Those wicked wizards are back--and they've become very smart. (Sort of.) They intend to take over the Enchanted Forest once and for all . . . unless Cimorene finds a way to stop them. And some people think being queen is easy.
The Dragon King, Kazul (even though she's female. To have two names for the same job is just confusing) is missing! And of course it's the wizards who have done the doing and are burning the Enchanted Forest with their staffs. It's up to Cimorene, Kazul, Morwen, Morwen's feline friends, Telemain, and a blue flying donkey with overlarge wings who used to be a rabbit to find her and stop the wizards!
This book is just witty and fun. Ms. Wrede has a real talent of making a good, fun to read book. I wish that after the fourth book, Talking to Dragons, Ms. Wrede will make books like Tinkering with Dragons which can be from Telemain's perspective, or Listening to Dragons which can be from Kazul's perspective, or even Fighting with Dragons which could even be from Antorell's perspective, or maybe even Riding on Dragons from one of Morwen's cats perspective.
Ms. Wrede if you're out there we want to see more Enchanted Forest Chronicales Books!
But there's something missing from this book that the others have. And I'm not sure what it is. It's not wit; this book is as witty as the others. It's not charm; it's very charming in spots. And it's certainly not the satire, as this is just as satirical as the others.
Perhaps it tries too hard. I know that has to sound rather odd, but bear with me. One character Cimorene and Morwen meet up with on their travels is a rabbit named Killer. Killer dyes his hair; now, _that's_ funny! But after that, Killer goes through a gauntlet of problems, getting dyed blue, turning into a donkey, then a donkey with huge ears that floats, etc. Basically, Killer's a one-joke character, whose joke goes a little stale. ......
I'd rather have read more about Morwen's cats, as they made chapter one extremely enjoyable. Or about Morwen and Telemain's unusual relationship. Or a bit more about how Cimorene and Mendanbar get along.
Still, average Wrede beats many other authors. And this is a great series.
However, I read book 4 without book 3 and figured things out just fine (because I couldn't _find_ book 3); maybe others would be able to navigate the jump between book 2 and 4 as well. I'm not sure.
So, I'd give this three stars, and recommend it because of the series, not because of this book by itself.
The ladies are great role models of intelligence, reason, and strength. All of which they need when they encounter fire witches, hungry vines, and a whole lot of mud. Telemain and Killer provide the comic relief.
Again, Patricia Wrede is in fine form with her trademark sly humor and fairy tale jokes. The detail and plot are complete *and* completely fun. Many fantasy books get bogged down in their own importance. Wrede never takes it that seriously, all the while maintaining a high degree of authorial responsibility. This is particularly important in this book because it ends on a cliff hanger that gets resolved in the final book. Again, Wrede does not disappoint. Her books, which I first read in junior high, have been the perfect comfort reading to cheer me up and take me away to a world every bit as convincing as other great fantasies like Narnia, the Dark is Rising books, and Jane Yolen.