Tuesday, April 10, 2012

The Dragon's Tooth

by N. D. Wilson

Grade: 4 stars
Story: Cyrus Smith and his sister Antigone have lost their parents and are living with their older brother in a run-down motel. But then a strange old man appears, and is killed by an even stranger man, and all sorts of weird things happen. Eventually they end up sworn into a centuries-old Order, with one of the evilest men alive after them. This isn't a very good summary, so now I'm going to do it exclamation point style, because that's more fun:
Invisible snakes! The Blood Avenger of Ashtown! Strange skin-shedding boys! Fencing! Fire! Torture! Revenge! Really scary monsters! Not-really-true-love, but certainly a couple of crushes! A girl named Antigone! (I like Greek names, ok?)
Warning: For dragon fans (namely my dear friend C.H.): there is no "Dragons!" added to this list for a reason. i.e. A dragon's tooth does not a dragon mean.

Thoughts: I originally got this book from the library because I heard it had something to do with joining an Order of St. Brendan, and was of the fantasy genre. Which immediately appealed to me because I assumed it would either be Catholic, or have something to do with Catholicism--considering that St. Brendan is, after all, a Catholic saint. And I am of the opinion that there needs to be far more well-written Catholic fantasy out there. Sure, we have The Lord of the Rings, which is pretty much the ultimate fantasy novel. But there's not much else. And in that respect I was somewhat disappointed. There are only vague references to Christianity, and the ones that are there, i.e. the monks, are rather grumpy and unpleasant. Not that it's necessary to be explicitly Christian. In fact, LOTR is all the better for NOT being explicitly Catholic. It's just.. well, I'm not sure really. I was expecting something somewhat different for this book, perhaps at least some mention of Brendan and his sainthood? In Wilson's bio, he mentions his admiration for such people as Tolkein, Chesterton, and C. S. Lewis (as well as the totally awesome P. G. Wodehouse). So my issue here is probably simply down to slightly different expectations, and not a problem with the book itself.

Anyway, enough of that. N. D. Wilson also wrote the 100 Cupboards trilogy. I thought the first two books were very well done with amazing visual imagery, but I didn't fall in love with the characters enough to ever get around to reading the third book. But this book doesn't fail in that regard at all. There are tons of awesome and memorable characters, from the immortal thief boy Nolan to the Avengel of Ashtown Rupert Greeves, to the brilliant flygirl Diana. And there are loads more.

Plus, it keeps the amazing visual writing of the 100 Cupboards series, and adds a fast-paced plot and magical studies (which I always love--in fact, I was rather disappointed that there wasn't more studying in this book. Perhaps in the sequels?)

1 comment:

Christina said...

No Dragons! Sigh. Oh well, I still want to read it.