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For this installment, and in honor of one of the most fascinating creatures in fantasy literature, I will be adding a few books that all have one major thing in common – dragons!  These brilliant beasts have been used as popular devices in stories for hundreds of years.  One of the earliest literary dragons is seen in Beowulf, an epic poem that may have been composed as early as 700AC.  They are powerful creatures, often full of wit and magic, and can pose as a significant threat when angered.  Dragon myths are common, with ancient civilizations and tribes from all over the world talking, singing, and writing about these intelligent creatures.  Readers, almost universally, have fallen in love with dragons and I am no exception.

Some of the books I enjoy reading most include dragons, so it is not surprising that many will appear here in my personal collection.  There will be more to follow, but we will get the ball rolling with a few of my very favorite!

  1. Dragon’s Bait by Vivian Vande Velde
  2. Dealing With Dragons by Patricia C. Wrede
  3. The Hobbit by J.R. Tolkien

Velde, V. V. (2003). Dragon’s Bait. Orlando, FL: Magic Carpet Books.

Dragon's Bait

There is not another book published that I have read more times than Dragon’s Bait.  In honesty, I cannot remember where I got this book, but it has been a part of my master collection since I first began reading.  Dragon’s Bait was one of the first, it not the very first, books I ever read and enjoyed by myself.  It also introduced me to the wonders of young adult fantasy writing.

Wrede, P. C. (1990). Dealing with dragons. San Diego, CA: Harcourt Brace & Company.

Dealing With Dragons

Dealing with Dragons was a Battle of the Books required reading, an afterschool activity my mother encouraged me to participate in during my middle-school years.  I actually own the three subsequent novels as well.  This book, like the others, is important because it is part of the transitional period I went through during which I finally started to read books for enjoyment.

Tolkien, J. R. (1965). The hobbit. New York, NY: Ballantine Books.

The Hobbit

J. R. Tolkien’s The Hobbit was the most complicated book I had attempted to read when I was in eighth grade.  While not strictly a “young adult” novel, it certainly helped to broaden the scope of my reading world and helped me to realize that I was capable of reading more complex literature.

 

If you have not done so already, make sure you check out my recent review of Dragon’s Bait!  The review was my most recent blog post prior to this one.  You will also be able to find it, and all future book reviews, by visiting my Book Reviews Page!

What are your favorite books containing dragons?  Tell us about your favorite literary dragons, the traits / characteristics they possess, and what you love most about them!

Lions and Tigers and DRAGONS! Oh My!

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Posted by on June 29, 2014 in Uncategorized

 

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Dragon’s Bait Book Review

Dragon’s Bait by Vivian Vande Velde

Dragon's Bait

Synopsis

For sixteen-year-old Alys, witches, dragons, and lost souls are things far away from the small town she grew up in.  Saint Toby’s was always her home and the people within it, while some more questionable than others, were all she had ever known.  That is, until the day she was wrongfully accused of being a witch and offered up as a sacrifice to a dragon.

Ultimately betrayed and condemned to die by those she once called friends, reeling from the loss of her only remaining family, and with nowhere else to go, Alys gives up.  Coming face-to-face with the source of her impending demise, however, doesn’t work out exactly as she expected.

Instead, Alys finds a most dangerous ally and sets out on a journey to exact her revenge.  Charmingly frustrating, shape-shifting dragons are the least of her problems, though, as Alys slowly realizes that vengeance isn’t everything she thought it would be.  In fact, her single-minded determination to destroy the lives of those who ruined hers may very well cause Alys to lose the one thing she has left.

Review

Dragon’s Bait is a delightful little story about loss, revenge, and love.  While the book doesn’t overpower the reader with any one of these elements in particular, it eludes to each lightly at varying states.  This functions as both a benefit and a limitation.  While the book is enjoyable, easy to read, and short, it does lack a certain level of depth.

Alys is presented as a somewhat one-dimensional character and her actions are usually predictable.  Her role is unique, however, as she spends the majority of the book seeking vengeance and plotting bad things against those who wronged her.  This deviates from many other young adult fiction protagonists who run from issues until the climax of the book when he/she can no longer avoid them.  Instead of waiting for action to find her, Alys propels the story forward, her choices setting the foundation for what happens next at every turn.

Her accomplice, the dashing “young” dragon, Selendrile, provides the reader with more intrigue, as details about his life and existence are explored only to the extent that Alys discovers them, which isn’t much.  His character remains a curiosity, but his existence pulls at the heart-strings.  While the faint presence of potential romance between the two is endearing and sweet, it is arguably too subtle – the readers almost have to be looking for it.

Vivian Vande Velde’s writing style is simple, but she delivers a solid story that definitely meets the needs of her targeted upper-elementary to middle school age group.  Versed fantasy readers will likely find this quick read pleasant, but may not be completely satisfied when it comes to the details.  Overall, however, Dragon’s Bait is enjoyable, serves as a wonderful introduction to young adult literature, and is very well-suited for younger audiences.

Book Ratings

  • Plot: 4/5
  • Setting: 3/5
  • Characters: 3.75/5
  • Creativity: 4/5
  • Writing: 4/5
  • Overall: 3.75/5
 
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Posted by on June 28, 2014 in Uncategorized

 

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