Bloody, the half-sister of Lorcan the Butcher of Garbhán Isle, and leader of the rebellion desperately trying to dethrone him. After a brief interaction Fearghus sends in his sister, Morfyd, who is in her human form, to check on Annwyl while she heals. Annwyl, believing Morfyd to be a human due to the long scar down her face as a result of Lorcan's order for all female witches to be “marked,” ends up developing a rapport with Morfyd and confiding in her throughout her stay.
Surprisingly, Fearghus visits Annwyl frequently as she heals, bringing creature comforts to her room and eventually showing her his treasure room. Quickly Fearghus realizes he is infatuated with Annwyl, and has been since he first her on the battlefield. We learn that all humans to date suffer from Dragon Fear when they see a dragon, which causes them to become paralyzed with fear, sometimes vomiting or urinating themselves. Annwyl, however, did not show any of that all of the times she has been around Fearghus, even when she thought she would be his dinner as she lay dying outside his lair. Through their dialogue in his den we learn a lot about both characters, from Annwyl's unfortunate upbringing with her horribly cruel brother to Fearghus' funny stories about his siblings, but also that Annwyl's incredible battle record comes from her almost supernatural rage that comes and goes like the wind, but gives her amazing strength. Fearghus also theorizes that her rage may be what causes her to be immune to Dragon Fear.
During her initial healing days Annwyl has Morfyd take a message to Brastias, Annwyl's second-in-command, to let him know that she is alive and healing. This brief interaction between Morfyd and Brastias begins his infatuation with the white-haired witch that he believes to be human. After becoming mostly healed, Fearghus begins to fear Annwyl's departure back to her men and her war, and offers to have her train with the best knight he knows so that she can learn to control her rage, stating that she would surely lose to Lorcan if she didn't. Annwyl agrees and begins training the next day with an incredibly handsome, dark-haired knight she thinks is human, and when she tells him she doesn't care to know his name, Fearghus never reveals that the knight is him in human form.
They spend weeks training during the day fighting their physical attraction for one another, and spending their nights together in Fearghus' lair with him in dragon form getting to know each other. Annwyl soon becomes frustrated and confused by her desire for the dark-haired knight, and feeling as if she is betraying Fearghus the dragon by wanting the knight, especially as she slowly falls in love with her dragon. She confides in Morfyd, who finally figures out the game her brother is playing, and Morfyd advises her to go for it with her human knight. The next day when Annwyl goes to the lake to meet the knight she finds a different knight with long golden hair instead. Realizing the two men look incredibly similar in size and features, Annwyl surmises the golden-haired man as her trainer's brother and they engage in conversation. Fearghus, in human form, comes upon them and sends Gwenvael away – violently – and he and Annwyl consummate their relationship.
Gwenvael's arrival, however, is not for nothing. He comes with a message from their father, Bercelak the Great, that Fearghus is to stay out of what's become known as the Sibling War between Annwyl and Lorcan, since Fearghus has already agreed to help her in battle. Fearghus ignores his father's decree and refuses to send back a message of acknowledgement with his brother, continuing his dual identity relationship with Annwyl for several more days while Gwenvael hangs around waiting for a message to take back to their parents. Eventually Bercelak will not be ignored any longer and arrives at Fearghus's den with another brother, Briec, while Fearghus, Morfyd and Gwenvael are outside and Annwyl is inside alone. Bercelak tries to kill Annwyl, but her training with Fearghus has made her an even better warrior and she wounds him and readies to strike the killing blow before Fearghus stops her. During the argument that follows Annwyl figures out that Fearghus is the knight she has been sleeping with and leaves his den, furious that he lied to her and punching his brother Briec on her way out. Fearghus sends Gwenvael after her to make sure she stays safe since Lorcan's men have been coming into the Dark Glen to find her.
They encounter more of Lorcan's soldiers outside the den and Annwyl and Gwenvael fight them off until the rest of Fearghus's siblings show up to help. Fearghus orders Gwenvael to get her back to her men while they finish the battle against her protests, and they kill the remaining soldiers. After Annwyl is gone Fearghus tells Bercelak that Lorcan is not the only threat, that he has a powerful dragon sorcerer named Hefaidd-Hen working with him that has always wanted the dragon queen's throne. Realizing the threat to his wife, Bercelak tells Fearghus and his siblings that they are to make sure Annwyl wins the Sibling War by whatever means. After Bercelak heads back to Queen Rhiannon, Fearghus heads out to find Annwyl and get her to forgive him.
The morning after he finds her and they make up, Morfyd takes her to see Rhiannon so that she can possibly get a magical dragon aid to fight Hefaidd-Hen from the queen. The queen ends up giving Annwyl the Chain of Bathag, a necklace that melds into Annwyl's skin that extends her life 500 to 600 years as long as her love for Fearghus stays true, and then blasts her with a magical fireball that makes Annwyl immune to a dragon's fire. Surviving the dragon queen and her court, Annwyl returns to her men and they head into battle with Fearghus and his kin. They arrive while the battle is raging and Annwyl fights her way to Lorcan and Hefaidd-Hen, taking a blast of flame that every onlooker thinks will roast her from the dragon sorcerer. When it dissipates and she is unharmed, the sorcerer is caught off guard giving Fearghus and Morfyd a chance to snatch him and kill him.
With the dragon out of the way Lorcan draws on Annwyl and begins to battle her. Her training with Fearghus, however, has given her amazing control over her rage while Lorcan is becoming overwhelmed by his during their battle. She eventually kills him, raising his severed head over the battle-field to show all of the men fighting below and end the war. After Annwyl's victory she celebrates with a night of love-making with Fearghus, at which point he Claims her in true dragon fashion as his mate by branding her with dragon symbols on her body. He leaves her the next morning though, believing she will never earn the respect of her people as queen with a dragon mate by her side since most humans are terrified of dragons. She returns to Garbhán Isle and secures her reign over the next year with the help of Morfyd and Brastias, but becomes depressed without Fearghus and the thrill of battle.
Eventually Rhiannon herself shows up at Annwyl's court and accuses her of not being loyal to Fearghus since she has not been with him in a year, hoping to get the two back together since Fearghus has become just as sullen as Annwyl, causing him to kill a few dragons at Rhiannon's court. It works, and Annwyl heads back to Dark Glen to meet up with Fearghus. They happily reunite and Annwyl reveals that Rhiannon offered the loyalty of all dragons to her when visiting Garbhán Isle. In shock, Fearghus explains what that means, that if anyone threatens Annwyl's kingdom, she has the backing and army of all dragons under Rhiannon's rule, something that hasn't been done in thousands of years. Feeling stronger and safer than ever with Lorcan's defeat and Rhiannon's promise, Fearghus and Annwyl begin to plan their future together.
Best part of story, including ending:
I absolutely love this story because Aiken is excellent at interjecting witty, as well as slapstick humor into her characters. She makes all of her characters, at least the good ones, easy to love or laugh at.
Best scene in story:
I love the scene where Annwyl is confronted in the den by Bercelak and they end up battling when he tries to blast her with his flame. She shows such great battle prowess and improvement that she is able to come within an inch of striking the killing blow when Fearghus yells her name to stop her. It was an impressive scene displaying Annwyl's skill and rage, as well as her new-found control.
Opinion about the main character:
I love Fearghus's personality and the way he handles his kin. Overall he is described as grumpy and unruffled before he meets Annwyl, but mostly he is just gruff with those he loves, and it makes their interactions quite entertaining.