Book Review: The Princess of Trelian by Michelle Knudsen

princess-of-trelianTitle: The Princess of Trelian
Author: Michelle Knudsen
Series: Trelian, Book 2
Publisher: Candlewick
Hardcover: 448 pages
Source: Chicago Public Library
Summary: (taken from Goodreads)

The hundred-year war with Kragnir is over, and Meg will soon be named the princess-heir of Trelian. But her connection to her dragon, Jakl, is making her parents’ subjects uneasy. Will they ever accept this dragon princess as their future queen? It doesn’t help that Meg is suffering horrible nightmares and sudden, uncontrollable rages—and with the link joining them, Jakl is feeling the rages, too. Meg is desperate to talk to Calen, to see if he can help her figure out what is happening and how to stop it before she or her dragon does something terrible…

Meanwhile, Calen is having troubles of his own. He’s far away, gone off with Mage Serek to receive his first true mage’s mark. But his marking ceremony is disrupted by a mysterious magical attack, and ominous prophecies predict a terrifying new danger. The Magistratum’s greatest enemy may soon reappear—and the other mages believe that Calen himself may have a hand in his return!

Overall Rating: 3.5 out of 5

The Princess of Trelian is the sequel to The Dragon of Trelian, which I read a while ago. It continues to follow Princess Meg and Calen, emphasizing Meg’s struggle to balance her new connection with her dragon, Jakl, and her responsibilities as the heir of Trelian. Calen, on the other hand, is struggling with his desire to learn and master more of his magic while being prevented from doing so by his master, because mages with a predilection for foretelling are convinced that he will be a danger to the Magistratum.

Overall, I think this was a solid sequel. The characters are definitely growing in complexity and the pacing was well done — there weren’t any times when I was bored or I thought things were being glossed over. It has the problem of second books in a trilogy, though, where it’s really just setting things up for the sequel, and it does end on a bit of a cliffhanger. However, it still manages to have plenty of action and adventure for all of that, and I enjoyed the fact that those action sequences didn’t seem so conveniently easy to get out of. One of my biggest pet peeves in fiction is when the heroes are unstoppable and there’s tons of buildup to something, and then they solve it in a few pages. That does not happen in this book — the characters are sufficiently challenged with what they have to accomplish, which makes for an entertaining read.

My one complaint is the relationship between Meg and her parents. All three characters are either far too understanding or far too harsh (whichever is more convenient to the plot) at different times, and there isn’t much in the way of consistency. I didn’t mind this so much from Meg’s character, because she is growing up and is just learning how to handle herself and anticipate the end-results from her actions and attitudes, but it wasn’t explained why fully grown adults (who are rulers, no less) were acting rashly,  and it bothered me a bit.

However, I thought this was enjoyable and would have LOVED it as a pre-teen, so I think it hits the right marks for its intended audience. I can’t yet recommend the series without having read the final book, but I will say that the first two books are a solid start to a decent fantasy series.

Book Review: The Naming by Alison Croggon

the namingTitle: The Naming
Author: Alison Croggon
Series: The Books of Pellinor, Book 1
Publisher: Candlewick Press
Paperback: 492 pages
Source: Purchased
Summary: (taken from Goodreads)

Maerad is a slave in a desperate and unforgiving settlement, taken there as a child after her family is destroyed in war. She is unaware that she possesses a powerful gift, one that marks her as a member of the School of Pellinor. It is only when she is discovered by Cadvan, one of the great Bards of Lirigon, that her true heritage and extraordinary destiny unfold. Now she and her new teacher must survive a journey through a time and place where the forces they battle stem from the deepest recesses of otherworldly terror.

Overall Rating: 3 out of 5

This book was way longer than it had to be. For all the pages that I had to go through, not much happened.

The plot itself was pretty good. I’m not a fan of the really-this-is-real fake sort of thing that a lot of people are so fond of, but Andrew would disagree with me on that, so it’s more a matter of preference than actual problems with the story. With that said, since it was supposed to mimic a true history, I wish it could have tied more into the mythologies and ancient worlds that we currently know about. References to already-known things would have made it feel much more like a true story instead of a disjointed mythology/epic that doesn’t fit in with the world as we know it now.

I think what prevented it from being something that’s a must-read is all the backstory and explaining that happened in this first book. It’s necessary that we have those elements, but more showing instead of telling would have been appreciated, or at least maybe more of it could have been added into an appendix so that we could have gotten more story. I wanted actual plot and character development, but things are almost the same in the end as they are in the beginning. Conflicts that could have been interesting were resolved too quickly, probably to make room for more backstory.

Though it might seem like it with all this criticism, I didn’t hate this book. I think it provides a nice set-up to a story that could potentially be interesting if the storytelling itself is kicked up a notch in the subsequent books. The main character has enough of a personality to make her somewhat interesting, but again, I want that to develop more strongly in the next books. It’s good enough that I’m giving this series one more book to hook me in before I give up, but if the second turns out to be similar to the first, then I don’t think this is a series I need to spend my time reading.