Tuesday, September 22, 2009

The Vanishing Sculptor

Title: The Vanishing Sculptor

Author: Donita K. Paul

Genre: Tween (10-13) Fantasy

Excerpt from “A View from a Tree,” Chapter 1 of The Vanishing Sculptor:

Sir Beccaroon cocked his head, ruffled his neck feathers, and stretched, allowing his crimson wings to spread. The branch beneath him sank and rose again, responding to his weight. Moist, hot air penetrated his finery, and he held his wings away from his brilliant blue sides.

“Too hot for company,” he muttered, rocking back and forth from one scaly four-toed foot to the other on a limb of a sacktrass tree. The leaves shimmered as the motion rippled along the branch. “Where is that girl?”

His yellow head swiveled almost completely around. He peered with one eye down the overgrown path and then scoped out every inch within his range of vision, twisting his neck slowly.

A young girl sets out to recover three statutes, whose sale imperiled her father and her world.

The Craft: The writing of The Vanishing Sculptor is very similar to that of Mr. Paul’s DragonKeeper Chronicles. Colorful and entertaining, new characters and old enact a variety of adventures and misadventures.

This plot is a bit more cohesive than some of the past books, with each tension building on the last one into a riveting yet comical climax. Despite this, the ending felt…incomplete. Perhaps it’s because the point-of-view characters, Tipper and Beccaroon, seemed only minimally involved in bring change and being changed? But I’m not sure.

Nonetheless, The Vanishing Sculptor remains a delightful tale.

The Content: The Vanishing Sculptor is clean, where most of the action and violence are more comical than truly threatening. The magical elements remain the same as earlier books. The story turns a little preachy toward the end, almost like “this is the moral of the story” feel. But overall, the themes are worked in fairly well.

One thing that confused me was a shift in the allegory with a paladin—or at least in my perception of one. I originally equated Paladin from the original series with a Christ-figure. Here, however, it is more like an Old Testament prophet/judge, like Samuel. Neither is wrong, but it does require—or it did for me—a slight shift in thinking.

Summary: A light-hearted adventure with a colorful cast of characters and Christian themes always makes for a great read.

Rating: Craft—4, Content—4, Overall—3.8 out of 5 stars

Check out the reviews of the original DragonKeeper Chronicles, or buy any of them from Words of Whimsy.


Julie J. said...

I agree with you on the ending. It just...ended. I was looking for something a little more concise I guess. Still a great read! :)

Dona Watson said...

I too was a bit confused at seeing another Paladin step forward, but I thought that maybe that was just me. Once I got used to the idea, however, I was able to rationalize it. Overall, I thought the book was delightful and I would recommend it to any lover of YA fantasy.

Chawna Schroeder said...

Dona~ I'm glad to hear it isn't just me!

Julie~ It's rough when the book doesn't wrap-up properly, isn't it?

But yes, despite any flaws it's a great book.

Rebecca LuElla Miller said...

We've had discussions about Paladin in every tour for Donita's books, I think, and she's always said he was not meant to be a Christ figure. With another one showing up, it becomes more apparent.

I think the problem is, some of the elements are allegorical. Wulder certainly is. Others, however, are only symbolic. But once we start looking for allegory, well, that which doesn't fit seems confusing or off.

I guess I had the advantage of knowing Paladin was not an allegorical representation of Christ in this story.

Good review as always, Chawna.


Donita K. Paul said...

Thanks for your comments, Chawna. Becky is right. An allegory only goes so far. I deliberately did not make Paladin representative of Christ. I didn't feel adequate to take the powerful and true story of the death and resurrection of our Savior and put it in a fantasy. To me, His sacrifice is sacred.
I have put clues in all along. For instance, Wulder is given personal pronouns with capital letters. Paladin is not. Paladin sickens and nearly dies. Christ would not.
Some people have figured out who or what he represents. I'll tell you if you want, or you can choose to ponder some more.

Chawna Schroeder said...

I must be having one of my stupid days. I'm guessing that it must be a personification of something, the church perhaps? But I don't know. As I said. A stupid, scatterbrined day. I give up?