Book Reviews · Fantasy · Young Readers/Middle Grade Fiction

The Enchanted Forest Chronicles: Dealing with Dragons, Searching for Dragons, Calling on Dragons, Talking to Dragons

I am convinced that the only thing better than a great fantasy novel is a great fantasy series. One of the most enjoyable series that I’ve had the opportunity to read this year was The Enchanted Forest Chronicles, by Patricia C. Wrede.

The first book in the series, Dealing with Dragons, tells the story of Princess Cimorene. Unlike her older sisters, Cimorene finds that most of the activities that princesses are supposed to find enjoyable are, in fact, incredibly boring.

She would much rather learn to fence or wield magic than learn embroidery or dancing, and as a result, her frustrated parents are constantly telling her that her behavior is not proper for a princess.

When her parents decide to marry her off to a prince named Therandil, Cimorene is forced to run away from home. It’s not long before she finds herself running into a group of dragons, and she volunteers to be the princess of a female dragon named Kazul.

Life as Kazul’s princess is much more interesting than her life in her parents’ kingdom, and Cimorene quickly finds herself tangled up with dragon politics, wizards, and even a jinn…all while attempting to convince various questing knights that she does not care to be rescued.

I’ve read the first book of The Enchanted Forest Chronicles four times now, and I have loved it every time I’ve read it! It’s a truly delightful fantasy story, with a lot of very funny moments. Cimorene is a wonderful main character, and one that I think many readers will find easy to relate to. She’s independent and intelligent, and she doesn’t just take things at face value, or have a problem asking questions (traits which serve her well throughout the book).

The second book in The Enchanted Forest Chronicles series is Searching for Dragons. This book introduces the reader to Mendanbar, the King of the Enchanted Forest.

While taking a desperately-needed break from his royal duties, and from his steward’s not-so-subtle reminders that he needs to find himself a bride, Mendanbar stumbles across a section of the Enchanted Forest that has been damaged by some kind of unknown force. Upon investigating the site, he finds several dragon scales among the devastation.

Hoping to find out which dragon lost the scales, Mendanbar travels to Kazul’s home in the Mountains of Morning, where he meets Princess Cimorene, who is just about to leave on a quest of her own.

As it turns out, Kazul has gone missing, and Cimorene is determined to find her. Unwilling to let the princess travel into danger on her own, Mendanbar decides to accompany her. Together they will face a number of challenges, including attacks by rock snakes, malfunctioning flying carpets, and (of course) some very pesky wizards.

I really enjoyed reading Searching for Dragons, and thought that it was a great sequel to the first book of the series. I especially loved reading about Mendanbar and Cimorene meeting for the first time. It’s a great moment, and it’s a lot of fun to see how their relationship continues to develop over the course of the book…especially since Mendanbar isn’t used to being around princesses like Cimorene.

While I do vaguely remember reading this book as a kid, there was a lot about the story that I just didn’t remember. I also don’t remember reading the rest of the series when I was younger…and I have no idea why. Especially since this time around, I decided to immediately dive into book three.

The third book of the series, Calling on Dragons, focuses on Morwen, a witch who lives in the Enchanted Forest with her nine cats.

When Morwen receives a visit from an enchanted rabbit, she soon discovers that wizards are causing mischief in the Enchanted Forest once again. As it turns out, the wizards have managed to steal King Mendanbar’s magic sword, and they’re plotting to drain all of the magic from his kingdom.

To prevent them from achieving their goal, Morwen, Cimorene, Kazul, and their friends (both human and animal) must go on a quest to recover the sword from the thieving wizards.

This was my first time reading Calling on Dragons, and I really enjoyed it. I especially liked the fact that Wrede decided to focus on Morwen for the duration of the book. Not only is she one of my favorite characters from the earlier books in the series, but this choice allows the reader to understand what Morwen’s cats are saying (both to her, and to each other). The cats themselves are fantastic characters, and a big part of what makes this story so much fun to read.

The final book in the series, Talking to Dragons, takes place about seventeen years after the events of Calling on Dragons, and is told from the perspective of Daystar, Cimorene’s teenage son.

Shortly after a wizard shows up at their home on the edge of the Enchanted Forest, Daystar’s mother gives him a magic sword, and tells him that he has to leave home. Furthermore, he’s not allowed to return home until he can explain to his mother why she made him leave in the first place (Wrede 6).

The confused teenager heads into the Enchanted Forest, off on a quest that he knows next-to-nothing about. Along the way, he meets a rather impolite fire-witch and a runaway dragon, who become his traveling companions. Unfortunately, they are pursued by a group of wizards who really want the sword his mother has given him.

Just like the previous book, this was my first time reading Talking to Dragons, and I had a lot of fun reading it. It does a great job of wrapping up the cliffhanger from the end of book three, and is a very satisfying conclusion to the series.

Whether you are a fan of the fantasy genre, or you’re just looking for a good, engaging story, I highly recommend reading all of the books in The Enchanted Forest Chronicles series. They’re fantastic books, and will definitely appeal to both younger and older readers. If you do have a chance to read this series for yourself, I hope that you enjoy it as much as I did.

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