In this award-winning but uneven import, a young slave, her pet rat and a very old dragon flee across the ancient empire of the Han. Fugitives from a remote Imperial Palace, Ping, furry Hua and frail Long Danzi, last of the Emperor’s captive dragons, set out for the ocean, carrying a “Dragon Stone” with which Danzi is strangely obsessed. Repeatedly getting each other out of scrapes along the way, Ping develops a great attachment to her terse, grumpy companion, while discovering within herself both latent magical powers and the resourcefulness to carry on when, at journey’s end, Danzi and Hua leave her alone. Not quite alone: readers will figure out long before she does what the Dragon Stone really is. Though Wilkinson barely sketches in the historical setting, and mishandles the plot—dropping one scary pursuer abruptly and setting up a climactic battle with another by having Danzi commit a seriously against-type betrayal—she throws an engrossing barrage of challenges and reversals of fortune at her trio of well-drawn travelers, and all three acquit themselves well. (Fantasy. 11-13)
The book is about a slave girl and a dragon, who travel through China to reach the ocean, carrying a purple dragonstone with them and encountering many dangers on their strange quest, and journey of friendship and self discovery.
A slave girl Ping escapes from the palace of Huangling with the dragon Danzi, carrying the dragonstone towards Ocean. They encounter both Diao and The Necromancer on the journey, but overcome these evil men, and also meet The Emperor.
Ping makes a number of strong friendships on their journey, with Wang Cao, Danzi, Hua and the Emperor, and she treasures those friendships.
I think that Dragonkeeper is a superbly constructed book. Its vocabulary is very rich and full of descriptive language which helps build an image of the towns and villages of old China, in which the story takes place. Its strong themes of friendship and self-discovery are well developed by the plot, which moves at a
varied pace, but is always interesting.
The protagonist, Ping, can be doubting, brave, kind and awesome, and as a reader I found parts of myself that were identical to Ping – I identified well with her.
I recommend this book because it is a terrific book, and I want to share the joy it gave me. It is exciting, it is hard to put down, and it makes you want to read the following books by the same author. I think that, because of some violence and more difficult vocabulary it should be read by children from 8 years old.
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