Talking to Dragons by Patricia C. Wrede

Talking to Dragons, by Patricia C. Wrede, was first published in 1985 by Harcourt. It is the sequel to Calling on Dragons.

Always be polite to dragons! That’s what Daystar’s mother taught him…and it’s a very wise lesson—one that might just help him after his mom hands him a magic sword and kicks him out of the house. Especially because his house sits on the edge of the Enchanted Forest and his mother is Queen Cimorene. But the tricky part is figuring out what he’s supposed to do with the magic sword. Where is he supposed to go? And why does everyone he meets seem to know who he is? It’s going to take a particularly hotheaded fire-witch, a very verbose lizard, and a badly behaved baby dragon to help him figure it all out. And those good manners certainly won’t hurt!

The most fascinating thing about Talking to Dragons is that although it is book four in the Enchanted Forest Chronicles, it was actually written first. So, basically, Wrede wrote this book, then five or so years later she decided to write three prequels, and Talking was edited to fit—things like Telemain’s technobabble weren’t in the first edition (and this is also probably why Talking has a lack of fairy tale references as opposed to the first three). Wrede worked backward off of this book to give us the material in the first three, which I find fascinating, personally.

Talking is much more Hero Quest-oriented than the other three books: Daystar is given a sword and is sent off on a quest, only he doesn’t know anything about it. But even though it’s more of a familiar trope than the other books, Wrede still manages to make it her own. I love the lizard, Suz, and the dragon that accompanies Daystar and Shiara on their quest. The part with the princess and the knight is especially funny.

And, yes, since this was written first, there is some slight plot discontinuity with the other three books, such as some things dealing with the sword, the number of Morwen’s cats (although I suppose that a couple could have died, or she could have given kittens away as she did with Nightwitch), and some of the mechanics behind the imprisonment of Mendanbar. But I really enjoy Talking all the same, even if it is a little different from the others.

Rating: 4/5

Recommended Age Range: 12+

Warnings: None.

Genre: Fantasy, Middle Grade

“It sounds a lot like Antorell,” I said finally.

“Antorell?” Shiara asked.

‘The wizard that Mother melted. She said he might try to make trouble for me in a day or two.”

“Oh, great. All we need is another wizard looking for us.”

The Princess didn’t seem to be following the conversation at all. “Alas!” she said finally. “There is nothing left for me but grief. I have no means now to save my love, so I shall die with him. I shall fling myself in yonder stream and make an end.”

“You are even dumber than Daystar,” Shiara informed her. “That stream isn’t deep enough to drown in.”

Overall Review:

Talking to Dragons is the fourth and last book in the Enchanted Forest Chronicles, but was actually written first, and if read first reads as a fun little story about a Hero’s Quest to save the Forest from evil wizards. Read last, of course, it’s the resolution to a three-book-long problem and feud. Either way, it’s delightful, even with its plot discontinuity.

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