Calling on Dragons by Patricia C. Wrede: B-

From the back cover:
Princess Cimorene is now Queen Cimorene… and she’s faced with her first queenly crisis—the Enchanted Forest is threatened with complete destruction!

Those wizards are back—and they’ve become very smart. (Sort of.) They’ve figured out a way to take over the forest once and for all… and what they have planned isn’t pretty.

With a little help from Kazul the dragon, Morwen the witch, Telemain the magician, two cats, and a blue, flying donkey-rabbit named—what else?—Killer, Cimorene might just be able to stop them.

And some people think that being a queen is easy.

The library didn’t have an unabridged audio version of this one, so I’m reading my own paperback copy. Telemain is far less irksome in this format, I have to report. However, there were many other things that annoyed me. Let’s make a list!

1. Killer. I don’t know what redeeming value this insanely annoying, stupid creature is supposed to add.

2. The endless running gag about how Cimorene finds Telemain impossible to understand when he gets going about magic. Most of the time what he’s saying is completely comprehensible, and she’s an intelligent adult. She should be able to understand it!

3. Kazul’s characterization. When did she get so bloodthirsty and prone to breathing fire? Wasn’t she the most level-headed of the dragons back in book one?

4. Incompetent villains.

5. Plot holes. Cimorene and friends do something to try to locate the missing sword, and then later don’t remember the villains could do the same thing.

There were a few things I did like. Since it’s largely from Morwen’s perspective, her cats’ dialogue is translated. They all have distinct personalities, and Fiddlesticks is particularly cute. Also, the overall tone is darker and less concerned with playing up fairy tales than previous books in the series, and I quite liked the ending. It went a long way in redeeming my overall opinion of the book.

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