Title: Calling on Dragons
Author: Patricia C. Wrede
When Morwen finds traces of wizards in the Enchanted Forest—evidence despite the impossibility that the wizards have somehow found a way around the restrictions King Mendanbar and Telemain set up—she knows something major has gone wrong. And how. With the wizards at least partially able to drain the Enchanted Forest again, Morwen, Cimerone, Telemain, and Kazul (along with two of Morwen’s cats and an enchanted rabbit named Killer) leave to hunt down the solution.
This book shifts to Morwen’s point of view, which allows for a lot more depth to her character, as well as a chance to hear what all her cats have to say. Morwen’s cats almost steal the spotlight—whether it’s the not-so-bright Fiddlesticks trying to help or the running commentary on the quest from Trouble and Scorn. And Morwen, Killer, and Kazul are the only ones who can understand the cats.
I also really like the understanding-if-exasperated relationship between Telemain and Morwen. The details of their history are never explored, but the way they interact in the present is a lot of fun. Morwen, far more than Cimorene or Mendanbar, can recognize Telemain’s genius for what it is, and her much deeper knowledge of magic allows for more insight into some of the magical problems that crop up along the way.
Like before, the plot skewers a few choice fairy tales (the farmer is particularly funny both for his unexpectedness and his contribution to the fairy tale economy), and a more serious plot takes the focus. The main difference this time, though, is that the series veers into darker territory about halfway through and hasn’t recovered by the ending. If the first two were light, fun reads, this one is more heartwrenching. And where the first two are standalone, this one has a pretty bad cliffhanger.
It isn’t a bad direction for the series, though it might throw off people who expected another mostly-happily-after ending. And some very satisfying justice finds a few annoying characters. But this is definitely a book to read with the sequel in hand. I rate this book Highly Recommended.