Dragonhaven [NOOK Book]

Overview

Dragons are extinct in the wild, but the Makepeace Institute of Integrated Dragon Studies in Smokehill National Park is home to about two hundred of the world’s remaining creatures. Until Jake discovers a dying dragon that has given birth—and one of the babies is still alive.


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Dragonhaven

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Overview

Dragons are extinct in the wild, but the Makepeace Institute of Integrated Dragon Studies in Smokehill National Park is home to about two hundred of the world’s remaining creatures. Until Jake discovers a dying dragon that has given birth—and one of the babies is still alive.


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Editorial Reviews

Horn Book
In her customary way McKinley evokes a complete, detailed alternate reality . . .
Publishers Weekly

Set in a world nearly identical to our own-except for the existence of Draco australiensis(gigantic, reclusive, fire-breathing dragons who raise their infants in marsupial-like pouches)-this big, ambitious novel marks a departure of sorts for Newbery Medalist McKinley, whose previous works take place either in the realm of fairy tale and legend (Spindle's End) or the magical land of Damar (The Hero and the Crown). But fans will instantly recognize its protagonist, the tightly wound and solitary Jake, as classic McKinley. On his first-ever solo expedition in remotest Smokehill (the Wyoming dragon preserve and national park where he was raised), Jake stumbles across the single surviving newborn of a female dragon slaughtered by a poacher. Jake takes on the challenge of raising the orphaned creature, describing the process in minute and loving detail ("She was hopeless as a lapdog-the wrong shape, and she was too thick-bodied to curl properly-but she'd lie pretty contentedly on my bare feet, or behind my ankles-that's whenshe was willing . . . to lie down at all. She went on wanting skin [contact], and she still spent nights lying against my stomach"). When Jake attempts to reintroduce the dragon to her own species, a brave new era of dragon-human relations begins. One quibble: because Jake tells the story as a memoir, some climactic moments tend to be relayed at arm's length. On balance, McKinley renders her imagined universe so potently that readers will wish they could book their next vacation in Smokehill. Ages 12-up. (Sept.)

Copyright 2007 Reed Business Information
VOYA - Natalie Solski
Fans of realistic fantasy/science fiction will enjoy McKinley's latest work. Taking a fresh twist on the traditional dragon tale, Dragonhaven is a believable story led by a strong teenage protagonist. The dragon's playful antics will strike a chord in anyone who has ever loved a pet. The author does an excellent job of fleshing out her characters, yet some readers might find the detailed background information in the first chapter somewhat tedious.
VOYA - Rebecca Moore
In an alternate America, fourteen-year-old Jake's life is turned upside down when on his first solo overnight in the Smokehill preserve, he finds a dying dragon by the mangled body of a would-be poacher. What is worse is that the dragon has just given birth, and one of the dragonlets is still alive. Jake knows that it is illegal to save a dragon's life. He knows that he could ruin his own life, his father's struggling dragon-study institute, and Smokehill itself-to say nothing of its highly endangered dragons. He picks up the dragonlet and names her Lois. In the years that follow, while a crusade by the poachers' parents threatens all Jake holds dear, Jake learns the trials of trying to raise his dragon-daughter in secret-and that there is more to dragons than anyone ever suspected. McKinley effortlessly works a realistic animal epic as in The Yearling (Scribner's, 1938) into a traditional fantasy, creating a tale that will linger long with thoughtful readers. At a leisurely pace, McKinley offers a seamless, believable world, a self-deprecating narrator whose voice never hits a false note, and a poignant message. Most important, though, she manages to find a fresh angle on a much-overworked topic-Lois is an utter delight. Only the book's awkward structure precludes a 5Q. The climax comes too early, and the last quarter is a years-later epilogue that would have worked better in a sequel. Recommend this one to readers who like stories that they can sink into and to those who prefer world building and character to action.
VOYA - Rachel Jiang
Breaking the traditional fantasy mold, this novel portrays dragons as a scientific, not-so-magical endangered species, which makes the plot captivating and easier to connect with. Humorous images and hilarious vocabulary whisk the reader through the pages. As bumbling, babbling dragonet Lois grows up, her house-pet actions bring her out of the book and into the reader's backyard. Teenagers will enjoy the relaxed way Jake tells about his harrowing adventures with his fire-breathing friends.
VOYA - Serena Liu
McKinley's explores the well-worn theme of dragons from an original perspective, introducing readers to a futuristic world that still retains many familiar aspects. The dragons, Lois in particular, are well-developed, captivating characters that enliven a somewhat leisurely plot. The story is unique, providing an interesting take on dragons and their care; it will probably appeal most readily to dragon-lovers or those interested in the genre.
Children's Literature - Sharon Oliver
Jake has spent his entire life at Smokehill, a wilderness refuge for dragons. In this alternate future, dragons have become an endangered, feared and little-seen species. On Jake's first solo overnight camping trip into the wilds of Smokehill, he stumbles across a dying dragon and a dead poacher. He also finds the sole survivor of the dragon's newborn litter. Though there are laws against assisting dragons, Jake saves the dragonlet's life, an action that changes the lives of everyone at Smokehill. While definitely a book for the lover of dragon stories, much of this story is Jake's journey into adulthood. The responsibility of caring for a dragonlet accustomed to living in its mother's pouch are demanding for Jake and those close to him. He begins to experience headaches that he comes to realize are communications from the dragons. When a threatened dragon snatches Jake and the dragonlet, he comes to learn much more than he ever anticipated about dragons and their mythology. This mix of fantasy and realistic fiction will have appeal for a wide range of readers. Reviewer: Sharon Oliver
School Library Journal

Gr 7 Up
A novel set in an alternate contemporary world. Viewing dragons as fire-breathing, non-sentient animals with gigantic appetites for livestock, humans have hunted them for centuries, and now they survive only in a few wilderness havens. Jake Mendoza has grown up at one such haven, the Smokehill National Park in the American West, and has inherited his scientist parents' commitment to the park's secret inhabitants. When he rescues an orphaned baby dragon, he sets in motion a cascade of events that may eventually save these top predators from extinction. Readers will find the book to be less about the joys of the human-dragon bond and more about the challenges of raising an infant and communicating in a vastly different language. As an exhausted Jake explains, he is the first human in history to find out that a marsupial baby dragon out of its mother's pouch still expects a round-the-clock source of food, warmth, and company for over a year. Also, their telepathic communication gives Jake and his fellow Smokehill residents debilitating head-aches, and no one on either side is ever entirely sure they've got the message right. Once readers get through Jake's overdone teenage diction in the first few chapters, they will be engaged by McKinley's well-drawn characters and want to root for the Smokehill community's fight to save the ultimate endangered species.
—Beth WrightCopyright 2006 Reed Business Information.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781440696008
  • Publisher: Penguin Group (USA)
  • Publication date: 9/20/2007
  • Sold by: Penguin Group
  • Format: eBook
  • Pages: 352
  • Sales rank: 98,495
  • File size: 714 KB

Meet the Author

Robin McKinley has won various awards and citations for her writing, including the Newbery Medal for The Hero and the Crown and a Newbery Honor for The Blue Sword. Her other books include Sunshine; the New York Times bestseller Spindle's End; two novel-length retellings of the fairy tale Beauty and the Beast, Beauty and Rose Daughter; and a retelling of the Robin Hood legend, The Outlaws of Sherwood. She lives with her husband, the English writer Peter Dickinson.




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Read an Excerpt

Chapter 2

I didn't see anything that day but ordinary eastern Smokehill landscape, and little stuff like squirrels, and a few deer and wild sheep. But the weirdest thing is that by the time I got to Pine Tor I had this huge harrowing sense of urgency, instead of feeling good and tired and pleased with myself-and maybe deciding to go a last leisurely quarter-mile farther to make it twenty miles and then find a nice place to camp didn't register with me at all. I was so wired I couldn't stand still, despite how tired I was. I had to keep going. Where? What? Huh?

I have to say I'd made unbelievable time. That sounds like bragging but it's important for what happened. I got to Pine Tor and it was still afternoon. I stood there, panting, looking around, like I was looking for a Rangers' mark, except I'd already found the one that was there. I wasn't even very interested in the fact that Pine Tor itself looked just like Grace's-Billy's wife-drawing of it and so it was like I had seen it before. It was like I was waiting. . . .

Waiting. . . .

I knew what the smell was immediately, even though I'd never smelled it before. The wind was blowing away from me or I'd've smelled it a lot sooner. My head snapped around like a dog's and I set off toward it, like it was pulling me, like it was a rope around my neck being yanked. No, first I stopped and took a very close look at where I was. Pine Tor is big, and I needed to be able to find not just it again, but the right side of it. I was about to set off cross country, away from the Rangers' trail and the Rangers' marks-the thing I was above all expressly forbidden to do-and I had to be able to findmy way back. Which proves that at least some of my brain cells were working.

It wasn't very far, and when I got there I was glad the wind was blowing away from me. The smell was overwhelming. But then everything about it was overwhelming. I can't tell you . . . and I'm not going to try. It'll be hard enough, even now, just telling a little.

It was a dead-or rather a dying-dragon. She lay there, bleeding, dying, nearly as big as Pine Tor. Stinking. And pathetic. And horrible. She wasn't dying for any good reason. She was dying because somebody-some poacher-some poacher in Smokehill-had killed her. If everything else hadn't been so overpowering that alone would have stopped me cold.

I was seeing my first dragon up close. And she was mutilated and dying.

She'd got him too, although it was too late for her. When I saw him-what was left of him-I threw up. It was completely automatic, like blinking or sneezing. He was way beyond horrible but he wasn't pathetic. I was glad he was dead. I was just sorry I'd seen him. It.

There were a couple of thoughts trying to go through my head as I stood there, gasping and shaking. (I was shaking so hard I could barely stand up, and suddenly my knapsack weighed so much and hung on my back so clumsily it was going to make me fall down.) We don't have poachers at Smokehill. The fence keeps most of them out; even little half-hearted attempts to breach it make a lot of alarms go off back at the Rangers' headquarters and we're allowed to call out a couple of National Guard helicopters if enough of those alarms go off in the same place. (Some other time I'll tell you about getting helicopters through the gate.) It's happened twice in my lifetime. No one has ever made it through or over the fence before a helicopter has got there-no one ever had. Occasionally someone manages to get through the gate, but the Rangers always find them before they do any damage-sometimes they're glad to be found. Even big-game-hunter-type major assho-idiots sometimes find Smokehill a little too much. I'd never heard of anyone killing a dragon in Smokehill-ever-and this wasn't the sort of thing Dad wouldn't have told me, and it was the sort of thing I'd asked. Nor, of course, would he have let me do my solo if there was any even vague rumor of poachers or big-game idiots planning to have a try.

The other thing that was in my head was how I knew she was female: because of her color. One of the few things we know about dragon births is that Mom turns an all-over red-vermilion-maroon-with-orange-bits during the process, and dragons are green-gold-brown-black mostly, with sometimes a little red or blue or orange but not much. Even the zoos had noticed the color change. Old Pete had taken very careful notes about his mom dragons, and he thought it was something to do with getting the fire lit in the babies' stomachs. It's as good a guess as any.

But that was why the poacher'd been able to get close to her, maybe. Dragons-even dragons-are probably a little more vulnerable when they're giving birth. Apparently this one hadn't had anyone else around to help her. I didn't know why. Old Pete thought a birthing mom always had a few midwives around.

You don't go near a dying dragon. They can fry you after they're dead. The reflex that makes chickens run around after their heads are cut off makes dragons cough fire. Quite a few people have died this way, including one zookeeper. I suppose I wasn't thinking about that. I was thinking about the fact that she was dying, and that her babies were going to die because they had no mother, and that she'd know that. I boomeranged into thinking about my own mother again. They wanted to tell us, when they found her, that she must have died instantly. Seems to me, if she really did fall down that cliff, she'd've had time to think about it that Dad and I were going to be really miserable without her.

How do I know what a mother dragon thinks or doesn't think? But it was just so sad. I couldn't bear it. I went up to her. Went up to her head, which was like nearly as big as a Ranger's cabin. She watched me coming. She watched me. I had to walk up most of the length of her body, so I had to walk past her babies, these little blobs that were baby dragons. They were born and everything. But they were already dead. So she was dying knowing her babies were already dead. I'd started to cry and I didn't even know it.

When I was standing next to her head I didn't know what to do. It was all way too unreal to want to like pet her-pet a dragon, what a not-good idea-and even though I'd sort of forgotten that she could still do to me what she'd done to the poacher, I didn't try to touch her. I just stood there like a moron. I nearly touched her after all though because I was still shaking so hard I could hardly stay on my feet. Balance yourself by leaning against a dragon, right. I crossed my arms over my front and reached under the opposite elbows so I could grab my knapsack straps with my hands like I was holding myself together. Maybe I was.

The eye I could see had moved slowly, following me, and now it stared straight at me. Never mind the fire risk, being stared at by a dragon-by an eye the size of a wheel on a tour bus-is scary. The pupil goes on and on to the end of the universe and then around to the beginning too, and there are landscapes in the iris. Or cavescapes. Wild, dreamy, magical caves, full of curlicue mazes where you could get lost and never come out and not mind. And it's hot. I was sweating. Maybe with fear (and with being sick), but with the heat of her staring too.

So there I was, finally seeing a dragon up close-really really up close-the thing I would have said that I wanted above every other thing in the world or even out of the world that I could even imagine wanting. And it was maybe the worst thing that had ever happened to me. You're saying, wait a minute, you dummy, it's not worse than your mom dying. Or even your dog. It kind of was though, because it was somehow all three of them, all together, all at once.

I stared back. What else could I do-for her? I held her gaze. I took a few steps into that labyrinth in her eye. It was sort of reddish and smoky, and shadowy and twinkling. And it was like I really was standing there, with Smokehill behind me, not Smokehill all around us both as I stood and stared (and shuddered). The heat seemed to sort of all pull together into the center of my skull, and it hung there and throbbed. Now I was sweating from having a headache that felt like it would split my head open. So that's my excuse for my next stupid idea: that I saw what she was thinking. Like I can read a dragon's expression when I mostly can't tell what Dad or Billy is thinking. Well, it felt like I could read her huge dying eye, although maybe that was just the headache, and what I saw was anger-rage-despair. Easy enough to guess, you say, that she'd be feeling rage and despair, and it didn't take any creepy mind-reading. But I also saw . . . hope.

Hope?

Looking at me, as she was looking at me (bang bang bang went my skull), a little hope had crept into the despair. I saw this happen. Looking at me, the same sort of critter, it should have seemed to her, as had killed her.

And then she died.

And I was back in Smokehill again, standing next to a dead dragon, and the beautiful, dangerous light in her eye was gone.

And then I did touch her. I forgot about the dead-dragon fire-reflex, and I crouched down on the stinking, bloody ground, and rested my forehead against a tiny little sticky-out knob of her poor ruined head, and cried like a baby. Cried more than I ever had for Mom-because, you know, we'd waited so long, and expected-but not really expected-the worst for so long, that when the worst finally arrived we couldn't react at all.

Twenty rough miles in a day and crying my head off-when I staggered to my feet again, feeling like a fool, I was so exhausted I barely could stand. And while none of this had taken a lot of time, still, it was late afternoon, and the sun was sinking, and I needed to get back to Pine Tor tonight if at all possible. I began drearily to drag myself back the way I had come. I had to walk past all the little dead dragonlets again. I looked at them not because I wanted to but to stop myself from looking at the poacher's body. Which is how I noticed that one of them was still breathing.

A just-born dragon is ridiculously small, not much bigger than the palm of your hand. Old Pete had guessed they were little but even he didn't guess how little. I'm not even sure why I recognized them, except that I was already half nuts and they seemed to be kind of smoky and shadowy and twinkling. The color Mom goes to have them and get their tummies lit up lasts a few hours or as much as half a day, but no one-not even Old Pete-had ever seen the babies or the fire-lighting actually happening and maybe that's not really when they're born or lit at all, and it's just Mom's color that makes humans think "fire."

But I did recognize them. And I could see that the smokiest, twinklingest of the five of them was breathing: that its tiny sides were moving in and out. And because no one knows enough about dragons one of the things I'd read a lot about, so I could make educated guesses just like real scientists, was marsupials. If I hadn't known that dragons were marsupial-ish I think I probably still wouldn't have recognized them, nuts or not.

They look kind of lizardy, to the extent they look anything, because mostly what they look is soft and squidgy-just-born things often look like that, one way or another, but dragons look a lot worse than puppies or kittens or even Boneland ground squirrels or just-hatched birds. New dragonlets are pretty well still fetuses after all; once they get into their mom's pouch they won't come out again for yonks.

This baby was still wet from being born. It was breathing, and making occasional feeble, hopeless little swimming gestures with its tiny stumpy legs, like it was still blindly trying to crawl up its mom's belly to her pouch, like a kangaroo's joey. I couldn't bear that either, watching it trying, and without thinking about it, I picked it up and stuffed it down my shirt. I felt its little legs scrabble faintly a minute or two longer, and then sort of brace themselves, and then it collapsed, or curled up, and didn't move any more, although there was a sort of gummy feeling as I moved and its skin rubbed against mine. And I thought, Oh, great, it's dead now too, I've got a sticky, gross, dead dragonlet down my shirt, and then I couldn't think about it any more because I had to watch for the way to Pine Tor. The moon was already rising as the day grayed to sunset, and it was a big round bright one that shed a lot of light. I could use all the breaks I could get.

I made it back to Pine Tor and unloaded my pack but I didn't dare sit down because I knew once I did I wouldn't get up again till morning at least. I was lucky; Pine Tor is called that for a reason and in a countryside where there isn't exactly a lot of heavy forest (pity you can't burn rock) I was really grateful that I didn't have to go far to collect enough firewood. The moonlight helped too. I hauled a lot of wood back to my campsite, being careful not to knock my stomach, because even if the dragonlet was dead I didn't want squished dead dragonlet in my shirt. I hauled and hauled partly because I was so tired by then I couldn't remember to stop, and partly because if the dragonlet was still alive I had a dim idea that I needed to be able to keep it warmer than my own body temperature, and partly because if it was dead I didn't want to know and hauling wood put off finding out. There'd been too much death today already.

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Interviews & Essays

The ending to Dragonhaven leaves open the possibility for a sequel. Is that an upcoming project?

The short answer is: no. I admit that I have a few thoughts about Jake's daughter, but that story, if it wants to be a story, will have to join the queue. And I'm not holding my breath, because I seem to be incapable of writing sequels. I've never written one yet. The closest I've come is the two Damar books, The Blue Sword and The Hero and the Crown, but even there I couldn't get it right. Aside from the fact that the books take place several hundred years apart, and therefore don't have a lot of (ordinary human) characters in common, Hero, which I (intentionally) wrote second, is a prequel. I also regularly receive begging letters for a sequel to Sunshine and I'd love to write a sequel but I have to write what comes. Sequels don't come, or they haven't yet. I admit I'm still hoping. Who knows? Maybe the new order will begin with Jake's daughter.

I feel that most of my books have a slightly sequelly resonance about the ending. This isn't deliberate but it does seem to me a quality of a story's liveness. Real life does sometimes seem to kind of come in chapters but it rarely has tidy endings. And if you write fantasy the usually reliable ending of death becomes negotiable too. I also think my knowing something about what happens to characters after the end of the last chapter is part of what makes the written-down portion sturdy. Like tent-pegs. Once you're in the tent you don't see them, but they're holding it up for you.

Some of the dragon's behavior is comparable to that of a dog; did you have a pet in mindwhile writing?

Again, no. But I've had animals either graphically underfoot or at least near at hand most of my life, and baby things do tend to have certain qualities in common (peskiness being the first and foremost) so connecting with Jake's experience wasn't too much of a stretch, even though I've never raised a dragonlet. For which I'm grateful. Puppies are enough of a handful. I brought my new canine generation home last October, just when I was plunging into the final mad race to get rewrites on Dragonhaven done in time to shove it through for publication this autumn, which is to say I was already several months late. Two puppies energetically wreaking their will on their surroundings-and me trying to prevent them from chewing up anything that would either give them a nasty stomach-ache or that I'd miss if it disappeared, like most of the furniture-did perhaps add something to the texture of the last tweaks I gave to Jake's story.

Which of Jake's characteristics would you most like to have?

Talking to and being friends with dragons, of course!

What inspired you to write this book?

You're trying to disguise the dreaded question 'where do you get your ideas?' The answer is the same. I have no clue. These things zap in from the something-or-other-osphere and say HI. I'M A STORY. I'M YOUR STORY. WRITE ME. I don't know why they come, I just hope they go on doing it. I can tell you that Dragonhaven started life as another Fire Elementals short story-my husband Peter Dickinson and I are theoretically supposed to produce Air, Earth and Fire to go with the Water: Tales of Elemental Spirits that we've already produced. Years ago. I'm just not very good at short stories. My last novel before Dragonhaven, Sunshine, started as a Fire story too. The one I'm working on now also started life as a Fire story. . . .

What do you enjoy best about writing fantasy?

I'm afraid this is another unanswerable one, like 'where do you get your ideas' or 'what inspired you'. Fantasy is what comes to me to be written down. Before I wrote (my first published novel) Beauty: A Retelling of the Story of Beauty and the Beast I'd written probably about half and half fantasy and non-fantasy fiction. The Really Really Really Awful Novel I wrote when I was eighteen was straight fiction. For quite a few years after Beauty, which was followed by The Door in the Hedge, Sword, and Hero,fantasy all, I kept waiting for the straight story to blast in from wherever and tell me to write it down. It didn't. Outlaws of Sherwood, my retelling of Robin Hood, is still the nearest I've come to straight fiction, and while it's roughly (very roughly) historical and magic-free, to me it's still pretty much all the same thing as the others: ballads about Robin Hood turn up in the same anthologies as ballads about ghosts and shape changers and pact-offering devils and so on. Come to that, Dragonhaven is magic-free, but I don't suppose anyone's going to call it straight fiction and shelve it next to Mary McCarthy and Carson McCullers.

If you weren't writing novels, what would you be doing?

Riding horses, walking dogs for miles and miles over the countryside, ringing bells (big church tower bells and little singing handbells, in English change-ringing patterns), playing the piano, floundering in a garden I keep forgetting to leave places to put my feet when I squash another plant in, baking bread, studying homeopathy, writing my blog, reading, reading, reading. . . . Oh, you don't mean earning a living, do you? Hmmm. That's harder to answer. Give me a minute . . . .

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 3.5
( 48 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star

(15)

4 Star

(16)

3 Star

(9)

2 Star

(4)

1 Star

(4)

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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 48 Customer Reviews
  • Posted November 19, 2008

    more from this reviewer

    I Also Recommend:

    Angieville: DRAGONHAVEN

    A Robin McKinley book. It's got the word "dragon" in the title. And it's narrated by a boy. As I'm constantly telling long-suffering family members (anyone who will listen, really), with McKinley you never know what you're gonna get. I mean, yeah, she's known for her fairy tale retellings. And her fantasy stories about girls who kick butt. Oh, and that one vampire book about the baker. But just when you think you know what to expect, she writes a contemporary only sorta fantasy about a boy who grows up in a national park inhabited by dragons nobody's ever seen but who are nonetheless there. Jake finds this out firsthand when he stumbles across a dying dragon and her litter of dragon kits. Without thinking about it twice, he stuffs one of the babies inside his shirt and heads for the hills. Thus the adventure begins. Jake's wandering, frantic, self-deprecating narration was right up my alley. I loved it. I loved that she gave her all to get inside a fifteen-year-old boy's head, threw in a few dragons, a heckuva lot of governmental red tape, and decided to see where it took her. Also, such a great last line. Bottom line: Sequels or no, Damar or no, I am up for anything you are, Ms. McKinley.

    6 out of 6 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted February 5, 2011

    Rocking story told in experimental technique by a master of the craft

    McKinley can't tell a bad story if she tried. Her writing craft is well proven. In this novel, She experiments with the technical side of how to tell the story, because the technique itself supports the story, which is a memoir told from the experience of a really warped and young human being. The result is not "smooth, polished story telling" because the narrator is not polished. He tells it as it developed, in order to make his audience understand why he felt what he felt, thought what he thought, made the mistakes that he made, and did what he did. The result has a number of "clunky" places that are completely in character with the narrator and not in character with the smooth story-telling craft of McKinley. This technique either works for you (as reader) or it doesn't. I found on the re-read that I spent a lot more time grokking those chunks, and getting a much deeper understanding of the narrator, than I did on the first time through when I was primarily interested in the adventure of the story. But I am not her usual "young adult" audience either. As a classic coming of age story, it is extremely well written, and should be read on more than one level. I think that her youngest readers will find themselves getting something different out of the story as they come back to it again, later in life, when their own life experience gives them a different and deeper perspective on the nature of parenthood.

    3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted December 29, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    I Also Recommend:

    A nice find!

    I did enjoy reading this. It's a nice easy read for a cold winter evening. I have to admit that The Blue Sword was much better dispite the terrible book cover. I would reccomend that you read The Blue Sword first.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted October 27, 2008

    more from this reviewer

    Reviewed by Allison Fraclose for TeensReadToo.com

    For his entire life, Jacob Mendoza has lived in Smokehill National Park, one of the last and largest wildlife preserves for Draco australiensis in the world. His father, who heads the Institute dedicated to the study of the endangered dragons, has kept a tight leash on him since Jacob's mother died while on sabbatical a few years ago. Finally, though, Jacob's father has agreed to let him finally go on his first solo overnight stay deep in the park. <BR/><BR/>Although not as excited as he probably would have been about it before his mother's death, Jacob hikes out on his own, determined to cover some good ground before he has to meet up with the head Ranger the following morning. However, his plans for doing so are cut short when he comes across a horrific site. <BR/><BR/>A wounded mother dragon who has just given birth lies next to the remains of the poacher who presumably attacked her. Jacob creeps up to the massive creature and finds himself drowning in her eyes before she dies, leaving him with strange sensations of anger, despair, and hope swirling inside him. Stunned and crying, he begins to stumble away, passing by her babies who are now scattered on the ground...and he notices that one is still alive. <BR/><BR/>Instinct takes over, and Jacob now finds himself a surrogate mother for a creature that nobody knows how to raise. What's worse is that, now that a dragon has killed a human, all of Smokehill may be gravely in danger, for, not only is it against the law to kill a dragon, but it is also against the law to save one's life. <BR/><BR/>Although I enjoyed watching the bonding of Jacob and his foundling, and the descriptions of some of these otherworldly sensations impressed me, I found this book very difficult to read. Jacob as narrator tends to ramble a lot, and he "speaks" in an extremely informal manner. However, some readers may find this style more appealing and easier to understand than traditional narration. The idea of a dragon preserve is nevertheless an appealing one, and I think that any fans of dragons may find this story fascinating if for that reason only.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 25, 2013

    So freaking boring

    Dont get boring boring boring, it doesnt make any sense im really disapointed in this book HATE IT

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  • Posted May 1, 2012

    It was good but..

    It was a bit hard to read. Most of the time i get sucked into a book and read for hours but with this one every so often id have to stop or reread things. It was still a very good book and i would read it again.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 29, 2012

    The amazing biik

    This book called dragon haven is a spectacular book

    It is about a kid named Jake and he lives in a place called Smoke Hill he finds a baby dragon whos mom had been killed by a poacher can he get his dragon safe and back into the wild or will someone find out he has it and kill it too?

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  • Posted February 27, 2012

    Fun read

    New twist to dragon lore. Enjoyed it immmensely

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  • Posted February 7, 2012

    more from this reviewer

    Great book!

    Very charming book! I enjoyed reading it and would have loved for there to be a sequel.

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  • Posted January 13, 2011

    very disappointed

    I purchased this book, along with another Robin McKinley, based solely of the reviews presented by B&N readers. Wrong thing to do!! I found both books very tiring. The subject and premise of the story seemed interesting but its hard to get into it due to the author's rambling. I'm donating both books to a local library. I'll never buy a McKinley book again...nor will I base a book purchase on B&N reader's review.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 30, 2008

    Great book

    This is a very good book with a real twist on the typical dragon fantasy. I really enjoyed it and would highly recommend it to anyone who is interested in the genre.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 24, 2008

    A good book

    When I first read it, I have to say that my first thought was: this is in the children's section? There's nothing too graphic, but there is language that surprised me for a children's book. It would be better placed in the young adult section, but all in all, still a good read.

    0 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 21, 2007

    A reviewer

    The story itself was very interesting. But due to some of the content, I would not recommend it as a children's book. More of an adult fantasy. It is in first person POV and feels like you are in the main character's head most of the time. I liked the story, there were only a few things I didn't like. There was a lot of swearing, references to sex, and in the closing chapter one of the characters finds out he's gay. Okay as an adult read but not well placed in the children's section.

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    Posted February 21, 2011

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    Posted November 6, 2012

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    Posted March 1, 2011

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    Posted October 18, 2008

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    Posted January 13, 2010

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    Posted July 12, 2009

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