The Dragon's Son

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More About This Book

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

Influenced by names and events from the Welsh legends and Thomas Malory's Le Morte d'Arthur, Thomson writes this story as historical fiction rather than as the fantasy readers may associate with King Arthur. Even though she has created these tales herself, the historical nature of this story seems to give credence to the more familiar fantasies, and because unfamiliar characters are doing the talking, the legends have new life and clarity. Nimue is a ferryman's daughter who falls in love with the bard Myrddin. They serve in Uther Pendragon's court, and their baby is mistakenly killed instead of Arthur. Myrddin then takes baby Arthur into hiding. The next story is that of Morgan, Arthur's half sister whom he marries. However, she leaves him, not telling him she's pregnant with twins. Years later, Arthur comes to her and claims one of the boys who will be raised as his nephew and heir. At a convent, Elen, Arthur's other half sister, and Luned; her handmaiden, raise the son Arthur took from Morgan. Finally, Medraud, the son left with Morgan, is raised by his mother to destroy Arthur. His appearance at court sets in motion a chain of events that means the end of Camelot. Fantasy and historical-fiction readers alike will enjoy the new perspective offered by this gritty, substantial novel; it's almost an "Aha! So that's why that happened."
---School Library Journal, July 2001
VOYA
The saga of King Arthur has been retold many times, but Thompson's approach to the legend is intriguing as the author relates the story through the eyes of lesser characters such as Gwenhwyfach, Gwenhwyfar's younger sister, who gets involved here with Medraud, the son/nephew of Arthur. The story begins with sixteen-year-old Nimbue marrying the wandering bard, Myrddin, who because of his visions puts faith in the new ruler, Uther, and helps change the future of the kingdom. This retelling also includes a few twists, such as Morgan giving birth to twins and the queen Gwenhwyfar being in love with Owan, her sister Elen's husband. This tale ends with Medraud returning to Camelot with Irish mercenaries in an attempt to defeat Arthur, but his plan is ruined when Saxons attack. Medraud joins forces with Arthur, but Arthur is dealt a deadly blow while trying to protect his son. Arthur's last command is to declare Medraud and Gwenhwyfach's unborn child as his heir. Thus the life of the legendary King Arthur comes to an end. Thompson gives this treasured tale new life by using little-known Welsh characters. She also uses the Welsh spelling for the names but includes a pronunciation guide. Although told from four perspectives, short chapters, along with court intrigue and battle scenes, will keep even those readers unfamiliar with the legend involved in this telling. A children's book editor, the author has taken her skill beyond editing in this debut novel to spin a tale as rich in texture as a tapestry hung in King Arthur's hall. VOYA CODES: 5Q 4P J S (Hard to imagine it being any better written; Broad general YA appeal; Junior High, defined as grades 7 to 9; Senior High, defined as grades10 to 12). 2001, Orchard, 181p, . Ages 13 to 18. Reviewer: Ruth Cox SOURCE: VOYA, June 2001 (Vol. 24, No. 2)
Children's Literature
In this retelling of the legend of King Arthur, Ms. Thomson draws on some of the earliest surviving stories about him. Thus, even readers familiar with the legend will be interested to hear from various lesser-known or forgotten characters. We meet Nimue, Lady of the Lake, who falls in love with a mystical bard, with tragic results; Luned, a lady in waiting to Elen, sister of the ethereal Morgan; and Medraud, secret son of Arthur and Morgan, who is torn between his mother's thirst for vengeance and a longing to be loved by the father he never knew. It is Medraud's lust for power that precipitates the fall of Camelot. Even those acquainted with the legend will relish in the fiery climactic battle scene, where father and son reunite in a courageous but deadly confrontation. In her first novel, Ms. Thomson boldly goes where so many have gone before, yet she still manages to achieve an exciting and satisfying read. Her fascination with medieval history is evident in each finely crafted page. 2001, Orchard Books, $17.95. Ages 12 up. Reviewer: Christopher Moning
KLIATT
This is the first book Thomson has written, but she is a children's book editor and obviously fascinated by the Arthurian legends. She turns to the old Welsh tales ("the oldest written sources for the King Arthur legends") as the basis of this fiction, telling about Arthur's life through the narratives of four characters: Nimue, the wife of a bard whose political fanaticism brings about the death of their own child; Morgan, Arthur's half-sister and wife, the mother of his sons; Luned, a servant who tends Elen, Morgan's sister, foster mother of Arthur's heir; and Medraud (Mordred), Morgan and Arthur's son, who is torn between yearning for his father's love and his mother's need for vengeance. Anyone familiar with the more common Arthurian tales will be fascinated by the variations in these. In fact, I think this is not the place to start reading about Arthur because Thomson's stories are most interesting in the ways they differ: Morgan is Arthur's first wife? Merlin is actually Myrddin, a bard who can see into the future? Queen Guinevere has a sister who is intensely resentful and joins forces with Mordred? The spelling variations are a challenge, although Thomson does provide a guide to the pronunciation of the Welsh names. In many ways these are quite sophisticated versions of the legend, filled with passions that rival the great Greek tragedies as families are torn apart by power, lust, treachery, and vengeance. The narrators Thomson provides are fascinating, but I think the better-known characters Morgan and Mordred tell the most riveting stories here—outshining the two other narrators who play more secondary roles in the legend itself. For more serious readers of theCamelot stories. KLIATT Codes: JS—Recommended for junior and senior high school students. 2001, Scholastic/Orchard, 181p, 00-61177, $17.95. Ages 13 to 18. Reviewer: Claire Rosser; May 2001 (Vol. 35 No. 3)
School Library Journal
Gr 7 Up-Influenced by names and events from the Welsh legends and Thomas Malory's Le Morte d'Arthur, Thomson writes this story as historical fiction rather than as the fantasy readers may associate with King Arthur. Even though she has created these tales herself, the historical nature of this story seems to give credence to the more familiar fantasies, and because unfamiliar characters are doing the talking, the legends have new life and clarity. Nimue is a ferryman's daughter who falls in love with the bard Myrddin. They serve in Uther Pendragon's court, and their baby is mistakenly killed instead of Arthur. Myrddin then takes baby Arthur into hiding. The next story is that of Morgan, Arthur's half sister whom he marries. However, she leaves him, not telling him she's pregnant with twins. Years later, Arthur comes to her and claims one of the boys who will be raised as his nephew and heir. At a convent, Elen, Arthur's other half sister, and Luned, her handmaiden, raise the son Arthur took from Morgan. Finally, Medraud, the son left with Morgan, is raised by his mother to destroy Arthur. His appearance at court sets in motion a chain of events that means the end of Camelot. Fantasy and historical-fiction readers alike will enjoy the new perspective offered by this gritty, substantial novel; it's almost an "Aha! So that's why that happened."-Cheri Estes, Detroit Country Day Middle School, Beverly Hills, MI Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780531303337
  • Publisher: Scholastic, Inc.
  • Publication date: 5/1/1901
  • Pages: 148
  • Age range: 4 - 8 Years
  • Lexile: 810L (what's this?)
  • Product dimensions: 8.36 (w) x 9.20 (h) x 0.43 (d)

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Sort by: Showing 1 Customer Reviews
  • 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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