Talking to Dragons by Patricia C. Wrede
Series: Enchanted Forest Chronicles #4
on March 1, 2003
Genres: Comedy, Comedy, Fantasy, MG/YA
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One day, Daystar's mom, Cimorene, hands him a magic sword and kicks him out of the house. Daystar doesn't know what he is supposed to do with the magic sword, but knowing Cimorene, he's sure it must involve a dragon or two!
NOTE: This review contains spoilers for the previous three (3) books in this series. Please read those books prior to reading this review.
Talking to Dragons is the fourth and final installation in the Enchanted Forest Chronicles. It’s been a fun ride and I’m a little sad to see it end.
Talking to Dragons stars Daystar as the MC and starts 16-17 years after then ending of Calling on Dragons. Daystar is the son of previous MCs Queen Cimorene and King Mendenbar but he does not know this. All he knows is that he was the son of a wonderful mother named Cimorene. One day a wizard showed up at Daystar’s cottage – and in surprise he watches his mother melt the wizard! Afterwards, Cimorene comes to Daystar with a magical sword and sends him off into the Enchanted Forest with no instruction.
I really enjoyed Talking to Dragons but I found it…not as interesting. Wrede completely changed the tone of the series by making Daystar a boy, removing the gender role reversal theme* that the rest of the books in the series have. I was disappointed in that but I am glad that there is a male character in the series that young boys can relate to besides Mendenbar. There is a strong MC female character in the book – a fire witch named Shiara – but…she’s a major PIA and nothing like the strong and capable Cimorene. Shiara is unbelievably rude (to everyone) and prone to either major attitude or tears at all times. When the reader meets Shiara, she can’t do magic. Later she is able to perform magic but she has to be polite first. Instead of being happy that she can now perform magic (she was being chased by the magicians because she was unable to perform magic and thus unable to defend herself), Shiara gets a major attitude and starts bitching.
Daystar, on the other hand, is closer to the male equivalent of Cimorene (with a little less sense, lol) – but he’s lacking…imagination? Personality? Curiosity? Maybe all three. Daystar is not really curious as to who he is. He’s not too concerned that his mother randomly sent him into the forest with a magic sword. Daystar isn’t particularly interested in most things – it mostly feels like the adventures in Talking to Dragons happened to Daystar instead with Daystar. Daystar basically takes everything that happens to him in stride with no real surprise.
Talking to Dragons was fun but it was also missing quite a bit of the whimsy of the previous novels, too. I would consider Talking to Dragons the most conventional and “canon-like” book in the series. Daystar is not an orphan or a farmboy but he’s pretty close to the orphan farmboy trope. Daystar is given a magic sword and sent on an unknown quest. Almost everyone around him knows who/what he is before he does. The outcome of the “world” (the Enchanted Forest) is dependent on Daystar learning and doing specific things. As I said, very “canon-like.”
All in all, I enjoyed Talking to Dragons (a lot more than Calling on Dragons!!) and I’m sad to see the series end. Regardless of any complaints I had about this book, I did enjoy my read. I also purchased the series omnibus – rereads will occur!
*Wrede wrote Talking to Dragons first, in 1985. The rest of the series – with gender themes – was written afterwards (1990, 1991 & 1993) and then Talking to Dragons was re-written and re-released.