Today’s book review is for The Dragon’s Boy, by Jane Yolen, published by Open Road Integrated Media. I received an electronic copy of this book from the publisher, through NetGalley, in exchange for an honest review.
The Dragon’s Boy is a classic Jane Yolen book for middle grade readers, reissued as an ebook. It tells the story of young Artos Pendragon–better known as King Arthur. Artos is a foster child in the castle of Sir Ector, and the youngest of the boys who reside there. He often feels left out and overlooked. But when he stumbles upon a cave and finds a wise old dragon, things begin to change for him. This beautiful coming of age story is full of magic and wisdom that will capture the minds and imaginations of young readers.
Yolen does an amazing job of setting the scene of ancient Britain. She combines the mundane with the magical to create a place and time that feels very real, without getting bogged down in details. Readers are given just enough information to construct a picture in their mind. As a fan of Arthurian legend, I liked that some aspects of her world were comfortable and familiar, while others were fresh and new. This is always the best way to handle things when dealing with beloved old tales.
I also enjoyed the way she developed the characters. Although the names she uses aren’t the ones with which most readers would be familiar–they’re close enough that even the un-savvy should be able to figure out who is who. And it’s nice to see how these familiar knights may have behaved in adolescence. They weren’t perfect, and yet, despite their arrogance and immaturity, we know that all will grow up to be exemplary men.
My primary complaint with the book is that the ending felt rushed and unsatisfying. It was a reasonable ending and it made sense. But it felt like it came too soon. Maybe part of the problem is knowing that the Arthurian cycle is rich with stories. Another part is that I wanted to see how Artos’s relationship with the other boys would grow and change once he discovers the secret of the dragon. And of course, there’s the bit where the ending just feels like a beginning.
Overall, I think this would be a nice book to introduce younger readers to the Arthurian legend. Artos is a protagonist that tweens and early adolescents should be able to relate to and sympathize with. Although, if they are already reading fantasy, they might find it a bit short compared to other books they’ve encountered. In final analysis I give it 3 out of 5 stars. I liked reading it, but it could have been better.
You can find more information about this book, including other reviews, at Goodreads.