REVIEW: Dealing with Dragons by Patricia C. Wrede

REVIEW: Dealing with Dragons by Patricia C. WredeDealing with Dragons (Enchanted Forest Chronicles #1) by Patricia C. Wrede
Published: Sandpiper (1990), Paperback, 212pg
Genres: Adventure, Fantasy, Fiction
Source: Bought


Summary:

Cimorene is everything a princess is not supposed to be: headstrong, tomboyish, smart...

And bored. So bored that she runs away to live with a dragon... and finds the family and excitement she's been looking for. (from Amazon)

Buy on Amazon | Goodreads

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As much as I liked the audiobook version way back when, I like the text version even more. In the audiobook, the voices of the characters kept overriding the actual story– slightly jarring. Like, I was spending too much time wondering about the voice actors than I was thinking about the plot, and after reading the text version I wonder if I even really paid attention to the story at all that first time.

Princesses! Dragons! Turning tropes up on their head! Humor and adventure and excitement! Everything I said in the first review still holds true, and I don’t really want to repeat myself, so here’s something new.

I didn’t really “get” Cimorene at first. I mean, yeah, special snowflake princess, whatever. She was “special” because she wasn’t stereotypically girly like the OTHER princesses, which was disappointing. You can be girly AND be an awesome heroine1 and I thought that Dealing with Dragons was saying that the cliche princess is stupid because of reasons. But! That’s not what it’s saying. What makes Cimorene different from the other princesses isn’t that she wants to learn magic/fencing/other active things and not cross-stitching.2 She’s different because she doesn’t subscribe to the conventions of a traditional fantasy fairy tale romance!

This is HILARIOUS and also amazing. Hilarious, because nobody in Cimorene’s social circles knows wtf she’s talking about– princesses don’t FENCE, Cimorene, etc.– and this makes for some nice humorous situations.3 Amazing, because to have the strength of will and character to have come out of that mess knowing who you are, what you want, and what you’re willing to do to get it makes for a GREAT protagonist.

Reading Dealing with Dragons just made me remember how much fun I had reading the series the first time around, and now I can’t WAIT to reread the next book!

reRead: January 27, 2013

Footnotes

  1. and girliness isn’t a bad thing! And you can be a tomboy and be awesome, too. ANYWAY.
  2. sidenote: there should totally be a princess somewhere who wins against the baddie through her awesome cross-stitching/crochet/knitting/traditional “feminine” skills. Yes!
  3. sidenote: how did Cimorene learn to say “no” to the knights and the arranged marriages and the letting other people rescue her? When everyone around her is a fairy tale romance sort of person? Usually when people break out of their upbringing it’s because they read a book or talked to someone different than them, and I don’t think Cimorene did that. She must, therefor, have done it through sheer force of will (and authorial hand-waving?) and that is pretty frickin’ awesome.

4 Comments

  1. LOVE this book and this series. I credit Dealing with Dragons for my love of fantasy – it was the first one where I noticed ‘oh! yes, stories usually do THAT but this one DOESN’T, so that’s cool!’ Thanks for sharing!

  2. Oh man. I loved these books SO MUCH when I was a kid. And I agree that it’s a bit yuck for there to be this divide between stereotypically girly pursuits and awesome girls that are Cimorene. Though on the other hand, that’s not the main point of the series so much as, as you point out, departing from fairy tale stereotypes, which these books do absolutely charmingly all along. My favorite as a kid was the one that focuses on Morwen and all her cats.

    • I really liked the Morwen + cats book, too! I liked all of them, in fact, except for the first/last one with Cimorene’s kid. But I think that was because of the audio– I didn’t really like the voices, if I remember correctly. Maybe I’ll like it more when I read it in text!

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