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41 of 44 people found the following review helpful
on August 20, 2004
My daughters and I spent enjoyable evenings reading this fantasy novel throughout the summer. They loved Kale and her quest. We laughed at some of the characters' antics, wished for cute little dragons as pets, and raced through the confrontations with natural and unnatural foes.

The story starts with Kale as a young slave girl. Slowly she discovers she is more than a slave girl; she is a woman destined for great things. As she searches for the fabled meech egg, she accepts the role that is hers and she makes many new friends along the way. "Dragonspell" implies more contact with dragons, and indeed dragons are an important part of the background, as well as a driving factor in Kale's quest. But my daughters and I all hoped for a little more of the dragon scenes. We especially had a soft spot for Celisse. I'm sure dragons will be explored more in the sequel.

Paul's writing is full of imagery and world-building. The allegorical aspects are clear, but never heavyhanded. Christian themes ring true. Most of this fantasy land will seem somewhat familiar to avid readers, yet it still pulses with a life and imagination all its own. The names are fun and evocative. The characters are many, but memorable.

This is one family who will be waiting anxiously for the next in Donita Paul's series.
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19 of 19 people found the following review helpful
on August 27, 2005
This books somehow achieves that elusive balance of light-hearted fantasy with a passionate message about the love of God in the midst of the hurts and confusions of life. A fun and entertaining read, the message is unobtrusive, but so integral to the story that you ache for a closer relationship with Palidan and his Father, Wulder.

It is a very rare talent to stimulate that hunger for a closer relationship with virtually no churchy language or theological jargon. It is rarer still to do so with simple language showing gripping and imaginative characters involved in a desperate battle - while keeping the tone upbeat and hopeful. The good dragons are a surprising and delightful twist against preconceived notions that all dragons must be evil.

Reminiscent of C.S. Lewis' Chronicles of Narnia in the imaginative creatures and characters, this has a tone and flavor all its own. Readers who loved the Chronicles will love this also. Yet they should come to it expecting something new and fresh. They won't be disappointed.

I am eagerly anticipating dipping into the sequel - savoring it - like a second helping of dessert that is just a bit too rich for one sitting.

Altogether a wonderful book
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18 of 19 people found the following review helpful
on April 20, 2005
My son is big into dragons right now. He loves fantasy. How nice it was to find a book which not only indulged that but had a good message. My husband read this book to both of my boys as bedtime reading. They loved it. The message does not beat you over the head as some Christian fiction does, but is much more subtle at least for the kids. My 10 and almost 12 year olds were entrhalled and can't wait to read the sequel.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
Welcome to the world of DragonSpell, where seven high races and seven low ones share the lovely kingdom of Amara, and the young village slave Kale is about to discover that adventure is not all it's cracked up to be. Her talent for finding dragon eggs and her eventual destiny as the Dragonkeeper catapult her into a quest for the egg of the fabled meech dragon, now held captive by the evil wizard Risto. Kale journeys through hope and doubt, joy and seeming failure, until she comes to recognize and accept that despite her humble beginnings and internal uncertainty, she can indeed share a part in greatness.

This book is billed for all ages, from 9 to 90, and certainly had enough sparkle to keep this cynical, weary reader engaged. I found it sweet, thought-provoking, and entertaining--in short, a very winsome read. The story and characters stayed with me long after I turned the last page. (Dar, in particular, is not to be missed!)

DragonSpell works nicely to help fill the need for wholesome fantasy by contemporary authors for teens and younger readers. My 12- and 14-year-old sons were riveted by the book, and its sequel, DragonQuest. As a homeschooling mother of eight, I had a few questions about the premise when I first picked it up, given the symbolism of dragons in Scripture, but I found this story to be a spiritually "clean" read and very uplifting.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
on July 7, 2004
Dragonspell by Donita K. Paul is a fantasy about Kale, a slave girl who finds a dragon's egg. The elders in her village free her from slavery since, after all, she now owns a dragon's egg, and send her far away to The Hall to learn.
Kale may indeed now have a dragon's egg, but other than that, she feels the same as always. She expects to be a servant in The Hall now, much like a slave, which is the only thing she knows, so that's okay. On her journey she finds seven more dragon eggs.
Every move she makes leads her away from her destination, despite her determination to get to The Hall. She is dragged along on a journey with a band, who keep telling her she's meant to use her special gifts.
Kale has no gifts except obeying. Her companions tell her she has the gift of finding dragon eggs.
The entire book is full of fun and adventure. Timid Kale turns into a plucky adventurer by necessity not choice. Despite her desire to obey her village elders and go to The Hall, she's having fun - fun interrupted by terror as the evil Wizard Rizzo tries to turn Kale to his side, so he can use her to find dragon eggs.
In fantasy writing the challenge is `world creating'. In the best tradition of Lord of the Rings, Donita K. Paul creates a world with creatures good and evil. She conjures plants and animals with her vivid words. Paul creates an adventure so fast paced and death defying that it doesn't matter what the world around Kale looks like, but you can still see it.
Dragonspell is for adults as well as children. It's funny and inspiring. The good guys are intrepid. Kale, the reluctant heroine, rises brilliantly to the challenge set before her. The evil Wizard meets his match with the all powerful Wulder and his fellow warrior Paladin.
Dragonspell was an uplifting change of pace for me. An interesting respite from the romance and danger of most novels I read.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
on October 14, 2004
This book was a surprise.

The bookstore I work at gave this to me to read and review and I was innitially skeptical... there have only been a handful of Christian authors to successfully pull off fantasy (Lewis, Tolkien, L'Engle) and I doubted if any new Christian fantasy would do anything other than try to Christianize Harry Potter (GP Taylor).

I turned out to be wrong (and went on to read "Raising Dragons" by Bryon Davis which is also quality)... and I'm glad I gave the book a chance.

Donita K. Paul doesn't try to force a story but let's the story weave it's self. She creates great characters who are believable. When the characters aren't perfect you understand because you have been in simular situations where misunderstandings happen.

Most encouraging was how the story could be read and enjoyed without feeling like the book was preaching at you. Paul uses some allegory, but it is subtle and tasteful... not quite as subtle as Tolkien (who hated allegory and just wrote stories...) but not as obvious as Lewis (who intentinally wrote allegorically). People who don't share the Christian faith should be able to read this story, like Lord of the Rings, without feeling like Paul is trying to trick them into any kind of religious belief.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
on January 21, 2006
This is a really good book, and quite accesible to all ages. Donita Paul did a great job of plot and character development without writing a tedious, monstrous book. It is hard to put down. The chraracters are so varied and interesting. The author has a great imagination and a talent for bringing it all to life trough her writing, while weaving in good lessons through the story. Well done!
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
The Dragon Egg seeks a champion to rescue it from the malevolent wizard Risto, who plans to use the essence inside to create a nightmarish species loyal only to him that will populate the earth and destroy all others. The dragon egg selects fourteen-year-old female slave Kale as the savior.

Though feeling afraid and inadequate for such a momentous undertaking because she knows that to succeed she will have to confront Risto in his environs, Kale reluctantly, but telepathically encouraged by the being who chose her, begins her dangerous trek. The "knowing" Lord Paladin sends servants, an Emerlinden woman Leetu and Dar the Doneel to accompany Kale. They explain that Paladin somehow knows about her undertaking and insists she must start on the quest by obtaining the help and guidance of the Wizard Fenworth. The journey at all times will be fraught with enemies who will do anything to stop the group.

This coming of age youthful innocence vs. evil fantasy will hook teens and adults due to the fully developed key cast members. Readers will root for Kale even as we will laugh at some of the conversations between her and the dragon egg and between her companions. Genre fans will believe in the magic of wizards, the telepathic communication abilities of dragons and that species like Emerlinden and Doneel exist. With terrific characterization inside a tremendous story line, Donita K. Paul obviously used a dragon's egg to cast a spell on the audience.

Harriet Klausner
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24 of 31 people found the following review helpful
on February 18, 2007
I found "Dragonspell" in an interesting way. My mom and I were in the bookstore, and she found it in the Christian Fiction section. Now, I'm no expert, but usually one doesn't find a book with both the words "Dragon" and "Spell" in the Christian section. So I bought it, out of interest.

There really is too much to say about this book, good and bad. So I'll start with the good.

First, Kale was a good -- if a little uninteresting -- character, at least in the fact that she didn't preach as much as some other characters did. Paladin was excellent, and while I have a feeling the author felt that in order for Dragonspell to be Christian fiction she HAD to have an allegory for God and Jesus, I do think she did Paladin well. I DON'T feel the same for Wulder (the God-allegory) probably because of His name. Wulder is just a strange name for God. Ms. Paul should have stuck with one of God's real names or a variant of it (if Wulder really IS one of God's names that I don't know about, I'll swallow my words, prickly as they may be). Patrick Carman, despite the fact that I feel his trilogy spirals downhill with each book, did this very well with the God-allegory of Elyon, which comes from El Elyon, another name of God.

Anyhow. My favorite character was Wizard Fenworth, who was bar-none the best of all. His random quirkiness was a breath of fresh air with all the other stuffy characters, and the fact that Donita K. Paul dared to have a good wizard in her Christian fantasy book marks her up in my esteem, since most self-righteous critics have usually forgotten that Lewis and Tolkien did the same.

Now for the bad. First, the plot itself: at times it was good, but mostly it moved around oddly and I would forget what I'd read because none of it made sense. Never was this so apparent than in the "climax", which consists of the Fellowship of the Ring-esque party of questers standing still while Wizard Risto invades their minds and all they have to do is think "I stand under Wulder's authority" over...and over...and over. There is no fighting. The heinous Risto would never actually think of KILLING one of Paladin's servants while they called upon His authority. Perhaps that's how it works in real life and perhaps not, but that is NOT how it works in fantasy, and that's certain.

Now for the characters. Ms. Paul needs to learn something very important about writing: whether or not your characters are Christians (or, in this case, servants of Paladin) THEY ARE NEVER PERFECT. It doesn't work and it annoys readers. When Leetu was kidnapped, I swear all I could think of was, "Hooray!" I hated that girl. She was so arrogant and stuffy and preachy, and looked down on Kale so much, and yet called herself a servant of Paladin and was considered as such! I wouldn't mind if this was meant to represent the legalistic Christians of the world, but Kale and everyone else actually look up to Leetu!

And Dar. Dar, while in the beginning a good character, was just too preachy. His constant reminders of how servants of Paladin were to act were just ANNOYING. Every one of the "good" characters in Dragonspell were not only good, they were perfect, and this drives me crazy. The only one who needed instruction was Kale, and this was because she was new. I desperately hope that there will be some moral dilemma in a future book, something that makes Kale think and actually QUESTION what is right when it's ambiguous. Probably not, though. Moral ambiguity is too scary for most authors to attempt, particularly Christian authors, who seem to feel that if their characters do wrong or have doubts about what's right, they are encouraging their readers to do wrong and have doubts. But this is what real life is like, and if you don't believe that, you're just lying to yourself.

I'll be reading Dragonquest, but unless it's significantly better I doubt I'll bother with the third book.

2 1/2 stars.

Rating: Average
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on June 21, 2004
Kale Allerion begins her journey to the Hall never realizing she has already been chosen for a journey of a different sort. During her quest, Kale must contend with a batch of unhatched dragon eggs, a mysterious leader who is as kind as he is elusive, a good wizard who is always sheltering numerous creatures in his unruly beard and tends to jabber incoherently at the most inopportune moments, and a wicked wizard bent on using Kale to pursue his own selfish motives. Children will be captivated by the vivid word pictures Mrs. Paul paints and the cast of quirky, colorful characters who cross Kale's path during her adventure.
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