Nov 1, 2010

Dragonspell, (Dragon Keepers Chronicles, Book 1)

Disclaimer: All reviews are the result of my personal opinion from a Christian stand-point. These reviews are provided for those who share my beliefs and morals, to help guide what fiction a reader may wish to pick up. For those who do not share these beliefs, please refrain from hateful comments. It is due to rude commenting that I must now include this note prior to all reviews. For more information, visit my purpose behind this blog. Thank you for your understanding.
Contrary to popular belief, I have not died, disappeared, abandoned my blog, or lost my computer.
I have however, remained trapped in the swamp, stepped into quicksand, knitted baby garments like a mad woman (friends are expecting), gotten stitches, and traveled hither and thither across Missouri.
I have excuses for my absence and they are valid, though I do apologize for my misjudgment in the estimated time of return.
Moving on...
Dragonspell, by Donita K. Paul, has been my latest adventure.
The main character, Kale Allerion, joined me in my swamp, though I must say her adventures were far more enticing than my own.
She is the mighty Dragon Keeper. She senses and searches for long lost dragon eggs, she keeps them safe, she hatches them, and she speaks to them with her mind.
She's also 14 years old.
Formerly a slave girl, she chooses to become a servant of mighty and caring rulers, Paladin and his Father, Wulder. In the midst of her solitary journey to The Hall, she encounters two unexpected warriors--also in Paladin and Wulder's service. They whisk Kale off to go "questing". Kale's quest?
Retrieve the giant dragon egg that has been stolen by the evil wizard Risto. *Dramatic music*
Kale is forced to make decisions far beyond her years, fight bad guys far above her height, use magic far greater than her understanding, and understand wizards far more confusing than anyone else. Oh, and raise dragons on the side--something she's never done before.
Donita K. Paul's story is thrilling. It introduces an entire new world, new creatures, new foods, and new habits, satisfying the curiosity of a child reader. She loves children and on her website she gears almost every entry and book toward young readers.
Her writing is also based on her belief in God. Paladin represents Jesus and portrays a wonderful interaction with His children. He is friendly and believable, helping the young reader understand the personable nature of Christ. Wulder represents God and His love and care for us no matter where we are or where He is.
The reader is taken on the adventure along with Kale. Swirling castles, clothing made from light, dragons that heal, and cloaks that make one practically invisible--adventure is in every page. However (there is always a however...even in the best books).
Paul's writing introduces a lot of names and places at the beginning of the book. They were a little confusing (even for the more experienced reader), but I found I could skim over a few and they weren't crucial. The start of the novel could use a little more explaining for the sake of the young reader.
Chapters are a good length but can be a bit deep--too much description and too little action; but fear not! Several chapters contain more than enough action to satisfy the hunger. Speaking of action, this usually involves battle (a fantasy novel with dragons and magic just wouldn't be the same without battles!). These "skirmishes" involve the usual--battle wounds, fearsome fighting, blood, and death. Paul does not delve into gruesome detail, but 14-year-old Kale is introduced to the harsh reality that not all adventures or escapes are happy and bloodless. The battles remain age-appropriate for the young reader, but some individuals may be sensitive to harsher scenes.
One of my favorite aspects of this novel is how it carries the hope that Paladin (aka. Jesus) brings to His children. Hope of rescue, hope of comfort, hope of friendship, hope of name it, you'll see it. Paul does a wonderful job of showing the hope in Christ. He protects His own and she shows this to the reader over and over.
Dragonspell carries good adventure for kids, but is not a completely smooth read. Some sections require deeper concentration or focus to decipher what she's describing. And sometimes the action moves a little too fast for the reader to keep up.
I do recommend this book for children and even teen readers (hey, I enjoyed it, so practically anyone can, right?). This book (first of a series) is usually displayed in the Fantasy/Science-Fiction section of your local Barnes and Noble.
Personally, I would prefer to see it on the shelves in Christian Fiction, but we can't all have our way (as much as I kick and scream). So if you do choose to buy it (which would be a wonderful choice on your part), make sure to look in the right area!
Before I sign off, I must say I found a few similarities between this novel and the other Christian series, The Blood of Kings, by Jill Williamson (see the reviews for book 1 and book 2). Both novel series take place in a new magical world and the both involve "mind speaking". Kale is trained through Dragonspell to control her mind speaking and to grow it.
Both novel series explore this idea in completely different ways, but what I liked most is that they provide an option for both ages. The Blood of Kings series is perfect and preferable for older audiences (teens, young adults, adults, really really old people...), and the Dragon Keepers Chronicles are wonderful for the younger audiences (young adults, teens, tweens, teenie-boppers, and tiny-tiny-boopers).
I cannot express my joy at the growth of Christian literature for the young. It's what I needed. It's what they get. And it's what we all enjoy (no matter the age).
Read Dragonspell with the perseverance of a quester, and maybe you'll wake up one day with a dragon egg in your pocket...

Violence Level: ** (low, but present.)
Romance Level: *
Christian Focus: *** (A definite theme in the book that I expect to grow in the series. However, still a lot of symbolism, so it may be more difficult to catch for the younger audience.)
Readability Level: *** (A bit difficult to wade through. A lot of wording for the younger reader.)
Story Depth Level: ***
Recommendation: ****
For a more detailed explanation of the above ratings, visit the 6-Point Nutshell post.

Nadine Brandes is an adventurer, fusing authentic faith with bold imagination. She writes stories about brave living, finding purpose, and other worlds soaked in imagination. Her debut dystopian novel, A Time to Die, releases 2014 from Marcher Lord Press, the premier publisher of Christian speculative fiction. When Nadine's not taste-testing a new chai or editing fantasy novels, she is out pursuing adventures. She currently lives in Idaho with her husband. You can find out more about Nadine and her books at

1 comment:

  1. Wow, what a blessing this review is! I can't tell you how many times I've seen this book and wondered about it, but I had no idea it was by a Christian author!
    Looking forward to reading it now :)

    Thank you!