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I'm a writer and library worker who wears many hats. I believe a good book and a good piece of chocolate are the keys to a happy life.

Friday, March 20, 2009

Brass Dragon Codex by R.D. Henham

I discovered the Dragonlance books when I was in high school and fell totally in love with them. They were a perfect fit for the type of fantasy I liked. I did stop reading them eventually; they seemed to just keep covering the same stuff over and over and again, but without my favorite characters, less clothing, and more violence. That’s why I was pleased when the new Dragon Codex series was announced as companion guides to A Practical Guide to Dragons. I loved the thought of returning to the world of Solamnia with a little bit more innocent perspective.

The Dragon Codex books definitely fit that niche. These are middle grade readers and they are fun. You can peak at some more information on Red Dragon Codex by R.D. Henham, here. It gives a good feel for what this series is like and what to expect.

When Rebecca Shelley, the assistant scribe for the Brass Dragon Codex by R.D. Henham sent me a review copy I was totally excited. I’d already read and loved the Red Dragon Codex so this was a big treat for me. The excitement got doubled when my oldest boy, currently in a dragon phase, caught sight of the book. I not only got to read a great book, but I got to read Brass Dragon aloud with my son and that’s one of my favorite things to do.

Bonus points were also awarded to Brass Dragon Codex on the merit of actually holding my special needs son’s attention past chapter 1. If he’s not interested, there’s nothing anyone can do to get him to listen any further.

I found the young brass dragon Kyani, or Tumbleweed (since it’s just dumb to give someone you just met your real name), to be my favorite character. He is newly orphaned, very innocent, very talkative, and very lonely. He was totally cute and lovable to me. The gnomes, Hector and Amber, were interesting, but I didn’t get as attached to them as I did Kyani. I suppose that’s the way is should be since the book is meant to be a dragon adventure.

I think was less attached to the gnomes because I had a chip on my shoulder: I miss some of the original quirkiness and antics of the gnome characters as they are portrayed in the Brass Dragon Codex. I seem to remember that in my favorite Dragonlance books they made it very clear that gnomes are thinking, and consequently talking, much faster than most normal people can comprehend. They talk about this in the Brass Dragon Codex, the quirk is still there but it’s not portrayed in the same way. Iwaskindofattachedtoseeingtheirramblingsentencesallstrungtogetherwithoutspacesandpunctuation. I totally understand not doing that in a middle grade reader, it would frustrate a reluctant reader to no end to see something like that, but I still missed it. I’m just weird that way.

I also loved the subtle moral lessons quietly laced throughout the text:

If you want a friend, you have to be a friend.

If you want someone to listen to you, try listening first.

It’s important to have goals.

It’s important to work on those goals.

It’s sometimes more important to help someone you love with their goals instead.

Sometimes friends are more important than things.

And many others. We all need those reminders sometimes.

They’re not preachy, but the morals are still there and that’s a difficult thing to balance and a rare thing to find done well. I think Brass Dragon Codex fit the bill there, as well as being action-packed and interesting.

All in All, you’ll find Brass Dragon Codex a good, safe read for the middle-grade reader and a quick, entertaining one for yourself as well. Great job, Rebecca! Um, I mean R.D. Henham.

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1 comment:

Rebecca Shelley said...

Hi Alison,

I'm glad you liked my book. Gnomes indeed talk way too fast. It's hard even for a brass dragon like me to follow. I feel really bad for humans. Fortunately Hector has worked with humans most of his life and has forced himself to slow down at least a little bit.

Someday I hope to visit Mount Nevermind and talk with the gnomes there. That ought to be one giant conversation that goes on forever and ever. :D

Thanks for the review,