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on May 14, 2012 :
I picked up the book because the blurb intrigued me. I like new takes on the Arthurian legend and this promised to be fun. I didn't regret the decision. This is a wonderful story with nicely rounded characters and many interesting twists on details of the Arthurian legend.
I liked the main character immediately. He was just the kind of boy I used to be (except that I was a girl). I liked the way he planned nearly always ending up with unexpected results. The fantasy creatures fitted the world without feeling artificial.
The only real problem I had was with the language. In the beginning, it was aimed at middle grade readers with a humorous undertone that worked very well. Once Leonard, the dragonfriend, entered the magic forest, the tone changed, became darker, and Leonard began to sound much more grown up. Toward the end of the novel, the story had changed to one for the lower end of the YA reading range. This did not stop me from enjoying the novel thoroughly but might be off-putting for other readers.
I hope Roger Eschbach will write a sequel featuring the spunky Maid Glennys (the one Leonard fell in love with) and the Brownie (my favorite character).
(reviewed long after purchase)
on Nov. 25, 2011 :
Leonard the Great, Book One: Dragonfriend, has everything a middle-grade Arthurian fantasy needs: magic, romance, action, sword-fighting, a princess, monsters, lots of dragons and, the most important item of all, a regular kid who makes good.
Leonard is a simple page, serving the worst knight in the kingdom, Sir Ronald the Mediocre. When Leonard finds a depressed dragon, he devises a brilliant plan that will make his master famous for his bravery and skill in battle. Like all brilliant plans hatched by teenage boys, it goes spectacularly awry. From that point, the pace never lets up as Leonard finds he not only has to rescue the hapless Sir Ronald, he must pass through a dangerous enchanted forest to the home of the dragons to execute another brilliant plan that will save Camelot. Or destroy it.
Dragonfriend plays with and ultimately overturns all the conventions of the Arthurian fantasy, and Eschbacher does it skillfully and with a lot of humour. I found myself smiling and laughing, when I wasn’t on the edge of my seat. The characters were vividly drawn and rang absolutely true. We’ve all met these people in our own lives.
It’s a quick, easy and enjoyable ride, and I’m looking forward to the next installment in the Leonard the Great saga.
(reviewed within a week of purchase)