Book Review: "Dragonwitch" by Anne Elisabeth Stengl

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“Dragonwitch” is one of those epic fantasy novels which have enough characters, races, parallel worlds and back-stories that the reader must pay attention to all the details in order to keep track of everything and really enjoy how it all wraps up in the end. I must admit that at first I thought it would be a predictable story of a hero who would eventually prove himself worthy despite his obvious physical weaknesses, and slay the villain. I’m glad to say I was wrong. “Dragonwitch” is much more than that, and the hero’s journey is complex and far from what I expected.

The first thing that drew my attention and kept me reading was the way the characters were built. For instance, take Alistair and Leta. Even though they come from noble families, they do not impress through neither physical beauty, nor wisdom or courage. Then, the Chronicler, who proves to be the real heir of Earl Ferox, is the exact opposite of what you’d expect a hero to be like. I liked him the moment he appeared and I learnt about his physical deformity. It’s true that this might be because one of my all time favorite characters is Tyrion Lannister, and I’m aware that any reader would love this type of character that is rejected by everyone, smarter than most, and so full of self-doubt. This makes for a good plot device, and it’s simply impossible not to love the Chronicler. Then, it’s the way these characters grow during their journey, how they change and become what they have never thought they could be.

Even though I believe the character development is the strongest point of “Dragonwitch”, I have to say that I was also fascinated by the legend of the two brothers, Etanun and Akilun, and the whole story of how Lumil Eliasul gave them the lantern Asha and the sword Halisa and sent them to free the mortals from the darkness of Death-in-Life. And I really liked the story of the Dragonwitch, Hri Sora, and how she became the dreadful creature that had to be killed three times to rid the world of her.

In conclusion, everything about the characters, the plot, and the mythology of the Near World and the Far World was compelling and very well-thought. Oh, and let’s not forget how adorable Eanrin, the Knight of the Farthest Shore, is. Here’s how he is introduced: “a Faerie who wore the form of a cat and who didn’t give a whisker’s twitch whether anyone believed in his existence or not.” You just know you’re going to love him and wish he were real and Faeries like him really existed.