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Young Arthur meets a dragon and comes to accept him as a friend and mentor.
It was on a day in early spring, with the clouds scudding across a gray sky, promising a rain that never quite fell, that Artos found the cave.
"Hullo," he whispered to himself, a habit he'd gotten into as he so often had no one else to talk to.
He hadn't been looking for a cave but rather chasing after Sir Ector's brachet hound Boadie, the one who always slipped her chain to go after hare. She'd slipped Artos as well, speeding down the cobbled path and out the castle's small back gate, the Cowgate. Luckily he'd caught sight of her as she whipped around the comer of it, and on and off he'd seen her coursing until they'd come to the boggy wasteland north of the castle. Then he'd lost her for good and could only follow by her tracks.
If she hadn't been Sir Ector's prize brachet and ready to whelp for the first time, he'd have left her there and trudged back to the castle in disgust, knowing she'd eventually find her way home, with or without any hare. But he feared she might lose her pups out there in the bogs, and then he'd get whipped double, once for letting her get away and once for the loss of the litter. So he spent the better part of the morning following her tracks, crossing and recrossing a small, cold, meandering stream and occasionally wading thigh deep in the water.
He let out his own stream of curses, much milder than any the rough men in the castle used. But they were heartfelt curses against both the chill of the water and the fact that, if he'd been one of the other boys -- Bedvere or Lancot or Sir Ector's true son, Cai -- the water would have only been up tohis knees. They'd all gotten their growth earlier than he. Indeed, despite Sir Ector's gruff promises that he would be tallest of them all, Artos despaired of ever getting any bigger. At thirteen surely he deserved to be higher than Lady Marion's shoulder.
"Knees or thighs," he reminded himself, unconsciously mimicking Sir Ector's mumbling accent, "it's blessed cold." He climbed out of the stream and up the slippery bank.
Despite the cold, his fair hair lay matted with sweat against the back of his head, the wet strands looking nearly black. There was a streak of mud against the right side of his nose, deposited there when he'd rubbed his eye with a grimy fist. His cheeks, naturally pale, were flushed from the run.
The sun was exactly overhead, its corona lighting the edges of the clouds. Noon -- and he hadn't eaten since breakfast, a simple bowl of milk swallowed hastily before the sun was even up. His stomach growled at the thought. Rubbing a fist against his belly to quiet it, he listened for the hound's baying.
It was dead still.
"I knew it!" he whispered angrily. "She's gone home." He could easily imagine her in the kennelyard, slopping up food, her feet and belly dry. The thought of being dry and fed made his own stomach yowl again. This time he pounded against it three times. The growling stopped.
Nevertheless, the brachet was his responsibility. He had to search for her till he was sure. Putting his fingers to his mouth, he let out a shrill whistle that ordinarily would have brought Boadie running.
There was no answer, and except for the sound of the wind puzzling across the fenland, there was a complete silence.
The fen was a low, hummocky place full of brown pools and quaking mosses; and in the slow, floating waters there was an abundance of duckweed and frog-bit, mile after mile of it looking the same. From where he stood, low down amongst the lumpy mosses, he couldn't see the castle, not even a glimpse of one of the two towers. And with the sun straight overhead, he wasn't sure which way was north or which way south.
Not that he thought he was lost.
"Never lost -- just bothered a bit!" he said aloud, using the favorite phrase of the Master of Hounds, a whey-colored man with a fringe of white hair. The sound of the phrase comforted him. If he wasn't lost -- only bothered -- he'd be home soon, his wet boots off and drying in front of a warm peatfire.
Turning slowly, Artos stared across the fens. His boots were sinking slowly in the shaking, muddy land. It took an effort to raise them, one after another. Each time he did, they made an awful sucking noise, like the Master of Hounds at his soup, only louder. At the last turn, he saw behind him a small tor mounding up over the bog, dog tracks running up it.
"If I climb that," he encouraged himself, "I'll be able to see what I need to see." He meant, of course, he'd be able to see the castle from the small hillock and judge the distance home, maybe even locate a drier route. His feet were really cold now, the water having gotten in over the tops of his boots in the stream and squishing up between his toes at every step. Not that the boots mattered. They were an old pair, Cai's castoffs, and had never really fit anyway. But he still didn't fancy walking all the way back squishing like that.
He'd never been on his own this far north of the castle before and certainly never would have planned coming out into the watery fens where the peat hags reigned. They could pull a big shire horse down, not even bothering to spit back the bones. Everyone knew that.
"Blasted dog!" he swore again, hotly. "Blasted Boadie!" He felt a little better having said it aloud.The Dragon's Boy. Copyright © by Jane Yolen. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.
Posted October 27, 2013
Artos Pendragon is learning to be a night, a foundling that has been raise in Sir Ector's Beau Regard castle, but finding a secret cave leads to unexpected knowledge. His friendship with this new impressive friend changes his life forever. Teaching him lessons that will help him be accepted by Cai, Lancelot, and Bedvere the other apprentices of the castle. A great story to share with your students who are struggling with coming of age conflicts. Jane Yolen is a great children's author whose stories teach life lessons to children in a story that allows the reader to explore their view of the world.
1 out of 3 people found this review helpful.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted April 20, 2014
I was curious and hopeful when I read the synopsis on the order page about this book, but I didn't read the fine print of the product details. I can't believe I spent $6 on this book!!! Wish I could give it back. VERY short read, not a lot of substance despite the interesting premise. Ms. Yolen could have done a lot more fleshing out of the story, and gone somewhere with it, like C J Lewis did in A Horse and his Boy. Over all, a very disappointing read that I am unfortunately stuck with because I over-paid for an e-book that has zero resale ability.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted February 21, 2014