Patricia C. Wrede's Dealing with Dragons
(Book One of the "Enchanted Forest Chronicles")
YA book review by Kimi McDiarmid
Ages 10 to 14
Synopsis: A fun book about the adventures of the rebellious princess Cimorene. In order to avoid being married to a rather foolish prince, she runs away to be a dragon's princess. This is a great book for readers who like books about adventures, princesses, or fairy tales.
Review: Dealing with Dragons flows quite well from a few rather silly ideas: proper princesses embroider, act foolish, and don't
Knights don't gossip and must rescue princesses. If you go into the woods with a loaf of bread and give some to anyone you encounter, a fairy will cast a spell on you so that gemstones come from your mouth whenever you talk.
And the third and youngest son of a king will always succeed in a quest.
Basically, in this book, the lessons you learn from fairy tales are true.
Cimorene, definitely not a proper princess, is a fun and practical character. She is the stable person who acts as the centre of the book while a wonderful story is spun around her. There are a lot of fun details for people who have read a lot of fairy tales.
In Dealing with Dragons, Cimorene runs away from becoming engaged to a prince - straight to the dragons (one of whom thinks they should eat her, which is probably why most princesses don't volunteer).
Oddly enough, being a dragon's princess makes her even more marriageable - after all, now someone has to rescue her. And isn't that the way a prince or a knight is supposed to find a wife?
Eventually, she has to pretend to sprain her ankle to make knights and princes stop trying to rescue her for awhile.
Because Cimorene is unexpectedly practical and quite observant, she manages to help save the dragons - or at least some of their traditions - from the wizards.
Along the way, the dragon who has "captured" her lets Cimorene learn magic, although there is already a witch in the story, so she probably isn't going to become a witch.
The story feels fast and action packed. Between dealing with knights who keep trying to rescue her, learning magic, thwarting wizards, making friends with the other princesses, and of course, dealing with dragons, Cimorene is very busy.
I thought the way the dragons were gossipy and indecisive was a bit funny. The fact that every time they got together as a group, the dragons all disagreed with each other about what to do and then did nothing seems strangely...familiar.
I liked the way the book stands alone. While you can read about further adventures in the sequels (buy the Enchanted Forest Chronicles boxed set), it feels fine to have read only Dealing with Dragons. (It is worth it to read the sequels, however.)
Read more of Kimi's reviews.
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