The Dragon King: Otherworld Chronicles, Book 3

Book review by
Barbara Lawrence, Common Sense Media
The Dragon King: Otherworld Chronicles, Book 3 Book Poster Image
Fast-paced Arthurian adventure series ends with a flourish.

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A lot or a little?

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

Educational Value

Author Nils Johnson-Shelton bases The Otherworld Chronicles #3: The Dragon King on the King Arthur legends, taking some liberties in developing versions with modern-day characters. Readers new to the Knights of the Round Table will learn something about King Arthur's court; those familiar with the legends may enjoy the up-to-date interpretation.

 

Positive Messages

There's good camaraderie among characters who start out as average middle-school gamers but become adults through their adventures. Artie, his sister Kay, and their friends act honorably in their ongoing quest to save the world from the evil Merlin.

Positive Role Models & Representations

During the year in which the Otherworld story unfolds, Artie, his sister Kay, and their friends mature from geeky middle schoolers to young adults. Committed to saving the world, they carry the responsibility well and honorably. In the final book, Artie has truly become a king, realizing he's responsible for the safety of his family, his subjects, and the entire world. On a less positive note, Artie and Kay lie with ease and skill when questioned by police.

Violence

As with the first book, The Invisible Tower, there's a lot of violence as Artie and his knights fight the evil powers in Otherworld. They encounter scary mythical beasts, dangerous quests, and the ever-present, super-evil Merlin. The descriptions aren't overly graphic or gory but may disturb readers with active imaginations. In one scene, guards shoot at some of Artie's knights as they steal a sword from a museum in Istanbul, although no one's hurt. The Otherworld Chronicles' violence level is comparable to that of an E10+ video game.

 

As in the other books in the series, the mythical creatures are often grotesque combinations of creatures such as the Questing Beast -- half snake and half leopard -- or a sea of zombies with sucking tentacles instead of arms. These creatures, some from the King Arthur stories and some from the author's imagination, can be the stuff of nightmares.

 

 

The evil villain Merlin also gets creepier in this book as he gets closer to conquering the world and more addicted to "sangrealite".  He abducts hundreds of kids and literally wipes England off the map although much of this is done with very little description and gore.

Sex

The attraction and flirting among the characters continues but takes a backseat to the action.

Language
Consumerism

Based on the fictitious video game Otherworld, this story is strongly focused on gamers, with frequent references to gaming and Xboxes. Mountain Dew, popular with Artie, Kay and their followers, gets numerous mentions throughout the series; also mentioned are products including Coke, Pepsi, Red Lobster restaurant, Honey Nut Cheerios, Schwinn bikes, and YouTube.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Addiction to "sangrealite" makes the villain Merlin even creepier as he gets closer to conquering the world.

 

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that The Dragon King, the third and last volume of the Otherworld Chronicles, is a good read, full of action-packed adventures and battles as the heroes fight to save the world. Though there's some gruesome violence involving scary mythical beasts, dangerous quests, and the ever-present, super-evil Merlin, the descriptions aren't overly graphic or gory. (The violence level is comparable to that of an E10+ video game.) Middle-school readers will appreciate the way ordinary characters use their brains and expertise to conquer evil.

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What's the story?

THE DRAGON KING is the third and final book in the The Otherworld Chronicles, a series about two middle-school gamers literally sucked into the video game Otherworld. As the tale concludes, they go from adventure to adventure, trying to find the Holy Grail to save Kay and Artie's father. Finally they must do battle with Merlin, who's amassed an army of gruesome creatures in a bid to take over the world. The characters have matured and grown through their quests; now they take on the responsibility of saving the world.

Is it any good?

The Dragon King is an easy, action-driven read, especially good for gamers looking for something else to do. Through these adventures, we've seen Artie and his friends mature from video game-obsessed middle schoolers to heroes on a mission to save the world. In the process, they discover there's more to life than gaming; they learn to be part of society and help one another. This final installment focuses more on the adventures and quests than on the characters, but these likable kids still will engage readers. 

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about why stories about kids having adventures in the video game world are so popular. Can you think of any movies that have explored this theme? 

  • Product mentions in books and videos are on the rise. Do they enhance a story or seem more like product placement?

  • Can video games be educational and informative as well as entertaining? Read teens' comments on what they learn from video games.

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