One hundred years ago, the Kragnir Queen was found murdered during a visit to the neighboring Trelian kingdom. The countries have been at war since. In an effort to end the feud, the current kings plan to wed their children, Princess Maerlie of Trelian and Prince Rylant of Kragnir.
Calen is a mage’s apprentice. Tied to the service a Lord or King, mages use magic to serve their patron. When Calen shows no great aptitude, his master, Serek, royal mage to the King of Trelian relaxes his teaching.
Meg is Maerlie’s younger sister with a special bond between herself and a dragon she stumbled upon in her youth. Lately, the secret bond between the two grows stronger. A chance meeting between Calen and Meg lead to an unlikely but mutually welcome friendship. When the two overhear a plot to murder Maerlie on her wedding night, they must pull all their cleverness, courage and strength to save Maerlie and the kingdoms.
A well-structured, intriguing plot with realistic characters and a good balance between action, politics, character development and fantasy appropriate for middle grade readers.
Nothing in the way of extraordinary regarding the magical elements. We’ve seen links between dragons and people before (Eragon), mage’s (Tamora Pierce and The Bartimaeus Trilogy), and dark creatures that inspire fear (ringwraiths and dementors).
Calen’s unique gift to see magic was rather interesting.
I saw the spell as she was casting — it was deep red, like the spell for killing weeds, only much stronger. Or the spell you used on that soldier, that first one who was attacked, when you were trying to burn out the poison. Only this was darker, and … worse, somehow.’ Calen shuddered, remembering.
Serek had stopped and was looking at him intently. ‘You saw the spell?’ (p 291).
But the story is engaging and the writing (although I spotted a few copyrighting errors) is solid. Young fans of Fablehaven, The Shamer’s Daughter, The Hobbit and dragon lore in general will greatly enjoy this book. I’ve seen it on several mock Newbery lists but as much as I love fantasy, it’s not the strongest contender.
Publisher: Candlewick (April 14, 2009)