Dragonwatch: Revolt of the Fablehaven dragons

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Dragonwatch by Brandon Mull children's fantasy book reviewsDragonwatch by Brandon MullDragonwatch by Brandon Mull

Fans of Brandon Mull’s FABLEHAVEN middle grade fantasy series now have a chance to revisit that world with Dragonwatch (2017), the first book in his new FABLEHAVEN ADVENTURE series. In the world of FABLEHAVEN, mythical beings like fairies, centaurs, dragons and demons actually exist, living in hidden, protected sanctuaries where most humans are unaware of their existence. Even if you enter a preserve, unless you drink the milk of a magical milch cow, fairies look like dragonflies or butterflies, nipsies seem to be mice, satyrs appear as goats, and so on.

In the original FABLEHAVEN series, Kendra and her younger brother Seth helped protect their grandparents’ estate, Fablehaven, and the other sanctuaries against the evil magical forces that threatened them. This battle against evil culminated in the fifth book, Keys to the Demon Prison, in which dragons assisted the humans and good magical creatures in fighting demons before returning to their (very spacious) dragon sanctuaries.

Dragonwatch begins a new set of adventures for Seth and Kendra, now ages thirteen and fifteen. The dragons are now getting restive in their preserves and want their freedom … which would include minor things like, say, terrorizing the world. In the dragon sanctuary of Wyrmroost, Celebrant the Just, king of the Dragons, is on the offensive, trying to break free of the magic that binds him and his dragons to remain in the sanctuary. The binding magic is weakening, and the Dragonwatch organization, a group of wizards, enchantresses, and others devoted to ensuring that dragons never tyrannize the world again, believe it’s because the treaty with the dragons requires a human caretaker ― which the current wizard caretaker is not, exactly. The caretaker also needs to be a “dragon tamer,” someone who is not paralyzed by fear when conversing with a dragon.

When they are physically touching each other, Seth and Kendra are a dragon tamer. Though they’re young, they also have rare magical abilities (gained through their prior adventures) that may make them the best hope for saving the world from destruction by dragons. Of course, the answer to keeping the dragons safely bound is not as simple as everyone hoped, and Kendra and Seth end up going on a quest within Wyrmroost to find the magical item that will restore the spell to its full power.

Books 1-5

The FABLEHAVEN universe is a hugely appealing one for young readers who like magical adventures. Kendra is the cautious one who always wants to keep the rules; Seth is more reckless and willing to take a crazy chance, even if it’s dangerous, which has often gotten him into trouble in the past. But now the only way to defeat the dragon threat may be to take chances and think outside the box. Seth also has a quick wit; his often funny dialogue supplies most of the humor in Dragonwatch.

The plot periodically gives off a whiff of going down a predictable path, the magical quest where the main characters must overcome one obstacle or test, then another, then another, to achieve their goal and find the McGuffin, excuse me, the magic scepter that will solve their dragon problem … at least for the time being. But there was enough creativity in the setting and in the nature of the obstacles Seth and Kendra encounter that even as an adult reader I didn’t get bored, and middle grade readers should find it engaging.

Dragonwatch picks up right where (and when) the Keys to the Demon Prison left off, and there are many, many references to events and characters from the prior books in the FABLEHAVEN series. Although Brandon Mull fills in much of the backstory, I’d strongly recommend reading the entire set of FABLEHAVEN books before beginning this one. Speaking from personal experience ― I have three children who were rabid fans and dragged me to more than one FABLEHAVEN book launch party when they were young teens, where there were hundreds of young, screaming fans ― it’s a great, imaginative series for middle graders who like magical fantasies with exciting and perilous adventures.

Published March 14, 2017. In the long-awaited sequel to Fablehaven, the dragons who have been kept at the dragon sanctuaries no longer consider them safe havens, but prisons and they want their freedom. The dragons are no longer our allies…. In the hidden dragon sanctuary of Wyrmroost, Celebrant the Just, King of the Dragons, plots his revenge. He has long seen the sanctuaries as prisons, and he wants nothing more than to overthrow his captors and return the world to the Age of Dragons, when he and his kind ruled and reigned without borders. The time has come to break free and reclaim his power. No one person is capable of stopping Celebrant and his dragon horde. It will take the ancient order of Dragonwatch to gather again if there is any chance of saving the world from destruction. In ancient times, Dragonwatch was a group of wizards, enchantresses, dragon slayers, and others who originally confined the majority of dragons into sanctuaries. But nearly all of the original Dragonwatch members are gone, and so the wizard Agad reaches out to Grandpa Sorenson for help. As Kendra and Seth confront this new danger, they must draw upon all their skills, talents, and knowledge as only they have the ability to function together as a powerful dragon tamer. Together they must battle against forces with superior supernatural powers and breathtaking magical abilities. How will the epic dragon showdown end? Will dragons overthrow humans and change the world as we know it?

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TADIANA JONES, on our staff since July 2015, is an intellectual property lawyer with a BA in English. She inherited her love of classic and hard SF from her father and her love of fantasy and fairy tales from her mother. She lives with her husband and four children in a small town near the mountains in Utah. Tadiana juggles her career, her family, and her love for reading, travel and art, only occasionally dropping balls. She likes complex and layered stories and characters with hidden depths. Favorite authors include Lois McMaster Bujold, Brandon Sanderson, Robin McKinley, Connie Willis, Isaac Asimov, Larry Niven, Megan Whalen Turner, Patricia McKillip, Mary Stewart, Ilona Andrews, and Susanna Clarke.

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4 comments

  1. This sounds like a charming series! I bet younger readers love it.

    • Three out of my four kids adored it when they were young teens, and seriously, the book launch parties for the later Fablehaven books were full of wildly enthusiastic young fans! I think the entire series is a very good bet for younger readers who like fantasy adventures.

      I read the first three or four books of the original series and then lost interest as an adult reader, but I would give the original Fablehaven book 5 stars. I found it enchanting.

  2. I’ve enjoyed his BEYONDERS and FIVE KINGDOMS stories.

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