Here, There Be Dragons by James A. Owen
The first thing that comes to mind when I read Here, There Be Dragons is that it's dual-layered. On one hand, it's your typical young adult fantasy where the protagonists enter another realm and end up saving it (although James A. Owens breaks convention by having a much older demographic as its heroes). On the other hand, more knowledgeable readers will catch various literary and mythical allusions that the author sprinkled into the story.
This is very much a young adult book, especially since Owens dives into the action quickly and the narrative is sparse when it comes to descriptions and detail. It moves at a quick pace, the suspense is steady, and every chapter has an immediacy to it. Older readers will probably be tickled by Owens's various references and the true identity of its main characters.
James A. Owens draws from fantasy conv... Read More
James A. OwenJames A. Owen has been working professionally as an illustrator and storyteller for more than two decades. Read “A Brief History of the Geographica” and sample chapters at James A Owen’s website.
The Chronicles of the Imaginarium Geographica — (2006-2013) Young adult. Publisher: The Imaginarium Geographica “What is it?” John asked. The little man blinked and arched an eyebrow. “It is the world, my boy,” he said. “All the world, in ink and blood, vellum and parchment, leather and hide. It is the world, and it is yours to save or lose.” An unusual murder brings together three strangers, John, Jack, and Charles, on a rainy night in London during the first World War. An eccentric little man called Bert tells them that they are now the caretakers of the Imaginarium Geographica — an atlas of all the lands that have ever existed in myth and legend, fable and fairy tale. These lands, Bert claims, can be traveled to in his ship the Indigo Dragon, one of only seven vessels that is able to cross the Frontier between worlds into the Archipelago of Dreams. Pursued by strange and terrifying creatures, the companions flee London aboard the Dragonship. Traveling to the very realm of the imagination itself, they must learn to overcome their fears and trust in one another if they are to defeat the dark forces that threaten the destiny of two worlds. And in the process, they will share a great adventure filled with clues that lead readers to the surprise revelation of the legendary storytellers these men will one day become. An extraordinary journey of myth, magic, and mystery, Here, There Be Dragons introduces James A. Owen as a formidable new talent.
Here, There Be Dragons by James A. Owen
The Search for the Red Dragon by James A. Owen
The previous Chronicles of the Imaginarium Geographica book, Here There Be Dragons, had a clean ending, but The Search for the Red Dragon introduces a new conflict that's tied to the original adventure.
The strengths — and weaknesses — of the first book continue in The Search for the Red Dragon. The illustrations preceding each chapter are gorgeous, and James A. Owen's writing is plain, simple, and easy to get into. The mystery and dilemma are quickly established and the book has a "young adult" feel in terms of pacing and narrative technique. For example, I expected death to be uncommon in the novel, or at least that death would seldom be directly shown, and that prediction was pretty much on the dot.
My complaint is that Owen... Read More
The Indigo King by James A. Owen
The Indigo King has high aspirations that it sets up in terms of character and a large plot canvas, but doesn't really meet them, though it is a solid work of fantasy. It's major flaws are in its construction: a picaresque pastiche. The pastiche part is a myriad of legendary and mythological sources.
On the surface, one might expect such a all-encompassing field of sources ranging from Arthurian legends to Greek mythology to Tolkien and C.S. Lewis and Mark Twain (to name only some) would offer up a rich tapestry of fiction. But the opposite is true — we tend to land on these like a rock skipping across water and so we never really feel present in the mythology; they're never around long enough to awe us.
The picaresque structure of The Indigo King, set up via a multi-faceted quest that has the heroes poppin... Read More
The Dragon’s Apprentice by James A. Owen
The Dragon’s Apprentice is a delightful blend of historical fiction and urban fantasy. Written specifically for the young adult audience, James A. Owen’s latest installment in The Chronicles of the Imaginarium Geographica is really quite fun. For someone starting the series here, it is easy to adapt to the storyline and enjoy this novel.
The principle characters in The Dragon’s Apprentice are a group of English intellectuals, adult men who live in the 1940s, who have found a way to travel between our world and a parallel world at a time when fantastic creatures and magic abound. The process that leads to this traveling discovery is discussed in an earlier book, but it’s not necessary to have read that — there's more than enough going on in The Dragon’s Apprent... Read More
MythWorld — (2011-2012) Publisher: James A. Owen calls MythWorld “…an Urban Fantasy Pulp Adventure epic about ancient manuscripts, zen illusionists, opera, murder, magic, and the alternate History of the World” which pretty much covers anything he wants to pull into the story. This first volume, The Festival of Bones, begins with a manuscript and ends with a murder. A mysterious prodigy, sometimes known as Jude, and sometimes known as Obscuro, invites Michael Langbein, a professor of ancient literature, and Mikaal Gunnar-Galen, a former singer who is now an ambitious department head at the University of Vienna, to a nightclub where he shows them a mysterious manuscript – the Prime Edda. Jude believes the ancient text, a mythology of Northern Europe, was once used by the composer Richard Wagner in some sort of ritual related to his Ring Operas. Jude found the manuscript while in the Himalayas, where he also discovered proof of alternate histories of the world. He says that in the past, those histories have overlapped with our own, causing things as we know them to shift and change – for a short time – in a phenomenon called an Inversion. Jude believes that somehow, the stories in the Edda relate to the overlapping of these histories and a forthcoming inversion, which he wants to witness. They start to translate the work, but soon find themselves pursued by a number of parties all seeking to seize the Edda – and perhaps bring about The Inversion and with it, the end of the world in the terrible Winter known as Ragnarok.
The Unusual Motion of Strange Beasts — (2011) Publisher: This is a book that a lot of my more seasoned fans wanted me to release, which no one was really expecting. I didn’t even list it in the “Forthcoming” listing of books in the back of DRAWING OUT THE DRAGONS. But nevertheless, here it is. In the late 1990′s, I published two small books of short stories as mostly design exercises. The books were printed in Sepia ink, on off-white paper, and had debossed, tipped-in cover plates. There were supposed to be six, but we published two – and due to a printer mishap, only about 400 of Book Two even exist, and were distributed. It remains one of the rarest of my books, and since I never reprinted it, no one but the original purchasers have read these stories in over twelve years. THE UNUSUAL MOTION OF STRANGE BEASTS collects all twelve short stories from the two short collections (originally published as Tales From The TwoPenny Inn, Books I & II), along with a special surprise – a thirteenth tale which is both a standalone story, and part of a larger work. I call it “The Prestige”, but readers in Germany and France know it as Chapter Three of Book One in my series MYTHWORLD, and it is the best piece of fiction I have ever written. Everyone who has read the biographical note in the back of my books has heard of MYTHWORLD, but those books have NEVER been published in English. Those of you who want a taste of MYTHWORLD will want to read this story – and those who like what they read will be DELIGHTED by the announcement on the last page….