The Enchanted Forest Chronicles by Patricia C. Wrede
Rating: 4 ♥ / 5 ♥ – I really liked it!
Dealing with Dragons published 1992 (Scholastic mass market).
Searching for Dragons published 1992 (Scholastic mass market).
Calling on Dragons published 1994 (Scholastic mass market).
Talking to Dragons published 1992 (Scholastic mass market).
Summary of Dealing with Dragons:
Take one bored princess. Make her the seventh daughter in a very proper royal family. Have her run away.
Add one powerful, fascinating, dangerous dragon.
Princess Cimorene has never met anyone (or anything!) like the dragon Kazul. But then, she’s never met a witch, a jinn, a death-dealing talking bird, or a stone prince either.
Princess Cimorene ran away to find some excitement.
She’s found plenty.
I absolutely love these books. I’ve read them multiple times, and while I’m only finished books one and two in yet another re-read, I thought I might as well review them all at once (since I have read them before).
While I love the plots (each book deals with it’s own plot, while maintaining an overall plot – kind of like tv shows) and the characters, what really makes me love these books and come back to them over and over again (besides being an easy read – the first book is only 212 pages, and the other three aren’t much longer) is the world that Patricia C. Wrede has created.
You know all those fairy tales you read as a kid (or an adult) where Jack steals the goose and harp from the giant, the giant pillages a village, the dragon swoops off with the princess and a knight/prince has to rescue her, the prince is turned into a frog and needs to be kissed, wizards have staves (staffs? I can never remember), the dwarf spins gold and plays the name-guessing game, wicked-stepmothers abound, witches melt in water and anyone royal has a fairy god-parent? Yeah, picture all that in one large fantasy world, and you have the world that Patricia C. Wrede created.
Cimorene is a princess – but not a very proper one. Instead of embroidery and etiquette lessons, she sneaks lessons on politics, magic and cooking. While lamenting an upcoming engagement to a very proper prince, a frog gives her advice. This leads Cimorene to seek out the dragons living in the Mountains of Mourning in order to become a dragon’s princess (which is also very improper; princesses don’t volunteer, they get carried away!). This decision results in numerous attempts by knights and princes trying to “rescue” her, since that’s what they do when a princess is captured by a dragon. Unfortunately for them, Cimorene doesn’t want to be rescued. She’s quite an independent lady – very take-charge and get-things-done.
Throughout the course of the books we find out that almost anyone named Jack eventually raids the house of a giant, that giants actually schedule their pillages, dragons can be hired to carry off a princess that a family needs to get married (since they marry their rescuers), people get enchanted all the time over silly things like sitting on the wrong rock or drinking from the wrong pond, wizard’s staves absorb magic and they actually melt in soapy water with lemon juice (while witches don’t actually melt), the dwarf who spins gold and plays the name-guessing game always wins and has more kids than he knows what to do with, there is a wicked-uncles version of the wicked-stepmothers and they get kicked out of the club if they don’t do anything wicked within a certain time frame, that fairy-godparents exist, the sleeping-beauty spell can be ended early by a sneaky prince, magic swords and carpets are handy to have around, and that quests always have a certain amount of rules to them. And more.
Cimorene’s world is like every major fairy-tale cliche rolled into one, and it’s fabulous. I find myself utterly absorbed into her world every time I read this series, and wish that Cimorene’s story could continue on indefinitely because I know I haven’t seen every part of her world yet. The characters themselves intrigue me and I found myself wanting to know more about their lives before the books, what happens between the books, and what they get up to when they’re off-screen.
However, if you’re like me and don’t really enjoy sequels that take place years later and deal with different characters, be warned that the last book, Talking to Dragons, deals with Cimorene’s son Daystar as the main character. Normally I dislike this, since I get attached to the original characters and want to keep reading about them, but I loved the book anyway. I got to discover the world I loved all over again through Daystar’s eyes. If you’ve never read this series before and like fantasy, track down a copy and get to reading; it’s worth the time!