Thursday, July 11, 2013

Play Beneath the Surface: Dungeons and Dragons Week

This week during our Teen Room summer reading activities, we are exploring aspects of the role-playing game, Dungeons and Dragons.  We have two active teen groups that meet weekly at the library to immerse themselves in a fantasy world of dragons, magicians, and intricate plots.  During our afternoon summer reading activities, some of the members of these teen groups have been helping other patrons learn how to create a character in order to play the game.  In addition, we have been playing with the “dragons” part of the game’s title with activities that focus on dragon food, dragon personality tests, and dragons in Young Adult literature.  The following are some of those books:

Inheritance Cycle, by Christopher Paolini:  By far our most popular dragon series here at CCPL, this quartet follows the epic story of Eragon, who finds out that he is the last of the Dragon Riders when an egg he finds hatches for  him, and he is faced with Saphira, a magnificent sapphire-blue dragon who becomes his friend and comrade in the fight against evil in the kingdom of Alagaesia.  Author Paolini does an excellent job of world-building, even going as far as creating an original language within the story. When I read the first book in this series, Eragon, I was fascinated to realize that Paolini published it when he was 16 years old!  After Eragon, the quartet continues with Eldest, Brisingr, and Inheritance.

Eon duology, by Allison Goodman:  The first of these two books, Eon: The Last Dragoneye, was a nominee for the Wyoming Soaring Eagle award last year, so it’s been reviewed already in this blog; see the October 24, 2012 entry.  The story tells of a thirteen-year-old girl who lives disguised as a crippled boy, in the hopes of being selected as the next Dragoneye, keeper of the magical forces that control weather, luck, and destiny.  There are traditionally twelve celestial dragons who each select their next Dragoneye; when Eon is selected by a mysterious thirteenth dragon, she is left without a mentor to help her learn to harness her dragon’s power. This story of ancient Asian culture and mysticism continues in Eona: Dragoneye Reborn.

Last Dragon Chronicles, by Chris D’Lacey: This seven-book series is popular with both middle-grade and high school readers, perhaps because it is different from typical dragon literature. It begins when a college student, David, takes rooms with Liz Pennykettle and her daughter, Lucy. Liz creates and sells clay dragon sculptures, and offers one to David. David is reluctant to accept at first; he senses mystery in the family he is living with. His dragon, however, presents only limited magic, and the story is much more about the relationships between David, Liz and Lucy than it is about epic fantasy battles. David is a writer, so there develops an intriguing story-within-a-story subplot. The seven-book series begins with The Fire Within; subsequent books are Icefire; Fire Star; The Fire Eternal; Dark Fire; Fire World; and The Fire Ascending.

Enchanted Forest Chronicles, by Patricia Wrede:  This series is one of the most entertaining of our selection of dragon literature.  It follows the story of young princess Cimorene, who would rather eat snails than endure the princess training her parents foist on her.  She is the youngest of seven daughters, and rather trying for her tired parents. When they attempt to wed Cimorene to a boring prince, she runs away to live with dragons, offering herself as a servant to the dragon Kazul. As she lives with Kazul, she attempts to intervene between humans and dragons to avoid unnecessary bloodshed; however, when the King of Dragons is killed, Cimorene finds herself involved in solving a mystery.  The first of this classic Young Adult series is Dealing with Dragons; the chronicles continue with Searching for Dragon; Calling on Dragons; and Talking to Dragons.

Kazam Chronicles, by Jasper Fforde: This new YA series is the first foray into Young Adult literature by popular adult fiction author Fforde.  The following review is taken from School Library Journal: 

Orphaned Jennifer Strange, 15, is the manager of Kazam Mystical Arts Management, an organization that promotes the use of magic by its resident sorcerers, a quirky bunch at best. Within the course of one week, Jennifer becomes famous when she is named the Last Dragonslayer, and her already unusual life becomes one of danger, deceit, and dragons. She is called upon to kill the last dragon in the land and war threatens to break out as countries surrounding the Dragonlands vie for control of its vast and rich lands. Jennifer doesn't want to kill the dragon, but her duty and destiny are clear. Or are they?

The Kazam Chronicles begins with The Last Dragonslayer; the second book in the series, The Song of the Quarkbeast, came out in June.

We have lots more dragon literature in our Young Adult fiction collection!  Try a title from one of the above series, or come in and let us help you find another selection.  If there is one creature abundant in both the literature teens read and the games they play, it is a dragon!

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