Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Talking to Dragons - Patricia C. Wrede

Talking to Dragons
Title: Talking to Dragons
Author: Patricia C. Wrede
Publication Date: 1985
Pages: 255
How I Found It: I've loved the series since childhood
Date Completed: 6/17/17

Summary: Years after the cliffhanger ending of Calling on Dragons, the Enchanted Forest is still hanging in the balance. Daystar knows little of the predicament but suddenly finds himself thrust into the center of the fight for the Forest.

What I Thought: I have owned and loved this series since childhood. Yet, somehow, I don't think I ever read this last book. Rereading them now, the third book has definitely proven to be my least favorite of the four, so maybe I got annoyed and quit after that. Or, maybe I realized my beloved Cimorene wasn't the star of the show here and passed because of that. Whatever the reason, I am 90% certain this was my first reading of this book.

I wish I had had the presence of mind as a child to push forward, to see this book as its own entity. While we do meet several familiar characters throughout its pages, it is focused on Daystar and the motley crew he befriends, not our familiar friends from the previous three books. Cimorene appears briefly at the start and finish and, even then, is seen only from the perspective of her son. Yet, the tone of the book is more similar to the first and second book than the third. It captures some of the same magic that Wrede had at the start of the series. The characters are mostly different, but the charm and wit are back.

It reminded me in some ways of the end of the Anne of Green Gables series, something I feared in my last review. The original characters have moved into the background and only punctuate the new story for brief, delightful moments. I thought Wrede carried out that transition better than Montgomery. I definitely missed Cimorene's presence. She is the core of these books for me, just as Anne is in Montgomery's classic series. She is why I fell hard for the Mountains of Morning and the Enchanted Forest all those years ago. Yet, Wrede gives us many of Cimorene's beloved qualities in Daystar's fire witch companion, Shiara. 

I was happy that we got as much of Morwen as we did in this book. Reading these books as an adult, I love her so much more than I did as a child. I know I mentioned that same sentiment in my review of Calling on Dragonsbut it is worth repeating. I found her surprise announcement at the end of the book a bit out of character, but I suppose we don't really know how much Morwen has potentially changed and grown as a person in the intervening years since the third book. 

It did seem thoroughly improbable to me that Daystar would be so entirely in the dark about the Enchanted Forest and its issues. I didn't fully understand Cimorene's motivations in keeping the whole story from him. I know he needed to carry the sword without knowing what it was, but certainly, she could have told him some of the story without revealing information that would put him in danger. And, did he have to make the journey alone? I have some serious questions about Cimorene's parenting decisions, is all I'm saying. 

This is a nice, nostalgic blast back to Dealing with Dragons. In some wonderful ways, it felt like a march through the forest in order to meet all our old favorite characters again. In other ways, it felt fresh and new and full of new characters to love. A fitting end to a favorite series. 

Rating: ★★★☆☆
Will I Re-Read: Yes, eventually
Other Books By Patricia C. Wrede: Dealing with Dragons / Searching for Dragons Calling on Dragons

A Reduced Review: A nice conclusion to a whimsical series; I recommend these stories to fantasy readers of any age. 

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