Book Review: No Good Dragon Goes Unpunished by Rachel Aaron

A review copy was provided by the author in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.

No Good Dragon Goes UnpunishedNo Good Dragon Goes Unpunished by Rachel Aaron

Mogsy’s Rating: 4.5 of 5 stars

Genre: Urban Fantasy

Series: Book 3 of Heartstrikers

Publisher: Aaron/Bach, LLC (August 5, 2016)

Length: 498 pages

Author Information: Website | Twitter

Just when you think things can’t get any crazier, Rachel Aaron doubles down on the dramatic tensions by throwing us onto the emotional rollercoaster that is No Good Dragon Goes Unpunished. If you aren’t caught up to this series yet, first of all, what are you waiting for? And second, the usual caveat applies for all my sequel reviews: there are potentially spoilery details ahead for the previous two books—nothing too much beyond what’s already revealed in the book’s description, but it’s something to keep in mind just in case you’d prefer to approach Nice Dragons Finish Last or One Good Dragon Deserves Another with completely fresh eyes.

For readers who have been following Julius Heartstriker on this wild, twisting journey since the very beginning though, they’re going to be so proud of our little nice dragon after this book. The youngest Heartstriker of J-Clutch is finally coming into his own. But even after gaining the power to overthrow his mother the great dragon Bethesda, our protagonist still has much more to do. He’s about to introduce a concept that no other dragon in the history of their species has ever contemplated before: Democracy. Refusing to kill Bethesda, Julius decides to put forth the idea of a new ruling Council instead, splitting the power of the Heartstriker into three. With Julius and his mother occupying two of the Council positions, that means only one more seat remains open, and whoever fills it will be decided by vote.

Queue the insanity. Because the rules stipulate that no further major decisions can be made until the Council is whole, both Bethesda and Julius have their own reasons for wanting the election to proceed quickly. However, only the latter has the greater good of the clan in mind, while the former simply wants to get her old power back. Bethesda is pulling out all the stops in an attempt to keep the Council from even happening, backing her own candidate for the coveted seat, and her supporters are also not above trying to kill Julius outright in order to gain her favor. To protect him, his older sister Chelsie is running herself ragged all over the mountain trying to keep the clan from tearing itself apart. Meanwhile, Heartstrikers from all over the country are flocking to the vote, and tensions are high with so many dragons crammed into one place. As they’re busy bickering away though, Algonquin, the ancient spirit of the lakes has declared war on all dragons, and they’re all sitting ducks as long as the last Council seat remains empty. Time is running out, but Julius doesn’t want a quick fix. He has only one chance to change the fate of his clan, and true to form, he wants to do it the right, honest, and good way.

Even after all that, we’re only just scratching the surface. No Good Dragon Goes Unpunished follows a lot of other plot threads, beyond the major one surrounding the Council election. One of these threads are hinted at by that gorgeous cover art, which of course features Chelsie Heartstriker in all her glory. Julius’ scary big sister plays a huge role in this book, and I think her fans are going to be very happy with all the big reveals about her past. There’s a particularly big bombshell that Julius is a little too guileless and innocent to figure out, but for me, it was like WHOOOOAAAAAA.

All of our other favorite characters also return, and then some. I love Marci even more with each book, and she and Julius are just so adorable that I want to melt into sappy puddle every time I read about them thinking of each other. As Julius makes strides in achieving his own potential, so does Marci; she’s set to become one of the most important mages in the world since the great meteor strike that brought magic back to the planet, thanks to her spirit companion, a spectral cat named Ghost. As much as I enjoyed reading about Marci and Julius’ relationship, I had even more fun discovering more about the bond between Marci and Ghost. I’ve always said the world-building is incredible in this series, and Rachel Aaron expands upon it with each book. In the last installment, we learned the true nature of Ghost, but he’s still a big enigma in many ways and this book offers up another key piece of information in the understanding of the series’ magical lore. There’s a reason why everyone wants this ghostly cat, including the UN and Algonquin herself, making Marci’s storyline just as exciting as Julius’.

And of course, how could it be a true Heartstrikers sequel without the rest of the family? Bob, Amelia, and Justin are back, along with Chelsie. But for the first time ever though, we’re also given a good look at just how truly massive the Heartstriker clan is. Feathers fly as the entire family, more than one hundred members strong, are gathered at the mountain. There’s a lot of dragon politics. We’re introduced to the plight of F-Clutch. There are plenty of those who don’t believe in Julius’ vision. Our protagonist pretty much spends this entire book trying to convince his many siblings that killing is wrong, and it’s almost painful at times to watch him try to sell his non-violent approach to those that you know will never come to his side. In several places, Julius’ naiveté made me want to throttle him, to scream at him to “Stick up for yourself!” or that “They deserve it!” Even with killing off the table, without the threat of some kind of punishment, aggressive and manipulative dragons will always try to game the system, and it baffled me that Julius never thought to address that problem. Even with all his blind spots though, I had to admire his conviction. It’s as the title says, no good dragon goes unpunished, and Julius takes a lot of abuse in this book, but he sticks to his guns through even the worst of it. Respect.

All told, this novel is simply excellent, and it’s another incredible installment in the Heartstrikers series. I felt that it was a very different book than One Good Dragon Deserves Another, which featured more action and adventure on a grander scale, whereas this focused more on dragon politics and family ties. This might make the book feel slower, but I personally felt the tradeoff was worth it for the more substantial and meaningful look into the characters’ relationships, not to mention the focus on weightier themes. The author has said that the next book will probably be the final Heartstrikers novel, which makes me sad that the series will be coming to a close but I’m also excited to find out how everything will wrap up. This one ended with a real shocker, and I can’t wait to see what happens next.


Mogsy 2

More on The BiblioSanctum:
Review of Nice Dragons Finish Last (Book 1)
Review of One Good Dragon Deserves Another (Book 2)

23 Comments on “Book Review: No Good Dragon Goes Unpunished by Rachel Aaron”

  1. Great review! I’m so excited to read this one. I read One Good Dragon last month, and only just reviewed it. I absolutely loved that one, and I can’t wait to see Julius try to implement the Council. I’m already incredibly fond of Chelsie too so her expanding role sounds promising.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I know, I ADORE this series! It really is something special. I love the entire Heartstriker cast, even Bethesda has her scary charms. But oh yes, Chelsie…I was already a big fan of hers with the previous book and now I just love her even more!

      Liked by 1 person

    • Yeah, you might want to give this a try. It’s definitely weightier, as you say. I think Julius’ “niceness” will continue to annoy you though 😀


  2. Ok, I followed your advice and stopped reading after the spoiler warning, but immediately added this series to my list: and how could I not with these intriguing and amusing titles?
    The first two are fun enough, but “No good dragon goes unpunished” deserves a gold medal! 😀 😀
    Thanks for sharing!


    • I’m glad I got these books onto your radar! They really are excellent. I started reading because I enjoyed the author’s traditionally published books and jumped on board with book one when I heard she had self pubbed an urban fantasy type series about dragons.


  3. I love reading your enthusiastic reviews! 😀

    Yeah, I wanted to shake Julius at certain points in the story, too. I’d have set Justin on a warpath for sure if dragons like Gregory tried to kill me! But he’s so true to himself, it’s amazing. I like that the power dynamic in Julius and Marci’s relationship is different from most of romantic relationships I’ve read so far (her being the more forceful, violent one, even though he’s the dragon).

    And yeah, I’d heard the next novel would probably be the last and I’m glad – things will wrap up before there are too many loose ends to tie up and it won’t become one of those absurdly long UF series that nobody wants to tackle. And I’m sure Aaron will have a new project lined up and I can’t wait to read that! I also have to check out her Eli books (and the ones she writes as Rachel Bach), so lots of reading material in any case.


    • Julius and Marci are both so sweet! They really are perfect for each other 😀

      I’m glad too that this won’t be one of those absurdly long running UF series with no end in sight…but I still can’t help feeling sad at the notion of saying good bye to this series – all good things must come to an end though I suppose! Book four is going to be full of revelations and drama, methinks. And yay for Eli Monpress! I’ve only read the first one myself, and need to catch up. I have read her sci-fi Paradox trilogy though, and it is excellent 🙂


    • Yeah, these books are self-pubbed, so the print might be harder to get your hands on or more expensive, and maybe more so if you’re overseas, I don’t know. They are a very good price for the Kindle though, if you have one. And there are audiobooks.


  4. That cover is amazing, and it hardly has anything on it. I just love the way it looks. I don’t think I’ve come across this series before. You always have great SF/F books, so I am adding the first book to my list. Great review!


    • I do love the cover! The covers for this series are all done well imo, but this one really made me happy because Chelsie (depicted on the cover) is such a cool character!


    • Yes, I love this series. I forget if you have read M.L. Brennan’s Generation V series, but if you enjoyed that, you might like this one too. It also stars a lovable underdog type character 🙂


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