Wednesday, August 29, 2012
Searching for Dragons (In which wizards hatch yet another dastardly plot)
After the barrage of obnoxious kings, princes and knights from the first book, Mendanbar is a refreshing change of pace. He's pretty much Cimorene, if she was a man, and King of the Enchanted Forest. Like the first book, Patricia Wrede sets up a fantastic and wry tone for her world and makes the entire story a fun, engaging frolic. While the first book mostly focused on the Mountains of Morning, this one reveals a lot more about the Enchanted Forest, which is quite an imaginative realm.
Mendenbar's Expectations are Flipped #1: Cimorene is Mendenbar's biggest surprise. After all, he detests empty headed princesses almost as much as Cimorene hates knights. Which is a lot. So when he first hears about her working for Kazul, King of Dragons, he thinks she's going to be some frustrating ambitious princess who really doesn't know what she's doing. However, once he arrives to the Mountains of Morning and Kazul isn't there, the raven haired, sharp tongued, sassy woman he meets isn't remotely close to who he imagined.
Mendanbar's Expectations are Flipped #2: Magic carpets end up being a memorable part of this book, particularly the one that Cimorene and Mendenbar borrow from the Giantess. Mostly because of the pink teddy bears, but also because it fails so spectacularly as a mode of transport and makes their journey three times as difficult. Falling from the sky by teddy beared carpet was never part of their plans, but it creates an entirely new and deadly image of magic carpets. Unless they're fixed by Jack (not a thief, a businessman).
Mendanbar's Expectations are Flipped #3: A magician is NOT a wizard. The magician they meet, Telemain, makes this very clear early on. Which is good, because turns out, the wizards are the bad guys, again.Telemain on the other hand is incredibly helpful and does not leech magic in the same way wizards do. However, he's got the attention span of a ferret and is constantly intrigued by anything magical that he can analyze be it Mendanbar's sword, wizard's staffs, etc. If you give a Telemain a magical conundrum, he's going to ask for time to study it.
Once Cimorene and Mendanbar realize that Kazul is being imprisoned IN the Enchanted Forest, Mendanbar decides to go take care of matters. However, he's amassed a large group of people insisting on joining him which creates one of the best, most chaotic scenes in the book. Finally, he takes the stubborn ones (Cimorene, Morwen, Telemain), defeats the wizard and saves the dragon. The whole book is tied up with a wedding between the Cimorene and Mendanbar in a very satisfying fashion.