Tag Archives: dragons

Playing with Fire

Macalister, Katie. Playing with Fire (2008). 331 Pages. Signet. $6.99

The Silver Dragons: Book One || Dragons Universe Book Five

I was more than a little worried when I picked up this book that I would find a repeat of the preceding series (girl finds out about being Wyvern’s Mate, girl resists, girl runs, dragon chases, happily ever after-ish). Instead, we get a new story, a new heroine, and a continuation of the unresolved plots from the Aisling Grey: Guardian series. The Silver Dragons series does not stand alone, and it is important that you take the time to read the Aisling Grey series first. Things are explained, but will make a lot more sense if you’ve read the first half. Anyway, all the familiar faces are back in this new series- which is really only “new” insofar as our heroine is new. Aisling and Drake are both present, and important to the series. Jim is there- and slightly less annoying now that he’s not in every scene, and of course Gabriel, Wyvern of the Silver Dragons, is there, as is Kostya.

May Northcott is a naiad’s doppelganger- made from shadow and common sense. She is also a top-notch thief, but because she is bound to a Demon Lord, she must steal whatever he wants. Her most recent mission has gotten May into far more trouble than it was really worth, and has gotten Thief Takers — magical bounty hunters — on her tail. Unfortunately, in her effort to return an incredibly valuable item which she took by accident, May got caught in the back garden of a Green Dragon house (and of course there is a huge misunderstanding; we all know that Drake is incredibly overprotective).

It is there that May meets Gabriel, and there that they find out that she drinks Dragons Blood (again, you remember this from the first series) and they learn that she is a Wyvern’s Mate. In fact, because doppelgangers are made, not born, she is effectively a loophole in the curse against the Silver Dragons. Unlike Aisling, May does not continue fighting and trying to get away from Gabriel; she realizes early on just how attracted to him she is, and becomes his Mate very quickly. Very early on she is officially Gabriel’s Mate. However, being bound to the Demon Lord Magoth complicates things, and she finds herself facing a hugely important decision, one that will affect the rest of her immortal life.

The Quick Version:

This may have a different series-title, but it is definitely a continuation of the first set. It does not stand alone, and if you really are interested, I would advise going back and reading the Aisling Grey: Guardian set. However, May is another strong heroine, one who you find yourself rooting for, and one who does not do the wishy-washy indecision that so many romance heroines are tainted by. We get a bit more of Aisling and Drake, and a lot more of Kostya, as well as a few (vague and confused) references to where the hell Chuan Ren and Fiat have gone. As a continuation to the original story, this book gets a 4/5 (if it was a standalone, it would get a 2, because a lot is not explained again).

If you’ve already read the other books, you can pick this one up on Amazon or through Swaptree.

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Talking to Dragons

Wrede, Patricia C. Talking to Dragons (1995). 255 Pages. Scholastic. $4.95 

The Enchanted Forest Chronicles: Book Four (or Book One)

Depending on who you ask, this is either the first book or the last book in the series. If you feel that this is the last book, be aware of spoilers. If you feel that it is the first, welcome to the Enchanted Forest Chronicles.

Daystar has lived right next to the Enchanted Forest his whole life, but he has never spent much time there. His mother, Cimorene, has drilled two rules into his head since childhood; always be polite, especially to Dragons, and never say yes to an unknown favor. When he is sixteen years old, he enters the Enchanted Forest for the first time.

Armed with a magic sword, and good manners, Daystar is sent on a quest, even if he doesn’t have a clue what he’s supposed to do. He makes the acquaintance of a fire witch, meets a small lizard, and a young dragon, all without figuring out much more than that the King is sleeping in his castle.

Eventually Daystar learns that the sword he is carrying is very important, that Morwen the Witch and Telemain the Magician are both very powerful and very helpful– and know considerably more than he does about his quest– and that his mother was very right in teaching him to always be polite to Dragons.

Eventually, Daystar makes his way to the Castle of the Sleeping King, where he figures out what everyone has been hoping he’d do all along. The book climaxes with an epic battle, and ends on a good note. It resolves the story without ending everything. It’s not exactly “happily ever after” but all the characters are set up to find their ever-afters easily.

The Series as a Whole:

I choose to think of this as the fourth book, because I’ve always read it last. It makes a solid close to a long story, one which has been well written, and is really enjoyable. The appearance and re-appearance of familiar characters makes it feel like one contiguous work, which is nice. Each one has just enough difference from the last that you’re interested, and things are steadily growing off what has already been set up.

As a series opener, it’s fascinating; you start with the end, you know the happily ever after, and so the “What” is solved. Reading the rest of the books is like learning the “Why”, which is really not a bad way to do things. Beginning with the end is a fun way to tell a story.

The series gets an overall score of 5/5.

The Quick Version:

This is one of the first Fantasy series I remember reading, and because of this I know I’m at least a little biased. However, I’ve read it so many times that I nearly have the book memorized and I still enjoy it. This book in particular is good. Daystar makes a great protagonist, and whether you know what’s going on or not, you find yourself rooting for him. It scores a 5/5 for being a great book.

Want to read it? Get it through Amazon or Swaptree.

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Calling on Dragons

Wrede, Patricia C. Calling on Dragons (1994). 244 Pages. Scholastic. $3.95*

The Enchanted Forest Chronicles: Book Three

Because this is the third book in a series, there are very likely to be spoilers for the first two books. Proceed with caution.

It is purely by accident that King Mendanbar discovers that  his sword has been stolen by wizards, allowing them to once again steal the forest’s magic. The bold theft is what will lead our familiar (and not-so-familiar) cast on yet another adventure to save the forest. With the sword out of the Enchanted Forest, however, Mendanbar must remain at home to be the focus of the protection spell. This means that Cimorene must lead the party, and Mendanbar is by no means happy about it.

In Calling on Dragons we see their adventures from Morwen’s point of view, which means that we get to hear what her cats are actually saying for the first time. They lend a comedic edge to the book which it would otherwise have been missing. (And it gives us some insight into cat romance). Killer, the six foot tall talking blue donkey-rabbit who blunders into more and more difficult and stupid situations. He makes things funny, but can at times be very annoying.

We see a lot more of the world outside the Enchanted Forest or Mountains of Morning, mostly due to the adventure.  Telemain speaks in magical technical gibberish, and Kazul stops him. Morwen is practical, Cimorene equally so. Killer is silly, and the cats are funny. There is also a very entertaining scene with a cranky magic mirror. This book, like the others, will have you laughing and enjoying yourself.

The Quick Version:

As I have said on other books which are the third in the series; it’s more of a bridge than a stand-alone book. The story begins, but does not conclude, and has a rather severe cliffhanger at the end. It is still good, is still very entertaining, and in a lot of ways is my favorite book in the series. It gets a 4.5 out of 5 because of the cliffhanger.

If you want to read it, pick it up on Amazon or though Swaptree.

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* This is the price on the old edition which I received used.

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Searching for Dragons

Wrede, Patricia C. Searching for Dragons (1992). 242 Pages. Scholastic. $4.99

The Enchanted Forest Chronicles: Book Two

Because this is the second book in a series, there are very likely spoilers to the first book. Proceed with caution.

Mendanbar is an unconventional King, which is good, because the Enchanted Forest is an unconventional kingdom. He tries to be active, and take part in his kingdom, instead of getting caught up by formal events like his father, the previous king. One day, while he is out on one of his unconventional walks, he finds a vast dead region in the forest, and dragon scales scattered around the scene. Some confusion and consternation leads him to Morwen, who sends him on to talk to King Kazul.

When Mendanbar gets to King Kazul’s caves in the Mountains of Morning, he finds Cimorene, who admits that Kazul is missing. This is where the title comes into play, as they go on a search for Kazul which leads them on quite an adventure. They meet giants (one of whom Mendanbar advises to leave his current rampaging business and go into consulting), ride a dysfunctional carpet, meet Rumplestiltskin’s grandson (Herman the dwarf), and finally come across Telemain the Magician.

With some help from Telemain and Morwen, Cimorene and Mendanbar manage to get to the root of their problem and locate the missing King Kazul. I’ll give a hint about the end; there are wizards involved. Everything wraps up reasonably well, leaving some room for the adventure which is sure to come in the third book.

The Quick Version:

With nearly as many laughs as Dealing with Dragons, you will find Searching for Dragons to be an enjoyable book. It is targeted toward children, but as with the first book (and the rest of the series) it remains enjoyable as long as you are willing to have a sense of humor about your reading. The ending is predictable (which is fine by me, really), but this book feels like it is missing something which the first book has. I like Mendanbar a lot, but he just seems too clueless about magic at times. The book scores a 4.5 out of 5.

Pick it up from Amazon or Swaptree.

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Holy Smokes

MacAlister, Katie. Holy Smokes (2007). 341 Pages. Signet. $7.99

Aisling Grey, Guardian: Book Four || Dragons Universe Book Four

Please be aware that there may be are spoilers present, as this is the fourth (and final?) book in a series!

Seemingly, Holy Smokes is the last book which we will read about Aisling Grey, but it is certainly not the last we’ll hear of the Dragons. The rest of this review has been placed behind a tag because it is very full of spoilers (for the first three books, rather than the fourth). Click at your own risk.

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Light My Fire

MacAlister, Katie. Light My Fire (2006). 329 Pages. Signet. $7.99

Aisling Grey, Guardian: Book Three || Dragons Universe Book Three

Please be aware that there may be spoilers present as this is the third book in a series!

Having seemingly given up on being a courier (perhaps because uncle Damian has come to his senses), Aisling Grey once again stumbles through more danger than she even knows. What this girl needs is a whole series of How-to books; How to be a Demon Lord, How to be a Wyvern’s Mate, How to be a Guardian, and most of all How to Stop People from Trying to Kill You.

Despite having walked out on Drake again, Aisling finds herself face to face with her mate when he informs her that her presence is required at a gathering of the Green Dragons. She obliges, and quickly learns that she cannot keep her hands off him. The feeling is mutual. Once again, there are several steamy scenes that will have you blushing.

Unfortunately for Aisling, being reunited with Drake is perhaps the only good thing that happens. Drake is challenged, the Red Dragons are trying to eliminate Aisling, Fiat is up to something and Gabriel is seemingly complicit, and that’s just the dragons. Jim has eaten an Imp monarch and the Imps want Aisling’s blood, a Demon Prince wants Aisling’s vote, the Otherworld of Paris want Aisling to step up and be Venediger, Drake’s mother is scary, and she may or may not be pregnant.

Certain truths are revealed about characters, truths which explain occurrences from the last few books, and make things fall into place. More is set up for the future, and the fourth book promises to be quite a culmination. Many more laughs are to be had, and as a whole, the book is very enjoyable. The real trouble comes in the way that nothing is truly wrapped-up at the end, and it is very nearly a cliffhanger. It’s a good thing I thought to pick up the 4th book already, or I might be in bad shape.

The Quick Version:

Aside from the storylines which have been left open at the end, this book is as solid and funny as its predecessors. The thing which caused this to score lower is in fact the lack of wrap-up. I believe one storyline is concluded in the entirety of the book, and the rest are left hanging for what I suspect is the grand finale. It is still a good book, as long as you do not expect a standalone. It gets a 3.5 out of 5.

Want to check it out? Get it on Amazon or Swaptree.

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Fire Me Up

MacAlister, Katie. Fire Me Up (2005). 352 Pages. Penguin. $7.99

Aisling Grey, Guardian: Book Two || Dragons Universe Book Two

Please be aware that there may be spoilers present, as this is the second book in a series!

“Dammit, Jim, I’m a Guardian, not a doctor!” (276). I giggled, I laughed, I snorted, I sighed, I blushed, and then looked around to be sure nobody was reading over my shoulder (or paying any attention to my craziness). I enjoyed the story, and couldn’t put it down. I kept reading and reading and couldn’t wait to get to the next page.

Aisling Grey, Guardian, Wyvern’s Mate, Demon Lord, packs up and goes to a convention. Not just any convention, but GODTAM, a convention for the denizens of the Otherworld. Her goal: to find a mentor who can show her the ropes, and teach her to be a good Guardian. Unfortunately, Aisling is in for more than she bargained for.

Rene is conveniently in Budapest, to help Aisling out. Drake is, as well, and he’s after Aisling with a vengeance. He will claim her, and she will be his forever. Meanwhile, there is GODTAM going on, tons of Incubi, an amulet which Aisling is meant to deliver, and a Dragon summit. All in Budapest, and much of it related directly to Aisling.

Suddenly, Guardians Aisling meets with begin turning up dead, and all eyes point to her. The only way to avoid execution or expulsion from the Otherworld is to find the real murderer and bring them to justice, but is Aisling up to it? (Of course she is)

The Quick Version:

Katie MacAlister may not do drama well, but she sure does humor and paranormal romance. I was laughing at nearly every page, wondering what would happen next, and enjoying every moment. The biggest drawback is Aisling herself; she doesn’t listen to herself, and doesn’t seem to learn from past experiences. This book gets a 4 out of 5.

You want to laugh, too? Buy it on Amazon, or trade for it on Swaptree.

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You Slay Me

MacAlister, Katie. You Slay Me (2004). 342 Pages. Onyx. $7.99

Aisling Grey, Guardian: Book One || Dragons Universe Book One

Aisling Grey’s adventures start off with a bang. Her courier delivery to Paris is interrupted by murder and theft. Determined that her first job should not go so horribly wrong, Aisling stalks Drake Viero- the gorgeous man she knows is a thief and suspects of murder. And that’s just the first chapter.

Aisling has made a hobby of studying medieval texts about magic and demons, and it’s good that she has, because the magical otherworld has come knocking with a vengeance. Aisling is a Guardian; that is, she is supposed to guard the gates to the underworld. She is also a Wyvern’s Mate, which is explained well enough by the name alone that I feel no need to elaborate. France is ruled by a tyrannical mage who owns a nightclub in Paris, dragons are disguised as sexy men, and demons are very, very real.

Without any mentor-ship, and not knowing who she can trust besides Jim, Aisling stumbles around Paris, trying to recover the aquamanille she was supposed to deliver, and find out who is framing her for the murders. She must dodge the police, Drake, and the otherworld by turns, attempting to stay one step ahead of those chasing her. Things just keep going from bad to worse for this girl.

Of course, this being Katie MacAlister, you’re wondering where the romance fits in. It’s Drake Viero, the wyvern of the Green Dragons, of course. He’s sexy, he’s powerful, and Aisling is crazy for him from the moment she spots him. If they can stop trying to kill each other, this might shape up to be an excellent partnership, but it’s certainly not happening in this book.

The Quick Version:

Katie MacAlister is a solid author who always manages to write something fun. This book is no exception; you go from the edge of your seat to giggling in the blink of the eye. Dotted with steamy, sexually-charged moments, the story does not disappoint in the romance department. Occasionally things felt a bit too extended, like there was a page count to be met and things had to get expanded. As a whole, this book is a solid 4 out of 5.

To read it, you can buy it on Amazon or trade for it on Swaptree.

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Dealing with Dragons

Wrede, Patricia C. Dealing with Dragons (1992). 212 Pages. Scholastic. $6.99

The Enchanted Forest Chronicles: Book One

I read this book when I was young, and then I shared it with my friends. We passed this series around so much that I’m not sure where my original copy is anymore. This alone says something about how good this book is. I feel like it’s the hilight of the series, which is good, because it’s important to start strong.

Cimorene is not your typical beautiful, dumb princess. She is your typical smart, adventurous, princess-who-doesn’t-need-to-get-saved princess. She doesn’t wait around for her prince, and in fact she doesn’t want a prince, she wants adventure, and knowledge.

When Cimorene’s parents try to marry her off, she leaves, and finds herself a dragon to take care of. She ends up with Kazul, a dragon with an extensive library and a love of cherries jubilee (the one thing Cimorene can reliably cook well.) Then, the knights and the wizards insist on pestering her- the knights trying to rescue her, the wizards doing something, which Cimorene can’t quite figure out.

She meets other princesses, a few princes, a few knights, a few wizards, a witch, and quite a few more dragons. She learns all sorts of things about magic, and spends quite some time adventuring. Toward the end of the book, during the climax, she even manages to save Kazul.

Since I read it, they’ve re-published it with a new (and considerably dumber) cover, and a different page count. I worked my butt off to get the original because it’s just so much better. I’d suggest you do, as well, though there is no significant difference besides cover and font between the two.

The Quick Version:

With a fun twist on fairy tales, Dealing with Dragons is a fun read. It’s enjoyable as young as elementary, but keeps appealing through young-adult. It remains good as a grown-up, though some things feel a bit cheesier now than they did then. As the opener to the Enchanted Forest Chronicles, it’s excellent. This book gets a 5 out of 5.

Want to enjoy this book? Buy it on Amazon or trade for it on Swaptree.

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Filed under Book Review, Children's Fiction, High Fantasy, Humor, Young Adult Fiction