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Dragons of Darkness

Overview

In this thrilling modern-day fable, two boys from very different backgrounds are thrown together by magic, mayhem, and a common foe. Jumar, an invisible prince, wants to save his native Nepal from civil war. Christopher, a shy German boy, wants to find his kidnapped brother. Together they embark on a journey through the wilderness of Nepal—a journey that proves to be a dangerous rite of passage. Fighting the beautiful but deadly dragons that beset the country, the two boys learn that in order to change the world,...

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Overview

In this thrilling modern-day fable, two boys from very different backgrounds are thrown together by magic, mayhem, and a common foe. Jumar, an invisible prince, wants to save his native Nepal from civil war. Christopher, a shy German boy, wants to find his kidnapped brother. Together they embark on a journey through the wilderness of Nepal—a journey that proves to be a dangerous rite of passage. Fighting the beautiful but deadly dragons that beset the country, the two boys learn that in order to change the world, they must first change themselves.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Michaelis (Tiger Moon) recasts modern-day Nepal as a dragon-infested fantasy kingdom, divided between a cruel and cynical military and idealistic but equally cruel Maoist guerrillas. Nepal’s king is too wrapped up in his own problems to provide the necessary leadership, and neither of the armed factions is able to do anything about the plague of dragons drinking the color from the countryside and turning its peasants into bronze statues. Nepal’s salvation falls to three 14-year-olds: Christopher, a German teenager transported through mysterious means to Nepal; Jumar, Nepal’s (literally) invisible crown prince; and brave Niya, who is in the service of the Maoists. The trio strives to unravel the occult mysteries behind Jumar’s curse, find Christopher’s missing brother, and rescue the country from the dragons and a bloody civil war. Although the fast-paced and well-constructed story is marred somewhat by mustache-twirling villains and the author’s decision to imbue real-world conflicts with a layer of fantasy, Michaelis’s characters are engaging (despite Jumar’s truly remarkable ability to walk into traps) and the romance between Niya and Christopher is touching and bittersweet. Ages 12–up. (Jan.)
VOYA - Rayna Patton
When Christopher's adored and envied older brother Arne is taken hostage in Nepal by Maoist guerrillas, his German family is devastated. While helplessly leafing through a tourist book about Nepal, Christopher is transported to that country. At home, a silent and withdrawn Christopher goes through the motions of living, while in Nepal a very corporal Christopher begins actively searching for his brother. Literally stumbling over Jumar, the invisible heir to the king of Nepal, whose existence is the kingdom's closely guarded secret, the two become friends. Jumar has escaped from the palace to see his future kingdom. He discovers that his father, the king, is dying, and that the king's most trusted general is plotting to usurp the throne. He sees the Maoist guerrillas, with their fine rhetoric and casual brutality, are gathering strength and preparing to attack the capital city. And the boys also see dragons, amoral and beautiful creatures that are somehow metaphors of all the nation's troubles, feeding on the color and the goodness of the land while turning living beings into statues. Ably translated from German, crammed with magic realism, colors, fairytales, dreams, and contemporary conflicts, this novel is not the average dragons-in-an-alien-world fantasy. Here people make love, are kind to strangers, struggle to survive, and sometimes are casually murdered. Ultimately Jumar learns the secret that makes him visible, and Christopher saves his brother and discovers his own strengths. Serious fantasy fans will be fascinated by this original and well-told tale. Reviewer: Rayna Patton
Kirkus Reviews
Once upon a time there was a timid German boy whose idolized older brother was kidnapped by Maoist rebels in Nepal. Once upon a time there was an invisible prince of a mountain kingdom, whose mother lay forever sleeping in a hidden garden while the king grieved beneath a glass dome. Mysteriously, Christopher and Jumal make contact and join forces with a beautiful revolutionary to dare icy mountain peaks, treacherous generals, vicious guerrillas and even the surrealistic menace of the titular dragons, who drain color and life from the land and whose shadows turn humans to bronze statues. Lush prose, gloriously rendered by master translator Bell, weaves current events and fairy-tale archetypes into a dreamlike fable that displays a palpable love for Nepal in every telling detail. The sharp and vivid personalities of the two unlikely protagonists and the strength of their impossible friendship anchor even their most phantasmagorical adventures. The occasional coy authorial asides may jar and the ambiguous conclusion may frustrate, but the themes of courage, sacrifice and identity will hook readers completely and send them scurrying to learn more about the exotic setting. (Fantasy. YA)
School Library Journal
Gr 6–9—In this modern-day fable, two boys from different worlds are thrown together in war-torn Nepal. Christopher, a 14-year-old German boy, has come in search of his older brother, who disappeared while on vacation. There he meets Jumar, also 14 and the prince of Nepal, who has escaped from the royal palace in Kathmandu following the brutal slaying of a beloved servant by dissident Maoists. Together the two teens and a communist girl travel the length and breadth of the country on a quest to destroy the dragons that have been stealing color from the land, causing famine, war, and political upheaval. The story is imaginatively told by an author whose obvious affection for Nepal and its people resonates with each sentence. Unfortunately, the novel is not without its flaws. The initial slow pace may not hold the interest of the target audience long enough for readers to get to the more exciting scenes, and lengthy descriptive passages and lyrical language may be more suited to adults than teen fantasy fans.—Jane Henriksen Baird, Anchorage Public Library, AK
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781419700859
  • Publisher: Abrams, Harry N., Inc.
  • Publication date: 11/1/2011
  • Edition description: Reprint
  • Pages: 576
  • Sales rank: 593,049
  • Age range: 12 - 17 Years
  • Product dimensions: 5.40 (w) x 8.20 (h) x 1.50 (d)

Meet the Author

Antonia Michaelis has lived and taught in India. She is the author of several award-winning books published in her native Germany, where she lives. Anthea Bell is the translator of Cornelia Funke’s bestselling Inkheart books. Her work has won the Marsh Award for Children’s Literature in Translation, the Helen and Kurt Wolff Translator’s Prize, and the Independent Foreign Fiction Prize. She lives in the UK.

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