Category Archives: High Fantasy

Talking to Dragons by Patricia M. Wrede

Daystar is all grown up and off to the Enchanted Forest on his first adventure. Armed only with a sword and good manners, Daystar is kicked out of the house by his mother, Cimorene, and told to figure out what he’s supposed to do. But when it comes to the secrets of the Enchanted Forest, discovering your destiny isn’t always easy.

TitleTalking To Dragons 
AuthorPatricia Wrede 
SeriesEnchanted Forest Chronicles 
Publish Date: September 1, 1993
Publishers: Houghton Milton Harcourt
GenreMG/YA High Fantasy 
Publisher’s Description: Always be polite to dragons! That’s what Daystar’s mother taught him…and it’s a very wise lesson–one that might just help him after his mom hands him a magic sword and kicks him out of the house! Especially because his house sits on the edge of the Enchanted Forest and his mother is Queen Cimorene.

But the tricky part is figuring out what he’s supposed to do with the magic sword. Where is he supposed to go? And why does everyone he meets seem to know who he is?

It’s going to take a particularly hotheaded fire-witch, a very verbose lizard, and a badly behaved baby dragon to help him figure it all out.

And those good manners certainly won’t hurt!


Kat Mandu says…

Although this book was written by the author first, it’s actually the last in the series and takes place quite a few years after the events of the first three books. Daystar, the son of Cimorene, has no idea that it’s his duty to rescue his missing/sleeping father, Mendenbar, and all the while stopping the wizards forever. But first he’s gotta navigate through the Enchanted Forest.

Along the way he meets a very feisty fire-witch named Shiara, a couple elves, Antorell, and the old gang – Morwen, Telemain, Kazul, and of course, his own father. I find it’s interesting that his magic works a little differently than Mendenbar’s, but has similar effects, as it’s very good at getting him out of trouble.

This story has a lot of dialogue and kind of drags in certain spots where everyone is just arguing or plotting, but the plot is a lot more engaging and makes up for it. I’m very fond of the way the author kind of makes this a stand-alone novel, so that readers don’t have to read the first three to understand the story. Though, if you had read the first three, you’d probably know exactly what was going on and wouldn’t have to wait.

When I first read this series back in grade school, I actually read this one first and loved it, so I read the whole series backwards. It gave me a very different read and one I enjoyed. Now that I’ve read it in its chronological order, I realize that I probably missed quite a few details going backwards. 

Regardless, no matter how you read it, this is a great series for kids and adults. If you like some reimagined fairy tales, magic, and adventure, you’d love the Enchanted Forest chronicles. I know I enjoyed rereading it.

Our reviews in this series…

Other recommendations…

If you like dragons, magic, and adventure, you might try Susan Fletcher, Tamora Pierce, or Diane Duane.

Stolen Songbird by Danielle Jensen

Kidnapped by trolls, Cecily must unravel a series of secrets about her captors while planning an escape. But falling in love might change all her plans…

TitleStolen Songbird 
Author: Danielle L. Jensen 
Series: The Malediction Trilogy
Publish Date: April 1, 2014
Publisher: Strange Chemistry
Genre: YA High fantasy
Source: Purchased.

Publisher’s Description: For five centuries, a witch’s curse has bound the trolls to their city beneath the mountain. When Cécile de Troyes is kidnapped and taken beneath the mountain, she realises that the trolls are relying on her to break the curse.

Cécile has only one thing on her mind: escape. But the trolls are clever, fast, and inhumanly strong. She will have to bide her time…

But the more time she spends with the trolls, the more she understands their plight. There is a rebellion brewing. And she just might be the one the trolls were looking for…


Kat Mandu says…

Hello readers! We’re catching up on some reviews from our high-fantasy read-along. In Stolen Songbird, Cecily is taken by a man named Luc, who’s only interested in trading her to the trolls for some gold and other treasures. Thrown into the the dark world of Trollus, Cecily discovers that her kidnapping was no mere coincidence as she finds herself betrothed to the prince of the trolls and “bonded” through magical means. In a mix of terror, luck, and curiosity, Cecily slowly unravels the details of her captivity, the politics of Trollus, and even her strange attraction to Prince Tristan. As Trollus becomes dangerous in all sorts of ways – even for her – she knows her only hope at survival is to escape forever. But leaving Tristan, the “monster” she steadily falls for, may be harder than ever.

This has an interesting premise – for one, not many YAs have trolls. Especially good looking and intelligent ones (not that they’re “trolls” per se, a secret you read farther on in the book). I love the political games that the king, the queen, other key players, and even Tristan play and that Cecily doesn’t really have a say in any of it, though she quickly learns her role in them. She’s the one prophesied to break the witch’s curse that holds all the trolls beneath the mountain. So with a little magic, adventure, and romance mixed in, it makes for a great read.

I love that this series doesn’t have a love triangle. For me, it didn’t really even have romance at all until much later in the book when Cecily and Tristan learn they both have need of each other’s company. I mean, at the beginning, they hated each other. They were forced to marry just to fulfill the prophecy. Of course, when that doesn’t work, she becomes a prisoner. I like that Tristan realizes that she’s there against her will and wants to protect her (after all, he didn’t particularly love the arrangement either), but that doesn’t mean he insta-loves her. Hell, they spend the majority of the book pretending to hate each other (and actually doing so at times).

Cecily isn’t the bravest or strongest, but she knows how to manipulate and she does what she can to learn how to get around Trollus. She makes frenimies along the way and it’s interesting to see that after all she’s been through, she can still learn to care for the people who have about as little control as she does over her life.

I’m fascinated by the plot and eager to see where this magical story line takes Cecily and Tristan in the next book, Hidden Huntress. Until then, four stars from me! 

Other recommendations…

…you might try  Strange, Sweet Song by Adi Rule, Gates of Thread & Stone by Lori M. Lee, and ….

Calling on Dragons by Patricia C. Wrede

Welcome to Saturday Shorts, in which we review shorter works such as short stories, novellas, middle-grade books, and graphic novels. Today I’m back with the third review for the Enchanted Forest Chronicles, a series about a feisty princess who’s anything but ordinary.

TitleCalling on Dragons 
Author: Patricia C. Wrede
Series: The Enchanted Forest Chronicles
Publish Date: March 1, 2003
Genre: MG Fantasy
Source: Purchased

Publisher’s Description:
Those wicked wizards are back–and they’ve become very smart. (Sort of.) They intend to take over the Enchanted Forest once and for all . . . unless Cimorene finds a way to stop them. And some people think being queen is easy.

 


Kat Mandu says…

This is the book three of four in the Enchanted Forest Chronicles and sometimes I find it strange that the author didn’t write the whole series for children. Again, this has a nice little innocent touch to it, and I’m actually surprised that this book turn a turn from its prequel and had more of a lighter plot, more child-like and less complicated. The first two books seemed to have more of an edge and less convenient holes to fall into.

That being said, I loved it; each book has its own way of leading up to the finale and is narrated by different characters. And although I loved the point of views of both Mendenbar, the King of the Enchanted Forest, and Morwen, a sassy witch with lots of cats and a friend to most of the lead characters, I rather wish Cimorene would get her turn in the spotlight again. The first one continues to be my favorite in the series and I think it’s because I’m so drawn to her character.

Again, this book plays with a lot of different fairy tale ideas and songs, from the princess and the pea, to Old MacDonald, to the retelling of Rapunzel. I love books that contain more than one retelling (after all, I’m a fan of all princesses, not just some) and that it does it in a simple way that avoids distracting from the real story.

I wasn’t sure what to think about some of the character conversations in this. The cats were humorous, providing sarcasm in good moments. However, there’s a whole scene where the crew burst into this guy’s house (okay, technically it’s a tower, but he lives there, so) and blame him for not being hospitable…which I find incredibly weird because no one would do that in real life (or at least I’d hope not). But like I said, this book has its innocent kicks and the characters tend to be very headstrong anyway.

Though it’s my least favorite in the series, I still enjoyed it a lot and you will too!

Our reviews in this series…

Other recommendations…

…you might try Susan Fletcher, Tamora Pierce, or Diane Duane.

Endure by Sara B. Larson

In this third and final installment to the Defy trilogy, Alexa and Damian are engaged to be wed – but first they’ve got a country to save and lots of bad guys to defeat.

TitleEndure
AuthorSara B. Larson
SeriesDefy, Book 03
Publish Date: December 29, 2015 by Scholastic
Genre: YA High Fantasy
Source: Purchased

Publisher’s DescriptionAt last, Alexa and King Damian are engaged to be married. But their lives are far from safe. The kingdom of Antion is under siege, and Rylan is a prisoner of the enemy. Even worse, Alexa remains at the mercy of the evil Dansiian Rafe, who controls her mind and can force Alexa to kill or harm Damian at any moment. Despite this, Alexa is determined to rescue Rylan, which soon leads her far from Damian and deep into enemy territory.

When she arrives, what awaits her is deadlier than anything she could have ever imagined: an army of black sorcerers and a horrifying plot to destroy the world as Alexa knows it. Will she be able to gather the strength to free herself, protect the love of her life, and save the land? Will there ever be true peace?

Acclaimed author Sara B. Larson has woven a stunning, romantic, and evocative finale to the Defy trilogy that is sure to leave readers breathless until the very last page.

Possible spoilers beyond this point.


Kat Mandu says…

This book is particularly action-packed and I really loved it. Characters are getting back into their own skins and finally taking charge of the situations, even when they seem hopeless. For the first time since they were “kidnapped” by the Blevonese, Alexa and Damian must separate. Damian will lead his Antion people to safety and Alexa is bound to rescue Rylan.

Things naturally don’t go according to plan, but that’s okay because it provides some really cool fight scenes. I really love the beginning when Manu comes in and creates that magical smoke that causes a lot of people to hallucinate. Plus, any time there’s magic, it’s always cool, so there’s quite a few fight scenes that really captured my attention.

I do love that Alexa is vulnerable to Rafe’s mind control and so is Rylan. It makes for an interesting final battle between the two of them, Damian, and Rafe.

I don’t have many rants about this book – it made me happier than the first two, though I was sad to see quite a few characters go that I’d grown fond of. But that’s the trouble with high fantasy, haha! Everyone you like DIES.

Anyway, this is a great trilogy. Full of excitement and great political, romantic, and magical plot lines.

Our reviews in this series…

Links will become active as reviews are posted.

Other recommendations…

Recommended for fans of Kiersten White, Sophie Jordan, and Tamora Pierce.

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Frost Like Night by Sara Raasch

As the final battle of the world of Primoria versus Angra and his Decay comes to a close, can Meira risk her heart and her life to save everything and everyone she cares for?

TitleFrost Like Night
Author: Sara Raasch
Series: Snow Like Ashes, Book 3
Publish Date: September 20, 2016
Genre: YA High fantasy
Source: Purchased

Publisher’s Description: Angra is alive, his Decay is spreading—and no one is safe.

Meira will do anything to save her world. With Angra trying to break through her mental defenses, she desperately needs to learn to control her own magic—so when the leader of a mysterious Order from Paisly offers to teach her, she jumps at the chance. But the true solution to stopping the Decay lies in a labyrinth deep beneath the Season Kingdoms. To defeat Angra, Meira will have to enter the labyrinth, destroy the very magic she’s learning to control—and make the biggest sacrifice of all.

Mather will do anything to save his queen. He needs to rally the Children of the Thaw, find Meira—and finally tell her how he really feels. But with a plan of attack that leaves no kingdom unscathed and a major betrayal within their ranks, winning the war—and protecting Meira—slips farther and farther out of reach.

Ceridwen will do anything to save her people. Angra had her brother killed, stole her kingdom, and made her a prisoner. But when she’s freed by an unexpected ally who reveals a shocking truth behind Summer’s slave trade, Ceridwen must take action to save her true love and her kingdom, even if it costs her what little she has left.

As Angra unleashes the Decay on the world, Meira, Mather, and Ceridwen must bring the kingdoms of Primoria together…or lose everything.

 


Luna Lovebooks says…

Likes: The world building is still amazing! The magical system is still intriguing as well. The characters are the strong suit in this novel. I love that Meria is more confident and has found a balance between being queen and being herself. I love that she has found peace with herself and her magic. The romance between Meria and Mather is perfect! I also loved that we got Ceridwen’s POV in this novel.

Dislikes: I had a hard time making it through this book. The excitement that was present in the first two slowly waned for me. It did pick up, but I slowly lost interest. This is one of those novels that makes you fall for characters and then the author rips them away! SO. MUCH. DEATH. The ending wasn’t particularly satisfying, it wasn’t horrible but it just wasn’t satisfying for me.

Because I lost interest, I have to give this book three swords. I was able to finish, and it did pick up towards the end but it just wasn’t a satisfying read for me.

Kat Mandu says…

Frost Like Night draws out all the main good guys versus the bad guys for one final epic showdown. In this book, Meira, Mather, and Cerridwen all narrate the story, bringing all new ideas to the book while giving you new perspectives into different worlds. Meira must come to grips with the sacrifice she must make to save her world and everyone she loves within it. Mather must lead his friends into a battle and learn to protect, love, and let go of the queen he adores. And Cerridwen, the feisty princess of Summer, must garner her military forces together while fighting a battle within her heart.

Sadly, with the exception of the very beginning and close to the end, this last book is lacking a lot of action. It’s a fact I rather miss to be honest. I’m not saying that the character embracing her destiny isn’t necessary. I’m just used to the final book in a trilogy to be packed full of action and battle. Maybe it’s weird to say, but every other high fantasy I’ve read has, so I wasn’t expecting the slow down. In fact, it took me so much by surprise that it dragged it down for me and I had a hard time staying interested during certain parts.

Don’t get me wrong. The things that happened were critical to the plot line: Meira semi-learning how to control her magic, learning to let herself love Mather; even the wedding between Cerridwen and Jesse was great. But the sudden slowing of pace really threw me for a loop because I was craving that action that the first book carried so much of, that I found myself unable to really get into what was happening. 

But boy, when the action does come back around, it’s wonderful. However, because it’s the ending of a trilogy, no more spoilers here. Either way, this was a good end to a great series and I give its final installment a three.

Our reviews in this series…

Other recommendations…

If you like young adult high fantasy series featuring fierce heroines…you might try Susan Dennard, Sara B Larson, Rosamund Hodge, or Jodi Meadows.