Dragonquest by Donita K. Paul ReviewWaterBrook Press, June, 2005
Trade Paperback, 368 pages
Ages Young Adult
In the first book in the series, Dragonspell, readers met Kale Alleron, an o'rant slave girl who finds a dragon's egg. This discovery convinced the village elders to send Kate to study at the Hall and be a servant of the great Paladin. On the way to the Hall, Kate found more dragon eggs, had many adventures and even fought a battle with the evil Wizard Risto, who has an insidious talent for mindspeaking and persuasion. As the second book opens, Kale is sent to be the apprentice to the brilliant yet aging Wizard Fenworth who lives in the Bogs. Kale also is given some new responsibilities: she must help Fenworth raise a meech dragon-boy named Regidor, and she has the misfortune the be awarded custody of a Toopka, a small and very annoying doneel girl who never stops a) stealing things, b) demanding food and c) talking incessantly. To make matters worse, Kale is ordered to be accompanied by a smug knight-in-training named Bardon, who never seems to find the humor in any situation. But what was supposed to be a quiet summer of study and learning turns out to be nothing of the kind, as Kale must undertake a dangerous quest to rescue dragons that are being used by Wizard Risto in his plans to conquer the land of Amara.
Kale is a likeable heroine who must adjust to her rapid rise in status: from slave girl to the new Dragonkeeper and apprentice Wizard. Kale and her dragons are the heart and soul of the story: when the narrative focuses on them and their bond it really sings. Billed as Christian fantasy, (Kale is on a spiritual quest guided by the perfect Paladin to find his father Wulder who made the world), Donita Paul's series can easily be read as a straightforward fantasy by children of other faiths as well. Ms. Paul handles the magic of the world quite well: one interesting passage has the delightfully grumpy Wizard Fenworth explaining how magic works to his apprentices. Parents will easily recognize the simplified descriptions of atoms and how they are combined to create different kinds of matter, and how that matter can be manipulated by Wizards. (Of course, only Wulder can create those building blocks in the first place.) There are two more projected books in the series: DragonKnight and DragonFire, and that's sure to be great news for the growing readership of this appealing, heartwarming series.
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