Title: Searching for Dragons
Author: Patricia C. Wrede
Mendanbar, the King of the Enchanted Forest, has a problem. Well, that’s nothing new, but this time the problem involves dragons. And possibly wizards, but definitely dragons. Something is burning out large sections of the Enchanted Forest, and he found dragon scales at the site. But getting a straight answer out of Kazul, King of Dragons, is harder than he expected (the King being unexpectedly missing), and soon he and Cimorene, the dragon King’s Cook and Librarian, are hunting Kazul down.
Mendanbar is almost more of a favorite for me than Cimorene. Where she’s sharp and direct, he comes off as absent-minded, although really he’s just distracted by watching the flow of magic. Being King of the ENCHANTED Forest means dealing with a lot of magic anyway, so the job comes with a few perks, such as being able to see and deal with the magic in the forest. But it also means he’s completely tuned to the way the Enchanted Forest does things, and has a lot of trouble sensing, for example, how active his own magical sword likes to get.
And if Cimorene hates the typical princess, Mendanbar hates them even more, since he’s being pressured pick one to marry. Their mutual dislike for other royalty leads to a lot of amusing moments between the two of them, as they’re figuring out the other is anything but typical.
In addition, if Mendanbar isn’t enough of a treat (and I adore both his character and the way he uses magic; I realized on this rereading how much Mendanbar’s magic influenced how I WANT to see magic in a fantasy book—both sensible and mysterious), we have Telemain. Telemain is a magician, fascinated with learning all about magic, and chronically unable to express himself in short, understandable words (unless a dragon is asking, because they eat people). The obvious history Telemain has with Morwen only deepens the amusement.
Like the first book, this one has a wealth of fantasy tropes to cheerfully turn on their heads, alongside the more serious plot about what happened to Kazul. Mendanbar has much the same sensible outlook on these things that Cimorene does, although I get the sense he doesn’t hate tradition so much as finds it inconvenient.
Overall, this is just as much fun as the first (perhaps more so, if you prefer Mendanbar’s more easygoing nature). I rate this book Highly Recommended.