Monday, June 23, 2014

Book Review: DragonQuest

DragonQuest by Donita K. Paul

Recommended For: Ages 10 to Adult (Interest and Reading Level)

Rating: PG (mild action violence and other fantasy elements)

A New Quest Begins

A dragonkeeper of Paladin, Kale is summoned from the Hall to The Bogs by the Wizard Fenworth to serve as his apprentice and tend his newly hatched meech dragon, Regidor. But Kale isn’t going alone. The Hall is sending a student to monitor her performance and report back to the scholars. Worst of all, it’s Bardon–an older boy Kale finds irritating, but who at least can hold his own in a sword fight.

New Friendships Are Forged

Meanwhile, the Wizard Risto has seized another meech dragon, bringing him dangerously close to gaining the power he seeks. So with only a motley band of companions, Kale sets out on a desperate quest to rescue the second meech, to free those dragons already enslaved, and to thwart Risto’s devious plans. It’s up to Kale to lead the search and to embrace the role that’s rightfully hers. But will her efforts be enough to save the land of Amara from the dark future that awaits at Risto’s hands?

Read my thoughts on book one, DragonSpell, on Goodreads.

DragonQuest was an interesting fantasy book filled with Christian themes, adventure, dragons, and wonderful characters. It never truly was a pageturner for me, but still, I really enjoyed it and will be continuing the series to the end.

Writing: 4/5

DragonQuest is technically well written. Grammatically I found no problems and it does get the story across. It doesn't, however, really pull you in, and the descriptions are somewhat lacking. It is very difficult for me to picture doneels (one of the fantasy races). I get the impression that they look a little bit like dogs, but it's not very clear. Also, I'm not positive that o'rants look just like humans. I assume they do and certain things seem to indicate that, but it never really describes an o'rant.

Setting: 5/5

Despite the shortcomings in the descriptions, the world of the Dragon Keeper Chronicles, Amara, is very well built. It feels like a real place and works well internally. The personalities of the different races are well thought out and the cultures distinct. There are seven high races in Amara and seven low races, as well as several varieties of dragons. Though all distinct, I did occasionally have to look back at the glossary to remember what this race was. Also, the explanation of magic is such that I don't think it would really bother even someone who is against magic in stories. Those who have been gifted by Wulder (God) with the ability to do magic use the elements provided by Wulder and arrange them according to Wulder's laws. Meech dragons were an interesting addition to DragonQuest. The whole purpose of DragonSpell was to find the meech dragon, but he was unhatched, so it was interesting to see yet another variety of dragon developed.

Plot: 4/5

The thing I think that causes me to not absolutely love Donita K. Paul's books is that there is an even amount of excitement throughout. The climax is no more epic than the fight with the spiders at the beginning. It just seems to plod along at the same pace and intensity level through the whole book, never really building towards an exciting climax. I did like the story, and I was interested throughout, it just felt like something was missing from the structure. Kale's struggles about her mother were certainly interesting, and I enjoyed Kale and Bardon's discoveries of their mindspeaking abilities. I thought that was really cool. The story is also extremely clean, so no plot elements that prevent young readers from reading it.

Characters: 5/5

This is why I continue to read these books. I love the characters. I can identify with Kale, and I enjoy the company of the others. It was nice seeing more of Dar, with his doneel-like obsession with dressing well, and his big brotherly attitude towards Kale. Fenworth was as entertaining as ever, the absent-minded wizard. I loved the introduction of Toopka. She was delightful and mischievous and funny. There's also Bardon. I liked him a lot, and not just because he provided the initial inspiration for Jaye L. Knight's new series Ilyon Chronicles. I enjoyed getting to know him better and look forward to reading more about him in the next book. Regidor, the meech dragon, was also a fun character, and his interactions with Toopka could be quite entertaining. The characters as a whole are excellently developed, and I loved them.

All in all, DragonQuest was an enjoyable read that I would recommend for lovers of fantasy.

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