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Summary

Chained to a rock and tossed off a cliff by her boyfriend, Aranya is executed for high treason against the Sylakian Empire. Falling a league into the deadly Cloudlands is not a fate she ever envisaged. But what if she did not die? What if she could spread her wings and fly?

Long ago Dragons ruled the Island-World above the Cloudlands. But their Human slaves cast off the chains of Dragonish tyranny. Humans spread across the Islands in their flying Dragonships, colonizing, building, and warring. Now the all-conquering Sylakians have defeated the last bastion of freedom - the Island-Kingdom of Immadia.

Evil has a new enemy. Aranya, Princess of Immadia. Dragon Shapeshifter.

Series Note

There is a companion series to Aranya, set in the same unique Island-World above the Cloudlands. Aranya is the last of the Dragons - or is she? Find out why the Dragons disappeared in The Pygmy Dragon, now available on Kindle.

©2014 Marc Secchia (P)2015 Marc Secchia

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    4 out of 5 stars
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  • Ariana
  • Norfolk, United Kingdom
  • 15-06-15

Interesting, but a little long.

I enjoyed this, thought here were parts that could have been condensed to my mind - the chase through the islands, for example. There were one or two inconsistencies I felt - the issue regarding her hair is a case in point. In the beginning it is covered up and no-one may see it. Then, once Zip has seen it, it seems to be no longer a problem, And why does no-one comment on her having rainbow coloured hair thereafter?

The narration is, clear and well-paced, but she needs to concentrate on what accent she is using. To begin with, she seemed to be very precisely enunciating English, but as the book progresses, she is unable to sustain this and her natural American accent can clearly be heard. Not bad though, but her Scots accent - oh dear.

Overall, I found it an enjoyable listen and would be interested in listening to book 2

2 of 3 people found this review helpful

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  • Natalie @ ABookLoversLife
  • 13-06-15

An amazing dragon tale.

Any additional comments?

What can I say about this to do it justice!! I think I'll start by saying that between it's wonderful characters and magical story this was an incredibly entertaining read! I loved everything about it.

Aranya was an amazing heroine. She was strong, tough, brave and well able to look after herself. She resigns herself to being a slave to the Sylakian king and intends to stay true to herself, which she does. She stays her plucky no nonsense self which gets her branded a traitor and thrown off a cliff to her death. But even that won't stop her!! She becomes her true self at her time of need and we get to see the real Arayna!

Zip is another hostage of war and while at start she battles Arayna, they soon become fast friends. I loved her spirit too! She goes through a lot while being a hostage but remains strong and steadfast. I loved her friendship with Arayna, which was solid.

Then we have the war hammer Yolathion, who is the right hand man of the Sylakian king. He is charged with conquering all nations, which he is more than willing and able to do. He captures Aranya and while transporting her to the king, develops a bond with her. He starts questioning himself about his duty or love but when his king demands he throw Aranya to her death, he does. Can Aranya forgive him?

This book grabbed me right from the start. The characters were the first thing I fell in love with but what really drew me in was the incredible world building. The lore and vivid writing made for an unforgettable world and one I will gladly jump right back into. The Dragon ships, the different nations, the different customs and the dragons themselves made me love the book even more. It was amazing.

Anyway, as I said, this was such an incredible read. It was extremely well written and imagined and filled with twists, turns, suspense and action that I flew through it. Once I pluged in my headphones, I couldn't stop listening!! The vivid descriptions and attention to detail was exceptional and it's well worth the credit!!

Shiromi Arserio made for an amazing narrator because with the number of characters in this, I never got confused of who she was trying to portray. She gave a great performance and I will definitely check out more by her.

*I received a copy of this for review from AudioBookBlast. All thoughts and opinions are my own.*

4 of 4 people found this review helpful

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  • PAULA J HEPHNER
  • 26-05-15

An amazing world, an amazing people populating it

Where does Aranya rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

This book ranks in the top 2 that I've listened to so far.

Who was your favorite character and why?

I love Aranya, she is very adaptable, and once she is in your life she's there to stay. She's smart, independent and a loyal friend.

Which scene was your favorite?

There are some pretty exciting battle scenes but I love Aranya's interaction with Mac.

If you were to make a film of this book, what would the tag line be?

Here there be dragons!

Any additional comments?

This audio book was given to me to listen to and to give an unbiased review.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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  • A. M. Waite
  • 26-05-15

A breath of fresh, fiery air for dragon fans!

My favorite part of this first book is the unique and new world Marc created for his characters. There's interesting customs, fashions, technologies and histories to bring the setting to life without being overwhelmingly detailed.

I was further impressed that Aranya is not the typical "I'm so small, I hate how tiny I am!" heroine that is always described as and perceived by other characters as adorable and petite. (Although, in all fairness, the character of Zip falls into this category, and to further the spirit of fairness, Zip *is* freaking adorable.) Aranya is tall and athletic, usually taller than most of the other female characters around her. Aranya also has a temper and there's actual negative repercussions to her losing her cool.

Aranya grows (oddly enough, not referring to the fact that she turns into a dragon) as a person throughout the story, as do other characters. I loved the relationship between dragon and rider and all the discoveries that go went along with it.

I loved this story, it was full of a new take on shapeshifting, had realistic friendships and memorable characters as well as tons of adventure. My one hang-up with the story overall was the romance aspects. It was a little like a Disney movie, one chance meeting and it's a true love to pine and obsess over. But that is a small complaint when put in the light of how entertained I was by this book.

Last but certainly not least was Shiromi's performance. The accents were delightful and she did incredibly well switching back and forth quickly between them. She added an incredible amount of charm to the book that makes me very happy to have experienced Aranya in the audio book format.

--I received a copy of this audiobook in exchange for an honest review.--

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Angela E
  • 16-04-15

Wonderful!!

I caught nuances in the narration that I missed in reading the book.
Loved it, looking forward to the next audio book!

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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  • DabOfDarkness
  • 31-08-17

A solid start to an epic fantasy

Aranya, princess of the island kingdom of Immadia, is given up as hostage to the invading Sylakian Empire. Chained aboard a Sylakian dragonship (dirigible), she manages to save the commanding officer, a Warhammer, from a windroc. She has a bit of freedom once imprisoned with all the other hostages of subjugated nations but that doesn’t prevent the hostages from forming cliques and taunting one another. Matters get out of hand and Aranya is sentenced to die. She is shackled to a stone and tossed off a high escarpment. That’s when her life changes forever as she shapeshifts into a dragon. This might just be the turning point in the war with Sylakia.

There’s much to be enjoyed in this book. I liked Aranya as a character even though she didn’t wow me. She’s not perfect but she has a good heart. She has her strengths and weaknesses but she also has some good companions to help her along the way. My one quibble would be that she’s a little too good, only having minor flaws. She was rather bland and this made her a little boring.

Meanwhile, her best friend and dragonrider is Zip (short for Zuziana), another princess hostage. They don’t start off as friends but they eventually find merit in each other and bond over shared experiences. Zip has a mouth on her short frame and isn’t afraid to use it, like her archery skills.

The plot was in two pieces for me. In fact, it felt like this was two books pressed into one. First, Aranya must discover who and what she is. That whole bit about being tossed off a cliff that’s mentioned in the book’s description doesn’t happen until several hours into the book. The second half of the book is Aranya and Zip running some guerrilla tactics on the Sylakian air navy and eventually having a really big battle to determine the fate of the island kingdoms.

Let’s talk a little about the male characters. Mostly, they are either there for comfort (like Aranya’s dad) or are of a romantic interest (like Yolathian and the formerly nameless monk). Occasionally they get to do stuff and have a few meaningful lines. That said, most of their plot-related actions happen off the page and the reader only hears about it after the fact. It is both refreshing and odd to have a book that wouldn’t pass a reverse-Bechdel test.

Nak and Odya, an older couple who have experience with both natural dragons and dragon shapeshifters, get to play teachers and stand-in grandparents to Aranya. Sometimes this was very sweet and sometimes Nak was outright creepy with all his lecherous comments to and about Aranya and later Zip. Odya and Nak know something about Aranya’s parentage but are reluctant to give up all their secrets. Aranya’s mom is something of a mystery throughout the book and that’s one of the things I liked.

There’s also warrior pygmies on some of the isles and Zip and Aranya have to trade with them. Then there’s the dragonets, which are small dragons with limited intelligence and speech. This last bit really reminded me of some of Anne McCaffrey’s books. As a biologist, I got a kick out of the info about dragon anatomy – 3 hearts, 7 stomachs, etc. After so many mentions about dragon digestion I did start to wonder about dragon poo. For a good chunk of the book, Aryana in dragon form is being tracked by the Sylakians and spoor is a useful find when tracking anything. Alas, no dragon dung.

As the story goes on, Aryana’s powers grow. At first, this seemed natural and I was interested. Later on though, she has so many powers that she’s getting close to be invincible and I found this a bit boring. I like my heroes to have limited abilities and therefore, they sometimes have to rely either on others or on their wits to get them out of a jam.

All told, it’s a good solid start to an epic dragon fantasy series. The two main characters are pretty interesting and the world they inhabit has a lot left to explore.

I received a free copy of this book via The Audiobook Worm.

The Narration: Shiromi Arserio makes a really good Aranya, both princess and dragon. I enjoyed the quick banter between Aranya and Zip throughout the book. For the most part, she usually had distinct character voices but sometimes there were a few conversations where the distinctions became muddled. The male character voices really needed some masculinity. She was great at imbuing characters with the correct emotions.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • The Book Junkie Reads . . .
  • 31-08-17

Her voice gave life and complete immersion within

Could the day get any worse than being tied to a rock and thrown of a great height? Maybe not worse but most certainly more interesting. Aranya finds that life for her had just gotten a lot more interesting. She gains so much more than internal freedom and self-awareness and insight. The sacrifice that were made by her people will fall on her hands to atone for and make all the wrongs right at the least better.

There were rich, intriguing, involving, well-developed characters. The content and dialogue truly carried the story on to a realm that wheeled you in and kept you on the edge of the clouds. This was one epic fantasy that had me hooked and wanting more before I even finished. There are friends, enemies, allies, family and so much more. There were so many things to get lost in and just draw vivid imagery.

Shapeshifter Dragons series:
Aranya – Shapeshifter Dragons, #1
Shadow Dragon – Shapeshifter Dragons, #2
Song of the Storm Dragon – Shapeshifter Dragons, #3

Narrator Review of . . . ARANYA (Shapeshifter Dragons, #1) . . . Shiromi does a beautiful job drawing me in with her intonations and dictions and all place perfectly. The story in itself was captivating. Her voice gave life and complete immersion within in this fantasy. The audio was smooth and complete. The quality of the sound was pleasing. The melody of Shiromi's voice carried over very well through the various speed changes. The was a beauty to her voice that gave me trust and assurance in her ability. Her voice smoothed the way for me to completely get lost in the visions her voice and Marc's words were creating.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
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  • sci teacher
  • 23-03-17

Excellent Dragon Tale

Summary: Aranya goes from exiled princess to shapeshifter dragon.

Additional Comments:
- Content warnings: It’s a very enjoyable story with stellar narration, but this is not for children. I’d place it in the 14+ range. I’ve never seen so many references to nudity w/o there being a sexual connotation. (It’s mixed in with the rules of being a shapeshifter.) There’s mention of harsh torture. There are also a few curses.
- I love the narrator’s voice. The performance itself wasn’t flawless, but it was very, very good. (Some spots had the sound drop off oddly. Others, I think the character accents shifted about a bit.)
- It’s long 14 hr 22 minutes as an audiobook. I get it, most fantasy books are long, but this one definitely could have been even stronger if it weren’t prone to quite so many meandering plot pts. For example, the big, long journey at the end didn’t add much. I think it went on for about 45 minutes or more and the basic gist was “it was a long, hard journey.”
- Character development is good, though I’m guessing some may think it clichéd.
- What’s not to love: must every fantasy book use the word incorrigible? (It’s bothersome.) Did I mention it’s long?
- What’s to love: shapeshifter dragons! (awesome concept); great world-building; evil empire/outnumbered good guys; Zip (some of her sass is hilarious); end battle was sweet

Conclusion: Overall – excellent dragon tale that will delight fantasy fans.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Marisa Talley
  • 18-08-16

Great story

Loved this book. Great characters. Added more volume to the Dragon lore in the Dragonfriend series. Hope there are more books from this Island World to listen too soon.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Shoshana Hathaway
  • 30-11-15

A wonderful new fantasy realm

I had read and enjoyed the Pygmy Dragon so much that the author very kindly gifted me a copy of this book. I enjoyed it just as much, and for many of the same reasons. First of all, the world building in both books is superb. The author creates his own world, complete with geographic features, civilizations, and history. it all works together to enmesh and then captivate the reader. Yes, one can trace certain inspirations back to the Earth we know, but those inspirations are merely jumping off points, and by the time the author is finished with them, they are creative and entirely his own, fitting perfectly into his world.

Next, there is the writing, which is vivid and engaging. The author’s use of language is admirable, and he weaves his tale with a light but firm hand.

I had noticed, before, the deft way the author has with portraying young people, and that definitely carries on in this book as well. His teens are just that, whatever world they live in. they laugh and play (not always at appropriate times), tease one another, and have the same doubts and fears anyone approaching adulthood have, and they deal with them, with a minimum of angst, which I, frankly, appreciate. These young people are far too busy living to dither and agonize, let alone be self indulgent or self absorbed.

The story is exciting, complicated, filled with lots of action, including some incredible aerael battles, the politics of diplomacy, and yes, romance. This is a marvelous fantasy series, and a delight to revisit through the pages of this book.



1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
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  • ecocat
  • 22-07-15

The Return of the Dragon Shifter

The beginning of Aranya is slow but the story does pick up. The beginning of the story starts with Aranya being sacrificed to protect her father, the King of Immadia and her people from the Sylakian invasion. The story picks up when Aranya discovered that she can changed into a dragon. From this point, Aranya defied the Sylakian Empire for Immadia's freedom with the help of her friends.

What the story did cover is 1) the Island World and the inhabitants that live on each of the islands that Aranya has visited or seek refuge with her friend Izz (who is also a princess), 2) The Sylakian Empire, 3) The mystery of the disappearance of the dragons, 3) the story raises the question if there are dragon-shifters hiding.

In some way, the Sylakian Empire resembles the Roman Empire at its height and remains unchallenged until Aranya fought back and to protect her beloved island of Immadia. I was thinking Roman Empire and Return of the Jedi. Yes, this story does have it all.

Readers/Listeners are going to have to bear the first chapter of the book until they reach where Aranya is throw off the cliff into the Cloudlands. Aranya could have remained in hiding twice in the story but her courage and bravery to her friend Izz and to save Immadia keep her on Sylakian's radar.

If I was reading the book, I would have took forever to get through the first chapter. I was already having problem listening to the audiobook. After the first chapter, the story starts to get interesting with, as Aranya started to learn and develop her dragon powers. The best part was toward the end of the book when the Sylakian Empire decided to lay seige of Immadia and sparing no survivors.

The narrator, Shiromi Arserio did a very good narration for Aranya. The story is quite long but the narrator was able to keep the voices for each of the characters unique so that the listeners will recognize who is who. She has a voice that listeners can really get into the story.

It does have a surprise element during the siege which makes me want to see what next. The Sylakian may have sent their fleet of dragonships to attack Immadia but I don't think they will give up that easily despite Aranya is a dragon.

I was given this audiobook by the author in exchange for an honest review. I was not compensated or influence in any way for writing the review.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful