Sunday, August 13, 2006
I'm always a sucker for a good Christian book series, and Donita K. Paul's dragon books are no exception.
This sequel to DragonSpell continues the tale of Kale Allerion, a Dragon Keeper in the service of Paladin. In this book, Kale and her numerous friends are sent on a number of quests. The overall plot is to rescue a "meech dragon" from the evil wizard Risto. Along the way, Kale encounters two different women who claim to be Lyll Allerion, Kale's long-lost mother. Along the way, Kale grows into her role as a servant of Paladin by working with the stodgy Bardon, the always amusing Dar, and a number of minor dragons that have bonded to her.
Once again, Paul does an excellent job creating a unique world. Rather than retread the usual fantasy races (elves, dwarves, etc.), Paul created her own races, such as the diminutive, light-bearing kimen, the tumanhofers who love to dig into mountains and into books, the color-shifting emerlindians, and so forth. Paul shows incredible creativity in creating this world, especially when it comes to creating dragons. Kale, as the Dragon Keeper, has hatched four dragon eggs so far and each new dragon surprises me. It turns out there are different kinds of minor dragons, differntiated by their colors. Each type of dragon has its own color and corresponding abilities. The first minor dragon Kale hatches, Gymn, is a green dragon and has healing abilities. Seems pretty standard for a fantasy novel, right? Well, things get a little interesting after he hatches. The next minor dragon to hatch is a purple dragon named Metta who has musical abilities. A green and yellow dragon named Dibl comes next. His ability is to make people laugh. The fourth is named Ardeo. During the day, he's dull and silver. At night, he shines like the moon. These dragon abilities stunned me the first time I read them. I would never think of having a singing dragon or one that makes people laugh, but Paul weaves these abilities into the story wonderfully.
There are really only three minor things that I didn't like about this book. The first is the more problematic. The plot in DragonQuest shifts and swings rapidly and oftentimes, plot threads that get started get resolved "off-stage" so to speak. For example, at one point, Kale and company are sent to investigate who attacked the city of Vendela with Creemoor spiders. But before they can complete this quest, they're sent on another quest, leaving the spiders to be resolved by another band of heroes. This wouldn't be a problem, but this happens several times in the book. Kale and friends are given an assignment but, before they can complete it, they're sent off on another errand. The quest they were on is then fulfilled by another group and we're barely told what happened.
Part of this stems from the fact that Paul tells the story only from Kale's point-of-view. This is admirable and very well done, but it means that many of these seemingly important quests are finished "off-stage" and then we're simply told what happened.
The second kind of grows out of the first. The end of the book was too abrupt for me. I don't want to give the ending away. Suffice it to say that there's a big build up towards something that never happens. I can understand why it happened and how it fits into the plot. But given the number of quests that are resolved "off-stage", this disappointed me.
The last thing that kind of bugged me by the end of this book is the number of times one of the characters, Dar, winks. It seems like every other page, Dar is winking at Kale. It's overused in my opinion and detracts from the story. Every time I encountered Dar winking, I kind of sighed and had to steel myself to keep reading.
None of that should keep you from reading these books, though. Once again, Donita K. Paul has put together a great fantasy read, one that can be enjoyed and appreciated by people of all ages.