Review | Wild Sky – Zaya Feli

About the Book

Tauran Darrica has been retired from the Valreus Sky Guard for four years following the Battle of the Broken Wings that resulted in the death of his dragon. Now, all Tauran wants to do is spend his days forgetting the past and gambling his way to an unsteady income.

So when his old general from the Sky Guard hunts Tauran down to request his help with staving off the increasingly aggressive wild dragon population, Tauran refuses. But a fire ruins his rented room and leaves him without a place to stay, and Tauran finds himself on the road to Valreus, after all. 

Tauran is determined to stay as far away from dragons as he can get, but a starry-eyed young man from Sharoani, land of the wild dragons, might just ruin his plans.

Kalai Ro-Ani has spent his life watching the stars, knowing he could never reach them.

With his wild dragon Arrow, he sets out for the city of Valreus in the hope of building himself a better future than he could have stuck at the foot of the Kel Visal dragon temples.

But nobody told Kalai that only the Sky Guard is allowed to own dragons, so when Arrow kills a guard in Kalai’s defense, it looks like his adventure might be over before it can begin. But a chance encounter at the old Valreus archive offers Kalai the future he’d been hoping for. In the span of a single day, he has a home, a job, and a purpose.

In Valreus, something much bigger falls into his lap – along with a tall and striking Valrean man with a rather strange disposition.

764 pages (kindle)
August 24, 2020
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This is another book I randomly nabbed on Kindle. I was expecting it to be a fun story, but I didn’t expect what I ended up with, which was a truly thoughtful epic fantasy full of dragons, disability, and just enough romance.

Wild Sky tells the story of two characters. Tauran is a retired member of the Sky Guard. He and his dragon used to keep the city and the surrounding areas safe. However, tragedy struck. His dragon died, and Tauran now suffers from chronic pain, and PTSD. He spends his time drinking and gambling. Someone approaches him with a job, and reluctantly, with nowhere else to go and nothing else to do, he decided to take up the offer. 

On the other hand, we have Kalai. Kalai is from elsewhere, an obvious foreigner to Valreus. Kalai comes from a rather secretive place where humans live alongside dragons in peace and harmony, and sort of study the stars and exist in a monastic/religious-feeling community. However, that’s not really done in Valreus, so when he shows up with his own dragon, there are immediate problems. However, Kalai quickly lands himself a job as an archivist. Throughout the span of the book, Tauran and Kalai end up with their paths crossing quite a bit, and their stories entwining. Kalai is a smart, thoughtful character who brings a bit of moderation and quiet to the book as a whole, balancing out Tauran’s more forceful, brash nature.

The worldbuilding was very well done, and while the primary focus of this book is on this one place, and this particular city, there are hints of a much wider world, not only due to Kalai’s own status as a foreigner to many other details that are subtly woven in as well. There are conversations about other places, and other cultures, and there’s evidence of cultures clashing in the simple everyday background of life. More, I really appreciated how Feli wove in numerous ways of appreciating and using dragons and establishing relationships with them. It really made the conflict at the core of this book feel thoughtful, and realistically nuanced. 

Speaking of which, I really need to speak about details for a minute. I’m a sucker for details and I loved how Feli wove so many into this book. At the start of the book, Kalai has to take care of a dragon egg, and I just loved how the author had so many details about the process worked out, from temperature, to timing between blasts of temperature, to how the egg turns… the whole thing. Kalai’s own cultural tidbits he drops throughout the book really give this world a feel of a much wider scope than just this city. It’s all subtle, but extremely well done, giving readers a feel that there is so much more. 

Now, I need to really talk to you people about representation for a minute. I am a huge, huge proponent of representation in a books. I write disabled and LGBTQIA+ characters, and it is incredibly important that I see them in the books I read, and it is very, very rare that I find both in the same book, but I did here. Wild Skydeals heavily with topics of pain and PTSD, even a fainting condition. As a disabled author, and a disabled reader, it is so important to see myself in the books I read, and I did here. It was amazing, and more, I actually related to how the characters were coping with their disabilities, especially Tauran with his pain. The author put a lot of research and thought into not just portraying disabilities realistically, but doing so with empathy, compassion, and understanding. It never once turned into a flashing lights and sign that said, “Look at my disabled, queer characters!” but was just part of who they were. They were fully fleshed out characters who just happened to be disabled, and queer and I loved it. This is the kind of representation I look for when I read. 

There is a romance in this book, but it’s a slow burn and it builds naturally over the course of the novel. In fact, the two characters complimented each other so well, to not have a romance between them would have felt really weird. While romance is important, it is just as well done, thoughtfully crafted, and realistic as every other element of the book. Further, this book isn’t just about romance, it’s about all kinds of relationships between old friends, between the characters themselves, between people and dragons, and then the romance as well. Nothing is really overlooked, and while it all changes and alters throughout the course of the book, it’s all so thoughtfully done and well-crafted, 

The dragons in this book were absolutely wonderful, beasts that are so fundamental to the world Feli has crafted. They are essential for protection, and for so many other reasons, but things are going wrong, and now these big protectors are starting to turn into an unpredictable threat. As the book explores what is happening, and why, I realized how fantastic these dragons really are, and how interesting their relationships with humans were. Again, this is another aspect of relationships the author tackles and I truly loved it. I loved how the characters gained strength from their dragons, and how, despite how necessary these beasts are for this world, their wild unpredictability. They never quite lost the animal at their core. All in all, they were just beautifully done. 

As you can tell, Wild Sky was a book that really wowed me. I loved every single aspect of it. Well written with amazing characters and fantastic representation, this book put Zaya Feli on my radar as an author to watch. 

5/5 stars