Allison's Book Bag

Dealing with Dragons by Patricia Wrede

Posted on: June 8, 2010

Dragons, wizards, witches, talking animals, disappearing ledges, and magic. What else could a lover of fantasy books want? Did I forget to mention a rebellious princess? The book doesn’t exactly tell a new story. Princess Cimorene prefers male activities, disdains marriage, rebels against her parent’s wishes, and even runs away from home. Yet Dealing with Dragons by Patricia Wrede’s is fun and contains enough new twists (including one that involves a bad wizard) to make it worth adding to your fantasy reads.

Cimorene’s parents expected their princess daughter to dance, embroider, draw, and practice royal etiquette. Cimorene preferred instead to fence, practice magic, and cook. In this way, the book fails to break from the cliche tale about a bored female who prefers male activities and disdains marriage.

It did not really surprise me then that her parents forbade all her improper pursuits. In this way too, the book fails to break from the cliche tale about the royal parents who want their daughter to act like a proper albeit stuffy princess.

One day Cimorene’s parents took her on a trip which she supposed to be an improvement over staying home–until she realized her parents were taking her to meet a potential suitor. Um, should I say again that this was not an unexpected twist? Nor was her decision to run away.

Sounds as if this book disappointed me, doesn’t it? It may surprise you to know: It didn’t. I like Wrede’s style. She immediately makes me feel as if I am reading a fairy tale. I also appreciate her humor, which somewhat makes up for the cliches in the first few chapters. And, truth to be told, when not a guise for anti-male or anti-marriage propoganda, I am a sucker for a well-told tale about a rebellious princess.

As for the rest of the book, it contained enough twists and revelations to leave intrigued about the sequels. One however made no sense: Cimorene meets a talking frog while at the palace who never appears later in the book. His only role is to encourage her to run away and to direct her towards the dragons. How convenient! The rest of the scenes were suspenseful and fun: Cimorene runs away to live with dragons. They turn out to be as dangerous as you might expect fire-breathing creatures to be, requiring her to develop an anti-flammable potion. Knights come to rescue Cimorene, inspiring her to seek a spot to post a sign that warned suitors to stay away. Along the way, she encounters a not-so-pleasant wizard. He plays a critical role later in the book, but I’m not going to play spoiler here. You’ll have to read the book to discover how his role and that of princes, witches, caves, and spells figure prominently in this fantasy adventure.

Despite its imperfections, the book wriggles into my imagination. Like I said, rebellious females make for intriguing characters. Futhermore, amidst visits from princesses and cooking lessons, plenty of danger and fantastical creatures abound. And, while most loose ends are tied up at the end, there is enough is left to my imagination to both satisfy me and to leave me desiring more stories about Cimorene and her dragon friends.

Patricia Wrede

Image via Wikipedia

My rating? Read it: Borrow from your library or a friend. It’s worth your time.

How would you rate this book?

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