Monday, October 1, 2018

The Royal Order of Fighting Dragons (Book Review)

Title: The Royal Order of Fighting Dragons
Author: Dan Elish
Publication: Vesuvian Books, paperback, ebook, 2018
Genre: Juvenile Fantasy
Plot: Ike Rupert Hollingsberry is trying to be a normal sixth grade at a private school in New York City but random strangers and social media constantly remind him of his father’s tragic death while filming a cult-like TV show called The Fighting Dragons. Ike was a child when his father died and has learned to tune out obsessive fans and does not listen to his classmate Elmira when she tries to tell him the show was not really a fantasy. However, when Ike is attacked by a giant locust, he discovers inner strength that allows him to face down the monster until Elmira comes to the rescue unexpectedly.

Ike and Elmira are joined by two other descendants of the original show’s lead characters and learn they are the next in line to take command of the Royal Order of the Fighting Dragons, and their first assignment is to fly dragons, which Ike had previously believed did not exist. Now Ike is a reluctant but resolute leader, following in his father’s footsteps, and the four children, with some help, must lead the battle to save the world from the enemy locusts!

Audience: Think Gordon Korman meets Rick Riordan meets James and the Giant Peach. My nephews (11 and 13) really like quest-based fantasy and I am sure most children their age would enjoy this.

My Impressions: First of all, what a stunning cover which beautifully sets the tone for a quirky fantasy. In this lively adventure story, there are six very different children, all with their own quirks and personalities. Ike is an appealing main character, one minute avoiding bullies in the cafeteria (which anyone can identify with!) and the next fighting off a giant locust (ugh) and learning how to manage people (tell me your secret!). Author Elish uses humor and the epic tradition of King Arthur to craft a fast-paced story.

Locusts were a real problem in the 19th century in this country. I wondered if the author had ever read On the Banks of Plum Creek by Laura Ingalls Wilder? That is the book in which locust destroy the Ingalls’ crops and completely demoralize the whole family and other homesteaders, per the New York Times:

Sweeping across North America, flying hordes of Rocky Mountain locusts were once an awesome and horrifying sight, huge glittering clouds of insects laying waste countless acres of crops. Throughout the 1800's, the whirring swarms periodically ravaged farm fields from California east to Minnesota and south to Texas. 
The locusts were easy to please, eating barley, buckwheat, melons, tobacco, strawberry, spruce, apple trees -- even fence posts, laundry hung out to dry and each other. 
When women threw blankets over their gardens, the locusts devoured the blankets then feasted on the plants. Farmers lit fires, blasted shotguns into the swarms and scoured their fields with so-called hopperdozers, large metal scoops, smeared with tar or molasses to grab as many of the offenders as possible. But it was all to no avail.
I had two small concerns: one was that when Ike is given his father’s sword he finds the initials of his ancestor, SMH for Sir Matthew Hollingsberry, were engraved on it – but no one would monogram an honorific! That is like monogramming a D for Doctor. Second, an Italian character’s name is Alexandro Lafcadio Cortesi, and I believe an Italian boy would be called Alessandro. Moreover, he uses several variations of “miei amici” and not all seemed accurate. An editor should help with such issues.

Purchase Links: Amazon * Barnes & Noble * IndieBound
Source: I was provided a copy of this book by the author and TLC Book Tours for review purposes. You can visit other stops on the tour and read the reviews by clicking below:

Friday, September 21st: Write – Read – Life
Monday, September 24th: Instagram: @biblio_files
Wednesday, September 26th: Instagram: @lifebetweenwords
Friday, September 28th: Instagram: @throneofshatteredbooks
Monday, October 1st: Jathan & Heather
Tuesday, October 2nd: Instagram: @e_mellyberry
Thursday, October 4th: Instagram: @megabunnyreads
Friday, October 5th: Read Till Dawn
Tuesday, October 9th: From the TBR Pile
Wednesday, October 10th: InkyMoments
Thursday, October 11th: Instagram: @betty_books
Saturday, October 13th: Instagram: @alurkingbooknerd
Friday, October 19th: Instagram: @the_need_to_read

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