4 out of 4 stars
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James & the Dragon is a fantastic children's fantasy book written by Theresa Snyder. I love books about dragons, so was happy to read this book. This is first book in the Farloft Chronicles and a great introduction to the series I have to say. With a story told from multiple points of view, an eloquent writing, a well-constructed world, and larger than life protagonists, we have here a spellbinding tale.
The book is set in a fantasy realm and its main protagonist is a centuries old dragon named Farloft. Farloft lives in a mountain top retreat and stays aloof of human affairs. Plague is ravaging the land and its people, killing many in the process. Laval, the king's wizard, tries to stop the plague to no avail. He asked the dragon for a piece of his wing, so he could concoct a cure for the disease. Unfortunately there is a bad blood between the two, due to a past transgression of the wizard, so the dragon refuses at first. Meanwhile, down in the village a ten-year-old orphan James nearly drowns in a bog. James is saved in the nick of time by Farloft and stays awhile at the dragon's lair. The two becomes fast friends and the dragon regales the boy with intriguing stories to pass away the time. The book then takes an unexpected turn when the wizard, blaming the dragon for his sorrows, secretly plots to get back at the dragon. Take an irresistible dragon, add one lonely boy, throw in a sneaky wizard, and what you get is an awesome tale!
I found the book to contain an original premise and interesting enough characters to drive the plot. The alternating character point of views certainly helped endearing the characters to the reader. The characters are developed so well that you are immediately pulled in and root for them. I loved it that the characters were so lifelike and flawed, and that even the villain of the piece (aka the wizard) had some redeeming qualities.
The book doesn't delve too deeply into dragon lore, but it teases us with enough tidbits to keep us on the edge. It was not as action packed as I expected it to be, but the strong characters more than make up for it. Perhaps the plot is a bit simplistic, but I still found it a gripping tale. The author does a superb job of drawing you in. The interwoven stories found in the book add to its charm. The book tackles life-changing themes and other worthy moral lessons such as friendship, loyalty, love, honor, and good vs. evil. The kids will learn that "the best lesson learned is one learned from mistakes," and that one has to be careful what he wishes for.
James & The Dragon's adventures are a delightful romp through a well-developed fantasy world. Despite it being a short book, Theresa Snyder made it seem like I was in a different world altogether. This short, well-written book packs a big punch, and the twist at the end was a nice touch. I found this a refreshing read, so rate it 4 out of 4 stars. I loved the book and definitely looking forward to reading more in the series. I would recommend the book to middle grade kids and up who love unique dragon tales and fantasy adventure.
James & the Dragon
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