12 July 2011

Summer Reading: Dragonspell by Donita K. Paul

Donita K. Paul's 2004 novel Dragonspell is a finely woven, character-driven tale that introduces us to a unique new world while paying distinct homage to classic fantasy.

Kale is a 14-year-old o'rant girl who is uprooted from the only life she's ever known - that of slavery in a remote village - after the town council realizes she has a special talent that will need to be honed at a religious training facility called "The Hall." Naive to life outside her small town, she is quickly abducted by creatures she thought were only from fairy tales, and just as rapidly rescued by a party sent out from The Hall to find her. As Kale discovers the depths and dangers of her newly discovered talent, she begins the transition from 'slave' to 'servant', in the service of the Creator of the seven high races, Wulder. She also becomes familiar with evil Pretender and his seven low races, as she works on learning the difference between the Truth, and lies crafted to sound like truth.

This engaging coming-of-age story is a smooth read populated with characters and situations that are both new and familiar to devotees of fantasy fiction. As Kale and her new friends of various races quest together to find a meech egg deep within the stronghold of the powerful and evil Risto, we meet a young dragon who faints every time he's startled, a delightful but all-too-familiar flighty wizard, and a preening doneel who has furry ears and an outfit (and musical instrument) for every occasion. Dragon-lovers will also find no shortage of dragons here, each with his or her own individual quirks, talents and personalities.

As in other fantasy novels, the Dragonspell world divides rather neatly into Good versus Evil, and if you've played Dungeons and Dragons, you'll recognize this as a book that revolves around clerics and other character classes in service to a common deity. Rather than utilizing the more mythical deities of many of the classic fantasy and gaming worlds, however, Wulder and Paladin and their moral code have been modeled after the Christian religion, with the moralizing present in the book (and there is some, a little heavy in spots) reflecting some traditional Christian values. I was aware of this before reading the book, thanks to comments in front of the book; I would love to know how far into the book I would have gotten before recognizing that for myself. But you certainly don't have to be Christian or looking to convert in order to enjoy this well-woven story, and enjoy spending a few hours inhabiting this delightful fantasy world along with Kale and her companions.

Dragonspell is the first book in a series, and I'm already looking forward to reading the second installment. Readers from middle school on up will enjoy it.

Also, as a neat aside: you can request a free, autographed DragonKeeper bookplate by sending a SASE to the author at the address given in this link. You even get to pick the color.

You can also read the first chapter online here!

Would you like to win a copy of DragonSpell?   "Follow" this blog and then leave a comment below in order to enter. That's it!

Publisher info:
by Donita K. Paul
WaterBrook Press (2004)
ISBN: 1578568234

Disclaimer: Waterbrook Multnomah Publishers has provided me with a complimentary copy of this book for review purposes. My opinions are solely my own.

1 comment:

Dee Bibb said...

OK...now this is another one to add to my TBR list...sounds like a great book!