by Donita K. Paul
Greetings, friends! First off, just a moment of self-advertisement – I started a new blog! For most of you, it probably won’t hold much interest, but I thought I’d throw it out there anyway! :-D My husband and I really enjoy taking hikes and exploring, and we’ve started recording our adventures. Not a lot of beautiful scenery in February Ohio, but still! Good times, good times.
Anyway, the book! Dragonknight is the third of Paul’s Dragon Keeper books, and it was (so far; I haven’t finished the last one yet) my favorite out of the batch. While the first two books focus on Kale, the dragon keeper, this installment is mostly about a character we met in the second book, Bardon. Bardon aspires to become a knight, and has been training as Sir Dar’s squire over the couple of years since we last visited Amara. At the beginning of the book, he’s setting off to spend several months in seclusion, to rest and pray, etc., before coming back to take (or not take) his final vows and become a knight. Unfortunately, when he arrives at the supposedly-empty cottage where he is supposed to stay, it’s already occupied by a pair of emerlindian women who are starting on a quest of their own.
I’m not sure why I enjoyed Dragonknight more than the other books in this series. It may be that I found myself relating to Bardon, who was doing his best to follow the rules and do what he was supposed to, but was constantly being saddled with more responsibilities, and soon found himself leading a ragtag group of individuals who never seemed to really grasp the seriousness of the situation. It could also be that I am somewhat tired of the whole concept of “mind speaking,” which seems to suddenly be in every single fantasy book I read. Since Bardon isn’t good at mind speaking, there isn’t as much of it in this book, which I thought was great.
The downsides were, as usual, Paul’s irritating habit of throwing her characters into mortal danger BAM! right in the first chapter. WHY!??!!? I find it just irrationally annoying that she seems to think that she has to “hook” us into the story by immediately having someone getting attacked, usually by some creature we’ve never even heard of before, and that she doesn’t really bother to explain, so I already have to flip back to the glossary within the first five pages just so I can truly grasp the horror of the situation.
The second major downside was, also per usual, the end of the book (I’m realizing that she’s really pretty good at the middle stuff, but lacks the ability to begin and end her stories strongly). We spend the entire book building up this big crescendo, and then it all kind of just fizzles out. In this book, they literally come across the Pretender himself (basically, the devil) and have this big conversation and then… apparently he just kinda wanders away??? It’s just very unsatisfactory. I don’t know if Paul doesn’t like to write battle scenes, or if she really just doesn’t know how to get rid of villains, but she does it poorly every time.
Still, this was definitely my favorite out of the bunch – the middle bits were pretty solid! 4/5.