Thursday, March 3, 2011

Dragons of the Valley

Do you dream of dragons? Are you a fan of fantasy? Do you wish there were more books with adventures about kings and valiant heroes, questing knights, and mysterious magicians...but with a definite sense of Christain morality instead of endless examples of situational ethics and glory-seeking? Would you like to be able to find some enchanting fantasy books that you can trust to be safe for your kids?

Well, guess what? I found an author for you to try. She's not a new author, but she's new to me. I was given the opportunity to review Donita K. Paul's Dragons of the Valley, the sequel to The Vanishing Scultptor. Now some would just read the book they were given and be happy, but I HAD to order the first one in the series and read it...first. How else would I get to know the characters and understand the plot line...and I did not want to miss out on a potential good book, either.

I am SO glad I read the first book. It was great! Even better, the sequel (the book I am actually supposed to review) was great, too. Both books kept our interest from start to finish. I was up all night one night reading the first one. I managed to restrain myself with the second...I think I had worn myself out by then, but the second one was the one that kept Tex on the edge of his seat, er, bed. 

Tex and I read both of these books in the month of January and we loved them. Let me tell you why.

  1. Dragons. Dragons. Dragons. We just like dragons. There are classic dragon books out there, like Anne McCaffrey's Dragonriders of Pern series, there's grumpy old Smaug in The Hobbit, and don't forget Dragon Rider, a favorite by Cornelia Funke (but listen to the audio version read by Brendan's amazing!). These books all have dragons and we like them a lot. But wouldn't it be nice to have a series of books you can recommend to ANYONE that you know will not only fill that interest and thirst for dragons, but will also teach an upstanding moral lesson, as well? Well, here you go! And guess what? Ms. Paul has another complete series about dragons called the DragonKeeper Chronicles (FIVE more dragon books to read!Yipee!!).                              
  2. Fantasy. We like fantasy. There are some folks who do not approve of the realm of fantasy, and I understand that, and appreciate it. But I don't have a problem with it, as long as it is not wicked. I pre-screen books for my children and there are those that make the cut and those that don't. Tex likes dragons and unicorns and elves, oh my!, and I do, too. They are fun. They are creative. They can be a nice break from everyday ordinariness. This set of books will give you that break you crave, AND will impart a good, Christian, moral message, too. What could be better...healthy and tasty no-calorie chocolate chip cookies, maybe? Not much else!
  3. Values. There is no doubt as to the values shared throughout this book. They are clearly transmitted and clearly Christian. Though the setting of this book is another world, it is obvious it was created by an omnipotent, omnicient being (God). This being is known to some of the characters as Wulder. To others, Wulder is merely a childhood myth. Sound familiar? There is no question in my mind as to the source of the values in this book, however, it is one that could easily be read by a non-Christian and would not overly offend with it's preachiness. Its quality is definitely competitive enough to be read by anyone, in any market, at least in my opinion.
The Vanishing Sculptor introduces the history of the land, the characters, and the premise that dragons (and other fantastical creatures, such as Grand Parrots, Kimens, and Grawligs) are real in this world. Certain individuals who are gifted by Wulder can manipulate the creative energies ("magic"), but it is only to the extent that Wulder allows. This is a true adventure story, with an exciting mystery to solve. It is humerous, the characters are lovable, and the plot is intriguing.You will love it and your kids will be excited to read the sequel.

In Dragons of the Valley, even more dragons are brought into the story (yay!), and the characters undergo further development as they learn to trust in Wulder and rely on him to decide what they can do or be, instead of relying on what their limited vision of themselves tells them they can be or do. For example, the dust jacket of Dragons of the Valley says, "War threatens the peaceful land of Chiril. Can one painter-turned-reluctant-swordsman really help?" Read the book to find out.

I think this book is full of excellent lessons that a kid, or adult, would enjoy and learn from, and not get too bogged down by (it is instructive at times, but not overly preachy). The characters learn to rely on Wulder, and each other. They learn the value of honesty and keeping your word. They learn lessons about acceptance and judgement and sacrifice. In all, the book (both books, actually) have quite a bit of good to share and do so in a very acceptable and interesting way. I was riveted, and so was Tex.
I asked Tex what he thought of the books and his reply was, "I can't think of anything at all negative to say about either book. I really liked both of them." That's high praise coming from him because we like to review books and movies, and are quite adept at seeing both the positives and negatives of most anything. In my mind, the only negative would be if you have an essential dislike of anything that has any appearance of magic or fantasy. If that is you, skip this book. If you don't mind those things (and enjoy fantasy), but wish to avoid the stuff that is overtly malicious and merely a means of sharing evil that we'd all do better to stay away from, then this book is definitely going to be one you can give a try...especially for boys who would find the dragons and battles exciting. However, one of the main characters is a princess, so girls will enjoy the book, too (I did!).

I have seen this series tagged as "inspirational dragon fantasy." That about sums it up. If you enjoy dealings with dragons, and don't mind your inspiration traveling a bit off the beaten path, then give this series a try. It's a winner. Two wings up.

To read a summary of this book or purchase it from WaterBrook Multnomah, click HERE.
For a FREE sneak peak of the first two chapters of The Vanishing Sculptor, click HERE.
For a FREE sneak peek of the first two chapters of Dragons of the Valley, click HERE.

Check out Ms. Paul's DragonBloggin' site for more fun reviews and links.
Check out Ms. Paul's official site for more dragon-y tidbits and extras.

I received this book for free from WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group in exchange for this review. What you read here are my honest thoughts and opinions about this book. If you have questions about this book that I did not answer in my review, please feel free to contact me.



1 comment:

Deb Paul said...

Not twaddle...good solid well written fun you say? So do get these books for free when you agree to review them? I need to find them somewhere used....the library never carries books like this. Thanks for the review!

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