It's a week of dragon books! It was accidental, but it works.
The two words in the title were all the encouragement I needed to read Dragon Castle by Joseph Bruchac. Where there are dragons and castles I shall go. I was taken by surprise by how greatly entertained I was in reading this. It was the perfect mix of light and dark, peril and humor.
Synopsis (from Goodreads):
Young Prince Rashko is
frustrated with his family - no one does any thinking but him! The
kingdom and castle seem to be in the hands of fools. So when Rashko's
parents mysteriously disappear and the evil Baron Temny parks his army
outside the castle walls, it is up to the young prince to save the day.
But there is more to this castle and its history than meets the eye, and
Rashko will have to embrace his ancestry, harness a dragon, and use his
sword-fighting skills to stop the baron and save the kingdom. Along the
way, he realizes that his family is not quite as stupid as he always
Rashko is a bit arrogant and pompous, but no more than most kids are at the age of 15. He makes up for these flaws by being delightfully snarky at the same time. He is convinced that all other members of his family are severely lacking in intelligence. Intelligence he, of course, possesses in abundance.
Why, I sometimes wonder; am I the only one in our family who ever seems to entertain a thought as anything other than a transient visitor? Why is it that when our lord and creator Boh was handing out brains, my parents and my brother apparently got in line behind the hummingbirds? If it were not for my taking charge, nothing would ever get properly done around here.
As the story progresses Rashko begins to see his family members in new and surprising ways and learns to appreciate that their strengths are greater than he realized. As are his weaknesses. This is what I enjoyed most about the book. It isn't just a hero/quest story with dragons and castles and a Dark Lord, it is a story about family and brotherhood.
Rashko's story is intertwined with the legend of his several greats grandfather Pavol. The more the reader and Rashko learn about Pavol the more interesting Rashko's present circumstances get. The fantasy elements are well done and perfect for the reader who enjoys the lighter side of a story. There are moments of peril, battles to be fought, evil to be overcome, but there is just enough hint of the sightly absurd to keep it from being too serious. The dragon is ferocious and vastly entertaining simultaneously. It takes a writer with skills to do that.
Dragon's Castle is a perfect read for anyone looking for a fun adventure story.