The Dragon’s Apprentice: Solid YA historical fantasy

fantasy book reviews science fiction book reviewsfantasy book review James A Owen Chronicles of the Imaginarium Geographica 2. The Search for the Red DragonThe 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 Apprentice.

James A. Owen is a good writer and does an admirable job of pulling together many of the great literary figures of earlier ages as characters in The Dragon’s Apprentice. I am not sufficiently versed in their histories to know exactly how much liberty he’s taking in his depiction of them, but it didn’t matter because they all made sense and their many quirks and individual strengths and weaknesses really add to fun of the story.

The Dragon’s Apprentice also follows a very special young woman, Rose, who has been chosen to play a pivotal role in saving the world. Rose is very charming and her insecurity in her role as heroine is touching. Sometimes I find female characters written by male authors to be overdone and annoying, but I didn’t have that problem with Rose.

On the whole, The Dragon’s Apprentice is pretty good and is a solid young adult offering. Owen doesn’t shy away from sad topics and dark themes, but he doesn’t dwell on them either, making the positive side of the story really come through. This is a solid series for kids between 8 and 14.

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.

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JOHN HULET (on FanLit's staff July 2007 -- March 2015) is a member of the Utah Army National Guard. John’s experiences have often left a great void that has been filled by countless hours spent between the pages of a book lost in the words and images of the authors he admires. During a 12 month tour of Iraq, he spent well over $1000 on books and found sanity in the process. John lives in Utah and works slavishly to prepare soldiers to serve their country with the honor and distinction that Sturm Brightblade or Arithon s’Ffalenn would be proud of. John retired from FanLit in March 2015 after being with us for nearly 8 years.

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