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The Dragon of Trelian by Michelle Knudsen
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The Dragon of Trelian

by Michelle Knudsen

Series: Trelian (1)

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This review is also available on my blog, Read Till Dawn.

I originally read the Trelian books several years ago, when I checked them out of the library on a whim. I fell in love with the world, the magic, the characters, and pretty much everything else, and have been obsessively checking back periodically for the third book in the series (trilogy?) to be announced. It wasn't even a blip on the horizon for the longest of times, but when I checked in on Goodreads last month I discovered that not only did the book, The Mage of Trelian, have a title and a cover, but it was also coming out this year! How exciting is that? Extremely. I immediately sent in a review request for it (fingers crossed!) and requested both of the published books from the library. I devoured them in the space of about two days, starved as I was from not reading them in a few years, and now I'm going to review them.

That said, let me take this back a step and say that these are not the Best Books Ever. I love the Trelian books, but they're not mind-blowing or incredibly unique. They didn't win any big awards or sell a million copies, and - to be perfectly honest - they aren't as fun to reread as some of my other old favorites are. I skipped over a good chunk of the middle of Dragon of Trelian this time around because, after three or four times, certain betrayals and revelations just don't hold my attention since a) they're emotional and painful, so I don't like reading them when I'm looking to relax with an old favorite, and b) when I know what happens, I can skip over them and really not feel like I'm missing anything.

Okay, so that's the negative. But I did enjoy rereading Trelian - not all books can be as awesome to reread as Jennifer Nielsen's The False Prince, right? - and the question is more whether you would want to read it a first time, not whether you should read it a fourth time like I did. And I say, "definitely!" The Trelian books are extremely engaging, very well-written, and compelling enough that they have kept my attention and affection despite the passing of the years. Meg and Calen are great main characters, both brimming with personality and surprising depth. Neither of them ever feel like cardboard cutouts or indeed even really strike me as "characters" to be analyzed any more than I would analyze myself or my friends - they just feel like people, with their good points and their bad. Calen is my favorite person in the series (seriously, he's awesome!), but I love Meg - and her dragon, of course - as well. And also Meg's little sister Maurel, who doesn't get nearly as much screen time in The Dragon of Trelian as I would like.

So go on, pick up The Dragon of Trelian. If you haven't blown through all three Trelian books by summertime, I'll . . . well, I'd eat my hat if I had one. I don't, though, so instead I'll read them myself. That's right: if you read all the way through The Dragon of Trelian and you don't immediately want to read The Princess of Trelian, I'll check the books out from the library and read them all again. I'm that certain that you'll enjoy them (and that I'll enjoy rereading them for the umpteenth time). So go: enjoy them. You won't be disappointed. ( )
  Jaina_Rose | Mar 1, 2016 |
Young Calen is a mage-in-training in the kingdom of Trelian, newly apprenticed to the stern master magician, Serek. Meglynne is a middle princess with a reputation for impulsive, un-princessy behavior; her older sister has always been her best friend, but soon her sister will be gone, married to a prince from the neighboring kingdom, thus ending a long-standing war. These two lonely children meet when they both sneak away from their duties to spy on the prince's procession, and they quickly strike up a friendship based on mutual need. Calen needs someone to believe in his ability and dedication to magic in a way that his disapproving master doesn't seem to, and Meg needs someone she can trust with a dangerous secret -- she's found a baby dragon, a rare species in Trelian, and has been hiding it in a nearby cave outside of the palace grounds. Meg relies on Calen to research dragons and advise her, especially after they realize she and the dragon have formed a mental bond that allows them to share thoughts and power. During one of their meetings, Meg and Calen overhear a powerful ambassador from Kragnir plotting the death of Meg's sister in order to rekindle the war, but before they can warn anyone, they are caught and sent far from the kingdom with a powerful spell. Now, Meg and Calen must find their way back to Trelian in time to save Meg's sister, and they have only Calen's fledging powers and Meg's link with the dragon Jackl to rely on.

This is a solid middle-grade fantasy, and one that I very much enjoyed reading. The way magic works in the world, and especially the way it is regulated (magicians have tattoos that represent their abilities; these tattoos change and grow as their powers do, and it is illegal to practice magic without the tattoos; basically, it is illegal to hide the fact that you have power) is interesting and well thought out. Dragons have been done to death, but Knudson does a credible job using this mythic creature as a way to explore Meg's issues of identity and trust, as she is afraid her true self will be swept away in the tide of the dragon's power. As the dragon doesn't have human feelings and is quite threatening, she naturally worries about what kind of person she will become and how others will see her. Also, despite the book's title, the dragon here is not the focus of the whole story. The focus is on Calen's and Meg's friendship, and what a great friendship it is! Despite their status differences, Meg and Calen treat each other as equals, and both have strengths that the other trusts: Meg trusts Calen's calm thoughtfulness and magical knowledge, and Calen admires Meg's people skills and her sheer willful determination not to fail. Even better, they do not appear to be heading in a romantic relationship -- Meg has a crush on another boy during part of the book. I also like that Knudson did not make all of the adults in the book into clueless morons who blunder in and ruin everything; Calen's master Serek proves to be a strong force on their side. He listens to them, and then he acts on the knowledge in appropriately adult ways, not by confining them to their rooms or telling them they're imagining things, but by doing his own quiet research and protecting and supporting them when needed. While Calen's and Meg's actions ultimately foil the plot (for now, mwahahaha; there is definitely a sequel), Serek is the strong adult figure they needed. Overall I was really surprised by how much I liked this book (sometimes I get cynical about middle-grade fantasy, especially involving dragons), and I hope the next one continues the strong writing, plotting, and character development. ( )
  Crowinator | Sep 23, 2013 |
Very good story. Well written. Good characters that are likable. Lots of action. If there has to be another dragon book, this is a good one. ( )
1 vote librarian1204 | Apr 26, 2013 |
despite the adventure and the magic of Calen the apprentice mage, this might be a hard sell to guys as there is much drama and romance from Meg the princess ( )
  lindap69 | Apr 5, 2013 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
The Dragon of Trelian focuses on a mage's apprentice named Calen and a princess named Meg. The dragon is less central to the story than I would have liked, but that will probably shift as the series continues. In this novel, Knudsen has created an incredible, complex fantasy world that people of all ages will love to delve into. I had my doubts at the beginning, but the characters are so easy to relate to and I was immediately sucked into their world.

The plot had some issues for me, but I really loved the characters and their relationship with each other. Both Meg and Calen are fantastically well-rounded, and I could see both boys and girls loving this story because of the dual points of view. Once the action and adventure got started (it did take a very long time for it to start), the pace really picked up and I was hooked. The black winged creatures (shown on cover) are described in horrific detail, which I loved -- a good fantasy isn't complete without at least one frightening creature.

What I didn't like, and what seems to be a problem for a lot of middle grade works, is that a lot of conflicts are resolved within a few pages of being introduced. There are some problems that take longer, but for the most part, a seemingly huge obstacle is thrown in the characters' way, and then it magically disappears within moments. This makes it really frustrating when they can't figure out an obvious solution to a problem that takes them chapters to solve. Yes, it's middle grade and should be less complex, but I like it when the characters are pushed and have to work for a happy ending.

Despite that, however, I found this to be a charming fantasy with incredibly lovable characters. I can't wait to see what the next books have in store, and I've already added the sequel to my to-read list.

*I was given a free copy of this book from the publisher through LibraryThing's Early Reviewers program in exchange for an honest review.* ( )
1 vote sedelia | Feb 25, 2013 |
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0763634557, Hardcover)

Calen, a lonely young mage-to-be, never dreamed that Princess Meglynne would become his friend. And impulsive Meg never imagined that secretly tending a baby dragon would cause her to be "linked" to the winged beast — for life. Being attuned to a dragon’s thoughts and feelings is exciting but scary, especially when their destinies are tied (for better or worse). And now Meg’s sister is about to marry a prince to end a war between kingdoms, a celebration that only Meg and Calen know is endangered by a murderous plot. How can a girl, a boy, and a dragon merge their magic and strength to bring down a powerful traitor before it’s too late? From the author of Library Lion comes a classic middle-grade fantasy soaring with sorcery and suspense, spunk and adventure, friendship and first romance, and a cast of truly enchanting characters.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:18:47 -0400)

(see all 2 descriptions)

A mage's apprentice, a princess, and a dragon combine their strength and magic to bring down a traitor and restore peace to the kingdom of Trelian.

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Michelle Knudsen is a LibraryThing Author, an author who lists their personal library on LibraryThing.

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Candlewick Press

2 editions of this book were published by Candlewick Press.

Editions: 0763634557, 0763649937

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