Tag Archives: Improper Princess

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

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

Aurelia

Osterlund, Anne. Aurelia (2008). 246 Pages. Penguin. $8.99

The book opens with the stealthy removal of a body from a palace. It is revealed that the body is that of the princess’s meal taster and that this is not the first attempt on her life. A fascinating start.

Enter Aurelia, the crown princess of Tyralt, the stereotypical free-spirited-princess-stuck-in-the-confining-palace. She is oblivious to the plot against her life, and has few concerns beyond being free spirited and refusing the suitors her father has selected. Cue Robert, Aurelia’s childhood friend, returned to the palace to investigate the assassination attempts. Aurelia is interested in Robert, Robert is interested in Aurelia, but of course, there are other issues at hand, like the several attempts on Aurelia’s life.

Aurelia’s father is distant and uncaring, her sister incredibly “perfect,” her stepmother “wicked.” We have all of the archetypes of a classic fairy tale accounted for. The plot does not follow any particular fairy tale plot, and does not have a typical fairy tale ending.

The setting is strange, and never explained to satisfaction. There is a hint that there is a school system of sorts set up, and that Aurelia went to school with the other palace children (I had trouble believing this). It is hinted that this kingdom is coastal, and that Aurelia’s cousin controls a kingdom down the coast. It is stated that there are “Outer Realms,” but though they exist, nothing es explained except that immigration from them is forbidden. There is a desert controlled by tribes, but nothing besides their horses are considered important enough to talk about. There is a frontier which is hard to get to or from, but little is said about that.

The characters remain flat and fail to develop. Aurelia is beautiful but doesn’t think so- she calls herself plain, upsetting Robert- and “feisty” if you can call whining and sneaking out of the palace feisty. Aurelia’s younger sister Melony is the blond haired blue eyed beauty who strings along many young men, and does not have any appearances beyond her coming out party at the beginning, and her role in the climax at the end. Elise, the queen, is presumably beautiful, but she is greedy, selfish, and does not care for her stepdaughter. Aurelia’s father is distant, and cares only about pleasing his wife and marrying Aurelia off.

The murder mystery feels like it’s going one way abruptly takes a turn in an unexpected, unforeshadowed direction. Perhaps I am not good at unraveling murder mysteries, but mostly I feel like it wasn’t there.

As a whole, the book shows promise which is not fulfilled.

The Quick Version:

It is not well written, the characters are undeveloped. The surface of this story is interesting, but it is not executed well and remains shallow. There is no good why for any character except Robert, who is driven by his love for Aurelia. It scores a 2 of 5, because the murder mystery aspect resolves itself in a surprising way.

Not scared away? Buy it on Amazon, or trade for it on Swaptree.

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Filed under Book Review, High Fantasy, Mystery & Suspense, Romance, Young Adult Fiction