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The Dragon Charmer    by Jan Siegel order for
Dragon Charmer
by Jan Siegel
Order:  USA  Can
Ballantine, 2001 (2000)
Hardcover, Softcover

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* *   Reviewed by Hilary Williamson

In the first of this series, Prospero's Children, Fernanda Capel came of age and discovered her Gift and its roots in the destruction of Atlantis and of the Lodestone. Fern found love, and lost it, and returned to her own time determined to ignore her magical abilities and to live a sensible life - and Fern does determined better than most heroines.

As The Dragon Charmer opens, preparations are afoot for Fern's wedding to an older man who fills all her rational requirements, but leaves friends and relatives uneasy. In the background, the evil Azmordis has recovered from their contest of wills in the far past and is preparing a comeback that will exact a proper vengeance on the person who foiled his plans. His plots involve a dragon and a dragon charmer. But he's not the only fount of evil that's out to subvert Fernanda. Morgus has lost power in the centuries after the downfall of her brother, the king in Camelot, and lusts to regain it.

Back home, there is a new house-goblin, Bradachin, with a Scottish brogue and an unusual spear, and brother Will has grown up and is ready for adventure along with the beginnings of a romance with his sister's best friend Gaynor. Robin is as ineffectual as ever, but Ragginbone stands in as mentor and alternate father figure, and werewolf Lougarry lopes to the rescue whenever possible. Fern's ambivalence about commitment creates a reckless mood that makes her vulnerable to evil and it strikes on the eve of her wedding day. She ventures in the underworld, as Will and Gaynor face their own trials while trying to bring her back.

The Dragon Charmer is a powerful work of fantasy, which resonates with many different aspects of world mythology. However, I did not enjoy it as much as the first book. Setting the scene for Fern's two powerful adversaries slowed the action, which did not flow as smoothly as in Prospero's Children. Nevertheless this is a great read, and the author continues to sketch in a scene with a deft turn of phrase ... 'There was a smell of dust hovering, awaiting only the departure of a wandering vacuum cleaner before settling comfortably back into place.'

The ending of this second volume leaves plenty of room for more, so I look forward to the final episode of the trilogy, and am curious to see what unusual character the author provides as Fern's next romantic interest.

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