Dec 1, 2008
The Enchanted Forest Chronicles
Patricia C. Wrede, The Enchanted Forest Chronicles, 1990, Magic Carpet Books.
I'm a sucker for stories with strong female heroines, luckily for me Patricia C. Wrede's Enchanted Forest Chronicles series fits that description. Cimorene is NOT your stereotypical princess, growing up she wanted to fence, learn magic, speak Latin, cook, and do hundreds of other things that simply "weren't done" by princesses. So on the eve of her engagement to a prince as silly as her sisters, she runs away to go offer her services as a Dragon's Princess--that being the last repectable role for a princess although one hardly offers to fill the position. Fortunately for Cimorene the dragon Kazul takes her up on her offer instead of eating her. And so Cimorene becomes the Dessert Chef-slash-Archivist of Kazul the Dragon.
The series main conflict revolves around the Society of Wizards of who are attempting to cause trouble by sucking up magic from other magical creatures (including dragons) and the Enchanted Forest itself. The cast of characters are familiar ones with a twist--the witch Morwen looks witchy but is clean, nice, the owner of numerous cats, and holds as her motto "None of that nonsense please" in the middle of a forest where princes are either enchanted or going on a quest, witches grow horrible plants for fun, and princesses are as silly as they always have been in fairy tales. We are taken from Cimorene's pre-dragon days to the ascent of her son to a throne (but I won't say anymore and ruin the story). Although the fourth book was actually written first, the three before it are the most action packed which one imagines will appeal to both die-hard fantasy fans and those who are a bit more skeptical. Of course, this critic could just be talking about herself.