Day 4, you say? Why yes. Last week the Christian Science Fiction Fantasy Blog Tour also toured DragonLight. I hadn’t finished reading it yet then, so I talked about some of the earlier books in the series. But Sunday afternoon I got finished with DragonLight, and therefore the entire series of five books.
Donita K. Paul has written a great fantasy series for young adults, and I’ve read three of the books in the last ten days, so they’re the ones most clear in my mind. (I read the first two a couple of years back.)
I have to share with you the opening paragraphs of this novel. They show quite well the light humor that Paul sprinkles throughout the tales.
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 Toopka’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 came 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.”
“I don’t think it’s funny. The chunks of castle were erected, juxtaposed with the others, but not as a whole unit. I thank Wulder that at least my parents had some sense. My mother and father connected the tads, bits, and smidgens together with steps and short halls. When nothing else would work, they formed gateways from one portion to another.”
Can’t you just imagine a castle built by a committee of wizards? It makes me laugh.
Thinking about the fact that this is the fifth book and that it’s unlikely that anyone will read it that hasn’t gone through the other four (except, perhaps, for book tours like this!), I think it’s easy to see who the characters are and the current situation, and even a glimpse of how it ties to the past. We know Kale and Toopka clear from book one, but we haven’t met the castle before this. We see that it’s been at least five years since the end of the fourth book. And we’re reminded that Toopka is from a species that is short and furry…and apparently has a bad memory!
The best part of the story for me was seeing the development of Toopka’s storyline. She’s wafted in and out of the previous stories, but this novel brought her to the forefront. And ironically, one of the negatives for me was the same thing–Toopka’s story. Though the viewpoint characters were Kale and Bardon (as throughout the series)–primarily Kale–they had little to do in the story’s climax but watch Toopka pull it all together.
Another negative for me was Gilda’s story line. Gilda is a meech dragon–a superior humanoid type of dragon, and very rare. (Donita, if you’re reading this–what DOES a meech dragon look like?) And whereas in DragonFire (the fourth book), I got tired of Kale whining, I found that Gilda’s attitude really got on my nerves throughout DragonLight. To give credit where credit is due, Gilda learns the error of her ways and gets pulled down a peg or two, so the inclusion of this character development was purposeful.
Still, I think that the series has more positives than negatives, and I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend all five novels to young adult readers of either gender.