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Literature / The Talon Saga

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The Talon Saga is a Young Adult book series by Julie Kagawa and revolves around the war between a secret dragon organization masquerading as humans and a religious order who hunts said dragons.

Ember Hill is a young dragon hatchling sent out for a firsthand experience of the human life and prove she can fit in before taking her spot in the secret dragon organization, Talon. Alongside her twin brother Dante she is moved into a town by the ocean and is already looking forward to spending a normal summer, only to discover there's been a change of plans and her training for Talon starts early. Then a series of run-ins with Riley, a rogue dragon the likes of which weren't even supposed to exist, and a surprisingly lovable human boy makes her doubt what the organization told her, and suddenly she's not sure if she wants to stay with Talon at all.

Garret Xavier Sebastian is one of the strongest young soldiers of the dragon-hunting Order of St. George. Upon finding that Talon hid a pair of dragon hatchlings in a town by the ocean, he and his partner are sent to find them and kill them. One of his main suspects is Ember Hill, but the more he observes her the more humanity he sees in her, until he has to wonder if dragons are truly the emotionless monsters the Order has always made them out to be.

The Talon Saga follows Ember, Garret and rogue dragon Riley as they get caught up between the front lines of humans against dragons and uncover secrets that both sides tried to keep from ever coming to light. The series consists of five books: Talon, Rogue, Soldier, Legion, and Inferno.

The Talon Saga contains examples of:

  • Action Girl: Ember is one, having been trained and being exceptionally strong as a dragon in human form. So are the other female dragons.
  • All Girls Want Bad Boys: Subverted with Riley. Ember is actually only drawn to him because he is her sallith-tahn, her dragon soulmate, meaning her attraction is purely instinct. She ends up choosing her love for Garret over him.
  • All Work vs. All Play: Ember and Dante, particularly in the past during their training years. Ember (the All Play) used to be lazy and prefer playing video games over studying while Dante (the All Work) always took the training seriously and tried to get his sister to do the same.
  • Beta Couple: Riley and Mist in Inferno.
  • Blonde, Brunette, Redhead: The main trio – Garret (blonde), Riley (brunette) and Ember (redhead), respectively.
  • Big Brother Is Watching: Talon relies on it, heavily. They closely observe all their members, keeping a close eye on any signs of betrayal and eliminating anyone who tries to stand up against them or leave while teaching their dragons the organization is much safer and kinder to its members than it actually is.
  • Chekhov's Gunman: The Archivist turns out to be Mist's employer and the reason why she sides with the rogues.
  • Defector from Decadence: Riley turned his back on Talon after finding out some dark truths about it in the past, and Ember and Garret both leave their respective organizations after realizing they've been lied to and wrongly indoctrinated their whole life.
  • Died in Your Arms Tonight: Garret, in Ember's, at the end of Soldier. Or so it seems; the beginning of Legion reveals that he's Not Quite Dead, and he gets saved by a blood transfusion from Riley.
    • Played straight with Dante later on, also in Ember's.
  • Disney Death: Garret. See above.
  • Enemy Mine: The rogue dragons and the Order of St. George eventually team up to have a chance against Talon.
  • Evil Versus Evil: An amoral, almost Orwellian mega-corporation that tries to take over the world at the expense of its members versus an order of Knight Templars that trains people into soldiers from childhood and lies to them about the nature of dragons to achieve its goal. And then there's the protagonists trying to stop them from killing each other.
  • A Father to His Men:
    • Riley cares very much about his underground of hatchlings.
    • Gabriel Martin also plays this role to the soldiers of the Western Chapterhouse.
  • Fiery Redhead: Ember has red hair and is as fiery and emotional as it goes. Riley doesn't call her "Firebrand" for nothing.
  • Fire-Forged Friends:
    • Garret and Riley take several books and a number of life-threatening adventures to start viewing each other as trusted companions and not just a suspicious former enemy and rival for Ember's heart.
    • The rogues and the members of St. George, especially the Western chapterhouse after teaming up against Talon.
  • Groin Attack: Ember's signature move against perverts, creeps, and pretty much anyone who tries to grab her.
  • Hollywood Hacking: Wes, it appears, can hack into pretty much anything. Justified, as that's the reason why Talon noticed and hired him as a hacker in the first place.
  • Hot-Blooded: Ember is very fiery and emotional.
  • I Just Want to Be Free: One of the main reasons why Ember leaves the organization and goes rogue. It's also Dante's motivation; he works so hard because he thinks once he's made it to the top he will finally be free. When he realizes he's been fooled and it's impossible, he turns on the Elder Wyrm.
  • Knight Templar: The Order of St. George views all dragons as soulless dangerous monsters and has no other goal than their extinction, not even stopping to consider that they might be wrong.
  • MegaCorp: Talon is run as a giant corporation that has its influence everywhere.
  • Mirroring Factions: A recurring theme with humans and dragons in general. They could get along just fine if both sides hadn't been brainwashed into hating the other.
  • The Mole: Mist turns out to only be working for Talon on the surface.
  • Non-Action Guy: Wes prefers staying far away from the action and pulling the strings from a safe distance, thank you very much.
  • Noodle Incident: Riley and Wes allude to a number of these, especially concerning mishaps during the group's many travels, as well as Riley's various misadventures from the past.
  • Polar Opposite Twins: Ember and Dante. Ember is free-spirited, energetic and hot-headed while Dante is serious, hardworking and calculating.
  • Redemption Equals Death: Dante gets fatally wounded moments after turning on the Elder Wyrm to protect his sister.
  • Red-Headed Hero: Ember.
  • Samus Is a Girl: The Elder Wyrm, leader of Talon, turns out to be female.
  • Significant Green-Eyed Redhead: Ember and Dante both.
  • Single Woman Seeks Good Man: What draws Ember to Garret and finally makes her fall in love with him.
  • Stronger with Age: Dragons grow bigger, tougher and stronger as they age.
  • Switching P.O.V.: The narration alternates between Ember's, Garret's, Riley's, and Dante's perspectives.
  • Take Over the World: Talon's long-term goal.
  • The Un-Favourite: How Dante views himself in regards to Ember, feeling that Talon always paid more attention to his sister and he had to do his very best to be noticed at all.
  • Unwitting Pawn: Dante has no idea that he will never inherit Talon, since the Elder Wyrm plans to transfer her consciousness into Ember's body and become immortal. He goes against his emotions and past loyalties based on a completely false assumption the Elder Wyrm fooled him into.
  • "Well Done, Son" Guy: Dante's motivation for trying so hard to meet all of Talon's standards is that he wants recognition from the organization, which always seems to have favored his sister.
  • Weredragon: The dragons in the series can shift into human form and back again at will.
  • What Is This Thing You Call "Love"?: Dragons struggle with the idea that they can feel love, since they were raised to believe they can't.
  • Hate Sink: Lilith was an elite Viper, who was sadistic and totally heartless. Nobody in the fandom or In-Universe mourns her death when she is shot to death by Riley in Inferno.