Review: The Enchanted Forest chronicles by Patricia C. Wrede

61./67./73./79. The Enchanted Forest chronicles by Patricia C. Wrede
Publication: four audiobooks read by Full Cast Audio, ~16 hours total
Genre: YA, Fantasy, Adventure
Rating: 4.5 birds overall
Read: March 2010
Source: Library

Review

I read this in the order that Amazon put them into, which apparently isn’t the right way to do it because it puts the book that was written FIRST, last. I think this is kind of like the Chronicles of Chrestomanci series– it’s best to read those in the order DWJ writes them, not necessarily the internal chronological order.

Anyway, I didn’t do that. I read the series in internal chronological order, which was wrong. DON’T DO WHAT I DID. It messes up Talking to Dragons if you do that, and it’s probably why I didn’t like it as much as I liked the others. So.

I’m going to review these in the order I read them. I don’t particularly want to have spoilers in here, but since I’m reviewing the whole series it’s a little inevitable. And I’ll try to keep this short, since I don’t want to go on forever about the same thing. If you don’t want to read my whole review, it basically boils down to this:

There are a few rough spots, both in the books and the cast reading it, but the Enchanted Forest chronicles is a great series for anyone who wants to read a different sort of fantasy, one with humor, strong female characters, and lots of exciting action!

Book Three: Calling on Dragons
Summary from Wikipedia:

In which Morwen discovers that the wizards have stolen Mendanbar’s sword, which keeps them from stealing the Enchanted Forest’s magic, and works with Cimorene to retrieve it.

Okay, yeah, I got off to a bad start already. I read the third book first, which doesn’t make any sense, but it happened because I wasn’t paying attention and thought it was the first book. But ignore my blunder and read it in the proper order.

Anyway– I really love this book! Morwen takes center stage here, and she’s awesome. I love her personality, which is strong-willed and…not feisty but somewhere around there. Morwen doesn’t take any nonsense from anyone, and I really appreciated that. She was a nice complement to Cimorene, who tended to get high-strung in this book.

The end is sad, even when I didn’t really know who Mendanbar was, and it made me want to read the next book ASAP. But of course I had to go back and read the first two books.

Book One: Dealing With Dragons
Summary from Wikipedia:

In which Princess Cimorene of the kingdom of Linderwall decides that being a princess is too boring and confining, and leaves home to work for the dragon Kazul.

I enjoyed this one as well. I didn’t particularly like Cimorene in the third book, but I grew to like her a lot in Dealing With Dragons. I liked how she wasn’t a typical princess, who didn’t like to do what was expected of her and wasn’t interested in marrying a prince. But I especially that even her “useless” princess training came in handy– as did her more useful lessons, of course, like Latin– it gave the book a sense of depth. Like, even if you think learning to be mannered is boring and pointless, look at what use you got out of it with the dragons! It’s not really the princess training that makes princesses stupid– it’s refusing to do anything beyond that training.

Anyway, it was a good start to the series.

Book Two: Searching For Dragons
Summary from Wikipedia:

In which Cimorene meets the King of the Enchanted Forest (Mendanbar) and (with their new friends) they collaborate to rescue Kazul from the wizards who have captured her.

Mendanbar shows up in this one, and I was pleasantly surprised into liking him, too. He’s got the same sort of thing that Cimorene does: doesn’t like rules and royal functions and he doesn’t even like to be called “King Mendanbar.” Which, okay, is kinda silly– if you’re a king you should just get over it and let yourself be called king. I think it makes people feel better, when you let them call you a title; making them call you by your name is kind of equivalent to your mother asking you to call her by her name. It’s weird and off-putting.

Okay, that was a tangent. But! Mendanbar was fun. He was a perfect match for Cimorene, which I knew anyway from reading book three first but watching them fall in love with each other in this one was sweet.

Book Four (/One): Talking to Dragons
Summary from Wikipedia:

In which Daystar, Cimorene and Mendanbar’s son, is sent off into the forest with his father’s sword and no knowledge of his heritage. Written and published first, and then revised later to better fit with the prequel books.

I liked this one less than the others. It probably comes from reading it last instead of first, but I think also it was partly from the reading. Daystar is narrating the book in first person, where the other books were in third, and that threw me off. And Daystar’s voice actor wasn’t at all my favorite, plus poor Shiara was overacted (over-read?) at times, which just made it worse.

But the actual story was fine. I liked how it continued the “familiar fairy tale rules twisted a little bit” thing from the other books, and I liked how Daystar was so polite and really rather knowledgeable about things. But I could totally throw this book over for the first or the third, and I can’t help but feel bad for that.

Summing Up

So basically, don’t read Talking to Dragons last. A lot of the suspense is ruined if you do that, and you probably won’t like it. The first and third books are the best ones (to me), and the audiobook editions of all of them vary from decent to excellent.

Oh, more about the audiobook version: the voices for nearly all the characters except Cimorene and Mendanbar change between books, which is jarring. The cast also tends to over enunciate, but after a while you’ll either ignore it or give up on it, so I wouldn’t worry about it. The production is nonetheless excellent, and I can’t wait to read more of the company’s audiobooks.

And of course I want to read more of Patricia C. Wrede’s books!

And

Other reviews: Reading Backwards | Wandering Through Worlds

I keep thinking I’ve left stuff out of this review, and I have, but I don’t think it’s big stuff…it’s a feeling sort of like I’ve left the oven on and now I’m on a plane 30,000 feet above the ground. What have I forgotten?

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2 thoughts on “Review: The Enchanted Forest chronicles by Patricia C. Wrede”

  1. Wow, I definitely had no idea that Talking to Dragons was published first. But it’s still chronologically last, though, and apparently Patricia C. Wrede revised it later on to make it work better with the other books. I read Talking to Dragons first myself, which may be why I enjoyed it. But I think Calling on Dragons is a great place to start! I love Morwen and her cats.

  2. I had NO IDEA that Talking To was published first! I’ve always read them in chronological order, and I never liked Talking To very much. Daystar isn’t much of a hero, and Shiara isn’t necessarily over-acted, she’s naturally melodramatic. I’m not sure I would have continued with them if I’d read that first. Cimorene made herself an instant favorite. Course, I was pretty young when I first found them, I probably would have devoured them anyway.

    Thanks for the ping!

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