I wish someone had recommended this book to me when I was a kid, but ah well, better late than never. I had high expectations going into Dealing with Dragons because I’d heard rave reviews from multiple people, and because I love the Sorcery and Cecelia books that Patricia C. Wrede co-wrote with Caroline Stevermer. I’m pleased to say this book did not disappoint: Wrede is clearly having a lot of fun playing with fairy tale tropes, and the protagonist is a princess who’s bored with etiquette and dancing and isn’t interested in an arranged marriage, and therefore runs away and ends up living with dragons/becoming domestic help for a dragon named Kazul. The princess, Cimorene, is great: before running away, she learns various fun and useful things on the sly until her parents find out and forbid her from her unprincess-like pursuits: she’s had lessons in fencing, magic, Latin, cooking, economics, and juggling, all of which are a lot more interesting to her than embroidery or drawing or anything else that princesses are supposed to do.

The setting of the book is great, too: there are dragon-caves, complete with hoards of treasure, and there’s an enchanted forest, and there’s a series of interconnected caves called the Caves of Fire and Night, which are described as containing “caverns full of blue and green fire, pools of black liquid that would cast a cloud of darkness for twenty miles around if you poured three drops on the ground, walls made of crystal that multiplied every sound a thousandfold, rocks that spurted fire when they were broken” (87). Someone has a sign over the door of her house that just says “NONE OF THIS NONSENSE, PLEASE,” which made me laugh because it’s like a mysterious fairytale version of signs you see on Park Slope brownstones that say “No flyers/menus.” And the plot, with its trouble-causing wizards and a helpful witch and politics/intrigue/scheming, is lots of fun: it’s the kind of book where you see how things are going to fit together before the characters do, in a way that’s really satisfying. Now I’m looking forward to the rest of the books in the series!

2 Responses to “Dealing with Dragons by Patricia C. Wrede”

  1. Jenny @ Reading the End Says:

    Awww, I love that you read this! I adored Patricia C Wrede when I was a kid — Mairelon the Magician is another one that I like a lot. I accidentally read the fourth book in this series first (whoops) when I was little, but I still loved the series a ton.

  2. Heather Says:

    I haven’t heard of Mairelon the Magician, I should check it out! In the intro of the edition to Dealing with Dragons that I read, Wrede explained that she actually wrote the 4th book first, intending it to be a standalone, and then went back and wrote the other three with Jane Yolen’s encouragement – so your reading order matches publication order, anyhow!

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