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Somewhere within that strange world between sleep and awakening, she felt something cold and wet hit her head hard.
"Knooack," she mumbled, wanting so much to return to her dream, only to be shocked fully awake by a loud explosion.
The thick brown knobs of her outer eyelids sprung open. Without thinking, she quickly shut the thin, protective inner eyelids. Where did this storm come from? she thought, her mind still somewhat in her dream. She could no longer see the familiar treetops, only sheets of rain coming down almost sideways and the fronds of nearby palms waving madly. And that roar. That horrible roar that resonated deep through her scaly skin.
A jagged bolt of lightning crackled and exploded, so close that it lit up the other side of her pond. She almost jumped, but the hooked black talons of her feet dug deep into her low-lying woven reed nest. Those at her wingtips gripped a rock to one side and pierced the gnarly tree on the other. As she lifted her horned head, water cascaded down and entered her ear openings, briefly drowning out the wind's incredible roar.
Her grip tightened when wind-driven palm fronds flipped up several of the larger, green scales along her back, exposing her skin to the cold and wet. A foamy wave drove muck into her two nostrils. She reared up her head on its long, brown neck and shook it, disgusted and angry.
Nothing made sense. The air had held no warning of a storm that morning. She had always been able to read clues to the day's weather from how high the small tweedle dragons flew, from scents in the air, or even from the way clouds scuttled across the sky.
She'd gone tosleep with such sweet thoughts.
Then she heard it, above the storm's roar. A sound like wings flapping. Her heart pounded harder. Not since her husband's disappearance had she been so confused. She held the nest tighter, but immediately relaxed her grip a little. It wouldn't do to destroy her nest and the great treasure it held.
How could I hear wings flapping through all this? Desperate to keep her three leathery white eggs safe against from the thrashing rain and waves without crushing them, she glanced up, eyes wide open. The air swirled with a terrifying mix of sticks, stones, rain, thunder and lightning. She shuddered and again closed the milky protective skin over her eyes. Once more she heard the crackling of something that sounded like wings.
She twisted her head, trying to locate the sound. A pebble struck and glanced off her protected eye. Angrily, she lifted her proud, crested head and roared, "KNOOOAAACK!"
As if to answer, a haunting sound cut through the storm's roar:
The voice, almost melodious, sounded like nothing she'd ever heard. Frightened, cautious, but curious, she slowly strained her long neck towards the voice.
It came again: "Aahnk..."
Coiling her neck back, ready to strike if necessary, she flicked out a long, dark, forked tongue to taste the air. The melody returned, this time without breaking off, now seemingly closer.
Her keen hearing caught every word.
Ever soft you glow
Oh mother below
To protect your brood
From evil so shrewd
Treasure to dread
is a fourth egg
Fear not his oddness
That's his key to bless
Ancient Mother's heart
is his to unlock
Nothing more. Not even the flapping sound. Only a whiff of something that was so familiar to her that a cold shudder crept up her back. She stretched out her long neck even further, in spite of the whipping branches. But the smell was gone. A good mother, she sensed her belly pressing down too hard on her eggs, so she lowered her head and resolved to calm down. Cold, wet, and upset that she couldn't understand any of this, she closed her eyes. Even through the thick, crusty outer lids, she could see the fierce white pulses of lightning and hear the cracking of thunder. To relax, she tried remembering how the day had begun.
* * *
By her woodland pond, nestled in a valley a half-day's flight from the Sea, dragons of all shapes and sizes had filled the air with shrill songs and clicking. A gentle wind caressed nest-filled trees, softly nudging the forest into a motion just like the waves sweeping the distant green sea. High above, the small and noisy tweedle dragons zigzagged as they chased insects or simply played. Higher up a hungry soarer slowly glided across a cloudless blue sky. Full-grown, brown and green-scaled waddle dragons like herself rarely had to fear their kind.
She had squirmed a bit, fluffing her belly scales to expose her warm brood patch to the three leathery eggs beneath. She sighed deeply, wondering how her children from hatchlings in years past were doing, and what life would bring to these new dragons slowly growing in her eggs. This world, Nistala, was not always an easy place, she reflected bitterly, having lost several young to the appetites of larger and fiercer dragons. Then, there was the disappearance of her husband. She wished fervently, as she had all too often, that all of Nistala's creatures would behave as waddle dragons and eat only plants, the sick, and those who welcomed death.
Stretching her curved neck to its full length, her large, friendly eyes looked into a reflection of herself before drinking.
Turning her head up she again noticed the soarer dragon slowly sliding across the cloudless blue sky. She wished it would go away.
"Knooaack," she said, squirming some more in her nest. Through her belly's sensitive brood patch, she felt the stirring of one of her babies. Inhaling deeply, she rested her head on a gnarly branch, letting it scratch an itch on her scaly brown and green throat. She kept an eye on that soarer. When it sailed out of sight, she exhaled and let her thick crusty eyelids slowly shut.
The sun's warmth settled like a thick blanket of moss over her mind. Soon she was dreaming. She'd had this dream often: Eyes closed and a mild wind in her face, she drifted across the sky in a woven nest firmly grasped in the claws of the legendary flame warriors. She heard the dull flapping of these Firstborns' powerful wings. Though she'd never seen any sort of Firstborn, the images of these immortal dragons lived deep in her mind through the stories her mother and aunts had told her of Creation. Even her husband, now but a memory, had spoken fondly of Creation.
Copyright © 2002 by Bent Lorentzen.
Posted July 27, 2012
Dragon's Moon by Bent Lorentzen
Release Date: June 3rd, 2009
Publisher: Paladin Timeless (Twilight Times)
Page Count: 135
Source: Complimentary copy provided by publisher for an honest and unbiased review
A young dragon beset by childhood trauma and a disability, goes on a quest for his identity and happiness. Enduring severe hardships in the search to find his roots, he ultimately discovers his disability may be a key weapon against a terrifying antagonist.
What Stephanie Thinks: Elementary and middle grade readers will be charmed by this short, but compelling dragon adventure, and parents will appreciate its elements of bravery, family, love, and self-acceptance as well.
Lorentzen weaves a traditional hero's journey that begins with our main character's birth. Even as an infant waddler dragon, he is unlike his siblings — even his egg was unusual; gold, instead of white — in a negative way. He has a significantly fewer amount of scales, which labels him as "ugly" in his unwelcoming homeland of Nistala, and also a speech impediment, which makes him the biggest joke among his peers. On top of that, his growth rate is much more rapid than anyone else's and by a few months, he's already at adult size, awkwardly towering over the other baby dragons. The scenes where he is ridiculed are tear-inducing, reminiscent of The Ugly Duckling (which is a story that made me cry when I was little!). Lorentzen excels at tugging at readers' hearts by ensuing very human emotions with his mythical characters.
The baby dragon wants nothing but to be beautiful, and to fit in — he's tired of being an embarrassment, especially for his tender, but now impatient mother — so he sets off on a quest to find true beauty. On his journey, he discovers more than he ever bargained for, including his identity, a name, for the first time: Farluna; his destiny and strengths, finally an explanation and purpose to his disfigurement and stutter; and most importantly, his soul mate. On this voyage, he experiences for the first time, what it's like to be loved and what it's like to love himself, and that truly is the greatest recognition any young creature can make.
While the plot is well-organized and its message touching, I couldn't really get into this one. I personally don't think it's "fun" enough for children to read — the prose is quite weak, and at times, awkward and difficult to follow. As an older reader, I could tolerate it, but I can't say I enjoyed it. At times, I caught myself skimming a lot too. I guess I'm not that fond of the high fantasy genre. Lorenzen does create a convincing dragon world, but Dragon Moon's lack of reader appeal and stylistic talent make it sort of a bland read.
Stephanie Loves: "'Laugh until pain can no longer touch you."
Radical Rating: 5 hearts - Doesn't particularly light any of my fires; I feel indifferent about this book.
Posted July 18, 2010
If you were a dragon who was entirely different from all the other dragons in your family, how would you feel and what would you do? Author Bent Lorentzen takes us to the dragon land of Nistula, where in ancient times the original black Creatpr dragon exploded because of loneliness. The head became the Ancient Mother sun dragon, and the heart became the Ancient Father moon dragon who mysteriously disappeared. One day a mother waddle or pond dragon pushes her three eggs into the pond and jumps into it herself to escape a storm. There, she discovers a strange, glowing egg that she hatches with her own. However, the young dragon is different from his brothers and sister. He is ugly, he stutters, and he keeps feeling that there is something which he must do. After they all go south for the winter, the mother is captured by a soarer dragon on their return home, and in sorrow the young dragon flies so high that he falls but is rescued by Princess Lasa and sent to the island of Saha to see the dragon Queen Najimeeno for help.
In Saha, he finds out that the Queen and her allies, the Emperor Fire Face and Prince Rapaza, are all involved in a battle with the evil Count Ewot who has his castle in the Northern Mountains. The young dragon is told that he will find his destiny in the Northern Mountains. First he goes to the castle of Prince Rapaza, where he learns that his name is Farluna and he falls in love with a white dragon named Solmoa whose first husband, the Prince's historian, had been killed by Ewot. Farluna then passes through the great swamp to the Northern Mountains where he first meets and helps the songfouls who had been created by Ewot but were hiding from him. Also from them he learns more mysterious information that seems to relate to his past and his purpose. Farluna continues on into the mountains where he is captured by a traitor waddle dragon in Ewot's service and held captive by giant snakes who inject poison into him. Will he be able to escape? Will he fulfill his destiny? And will he ever find out who he really is?
Fantasy fiction concerning dragons has been all the rage for the past several years, but Dragon's Moon is somewhat different in that most other such books involve interaction between humans and dragons, whereas this book is solely about dragons. Lorentzen, who was born in Roskilde, Denmark, and has worked as a science teacher, editor, book reviewer, photojournalist, and syndicated columnist, uses his story allegorically to deal with such issues as experiencing severe childhood trauma, searching for one's identity, and using a disability as a weapon against an antagonist, all wrapped up with an "Ugly Duckling" type of ending. The text was a little hard for me to follow at times because of several flashbacks to explain events that took place before the book's opening, but in general it is a satisfying read that will encourage young people to avoid giving up and to keep on going no matter what.
Posted December 9, 2008
In Nistala, the Waddler Dragon laid three eggs, but hatches four as a golden egg that she does not remember producing lies with the others. Three boys and a girl are born, but the one from the golden egg Farluna is different as this draggling has few scales on his body. The other young dragons torment and scorn the ¿ugly¿ one, who feels isolated and alone except for his mother. --- When his mother dies, the lonely one feels so forlorn he decides to kill himself by soaring to the end of the sky and then plunging straight down to his death. Instead of dying, he is rescued and escorted to Queen Nijameeno, who has numerous species of dragons residing in her humongous castle. The Queen tells the newcomer that he must seek his beauty in the treacherous northern mountains in the north accompanied by a Sprint Dragon to guide him. --- At Prince Rapazo's castle, they learn that the evil Ewot has recently killed a historian in his efforts to control more of the land. The dragon decides his destiny is to challenge and hopefully stop Ewot. --- This is a terrific young adult fantasy that starts off as a dragon version of the Ugly Duckling, but turns into a coming of age saga. The little ugly one is a fabulous protagonist whose feelings of rejection put him over the edge once grief adds to his misery. Interestingly his quest for beauty, which changes to his challenging the magically competent malevolent Ewot, gives him a reason to live. The support cast enhances a fine tale that children of all ages will want to trek alongside of Farluna in the land of Nistala. --- Harriet KlausnerWas this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted December 10, 2005
As someone who works with kids, this is one for the books. It sweetly touches the soul, and you aren't even aware of it... until later. Absolutely breathtaking! I want more from this author.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.