Monday, January 25, 2016

The Dragon of Trelian by Michelle Knudsen, 2009

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Calen, a lonely young mage-to-be, never dreamed that Princess Meglynne would become his friend. And impulsive Meg never imagined that secretly tending a baby dragon would cause her to be "linked" to the winged beast — for life. Being attuned to a dragon’s thoughts and feelings is exciting but scary, especially when their destinies are tied (for better or worse). And now Meg’s sister is about to marry a prince to end a war between kingdoms, a celebration that only Meg and Calen know is endangered by a murderous plot. How can a girl, a boy, and a dragon merge their magic and strength to bring down a powerful traitor before it’s too late? From the author of Library Lion comes a classic middle-grade fantasy soaring with sorcery and suspense, spunk and adventure, friendship and first romance, and a cast of truly enchanting characters.
(416 pages)

I originally read the Trelian books several years ago, when I checked them out of the library on a whim. I fell in love with the world, the magic, the characters, and pretty much everything else, and have been obsessively checking back periodically for the third book in the trilogy to be announced. It wasn't even a blip on the horizon for the longest of times, but when I checked in on Goodreads last month I discovered that not only did the book, The Mage of Trelian, have a title and a cover, but it was also coming out this year! How exciting is that? Extremely. I immediately sent in a review request for it (fingers crossed!) and requested both of the published books from the library. I devoured them in the space of about two days, starved as I was from not reading them in a few years, and now I'm going to review them.

That said, let me take this back a step and say that these are not the Best Books Ever. I love the Trelian books, but they're not mind-blowing or incredibly unique. They didn't win any big awards or sell a million copies, and - to be perfectly honest - they aren't as fun to reread as some of my other old favorites are. I skipped over a good chunk of the middle of Dragon of Trelian this time around because, after three or four times, certain betrayals and revelations just don't hold my attention since a) they're emotional and painful, so I don't like reading them when I'm looking to relax with an old favorite, and b) when I know what happens, I can skip over them and really not feel like I'm missing anything.

Okay, so that's the negative. But I did enjoy rereading Trelian - not all books can be as awesome to reread as Jennifer Nielsen's The False Prince, right? - and the question is more whether you would want to read it a first time, not whether you should read it a fourth time like I did. And I say, "definitely!" The Trelian books are extremely engaging, very well-written, and compelling enough that they have kept my attention and affection despite the passing of the years. Meg and Calen are great main characters, both brimming with personality and surprising depth. Neither of them ever feel like cardboard cutouts or indeed even really strike me as "characters" to be analyzed any more than I would analyze myself or my friends - they just feel like people, with their good points and their bad. Calen is my favorite person in the series (seriously, he's awesome!), but I love Meg - and her dragon, of course - as well. And also Meg's little sister Maurel, who doesn't get nearly as much screen time in The Dragon of Trelian as I would like.

So go on, pick up The Dragon of Trelian. If you haven't blown through all three Trelian books by summertime, I'll . . . well, I'd eat my hat if I had one. I don't, though, so instead I'll read them myself. That's right: if you read all the way through The Dragon of Trelian and you don't immediately want to read The Princess of Trelian, I'll check the books out from the library and read them all again. I'm that certain that you'll enjoy them (and that I'll enjoy rereading them for the umpteenth time). So go: enjoy them. You won't be disappointed.

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