Fantasy/SF Book Reviews

The Internet Writing Journal, June 2004
Page One of Two

Dragonspell by Donita K. Paul

Water Brook, June 2004
Trade paperback, 339 pages
ISBN: 1578568234
Ages 12 and up
Ordering information: |

 by Donita K. Paul Kale Alleron is a young o'rant slave girl who is treated fairly well by her masters in the tiny town of River Away. But when she finds a rare dragon egg, the village leaders send her off to The Hall in the city of Vendela to be trained as a servant of Paladin. But Kale never makes it to the Hall. She is intercepted on her journey and pressed into service by an Emerlinden woman Leetu and Dar the Doneel. The trio must find and rescue a valuable dragon egg from the evil wizard Risto (Kale has the rare ability to find and sense the valuable dragon eggs). Kale and her companions have many adventures and Kale finds out that the reward for doing the right thing is often to be given an even harder task to perform.

Dragonspell is an engaging young adult fantasy in which the Christian worldview is portrayed through metaphor. Also a coming of age story, Dragonspell features a likeable heroine and enough magical and exotic companions to fill three books. Ms. Paul has a lively imagination and her characterizations of the minor and major dragons are a definite high point of the book. The first book in a series raises more questions than it answers, such as the identity of the mysterious Paladin who has called Kale to his service, and the source of Kale's growing telepathic talent. Ms. Paul keeps the pacing fast, making for a fast and enjoyable read.

Mystic Warrior by Tracy and Laura Hickman

Warner Books, Hardcover
Hardcover, April, 2004
ISBN: 0446531057
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Mystic Warrior
by Tracy and Laura Hickman Newlywed blacksmith Galen Arvad appears to have a very nice life: he married the girl he loves, he owns a profitable smithing operation and he enjoys working with his friend, the talented dwarf Cephas. But Galen's life is thrown into chaos when the authorities discover the secret he has kept all his life: he dreams of other people and places which appear to be real, and during the daytime inanimate objects talk to him constantly. During his dreams, Galen often meets two people from his own world, his comrade Maddoc and Inquisitor Tragget (who must hide his secret from his colleagues) and creatures from the other two worlds, the faery Dwynwyn and the goblin Mimic. Galen's innate magical abilities are eventually found out by the representatives of the Dragonkings. His affliction is deemed to be madness and he is imprisoned with other citizens who are similarly affected. Now Galen is about to find out that his world, which is governed as a theocracy by seven dragons, is nothing like what he thought it was. There are actually three worlds which inhabit the same space, but in different dimensions. Galen's abilities allow him to see into these other worlds: the faerie world, where faeries are under attack by centaurs and satyrs, and the goblin world, where abandoned machinery made by the vanished Titans is the ultimate status symbol. Galen must learn to use his abilities before those in power decide that Galen is too much of a threat to be allowed to live.

Husband and wife writing team Tracy and Laura Hickman break new ground in this provocative, highly imaginative fantasy. Young Galen Arvad is a likeable, although naïve, protagonist who eventually discovers that he has powers he never dreamed of. The interaction between the three worlds adds suspense to the story, and the magical system is especially well-imagined. Galen's exchanges with (sometimes grumpy) inanimate objects is both funny, entertaining and creepy, all at the same time. The Hickmans have quite a bit of depth to their writing, weaving political, religious and an exploration of interesting societal themes throughout the text. But the story also works quite well as a straightforward adventure fantasy with plenty of action, magic and intrigue.

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