Esme’s SPFBO Reviews 2017: Nice Dragons Finish Last by Rachel Aaron

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This was part of The Qwillery’s grouping and has since been eliminated.

When this was chosen as r/fantasy’s book for bookclub it seemed this was either hit or miss, depending on if the humor landed for you or not, most people seem to have liked it. For me it was awesome, and it was made even more awesome by the audiobook by Vikas Adam.


Julius is the youngest dragon of his clutch, which is the youngest clutch of the dragon horde known as The Heartstrikers. The Heartstrikers are lead by a vicious matriarch named Bethesda, she’s absolutely ruthless – she’s killed her own father to rise to power and has been known to eat her children.

Julius has been kicked out of the mountain at age 24, which is very young for a dragon. He’s been told that he doesn’t find a way to prove himself draconic enough to be respected, that he’ll be killed. He finds himself on a jet in the middle of the night being flown to the DFZ – which is a rebuilt Detroit after a huge tsunami powered by spirits wiped out the city and was built anew. Dragons are outlawed there and are killed on site.

Julius has to find a way to prove himself, and his brother gives him an option. There’s a dragoness from another clan who’s running from her family. If she’s found and returned, his brothers chances of being able to breed with one of the other clan’s sisters goes way up. This would be an awesome union for the Heart Strikers since this russian ice-dragon clan is old and powerful.

Julius stumbles upon this mage named Marci who is one of my favorite characters in the book, she’s a mage and extremely talented, kind of bubbly, and extremely curious. With her help he tries to track down the dragonness on the run, Katya.


Final Score: 8/10


Julius – he’s a “nice dragon” and was basically born defective. Dragons in this world are stereotypically evil and manipulative, out for power and gain and killing those in their way. He’s basically the exact opposite in an extreme way, he won’t even kill people who are out to kill him. He wants to change the way dragons think and interact with each other, because he thinks his race is killing itself and will self destruct – and he’s not wrong, it’s happened before on another plane of existence. He’s a little predictable since he’s so nice to everyone all the time, and he really doesn’t have much of a backbone in the first book.

Marci – She’s awesome, she’s super smart, quick on her feet and quite a negotiator. She will shake someone over a barrel if she thinks she can get more from someone. Although she’s generally a nice person, she knows how to get herself ahead, and she’s much less of a pure ‘good’ character than Julius is.

Side Characters: Bethesda is someone I love to hate, and Julius’s older brother, Bob is my favorite character in the book even though he’s a side character. He’s just so nuts.

Final Score: 9/10

World Building:

  • Dragons take human form, and can be sealed in their human forms if a powerful enough mage can curse them. Julius has been sealed in his human form by his mother as a punishment when he was kicked out. They are typically taller, more built and more beautiful than normal humans.
  • There are different clans of dragons all over the world, the ice dragons from Russia are the Heart Strikers number one enemy. Estella the Seer from their clan, the oldest, has a deep grudge against Bob, the seer of the Heart Striker Clan
  • There are only ever 3 Seer dragons alive on the planet at any given time. When one dies, the next Seer is born from the next clutch that hatches on the planet.
  • Mages come in all sorts, and there are schools dedicated to magic. You can get degrees in magic and there are government programs revolving around it
  • Dragons can take human jobs, there’s a senator that’s a Heartstriker, and one of Julius’s sister is head nurse at a hospital
  • Spirits are all over the place, there’s a spirit of ravens, of the water, eels, basically everything.
  • The DFZ, the new Detroit, was ruined and then rebuilt by a spirit named Algonquin, who is the spirit of the Great Lakes. She got pissed off that humanity polluted and overfished her waters and ransacked Detroit killing millions. She rebuilt the place with essentially no laws, murder is basically legal but you can’t fish without a license.

Final Score: 8.5/10


The pacing was quick with this, it was a short book and there wasn’t any descriptive fluff, it was a fast paced book.

This was definitely a lighter hearted book, I really loved the random gamer humor that made it in there and other things that made me smile a lot while reading.

It was well written, I didn’t find any spelling or grammar errors.

Pacing Final Score: 9/10

Writing Final Score: 8/10


I haven’t read a book with dragons taking human form that worked like this, it was definitely new for me and read fresh. I really loved the world building in the DFZ, and the slightly futuristic feel everything had since it was set in the near future.

Final score: 8.5/10 


  • For people who like lighter books
  • For people who like comedy
  • For people who like LOTS of magic
  • For people who like non human povs
  • For people who like dragons
  • For people who like urban fantasy

Final Score: 51/60 or 8.5/10 or 5 stars on goodreads


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