Title: Dealing with Dragons
Author: Patricia C. Wrede
Series: Enchanted Forest Chronicles
Summary: “Princess Cimorene is frustrated by her life and persuades the castle staff to teach her fencing, magic, cooking, Latin, and other interesting subjects that are considered very “improper” for princesses to learn.
The King and Queen take Cimorene on a state visit to a neighboring kingdom. Cimorene learns that they plan to arrange her marriage to an annoying prince named Therandil. Faced with the prospect, Cimorene runs away. She meets a group of dragons, and volunteers to become the “captive” princess of the dragon Kazul.” (1)
Belle Rating: A-
Bookworm Rating: B
Overall Rating: B+
Target Audience: Pre-teens – Young Adults
*Minor Spoilers Below* – may include plot details such as: important names, or revealing villain names
D – Er meh gursh I absolutely adore this book!
L – I really enjoyed the plot of this book. It usually managed to surprize me with what happened next.
D – Right? This is not your typical fairytale because while the setting and background characters are super traditional, the main characters are not. So there is this huge contrast between the personalities and actions of these “atypical” characters with everything else and I find it very fun and refreshing.
L – One of the things I particularly enjoyed about this book is how much everyone else tried to force her into a more traditional role in the story. The other dragon’s princesses, the knights that came to try and save her, and even the wizards (who are the bad guys in the story).
D – Yea, and she was brave (or stubborn) enough to completely ignore everyone and do what she wanted to do. Cause she listens to no man! (or woman…or beast…)
L – I also love the different excuses she comes up with to keep the knights away and how she insists that she should deal with them instead of Kazul.
D – Yes. Faking an ankle injury was pretty smart on her part.
L – Then it goes though the rumor mill it comes out as a broken leg.
D – Ah. Gotta love gossip. You don’t really know what’s been exaggerated in a story. That’s why it’s important to avoid that stuff. But, it was something that Cimorene used to her advantage to avoid unwanted guests.
L – You can see a lot of these clever moments in Patricia C. Wrede’s writing. It’s very obvious in this story and it’s very fun to read. I also like how she uses these moments to weave the story together. She doesn’t spring sudden plot elements on you to solve a problem in the story, she was building up those elements the entire time. It’s always an adventure to discover how everything fits together.
D – And I think that is something that is hard to find in books these days. It is easy to read, easy to follow, and you end up losing yourself in Cimorene’s adventures. This is one of my go to books when I want to read something fun and sarcastic.
L – The characters are also all very fun and unique. And if you get attached to a character who only has one or two scenes in the book; don’t worry. They usually show up in the other three books in the series.
D – Which we totally recommend reading too 😉
L – Yes, I think the second book “Searching for Dragons” might be my favorite.
D – That is a good one, but I think I like the third one “Calling on Dragons”. The witch, Morwen, is one of my favorites of all the characters and the book is in her perspective. Her cats are super sarcastic.
L – As I mentioned above, Patricia C. Wrede has a very unique but fun writing style.
D – Yea, it’s easy, but not so easy that you feel like you’re reading a children’s book. If that makes any sense. It still feels intellectual.
L – I would recommend that you check out any of her books just to experience her writing style. Her cleverness really borders on sarcastic sometimes and I love it.
D – Yesssss. She is brilliant. I don’t know why these books aren’t talked about more.
L – The book is very short. So the plot points can seem a tiny bit rushed at times. It didn’t really pull me out of the story too much though. I feel like the book was clever enough to pull off this faster pace.
D – I agree. I think the only other thing I could add to this is that there isn’t more of them to read.
D – Her wit is what I appreciate the most. I snicker the whole time I read these books. No joke. My husband will shake his head at me if I am too loud…
L – The wit does really carry the day. The story could have been a very predictable story that’s been seen a million times, but she took it to a new level by being clever with her characters. By stepping away from more typical character traits the story gets steered in a different direction.
*Spoilers Below* – if you want to be surprised by the book, don’t read me
L – The book begins with a description of Princess Cimorene and all the reasons she isn’t like a typical princess. The main one being that she finds the entire thing intolerably boring. She gets the various servants around her castle to teach her different skills: how to make cherries jubilee, how to read latin, turning invisible, fencing, etc…
D – Well, more like forces the servants to teach her. These are not proper things to teach a princess after all.
L – Of course, all of these different skills come into play later in the story. With various levels of importance.
D – Once her parents find out what she’s been doing, they force her to stop and decide that she needs to marry Therandil, a prince. A really idiotic prince, mind you. Cimorene could not stand to be married to this man, so she decides to take the advice of a talking frog and go looking for someone who could help her.
L – On the frog’s advice she goes down a path in the woods and goes into a hovel. And as you might expect, the cottage proves to be less that ordinary. It actually takes her to a cave filled with dragons. Who are a bit surprised by her rather untraditional suggestion that one of them “kidnap” her. After some debate on whether or not they should just eat her; one dragon, named Kazul, decides to take her on as her princess.
D – Kazul thinks that Cimorene will prove to be useful to have around her cave. The skills that she had learned over the years would help her organize Kazul’s huge treasure trove that is filled with strange magical artifacts. If a princess with very little experience with magic had stumbled in there, they could’ve found something very nasty indeed. It was an added bonus that Cimorene could make cherries jubilee, one of Kazul’s favorite foods.
L – At this point in the story Cimorene begins getting visitors. This includes: the princesses of several other dragons, some evil wizards, and ,of course, a lot of knights and princes determined to save her from her terrible fate. (The offer of half her father’s kingdom for her rescue, probably has nothing to do with this. Probably.)
D – What knight in his right mind wouldn’t try?? Heck, I’d do it myself.
L – There are a couple of important visits that occur. The first is when she does to post a sign claiming “Path Washed Out Ahead” and meets a wizard who tries to trick her into giving him a favor. After talking with Kazul about this, she discovers that the wizards are trying to steal magic from the dragons and a very special system of caves the dragons keep safe. The Caves of Fire and Night.
D – The wizards in this world depend on other sources of magic in order to stay powerful themselves. So whenever they discover something that is radiating a lot of magic, they want it for themselves, because they are power hungry jerks.
L – The second important visit is the return of Therandil, the prince she was supposed to marry. He’s only showed up because he felt like everyone in the kingdom was expecting him to save her. (He’s less than excited about it.) He also accidently unleashes a jinn that’s determined to kill them both. After quite a bit of clever quips and offers Cimorene manages to convince him to not kill them and gets a wish for both of them out of the deal.
D – Now during all of this, the King of the Dragons has been poisoned. A tournament, so to speak, called the King’s Trial must take place to find a replacement. The King’s Trial involves all of the dragons taking turns trying to move a large stone called the Colin’s Stone. This stone vibrates and makes it very difficult for all the dragons to move it, except for the dragon who it chooses to become the next king. (keep in mind that any dragon, male or female, can become king)
L – Now the dragons don’t usually take people to see these trials so Cimorene has to stay home. But while she’s off doing errands she runs into a prince who has been turned into moving stone near the Caves of Fire and Night and her friend Alianora (another dragon’s princess). The prince and Alianora have just overheard a conversation between Alianora’s dragon, Woraug, and a couple of wizards. It turns out that the wizards are going to help Woraug cheat so he will become the king and in return he’ll grant the wizards unlimited access to the caves. *gasp of horror*
D – So Cimorene, with the help of the stone prince, Alianora, and Morwen, quickly arrives at the grounds where the tournament is held to put a stop to those dastardly wizards! Cimorene manages to melt the head wizard and his son with soapy water just in time. The other dragons were notified about the scheme and ate/scared away the remaining wizards and apprehended the dragon Woraug. Woraug then *poof* turned into a toad. Kazul then became the King of the Dragons and appointed Cimorene as the King’s Cook and Librarian. Cimorene could not have been happier. THE END!
L – *distant cheering sounds* Yay!
D – I want her job…
L – Oh yes. Not to mention saving a “Head Cook and Librarian” is much less prestigious than saving a “Princess” so it greatly cuts down on Cimorene’s knight in shining armor problems.
D – Who wants a knight anyway when you have a huge library and dragons as friends???
L – Overall Dealing with Dragons is a fun and entertaining read that will keep you guessing what comes next. I highly recommend it for anyone who enjoys a good fantasy romp.
D – READ IT! And let us know what you think of the book in the comments below 🙂