Friday, April 11, 2008

Dragons in Our Midst, Part 2: The Candlestone

Title: The Candlestone

Series: Dragons in Our Midst #2

Author: Bryan Davis

Genre: YA (10-14) Technological Fantasy

Excerpt from “The Art of War,” Chapter 1 of The Candlestone:

Out of the blackness a growling voice rumbled, “She will come.” The rough words reverberated, bouncing off shrouded walls that echoed dying replies.

A solitary man listened in the dark room, lit only by flickers of soft light coming from his hand, a dozen fireflies in a jar. They danced with hopeless wings in stale air, waiting for death to arrive, their distress signals only serving to guide the scientist as he paced the stone floor. “And what makes you so sure she’ll come?” his voice replied, tiny and squeaking by comparison. “She won’t trust me. Why should she?”

The rumbling voice responded. “You don’t understand her; you never did. She listens to a call that rises beyond your senses…she has faith.” The growl changed to a deep sigh. “But, alas! What would you know about faith?”

“More than you think.” The scientist held up the jar and watched the dimming flashes. “I do know this; it was by her faith that you’re in this predicament. I hear she was quite handy with that sword.”

The growl deepened, its bass tones making the ground tremble. “If you really think she knew I would end up in this prison, then you’re a bigger fool than I thought.” After a few seconds, the echoes died away again, and the voice became soft and melancholy, like the lowest notes of a mournful cell. “You have no worries. She will come. She is driven by forces you cannot possibly understand.”

The last flicker of light blinked out. The scientist picked up the jar and opened the lid. With a quick shake he dumped the dead fireflies onto the floor. “Very well.” His voice stretched out into in a foreboding snarl. “We shall see.”

A half-dragon, half-human plunges into the heart of danger in her search for the mother she thought was dead.

The Writing: The Candlestone, much in the same way as Raising Dragons, brings to life a fantastical premise in a contemporary world with a fast-paced plot. The ties to Arthurian legend strengthen in this book, and the traditional fantasy elements, which should seem out of place, dovetail well with the world of science and technology.

The cast of characters continues to broaden in this book while fleshing out the characters of the previous one. While there are some delightful (and not so delightful) additions to the cast, this can make it hard to see the full complexity of any character the first time through, a problem I battle upon my first reading.

Nonetheless, both characters and plotting have improved, and in of the light of this, along with the sparks of humor, The Candlestone’s flaws are absorbed so they’re scarcely noticeable.

The Story: The spiritual threads dive in and out of The Candlestone more than in Raising Dragons. One or two spots boarders on preachiness, especially in Billy’s conversion-type scene in Chapter 16, but as a whole, the many themes (the power of love and sacrifice, fighting with honor and valor, the foundations of truth and faith) are mixed in well.

As with Raising Dragons, The Candlestone has several battle scenes. There are several casualties (most of which aren’t seen), some shooting, sword fights, a kidnapping, and one death by fire, which is the most graphic (by necessity), though more is said through character reactions than by description of the corpse.

Summary: Another great story, The Candlestone will appeal to reader of all ages, with an emphasis on the 10-14 bracket.

Rating: 4.0 out of 5

(Don't forget to peek at the review for book 1, Raising Dragons, as well as book 3, Circles of Seven, and book 4, Tears of a Dragon!)

1 comment:

Galadriel said...

Billy and Bonnie are resting after the action in Raising Dragons when the return of Bonnie’s father signals the beginning of a new adventure. Can Bonnie trust the man who betrayed her mother to the slayers? The amazing scientific process of translumination creates a vibrant world inside a light-absorbing gem known as the candlestone. Want to know more? Enter The Candlestone and explore a world of danger, mystery, and sacrifice.
I liked how this book emphasized faith, trust and truth. It contains a nice blend of emotions, humor and action.