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The Dragon's Son

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 7, 2002

    A book that every intelligent reader will enjoy.

    I do not know where to begin praising this book. One indication is a list of the books I was reading and enjoying that I set aside once I picked up The Dragon¿s Son: The Lord of the Rings; The Ear, The Eye, and the Arm; Charlotte¿s Web; The Wind Singer; The Bridge to Terabithia. All enjoyable or important, but I could not seem to focus on them until I had finished The Dragon¿s Son. The book does a spectacular job of explaining the motivations behind characters¿ actions, and it creates characters whom you never want to let go of and whose stories stay with you for days after reading the book. Thomson has a deep, humanistic sympathy for all of the four complex, damaged characters who serve as narrator for the book in turns. She is able to make you ache for the characters and their plights, even as they make terrible choices and unleash evil and havoc. [Spoiler ahead.] When Medraud¿s lover asks him how many people he is willing to kill to get his father to notice him, a whole life that hasn¿t been explored elsewhere springs into being. It makes other versions¿ renderings of these characters seem so naïve and uninteresting. [End spoiler.] The book brims with striking images. The battle scenes are particularly well-choreographed, exciting, and always clear. Geographical and historical detail are never ladled on, but glanced tastefully and tantalizingly in passing (J.R.R. Tolkien could have learned something from this book). There is a perfect balance in the time spent on describing physical things and settings against the time spent on describing characters¿ inner thoughts. The book is studded with examples of incisive turns of phrase, from a description of a handsome bard¿s crooked, disarming smile, to a description of a frown, like that of a priest at a Midsummer festival. And all of it achieved not through gussied language, but through simple, athletic prose. A real achievement. Also, the book¿s structure is quite skillful. It is told in four interlocking stories, with main characters glimpsing each other as side characters in multiple refractions. The effect is a wonderful feeling of non-linearity and involvement in the dynamic lives of these characters. You feel like you¿re ducking in and out of rooms in a bustling house, and peering into rooms through front-doors, then through peep-holes. Couple other things that make this book unique. First, it is one of the rare books that manages to depict lovers convincingly. You are never told that a character is sexy or alluring or charismatic, you¿re given vivid examples that arouse the reaction. Second, the book¿s feminism is subtlely and maturely incorporated. The book operates on a personal level, then on a political level, and never feels polemical or revisionist or didactic. I realize now that I¿ve written this reader review for adult readers, although this is marketed as children¿s lit. For parents, educators, or kids, let me just say that any kid who likes Greek mythology (and all the neatest kids in every generation in every country all love Greek mythology), will like The Dragon¿s Son. It has exciting plot, it has really interesting characters, it has thrilling battles. And it also has a good deal of heart and guts to it that make it transcend mere entertainment. I would say that Megan Whalen Turner¿s The Thief and The Queen of Attolia and Philip Pullman¿s The Golden Compass are its closest analogs and peers, and that¿s meant as very high praise. Highly recommended to all intelligent readers.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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