Searching for Dragons by Patricia C. Wrede: B+

From the back cover:
The cast: an un-ordinary king, and an extraordinary princess, a couple of kooky giants, an overzealous magician, a loyal and helpful witch, and a host of evil and dangerous wizards.

The instruments: a broken-down magic carpet, a leaking magical sword, and a few buckets of soapy lemon water.

The problem: dragon-napping and magic-stealing.

And so the story begins, one fine day while King Mendanbar is taking a casual stroll through the Enchanted Forest…

It’s interesting that the plot can have some glaring “duh, obvious” elements (the identity of the villains, who Mendanbar will eventually marry, etc.) and yet function perfectly well. I think it’s because it doesn’t hinge on those elements for its success. They’re there, but you’re not expected to be surprised by any of them. Overall, I quite liked Searching for Dragons, but not as much as the first in the series. This is mainly due to the following:

1) It’s a bit repetitive. Here’s what Cimorene and Mendanbar do over and over: Journey a little bit, encounter a fairy tale denizen who behaves a little like his ilk typically do in fairy tales but with a twist, listen to his tale of woe, dispense advice that solves all his problems in an instant, move on, journey a little bit, etc. Maybe I was supposed to appreciate the twists more, but they were only mildly sort of cute, and I was much more interested in the main plot than these side diversions, even if they ultimately helped to further the main story along.

2) Telemain. I think Wrede’s take on magicians is interesting. They’re sort of magic nerds or mechanics, who get into exactly how the magic functions and can diagnose why things are going wrong. Interesting concept aside, Telemain himself is incredibly annoying. Probably, he is more tolerable in print, but in this audio version, he has the most nasally, grating voice that I have ever heard. It literally made me cringe every time he spoke.

Still a worthy series and pleasantly diverting, but I hope for a little change-up from “the villains from book one are behind it all again, surprise” business in the next one.

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