The Dragon of Trelian is written by Michelle Knudsen. It was published in 2009 by Candlewick Press. Knudsen’s website can be found here.
“Calen is a mage’s apprentice who is not especially skilled at magic. He certainly never dreamed that Princess Meglynne would ever need his help. And Meg never imagined that she would share her biggest secret—the orphaned dragon she found in the forest—with anyone.
But lately something strange and frightening has started to happen. Meg thinks she can feel the dragon in her mind, calling to her, even when he’s far away. And with her sister getting ready to marry a foreign prince to end a hundred-year war and the whole kingdom caught up in the preparations, Calen seems to be the only one she can turn to.
Together, Calen and Meg discover that their unlikely friendship may be the only thing standing between the kingdom of Trelian and a devastating tragedy. Can an apprentice, a princess, and a dragon combine their strength and magic to bring down a secret traitor before it’s too late?”
What I Liked:
There were several moments throughout the book where I was suitably impressed with the world Knudsen has built. The dragon/human connection was interesting and the mage marks added a nice touch to the magic system. The dark creatures were decently scary, too.
Sarek was probably the best part of this book. It took only about two lines of dialogue before I chose him as my favorite character. He gets even better during the last half of the book.
What I Didn’t Like:
There were moments when I was impressed, and then the rest of the time I was lamenting over the complete waste of worldbuilding. This world could have been so excellent if we had just seen more of it, and there was so much wasted potential in the brief snippets of the world that we did see.
Meg was the average princess protagonist and Calen was the average mage protagonist. Maybe mediocre would be a better word. There was nothing spectacular or new about them; Meg was a rebellious princess, sigh, and Calen was the Super Special Magic mage, sigh.
The dialogue got a bit melodramatic at times. So did the revelations. By the time the Man Behind the Curtain showed up I was pretty much just rolling my eyes every page.
Recommended Age Range: 12+
Warnings: A few scary situations.
Genre: Fantasy, Middle Grade
Finally, the dragon slid back over to where Meg was now sitting. It curled up around her and appeared to go back to sleep. Calen shook his head in wonder and went to sit beside her.
“His name is Jakl,” she said. “Or at least that’s what I’ve been calling him.”
“How—?” Calen didn’t even know how to finish the question. His mind was still reeling. A dragon!
“What are you smiling about?” Calen asked, startling her out of her reverie.
She shook her head. “Nothing.” Back to business. “Do you think Serek might be able to help them find us?”
“I don’t know,” Calen answered. “I’ve been wondering about that myself. He might have discovered we’re gone by now. I contacted him, just for a moment, before Sen Eva began casting.”
She turned to stare at him. “You did? Why didn’t you tell me?”
He looked at her sheepishly. “I forgot.”
There was so much opportunity lost for the worldbuilding and the characters were so mediocre that it legitimately made me sad. Sarek was pretty awesome, though.
You can buy this here: The Dragon of Trelian