To say that Azure Brine is at odds with her father would be an understatement. A new governor has emerged in the League of Islands, and her father has completely bought in to his “Humans First” rhetoric, pushing their once-strong relationship to the breaking point. Their connection is truly put to the test when her father decides to join the governor’s ship on a voyage to the Capitol Isles for the inauguration. But when Azure learns the governor has nefarious plans for the islands, and her father is in danger, she and her best friend (a foul-mouthed bird named Robin) set out across the archipelago to save him.
Along the way they meet a reanimated skeleton with confidence issues, a group of pirates who just want to sing and have adventures, and…a dragon.
I’ve been in a super reading funk for most of the year. There’ve only been a few instances where I’ve been engaged in a serious way with a book and able to complete it in a relatively short amount of time. Chalk it up to being super busy with running my business, getting sick several times (once with COVID, ugh), or just the general malaise that has permeated my life this year, I just haven’t been able to connect with reading like I want to.
The Marauders, the Daughter, and the Dragon was, however, one such exception to that. Lockhaven describes it as Hopepunk, which I can definitely agree with. It’s exceedingly hopeful and thus is the exact opposite of what I’ve been reading in recent months. I will say that this has been one of the easiest reading experiences I have ever have; I just feel light, something which I think has both positives and negatives. For instance, while I loved the easy adventure of The Marauders, the Daughter, and the Dragon, it was very difficult for me to really connect with any of the characters. On the surface, each character was beautifully creative and super interesting, but ultimately they began to feel a bit shallow.
There were so many little things about this book that truly made it a joy to read and I think I could go on and on about little moments that I really enjoyed, but I’ll just list a few here. An extremely self-conscious man cursed to live as a skeleton, a group of do-gooder pirates who revere the (noble) capybara couple that make their home aboard their ship, and a foul-mouthed familiar that is the friend we all need are some of the highlights. Past the obvious inspiration of The Secret of Monkey Island, The Marauders, the Daughter, and the Dragon reminded me so much of the classic LucasArts point-and-click video games of the 90s. Much like in those games, it felt like Azure and Co. moved from puzzle to puzzle, with the plot being the main driver and the characters, frustratingly, taking a back seat. It’s a shame too because as I mentioned before, the characters have so much promise that I wish they had more agency and a more active role in moving the story forward.
Harkening back to the point-and-click adventures of the 90s, such as the obvious inspiration from The Secret of Monkey Island, The Marauders, the Daughter, and the Dragon is a light fantasy adventure full of heart. However, just like the video games I compare it to, despite having colorful designs I could never connect with any of the characters. Even so, I really enjoyed this was fun, light-hearted story about learning to love despite your differences.
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