Dragons of the Watch, by Donita K. Paul, arrived on my doorstep late Saturday afternoon. I casually opened the package and laid the book on the counter. Caleb (my 10 year old) was standing nearby. Mitch said to him, "Hey CJ, look at that." He walked over, his mouth dropped open, then he quickly snatched the book and turned to run. Before he could get to a comfy spot on the couch I called out, "Nope, I get to read it FIRST." I was officially declared "the meanest mom in the world." No worries, though, I didn't hog the book. By midnight Sunday I was reading the last page. Now, how do I write a glowing review without spoilers?
Dragons of the Watch is the third (and final?) installment of the Dragons of Chiril series. The synopsis from the publisher goes like this:
"Trapped in a forgotten city, bound by secrets, Ellie and Bealomondore must enlist the dragons of the watch to find freedom.
Ellie knows exactly where she is going. She just wants to experience the pomp and circumstance of a royal wedding, then settle into a simple life with a country husband.
With too many choices, Bealomondore’s future is a tangle of possibilities. He is respected, well-known, and admired among the elite of Chiril, but Wulder demands he narrow his focus and follow his Creator, one step at a time.
Both Ellie and Bealomondore’s plans are thwarted when they find themselves lost in an isolated city. As they discern the needs of a group of wild children and a very old man, clues began to surface and a bigger picture is revealed. With the help of the dragons of the watch, can the two tumanhofers find the way out—and perhaps discover their connection to something greater than themselves?"
You can even read the first two chapters online here. Which is exactly what I did! I have to be brutally honest. When I read the chapters, I wasn't sure I was going to like the rest. It seemed so strange. Why didn't Ellie find it strange? Why didn't she complain? Why did her aunt and uncle just drive off and leave her and expect her to be ok? I wasn't so sure I was liking the way this book was starting off! I shouldn't have worried. First of all, Ellie was quite able to care for herself and I was being too much of a "mother hen". Secondly, her personality and ability to handle her unusual circumstances is explained eventually. I was able to identify my own anxieties while reading the book. I mean, don't we normally expect a book to have a "happy" ending? For everything to work out in the end? Even though I reminded myself of this, I was caught up in the story and found myself feeling a genuine concern and worry for Ellie, Bealomondore, and the other characters. I fell in love with the book, and especially with Ellie. She just might be my favorite character yet out of Mrs. Paul's books that I've read. I may not have her patience nor her purity of character, but there are so many other character traits that I identify with.
Following in the footsteps of its predecessors, Dragons of the Watch does an excellent job of introducing the characters (and therefore the reader) to their Creator (Wulder is an allegorical reference to Yahweh God). Like a rose blooming, the story unfolds to reveal depth and beauty in the hearts of the main characters. Attributes of Wulder mirror our God's, and principles from the Tomes are borrowed from our Bible so that we learn--as if by a parable--how we should order our own lives. Reading from this point of view causes me to feel refreshed, excited, and filled with hope. When I pull myself from the fantasy, close the book and examine my reality, it's like looking at my world with new eyes. I can't wait to hear what the rest of my family thinks.
Dragons of the Watch is a bit different than the other novels. A little more romance, a little less action. The characters are well-developed. The setting is beautifully described. The main story is very, very good. (It isn't just "brain candy", a term a friend of mine just introduced me to). If you haven't read any from this series yet, I recommend buying all three!