Tuesday, March 03, 2020

Dragon Egg Princess, etc.

Has it been a long winter? I feel like it has. Fantasy books are a challenge for me anyway and lately... not processing. I'm still buying ones that my students crave, and The Dragon Egg Princess ARC has gotten a lot of good feedback!

Oh, Ellen. The Dragon Egg Princess
March 3rd 2020 by HarperCollins
E ARC provided by Edelweiss Plus

Change is coming to Kidahara, a magical forest in the Joson, a kingdom in a diverse realm where there is magic. The trees are going to be pulled down for train tracks and mining. Jiho, whose family have been rangers for generations, gets pulled in by an offer of well paying work, even though he wants nothing to do with the forest after his father, also a ranger, left when he was young. Not surprisingly, the project is a very dangerous one, since the Namushin (tree spirits) are not in favor of "progress", especially since the men of Orion (one of the five kingdoms in the realm, the others being Urcia, Cloverly, and  Bellprix) plan on industrializing the entire area. Jiho is an anomaly; he is not affected by magic, and in fact, causes magic to malfunction, which can be a problem when vehicles are run by magic. On the outskirts of Kidahara, there is a clan of witches and wizards called the Botan. Michah is the matriarchal leader, even though she is young, and she and her people are committed to keeping the forest safe and are fighting Prince Roku. They possess a moonstone, which has untold magical properties. When Jiho and his team come across the long lost princess Koko ("Holy octopus balls!", which would be my new go-to phrase if it weren't so inappropriate for a teacher!), Jiho realizes that there is more at stake than the well being of the forest. Micah knows where Koko's parents are imprisoned, and aided by a variety of creatures, Jiho must figure out how to keep Koko safe, rescue Koko's parents, and keep the realm safe from the evil Luzee, who plans on using Micah's moonstones and Jiho's ancestral staff to plan an evil takeover.
Strengths: This was an action-packed, well-plotted fantasy tale with a decent twist on the "evil is uprising and only tweens can save the day" formula. It has a medieval feel, but modern technology. The inclusion of Korean elements (in Joson) is a nice touch. Jiho is a well-meaning  character who is trying to do the right thing, even if isn't what he wants to do. The villains are nicely drawn, and this could stand on its own, although also could have a sequel.
Weaknesses: I was hoping there would be more dragons, and I could have used a little more backstory describing the kingdoms. Also, there are a LOT of characters and places, and I personally found this made it hard for me to follow the story. Remember, though, that I have frequent Fantasy Amnesia which makes this kind of story hard for me!
What I really think: Readers who are big fans of Tui Sutherland (and who can tell me what Harry Potter is wearing in the fifth chapter of the fourth book) will love all of the different characters and their various magical powers or implements, as well as all of the places that are visited. Definitely purchasing for all of my dragon fans!

DasGupta, Sayantani. The Chaos Curse (Kiranmala and the Kingdom Beyond #3) 
March 3rd 2020 by Scholastic Press 
E ARC provided by Edelweiss Plus

Wow! I can definitely see why my fantasy fans love this series. There is so much action, adventure and humor, and the pace never lets up. Rest assured, LOTS of things happened! While fantasy is a really hard sell in my library now (I am blaming the fact that students spend so much time on screens that they have not developed the imagination needed to enjoy fantasy!), fantasy with cultural connections (like the fantastic Rick Riordan Presents imprint) circulates REALLY well. I love the notes at the back that explain some of the stories represented in the book. That said, I read this New Year's Day and didn't take notes, so I will purchase a copy but rely on the Goodreads synopsis. I think this is the last book in the series, but I could be wrong! Can't get this soon enough for my readers!

"Creating order out of chaos has frightening consequences in this New York Times bestselling series!

Kiranmala must leave the Kingdom Beyond and travel to her hometown of Parsippany to save Prince Lal, who has been spirited to the unlikeliest of places -- a tree in the yard of her best-enemy-for-life. She also faces evil serpents (of course!), plus a frightening prophecy about her role in the coming conflict between good and evil. Most troubling of all, though, is the way reality all around her seems to waver and flicker at odd moments. Could it be that the Anti-Chaos Committee's efforts are causing a dangerous disruption in the multiverse?

Kiran must grapple with the increasingly tangled threads that threaten to ensnare her...and everyone in the world and the Kingdom Beyond.

Flanagan, John. Return of the Temujai (Brotherband Chronicles #8)
October 1st 2019 by Philomel Books
Library copy

At least two of my students read this before I did, reserving copies from the public library! I waited until the library copy came in. Brotherband has never done quite as well as Rangers Apprentice, and I'm not sure why I still think of them as fantasy books. I still enjoy reading them, but they are becoming a bit samey. The Temujai are back, and didn't particularly interest me. The crew sails, run around and fight, and fight some more. I kept thinking that Hal and Lydia were from Rangers Apprentice. Have I mentioned I haven't been sleeping well? There was more coffee and good food than in most Brotherband books. How is it possible that Lost Stories came out almost ten years ago? I'd like to see Brotherband wrapped up, and would LOVE to see something new from Flanagan. Totally different world and characters. While my readers do persevere with both series, it is dragging on a bit.

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