The Dragon Corps, by Natalie Grey

One thing I really enjoy about being on twitter is meeting and learning about authors that I might otherwise not have encountered in my rather limited experience.  These experiences are pretty much always rewarding, and the same is true with my most recent read, Natalie Grey’s The Dragon Corps (2018).

Across all of the planets of the Alliance, no military organization is more feared than the Alliance’s Dragon Corps, elite teams of soldiers who handle the difficult missions in the remote reaches of space, where governments and people are lawless.  When the Dragon Corps comes for you, it is your doom.

…with one notable, infuriating exception.  For forty years, a mysterious Warlord has ruled the planet Ymir, after invading the peaceful agricultural world with a force of 50,000 warriors.  Since then, the Warlord of Ymir has enslaved the population and forced them to work short, miserable lives underground, mining important mineral resources that nobody knew existed there.  The Dragon Corps have tried multiple times to oust the tyrant, but every special operation has ended with failure.

Major Talon Rift, the head of a Dragon Corps team, has personally led numerous attempts to eliminate the Warlord.  After another assassination attempt ends in failure, disaster, and death, Talon makes a vow: he will take down the monstrous dictator himself, or die trying.

But ending the Warlord will require better intelligence, superior to what the Alliance has been able to provide, and an answer to the biggest question of the past forty years: who is the Warlord of Ymir? In his quest for answers, Talon will awaken powerful and ruthless forces, that threaten not only his Dragon Corps team, but his allies on multiple worlds, as well as the entire population of Ymir itself.  Can Talon and the Corps defeat the Warlord, or will they be destroyed themselves?

The Dragon Corps really surprised me with its complexity.  It begins, and is somewhat billed as, a straightforward military sci-fi novel.  However, within the first two chapters the plot takes a very unexpected twist, and the reader realizes that not everything is as it seems in the story of Ymir.  And the efforts to unseat the Warlord will introduce a remarkable cast of characters, from assassins to rebels to arms dealers to intelligence operatives.

The tale is filled with quite excellent action, too. From the initial assault on Ymir, to a conflict with a Merchant Syndicate, to the test trials of a new Corpsman, to a desperate gun battle in a dark city alley, every fight is different, tense, and intriguing.

But the real joy, for me, is the intricate world-building that Grey indulges in. The galaxy of The Dragon Corps feels real, and vibrant, and filled with possibility. And this is a good thing, because there are many more books in the series! The only criticism that I have of The Dragon Corps is that it ends on a bit of a cliffhanger: all of the major players have been revealed by the end of the novel, and the deadly game is set in motion, but you will not see the liberation of Ymir in this book, or even the attempt to liberate the planet!

So I immediately purchased the second book in the seven-book series, Dragon’s Honor!  Though The Dragon Corps by itself doesn’t tell the full story of Ymir, it is a great novel and I am looking forward to reading the rest of the series.

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