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Dragonwatch, Book 1: A Fablehaven Adventure
A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this book.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Dragonwatch is the start of a sequel fantasy series set in the world of Brandon Mull's Fablehaven books, and it draws heavily on the characters and events from that original series. There are more references to violent battles in the Fablehaven series than actual fighting in this one, where the violence is mostly threatened or in the form of pursuits, such as circling dragons overhead or ogres and bears chasing heroes. Plot developments hinge on stretching and sometimes breaking rules, and one character twice thrusts an unaware teen into deadly peril. There's an intense dreamlike scene involving corpses of familiar characters and another involving a crowd of undead. Teens are in near constant peril from magical creatures including a demon, an ogre, and dragons.
What's the story?
DRAGONWATCH returns Kendra, 15, and her brother, Seth, 13, to Fablehaven, the secret sanctuary for magical creatures overseen by their grandparents. All seems peaceful, but they soon learn trouble is brewing among the dragons. Celebrant the Dragon King is trying to take control of the Wyrmroost sanctuary, escape confinement, and begin a new age for dragons. It falls to Kendra and Seth to take over as the new caretakers, in uneasy partnership with Celebrant, who sees their youth and inexperience as weakness. The siblings know this assignment could easily end with their death, but they set out on a magic-steeped journey to shore up Wyrmroost's defenses and prove they're up to the task of overseeing the sanctuary.
Is it any good?
Brandon Mull returns to Fablehaven with a sequel that's wandering yet still sure to please fans with familiar characters, nods to early adventures, and new thrills among the dragons of Wyrmroost. Kendra and Seth are both a little wiser in Dragonwatch, but they're tested anew as they're thrust into the role of dragon keepers. Newcomers to Mull's work might also be tested, as he spends a fair amount of the book squeezing in references to characters and scenes from the first series.
Mull (Five Kingdoms series) tends to rely on convenient devices to advance the story: Each fresh challenge is resolved by discovering another rule to manipulate or a character's magical ability. Gender roles remain frustrating: Seth is headstrong, bold, and reckless, quick to break important rules. Kendra has proven herself a thoughtful warrior, but Mull peppers her narrative with so many self-directed questions she seems timid -- and she's distracted by attractive boys. Humor and rich characters keep things lively.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the gender roles in Dragonwatch. Seth is presented as headstrong, bold, and reckless. Kendra's frequent self-directed questions make her seem timid, and she's distracted by attractive boys. Do these differences between the two characters conform to gender stereotypes?
Why are books about dragons so popular?
If you've read the Fablehaven books, is this book an enjoyable extension of the story? If you're new to this world, does this book make you want to read the first series?
- Author: Brandon Mull
- Genre: Fantasy
- Topics: Magic and Fantasy, Adventures, Brothers and Sisters, Friendship, Monsters, Ghosts, and Vampires
- Book type: Fiction
- Publisher: Shadow Mountain Publishing
- Publication date: March 14, 2017
- Publisher's recommended age(s): 9 - 13
- Number of pages: 384
- Available on: Paperback, Nook, Audiobook (unabridged), Hardback, Kindle
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