Thursday, 15 March 2012

The Dragon Lord of Little Musking: A book review

This fantastical tale is retold in the first person by the egotistical dragon himself, Dragonlord Bane Castellan.  Fascinated by humans and civilized behaviour, he moves to a backwater village called Little Musking determined to ingratiate himself with his neighbours and become civilized.  He adopts an unwanted farmer’s son, Arden Barleigh, as his ward the better to learn civilized human ways.

Naturally, Dragonlord Bane experiences difficulties.  For one thing, he has his own dragonish nature to contend with; a habit of always getting his own way (who is going to contradict a dragon?), a tendency to eat people when provoked (preferably roasted), and a certain obtuseness in regards to human diplomacy (outing the local mayor’s son as a thief).

Dragonlord Bane’s other major difficulty is gaining acceptance by his new neighbours.  Everybody distrusts his civilized resolutions.  The local villagers have an aversion to being eaten by a dragon, and so Dragonlord Bane can’t find human servants for his manor house - he is forced to import hobgoblins.  The local fairy godmother is suspicious of his motives and keeps him under a most unwelcome surveillance. 

Worst of all, there’s an evil wizard (the Royal Wizard Naldamus) plotting to take over the kingdom, and he too does not trust Dragonlord Bane’s avowal that he has settled in Little Musking seeking a quiet, civilized life.  To make sure Dragonlord Bane does not interfere with his plans, the Royal Wizard Naldamus has the said dragon transformed into a chicken.

At this point, Dragonlord Bane’s civilized resolutions spectacularly unravel.  Although a chicken, he still behaves exactly as he always has, as a dragon.  And the dragon wants revenge.  Life for Arden in particular becomes hard, smuggling an illegal chicken that persists in acting like a dragon out of the kingdom to find a cure for the evil spell.

In the end, though, it takes a dragon to save the kingdom from the evil Royal Wizard and set things aright.  Well, right for Dragonlord Bane, anyway.

The Dragon Lord of Little Musking is a rollicking tale of high adventure, with a kingdom to be saved, a beautiful princess to be won, shining knights in armour, and most important of all, dragons.

Paperback edition
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See more books by S E Champenby at