Saturday, May 02, 2009

Book Review: The Dragon of Trelian

The Dragon of Trelian
by Michelle Knudsen

Calen is a wizard's apprentice, a job that's not nearly as glamorous as it sounds. When hiding from his duties to watch a procession, he meets the Princess Meglynne, the third daughter of the king. Meglynne, or Meg as she prefers to be called, is quite a bit different than Calen expected a princess to be. First she startles him, almost causing him to fall out the window, then she laughs at him, and then she kicks him! But when she climbs into the window to watch the procession with him, the two form an instant friendship.

The procession marks the entrance into Trelian of Prince Ryant of Kragnir, who has come to marry Meglynne's older sister, Maerlie. After a hundred years of war between Trelian and Kragnir, the betrothal of the two young people will bring peace.

But things are about to get a lot more complicated: a terrifying creature attacks the castle, Calen and Meg discover an evil plot, and unknown to everyone but Calen, Meg is secretly bonded to a dragon, a bond which could change her or even result in her death.

I have to confess that I totally misjudged this book from the cover and description. I thought that it would be a light, amusing children's fantasy about two children and a dragon. But when I read the book, it totally blew me away. It's so much more than I expected.

The Dragon of Trelian is definitely one of my favorite books of the year so far. It's a rich fantasy with everything you could want in a book: engaging characters, humor, exciting plot, young romance, emotional impact, and depth. At first, Meg and Calen seem to be clichéd characters: the spunky princess and the clumsy apprentice. But they turn out to be so much more, and they develop and grow as the book progresses. They really start out the story as children, and end it as young adults. In some ways it reminds me of The City of Ember, in that the adults refuse to act, leaving the two young people to take matters into their own hands. Even the villains have depth and pathos, that culminates in a heart-wrenching scene at the climax.

Although the basic story is resolved, some plot threads are left open, so a sequel may be in the works.

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