The Hunting of the Last Dragon
by Sherryl Jordan
Set in the West of England, A.D. 1356, this is the tale from the
twilight of the Middle Ages, when dragons were passing from the realm of
live superstition to fanciful folk-tales, when the bubonic plague was a
fresh and painful memory, and when the idea of an educated populace
reading mass quanitites of books in English was still but the dream of
an ambitious abbot whose monks copied books by hand with goose-feather
quills and parchment.
One of those monks is assigned the task of recording the first-hand
account of Jude of Doran, a swineherd's son who, by chance alone,
survives the destruction of his village and family by the last,
late-blooming dragon. Now, don't go running away with the idea that Jude
immediately swears revenge and valiantly goes forth to slay the worm.
Actually, Jude spends most of the book struggling with his terror,
grief, and self-hatred, while also learning to love a beautiful woman
from a faraway land.
Jing-Wei, lately known as Lizzie Little-foot, is a daughter of Chinese
nobility who was shipwrecked on an English shore. Brought up by gypsies
and later kept in a cage as a freak for a traveling show, her plight
touches a place in Jude's heart...or perhaps it's just that she reminds
him of his dead sister. Together with an ancient crone who may or may
not be a witch, Jing-Wei teaches Jude to find the courage within himself
to face the dragon that killed his family, and more importantly, to slay
the dragon within himself. She teaches him that knowledge is strength,
that fear is having faith in your enemy, and that true love is its own
kind of courage. And she shows him a very novel method of destroying a
very nasty beast.
Part love story, part gripping adventure, part meditation on the role of
women in medieval China and of minorities in medieval England, part
amazing fantasy that combines history and fantasy with astounding ease,
this is a dragonslayer tale of rare simplicity and effortless beauty. I
think most who read it will enjoy it; some, indeed, will treasure it.
Recommended Age: 12+
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