Dragons at Crumbling Castle: And Other Stories

Book review by
Michael Berry, Common Sense Media
Dragons at Crumbling Castle: And Other Stories Book Poster Image
Charming early stories from master of fantasy.

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this book.

Educational Value

Stories demonstrate the first, youthful literary experiments of a now-bestselling author.

Positive Messages

The importance of curiosity, bravery, cooperation, and resourcefulness, with gentle messages about fortitude and politeness in the face of aggression. Good things generally happen to characters who are kind and polite, and bad behavior is not rewarded.

Positive Role Models & Representations

The protagonists tend to be well-meaning, resourceful characters who want either adventure for themselves or a solution to the problems facing their friends and neighbors. They are often misunderstood but most eventually succeed in their goals -- though perhaps not in the way they expect.


A few scenes of mild violence, such as a battle between opposing forces of Carpet People and a fight to the death between a heroic tortoise and a deadly adder. Most conflicts in the stories, however, are resolved without violence.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Dragons at Crumbling Castle is a collection of 14 stories for young readers, written by Terry Pratchett when he was a junior newspaper reporter. They are not very complex or polished, but they spotlight the enthusiasm of a teen writer experimenting with his craft. The stories feature travels to magical lands and encounters with fantastic or historical figures. Violence is rare and mild when it occurs. 

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What's the story?

The 14 stories collected in DRAGONS AT CRUMBLING CASTLE represent the early work of Terry Pratchett, bestselling author of the Discworld series. They feature characters and situations aimed at young readers: misunderstood dragons, a caveman/inventor who's ahead of his time, a time-traveling bus, and much more. Two stories offer a preview of Pratchett's first novel, The Carpet People.

Is it any good?

Earnest but unpolished, the stories in Dragons at Crumbling Castle are clearly the work of a young writer just learning to handle the tools of his literary craft. But because the young writer in question is Sir Terry Pratchett, the quality of these tales is higher than usual for kids' stories. They move swiftly, with a few jokes sprinkled in the dialogue, and familiar fantasy situations get a fresh twist. Young readers not yet ready for the sophistication of Discworld are probably the best audience for this book.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about the best ways to learn how to tell a story. What kinds of assignments might help a student develop a sense for storytelling?

  • What outlets are there for young people who want to learn how to write fiction? Can suitable resources be found online?

  • What makes a good story? How important is the subject? How important is the language?

Book details

Our editors recommend

For kids who love fantasy and adventure

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