Wednesday, July 23, 2008

The Dragon Keeper Part 5: DragonLight

Title: DragonLight

Series: The Dragon Keeper Chronicles #5 (final book)

Author: Donita K. Paul

Genre: YA (10-14) Fantasy

Excerpt from “Castle Passages,” Chapter 1 of DragonLight:

Kale wrinkled her nose at the dank air drifting up from the stone staircase. Below, utter darkness created a formidable barrier.

Toopka stood close to her knee. Sparks skittered across the doneel child’s furry hand where she clasped the flowing, soft material of Kale’s wizard robe. Kale frowned down at her ward. The little doneel spent too much time attached to her skirts to be captivated by the light show. Instead, Toopka glowered into the forbidding corridor. “What’s down there?”

Kale sighed. “I’m not sure.”

“Is it the dungeon?”

“I don’t think we have a dungeon.”

Toopka furrowed her brow in confusion. “Don’t you know? It’s your castle.”

“A castle built by committee.” Kale’s face grimaced at the memory of weeks of creative chaos. She put her hand on Tooka’s soft head.

The doneel dragged her gaze away from the stairway, tilted her head back, and frowned at her guardian. “What’s ‘by committee’?”

“You remember, don’t you? It was just five years ago.”

“I remember the wizards coming and the pretty tents in the meadow.” Toopka pursed her lips. “And shouting. I remember shouting.”

“They were shouting because no one was listening. Twenty-one wizards come for the castle raising. Each had their own idea about what we needed. So they each constructed their fragment of the castle structure according to their whims.”

The dragon keeper and her friends search for the lost meech dragon colony.

The Writing: DragonLight is by far the best book of the Dragon Keeper Chronicles. The characters, old friends and new, evoke many smiles and giggles. The plot, while not fast-paced, steadily reels you in deeper and deeper. There are several detours, which have little to do with the main plot, and yet they contribute tension in their own way.

The climax was an interesting mix. In many ways it broke the rules, such as the protagonist’s lack of participation in resolving the main problem. Yet somehow Ms. Paul made it work, bringing satisfaction to the reader.

Unfortunately, the epilogue spoiled some of that satisfaction, which in a final book of a series is disappointing. I’m unsure how to explain it, but the focus and cadence of the final page and a half were out of sync with the rest of the story.

But that is a fairly minor issue, and the lovable characters and rib-tickling humor go a long way in making amends for it.

The Story: DragonLight is filled from cover to cover with lessons and themes, which weave seamlessly into the story for the most part. (The exception would be the end of the epilogue, which becomes a little preachy. Another reason the ending may not feel right to me.) The problems of jealousy and competitiveness, the need for contentment, and how God uses the unexpected are especially strong themes in this story.

As with the other books, wizardry plays a strong part in the story. I personally have no problem with it, for as Ms. Paul pointed out in yesterday’s interview, the wizardry is limited by what is already created, much as are scientists and artists. However, those who have strong personal limitations in this arena (whether from location, background, or other reasons) need to be aware this element is integral to the plot.

Summary: Unless you have strong personal limitations concerning magic/wizardry, DragonLight is a fun read for all ages that will make you giggle while providing content worth chewing on.

Rating: 3.8 out of 5 stars

Unfamiliar with the Dragon Keeper Chronicles? Check out DragonSpell and the subsequent books here.

1 comment:

Rebecca LuElla Miller said...

I think DragonLight is the best one in the series, too, and was surprised to see that some others didn't think so. Happily, you and I are on the same page, so the ground is feeling more solid under my feet again. ;-)

Great series of posts once again, Chawna. I enjoyed the interview with Donita.

I also glanced back at your Bryan Davis review. Isn't it interesting that he and Donita came out with their dragon books the same year? One writes such great characters while the other has a break-neck paced story. And both are highly successful.