The Alchemists of Loom (The Loom Saga #1) by Elise Kova
“This dragon and she had embarked on an odd journey with each other. It was a winding path that had taken them across Loom, and what she thought was to be their final destination had turned out to be a resting point before the next, greater trek.”
TAOL was fantastic! Kova gave us a rich new world full of history, a unique culture and races, and complex characters. Initially I was just stoked for another Elise Kova book, then I saw dragon, then I saw the cover art by Nick Grey). It was one of my 2017 most anticipated and it did not let me down. The story follows Ari a chimera, both fenthri & dragon, as she helps a dragon, Cvareh, on his mission to meet with the Alchemists guild of Loom. They have help from their friends, and with their combined skills they make their way across Loom with defeat around every corner.
Loom is the dreary world bellow the clouds, made of different guilds of Fenthri with different professions/skills. Nova is the colorful world above the clouds where the Dragons live. These are not your normal dragons, they are human like, but with retractable deadly claws, pointed ears that have exceptional hearing, and brilliant eyes that see better than any of Fenthri could imagine. Their worlds are drastically different in more than just the colors of the skin and the flatness or sharpness of their teeth. Their cultures and social understanding show how much they come from different worlds. Hitting the ground running, almost quite literally, Kova starts the story from Ari’s point of view in one of her many missions that are against the Dragons. The world is not dumped on you, but you are slowly wrapped into it as you learn about where these characters are and the history that has morphed their personalities.
Ari is such a complex character. She always has another card up her sleeve, and even by the end, I felt that I was just barely getting to know this vicious character. I loved reading about all her special skills and general badassness. Especially the action sequences that had her propelling herself with her gold cords.
Cvareh was a much more open character as he didn’t seem to be hiding as much as Ari. I loved their interactions and how much they played off each other. They are both so strong willed that I am amazed that they even learn to be civil towards each other, especially with Ari’s seething hatred for Dragons. Their duo would not have lasted long if it wasn’t for Florence who helped buffer the awkwardness and overall atmosphere that hovered between the two. Florence also added a little zing to the equation. I imagined her as a little gnome like the ones in WoW to be honest.
I loved how different the characters the races are. We weren’t given typical humans or elves or whatever. We were given humanoids. The Fenthri are monochromatic in color and are classified to their guild and status by tattoos on their cheeks. The Dragons are brilliant in colors for skin, show off their muscular bodies, and even bleed gold. And then we have the Chimera, like Ari, who are Fenthri with stolen Dragon parts. Like how freaking awesome is this??!
The back of the book had a handy reference section that I checked frequently. Listing pronunciation, Dragon houses/social ranking, guild brands. My only problem with the book was just how I had to figure out what the purpose was for the guilds. It wasn’t until the end that I was entirely shore about each specialty. I sort of wished it was just a little bit more spelled out rather than just guessing based on context.
Because the world building is slowly given throughout the story, there really isn’t a dull moment where you are just reading descriptions of the land or about the culture. The pacing of the book is non stop action that will keep you on the edge of your seat.