Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Here, There Be Dragons by James Owen

This book was recommended to me by our school librarian, who is not a great fan of fantasies. She thinks it might be the best fantasy she's ever read, and I gave it a ranking of 5 out of 5. In the novel, three men from England become caretakers of the Imaginarium Geograhica, a kind of magic atlas. The atlas shows maps of lands full of fauns, centaurs, elves, trolls, dragons, and other strange creatures. The men have no idea what's going on, so a strange little fellow named Bert leads them into the fantasy world before they can be murdered by followers of the Winter King. The Winter King wants the book in order to rule the world. There, the men discover they are key players in an epic battle between good and evil, but they spend much of the book learning about their own special talents and how they can be used to stop the Winter King.

There are many references to other fantasy books and authors throughout the novel. The Winter King is able to use Pandora's Box to create Shadow-Born warriors who cannot be killed. This aspect of the book reminds me of Lloyd Alexander's The Black Cauldron. The caretakers are referred to as sons of Adam and Eve, ala The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe. A magic ring and its ability to summon dragons may remind readers of JRR Tolkein's books. There's even a character who built an ark in order to save all of the animals in world from a worldwide flood. This all makes more sense when you get to the end and discover the identities of the present and past caretakers.

My favorite line is near the end when the caretakers and Bert are discussing connections between our world and the fantasy land they've just left. John talks about his hope that a quick, magical solution to the world's problems exists and refers to Alice in Wonderland. Bert replies "That's just a story. We should stay focused on the real world, don't you think?"

1 comment:

  1. Hi Mark - wow! What a nice review, and such kind words! Thank you! I wanted to let you (and your librarian, if you are still in contact) know that there is an EIGHTH Imaginarium Geographica book coming, this year! And it has some backstories about John, Jack, and Charles (and Tummeler). I thought it would be worth messaging to let you know. And again, thank you for the nice review! - James


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