Top 6 Types of Epic Mentors in Fantasy

Ah, mentors.

One of the staples of the Fantasy genre, mentors are often underappreciated (and often quickly dead, at that, but we won’t go into this right now…) but so important — and can have their own very striking personalities as well.

Where would all of our heroes be without mentors?

Well, certainly not saving the world, for one thing; probably not very knowledgeable, for another; and most likely dead, for a third.

In short, they’d be sunk.

So it’s high time we paid homage to some amazing mentors!

Today’s February #FantasyMonth (hosted by Jenelle Schmidt) prompt is “Best mentors in fantasy” and that had me stopping and thinking: “Wait. I have so many favorites!”

Rather than make a little tweet about it and not do these fabulous gentlemen (and ladies!) justice, I decided I’d do a whole post about it instead.

A strong mentor is one you remember vividly and who is knowledgeable about something necessary to the quest or story you find yourself in, and one you’d love to have at your side in a pinch, to help you out of this mess — or at least teach you how to do so yourself.

(I was afraid, when making my list, that I’d have to leave some out for not being from fantasy. But it turns out all the great mentors I can think of ARE from fantasy, so… there you are! This is by no means an exhaustive list, but it’s most everyone I could think of at the moment.)

So I’d like to share with you twenty of my favorite mentors from page and screen, and I’d divided them into six types of epic mentors. Enjoy!

1. Classic Mentors

You know what I’m talking about. Grey or white hair, often a long beard, sometimes grouchy, or alternately quite merry with twinkling eyes and a sense of humor (sometimes at your own expense…), but very wise and prone to getting you swept away on an adventure you weren’t expecting — and likely didn’t want — but there it is! These elderly gentlemen are wise beyond their already extensive years, and you definitely want them at your side as you step into your adventure.

Examples:

  • Gandalf the Grey/White (The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien) — Do I really need to say anything here? Honestly? Gandalf is the epitome of Fantasy Mentor; though he’s not ACTUALLY as grouchy and extreme as people act like he is, and he’s definitely more to be reckoned with than the weak film versions of him. I do like him in the movies, but right now I’m talking about the real, BOOK version of Gandalf. 😉 Wise, dependable, and lit with an inner fire of goodness, whether as the Grey Wanderer or the White Rider, Gandalf is one of the great protectors of Middle-earth, and wherever there’s an effort of Good fighting against Evil, you’ll usually find him at the center of the adventure, guiding the heroes!
  • Great Uncle Merry (Over Sea, Under Stone by Susan Cooper) — Oh, Great Uncle Merry! He’s one of my favorites. Later revealed in the rest of the Dark is Rising Sequence in a more classic mentor role as Merriman Lyon, I still love him most in the first book, when he’s just the Drew children’s “great uncle” (Gummery, as young Barney calls him), and he makes you feel SAFE, you know? He’s also very wise, and fun, and just the absolute best.
  • Thomas Warvold (The Land of Elyon series by Patrick Carman) — I’m going to have to start talking less or we’ll be here all day, so I’ll simply say that Warvold is another classic example of one of the great wise old men — and he rather shapes young Alexa’s adventures, even if he’s not as much a part of them as one would like… He’s great, and I’d love to go to the library in Bridewell and eat strawberry jam on buscuits with him!
  • Cosimo Livingstone (The Skin Map by Stephen R. Lawhead) — The great-grandfather of our hero Kit, old Cosimo was my favorite character in this book! The one who starts it all and gets Kit off on his adventure (what did I tell you about these older fellows sweeping heroes off!), Cosimo knows so much and is just fabulous. (I may be stretching the “fantasy” genre a tiny bit on this one, but it’s a rather unpidgeonholeable series, so we’ll just go with that… And of course I needed to include him in this list!)

2. Grizzled Mentors

These are the ones that aren’t quite as old as the Classic Mentors. These are maybe in their fifties or sixties — still seasoned veterans of life, but have a bit of fire. They often have a grizzled appearance: might have a short grey beard or salt-and-pepper stubble, or just hair flecked with grey, and they’re often weatherbeaten and not who you expect them to be. They can be sarcastic or warmhearted (or both) but they’re to be reckoned (but not trifled) with! These are one of my favorite kinds. 😀

Examples:

  • Halt (Ranger’s Apprentice by John Flanagan) — I read the first Ranger’s Apprentice book this month specifically so I could include Halt in this post. XD I’d heard so much about him and I was pretty sure he belonged in my list, so I up and read it. And I was right — he so belongs here! Definitely one of my favorite mentors EVER. ❤ He’s such a great mentor and he’s indescribable, honestly. I just really like him. 😀 (You can read my thoughts on the first Ranger’s Apprentice book in my post from yesterday!)
  • Rayad (Ilyon Chronicles by Jaye L. Knight) — I mean. Anyone who’s read this series should know he belongs here. 😉

(Brom)

  • Brom (Eragon movie) — I confess, I haven’t read the book. *cough* But I’m aware that the book-Brom is more of the Classic Mentor type. Anyway, I’m here to talk about movie-Brom, who is great! He’s definitely the grizzled, grouchy, sarcastic mentor type.

(Karn)

  • Karn (Ren: The Girl with the Mark – online TV series) — I love Karn! We didn’t get to see a lot of him due to the series only being about 50 minutes, but what we did see was great and he seems like he has huge potential as a mentor, the kind in this category, but a bit more friendly perhaps. XD
  • Prince Gwydion (Prydain Chronicles by Lloyd Alexander) — I don’t always think of Gwydion as a mentor character, but it fits for this post, and Taran definitely looks up to him. He’s wise and epic and just generally amazing in most ways. Can you imagine having Gwydion as a mentor? That would be awesome.
  • Romanov (The Merlin Conspiracy by Diana Wynne Jones) — I’ll be honest and say I don’t remember him very well; I read this book from the library while I had the flu, and some of it’s a little vague in my head to say the least… But I do remember that Romanov was absolutely awesome and I think he was this grizzled type and I really liked him.

3. Handsome-Young-Magician Mentors

(Yes, this is a thing; sorry.) These are the charming, somewhat debonaire magicians, who are young, handsome, and completely unexpected in the mentor category, but here they are all the same. I was surprised by how many I found in this category!

Examples:

  • Chrestomanci a.k.a. Christopher Chant (Chrestomanci series by Diana Wynne Jones) — Oh, Chrestomanci! How awesome would it be to have him as a mentor? I mean, he’d likely be slightly terrifying, really, with his hard stare and biting sarcasm if he was annoyed with you. But he’s so calm and powerful in a quiet, elegant way, and you’ll often find him in one of his many extravagant dressing-gowns or in a beautifully tailored suit. When you have a magical mishap (er… world-shattering disaster?) and you call Chrestomanci, you know the moment he arrives that everything’s going to be all right.
  • Howl (Howl’s Moving Castle by Diana Wynne Jones) — What is this? Howl? A mentor? He may be a great many things, but is a mentor really one of them? Well yes, it is — let’s not forget his apprentice, Michael! Howl sometimes may seem irresponsible or dramatic, or dreamily absent, but he actually is a pretty good mentor to Michael and seems to teach him well enough — and he took orphaned Michael in off the streets, so that’s another good quality in a mentor. And Howl being one of the most magical people in Ingary, of course he’s an ideal teacher to have, despite his seeming flaws of character… *cough*
  • Mairelon the Magician a.k.a. Richard Merrill (Magician’s Ward by Patricia C. Wrede) — I need to read the first book in this duology, but in the one I read, Mairelon is a great teacher for the heroine — and has some sort of quality rather like Chrestomanci or Howl, which is part of why he fits in here. He doesn’t care about what high society thinks of him, but he’s all gentleman at that, and if anyone can get a street-thief girl turned into a magical lady, it’s him.
  • Mr. Wicker (Mr. Wicker’s Window / The Sign of the Seven Seas by Carley Dawson) — A bit different than the three above, he still fit into this category better than any of the other categories. He’s from the 1700s (it’s a time-travel fantasy series), and he and the young hero, Chris, end up on adventures on the high seas or in Asia or Mexico, and he’s very patient and capable and usually has a few tricks up his sleeve — just the one you want to help you out.

4. Young Headstrong Mentors

These are the ones who are epic heroes in their own right, but somehow (against their own wishes, in fact) they find themselves saddled with another, younger hero. They may not have completed their own training, but they’re definitely more qualified than THESE kids, and, well, somebody has to take them in hand… They might be a bit gruff or not get along, but deep down they really care about their pupils… at least eventually. 😉

Examples:

  • Jet Valinor (Sentinel Trilogy by Jamie Foley) — Oh, Jet. The best. 😀 He’s got to rank as “youngest, most awesome hero-in-his-own-right mentor EVER.” XD He has quite the attitude himself, and obviously didn’t want to end up with annoying puppy-dog-like Darien as his apprentice, but he’s pretty good at mentoring… kinda… even if Darien finds HIM annoying. XD It’s like a buddy-story turned mentor-apprentice relationship and I LOVE IT SO MUCH. Jet’s awesome in aaaall the ways.

(Kanan)

  • Kanan Jarrus (Star Wars: Rebels TV show) — I’m sliiightly stretching the “fantasy” genre here, but we’ll call Star Wars science fantasy and go with that. Just because I really, really wanted to list him. XD I know people usually think Obi-Wan or Yoda or maybe Qui-Gon when they think Star Wars mentor, but Kanan is my favorite. (Note: I’m talking about the first season of Star Wars: Rebels here.) He has to put up with Ezra (who I also love) and even though he never completed his Jedi training, he does pretty well with teaching his young Padawan. And he’s just awesome, so.

5. Dragon Mentors

Okay, so I don’t know if there are a lot of these or not. But I realized when I was making a list of my top 20 favorite mentors that two of them were dragons. So this category clearly had to be made. 😉 Grouchy, dangerous, and always with the possibility they could lose their temper and roast or eat you, dragon mentors are actually one of the best kinds of mentors otherwise, because they are often extremely wise, and… well… dragons. That’s a plus right there. (Even if you’re not always sure whose side they’re on. :P)

Examples:

  • Scales (Dark Lord of Derkholm by Diana Wynne Jones) — Oh my. It’s very hard to talk about this dragon without spoilers, but let’s just say he has a VERY forceful personality, and he’s an excellent (if unexpected) mentor and I love him! (When he puts Kit in his place, it’s great. XD)
  • Malcolm Blackfire (Afterlands books by Kyle Robert Shultz) — Still waiting for some more screen (I mean… page) time for Malcolm in other books (*cough*waitiiiing*cough*), but he was apparently Lady Cordelia’s mentor, and he seems like he’d be a great one — plus, he does kind of look after the Mythfits and his school. Malcolm is one of the coolest dragon characters (he can also shapeshift between his dragon/human forms), and while he’s rather gruff and sometimes it seems uncertain whether he’s actually on “our” side, you can tell deep down he’s actually heroic. 😉 MALCOLM’S AWESOME.

6. Lady Mentors

These do exist! As much as we often imagine old bearded men as mentors, there are some amazing ladies who have been incredible mentors in their time. The two I’ve picked are actually extremely different than each other, so I’m not going to generalize their “type” since they don’t really have one, so I’ll discuss them each individually. 😉

Examples:

  • Princess Irene the older (The Princess and the Goblin & The Princess and Curdie by George MacDonald) — The “grandmother” of little Princess Irene, and her namesake, this fascinating lady sometimes seems old and other times young and beautiful, but she’s the one to go to for counsel — as young Irene or Curdie often end up doing. Sometimes you won’t want to do what she says needs to be done, but you’ll end up doing it all the same, because it’s right, and she’ll show you why. She’s a classic mentor lady, and so ageless. I’ve always loved this character. 🙂
  • Beana (Veiled Rose, Moonblood, and Fallen Star by Anne Elisabeth Stengl) — Well, well. Who would think to find a nanny-goat in this category? Ahem. 😉 Those who’ve read these books will know that Beana is not what she seems! I absolutely LOVE her, and her relationship with Rosie. Beana is just so SOLID, and always knows the right thing to say — even if sometimes it seems a little blunt. XD Where would Rosie be without her Beana to tell her things?

So there you are!

Have you read (or watched) any of these? What do you think of my categories, and do you have any to add? And who are some of YOUR favorite mentors, fantasy or otherwise? 🙂 I’d love to hear what you think! Thanks for reading!

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Tare and the Puppies (or) The Dragon of Kedran’s Wood {A Short Story}

The Dragon of Kedran’s Wood

Otherwise Entitled

Tare and the Puppies

by Deborah O’Carroll


Autumn leaves fell around Tare and the Chess Club and crunched underfoot as they set out on a hike through Kedran’s Wood. A cold wind swept through their hair and rattled the mostly-barren branches overhead. Beyond the branches, dark clouds lurked as the little group made its way through the trees: Lavender and Baz hand in hand, as were Ivy and Adrian, and wandering in and out were siblings Marie and Jake. These six were the Chess Club proper, merely missing Mr. Larch; he wasn’t a teenager like they were, so he didn’t always count. A damp Fall scent filled the air and made them want to go off on adventures.

“It’s a Tookish thing,” Marie said.

This particular excursion was a vague Chess Club scheme to get out and tell spooky stories while clambering around near the minor set of cliffs looming deep within Kedran’s Wood. Tare, who was not officially a member, but often lurked around, had come along for some reason.

“Keep you from breaking your necks,” he had said—though he didn’t actually need such an excuse. If he was going to be honest, he rather enjoyed their company, even if he never told them this. They were glad to have him along (though Baz protested that necks were far more difficult to break than, say, wrists, and that he didn’t intend to break anything).

“You should know better than to hike around in the woods the evening before November first,” Tare said comfortably, stuffing his hands in the pockets of his black leather jacket. “The night of Samhain, the Celtic New Year, when the veils between worlds are thin and you might run into a Faerie . . . or something less pleasant.”

“Like Kedran?” Adrian asked, referring to the legend of the Faerie after whom the wood had allegedly been named. Adrian helped his girlfriend Ivy hop over a crevice in the rock at their feet. “Or are we talking about something else?”

“Ghost stories!” Baz said happily, clambering around a large boulder on the rocky path.

“Faerie stories,” Tare corrected. “Much more interesting—and, I might add, more accurate.”

“But ghost stories are creepier,” Baz pouted. “And that’s the point of spooky stories on hiking or camping trips, especially on Halloween. I defy you to come up with something scarier than a ghost story.”

“Don’t!” Lavender said hastily, wide-eyed. She was just here for the sweater-weather and the leaves and the company. Spookiness was not her favorite thing, and she definitely didn’t want Baz daring Tare like that—both because she didn’t know how Tare would take it, and for fear that Tare might rise to the challenge and come up with something scary.

Jake, too, looked uncertain, but more undecided than specifically against the idea. The youngest teen in the group, he was cautious, but also liked a thrill at times.

Marie and Ivy, as well as Adrian—who was nearly as old as Tare—were made of tougher stuff and didn’t care either way.

Tare knew far scarier things than ghost stories, but wasn’t about to bring those up. Some memories were best left undisturbed. “I read a legend about a dragon in these woods, back in Kedran’s day. It’s a scary story if you want one,” he said casually.

“Dragons are awesome, not scary,” Baz said.

“They can be both,” Marie put in firmly.

“Well, I bet this one isn’t as scary as my ghost story,” Baz went on, skipping further up the path in a blur of blue jacket. “It’s about a— YAAHH!” Baz’s sentence—and Baz himself—disappeared abruptly, leaving only his startled yell and a swirl of leaves.

“Baz!” shouted several voices in alarm as the Chess Club rushed toward the hole he had disappeared into. Tare was there almost instantly, before any of the others, peering down into the dark.

“I’m okay!” Baz’s voice echoed up out of the rocky hole. “I think.” He coughed, and added, “I’ve found a secret cave! I wonder if it’s haunted . . .”

The Chess Club laughed in relief.

Tare grunted, muttering about priorities, and swung down into the hole, landing lightly in a crouch at the bottom and glancing around.

It wasn’t a very far drop, easy to climb back out of, and Lavender, Adrian, Ivy, and the Valerian siblings clambered down after Tare.

“I didn’t even break my wrist,” Baz remarked, on his feet and dusting himself off. He was dirty but unharmed. “Oh, look, there’s a passage,” he added excitedly, clearly having forgotten his ghost story. “Let’s explore it.”

“Mmm.” Tare eyed the shadowy opening in one wall of the cave. Despite knowing the wood and cliffs quite well, he had never been in here before, but caves had certain unpleasant connotations in his mind from an incident in his past. Some instinct suggested an edge of danger involved, which made him want to get the Chess Club out and safe first, and investigate it by himself, before they could go rushing into harm’s way.

The Chess Club, however, were chattering cheerfully, getting out flashlights and preparing to explore.

Tare stepped in before them, leading the procession. If they were going to go about this whole thing, as least he could be there to keep them from—well, from breaking their necks, or getting lost, or any other shenanigans they might get up to.

It was the Chess Club: there was sure to be something.

They weren’t accident-prone in particular, but things tended to happen around this wood nowadays, and Tare was normally there to get them out of one scrape or another—often when they poked their noses where they shouldn’t have. Like in Tare’s business. Or when they thought they were “helping” him. For all that, he wouldn’t trade them for anything—he just never said so aloud . . .

Rough brownish stone with uneven floor, walls, and ceiling, formed the tunnel they crept along. Shadows clung to the edges despite the flashlight beams Adrian and Jake shone in front of them. It was very dusty.

“I wonder if anyone’s ever been in here before,” Ivy said, ducking to avoid brushing her red hair against a cobwebby low spot in the ceiling.

“Maybe— Whoa,” Adrian began, and broke off, shining his light around as they stepped into a more open underground chamber, and stared around with many oohs and aahs.

The stone room yawned hugely, with an even floor, and was roughly circular—no, exactly circular, Tare noticed. He narrowed his eyes as they pierced the shadows, not needing the light from the flashlights since he had excellent night vision. Nature didn’t, on the whole, produce perfect circles, which meant someone had made this place. And something about it bothered him.

“Wait,” Tare said sharply, lurking by the wall as the six others wandered into the open space.

They stopped near the center, training their flashlights on him. “What?”

“There’s something . . .” Tare trusted his instincts—they’d kept him alive this long against some pretty extreme odds—and right now they were acting up something fierce. “I can’t explain. Just stay put a minute. Don’t move.” He padded carefully around the chamber.

“But—”

Tare half spun and sent a Look over his shoulder. “Stay.”

“Just as if we were a lot of puppies,” Baz muttered.

“The thought has crossed my mind,” Tare said dryly as he continued letting his gaze wander around, looking for—something.

“Now I’m just imagining us all as little puppies,” Baz said.

Adrian grinned. “We’d be adorable.”

Lavender and Ivy laughed. Jake and Marie grinned too.

“Yapping and being annoying,” Ivy said, smirking. “Is that how you think of us, Tare?”

More or less, but he didn’t say so.

“I can just imagine us all running around as puppies in here,” Marie said, sticking her hands in her pockets and looking around.

“Or we could wag our little tails, sitting in a circle,” Baz said, “right here—” They had unconsciously been moving around a little, despite Tare’s directive, and were gathered near the center. Of course, a perfectly round room would have an exact center . . .

Something clicked in Tare’s mind and he instantly spun toward them. “Don’t—!” he began.

But just at that moment, Baz and the others had all stepped right into a faintly-etched circle on the floor, directly in the middle of the circular room. Tare dived toward them, but too late. There was a clicking sound as the circle of stone indented slightly, and a sort of POOF. A cloud of purplish-grey smoke instantly appeared, enveloping the little ring of six people standing in the circle. A moment later, it cleared away, and . . .

Tare’s gaze moved downward.

Six pairs of eyes looked up at him from much nearer to the ground than they had been a moment before . . . as six puppies sat on the circular stone in the floor and blinked. All of them were thinking one collective thought, which somehow Tare heard from six startled minds at once:

Oops.

Tare stared down at them and blinked twice. “You have got to be kidding me.”

* * *

It was a very interesting thing, being suddenly turned into a small dog. Yet another interesting thing was the fact that, while they could not exactly speak, they seemed to be able to hear each other’s rapid thoughts in their minds. And Tare, being in the room and somehow connected, despite being still in his natural form (thank goodness), could hear their thoughts too.

Instantaneous puppy-transformation and telepathy. Well then.

Adrian seemed to be a golden retriever puppy, very yellow and furry. Ivy had become a little red setter—no wonder, with her hair. Jake was a young black lab, like a bundle of fluffy-silky adorable midnight. Marie was a poof of grey and white as a Siberian husky puppy who could have killed with her cuteness. Baz was a chocolate lab puppy, all big paws and velvet ears. Lavender seemed to be some sort of white puppy, with bristly fluffy fur and a little trembling black nose.

They were all aggressively adorable.

Their reactions were something like this:

Adrian: I’m a dog! I love dogs and I’m a dog now! Whoa. This could be cool. (Examining paws.) Granted, a very small one. (With some disappointment.) It was rather odd going from being an eighteen-year-old to a small puppy. (Pause.) I’M A DOG! Followed by excited panting and attempts to get his new tail under control.

Lavender: Oh my goodness! What just happened? Where are my hands?

Ivy: Oh, great. What am I going to tell mom?

Marie: Hmm. This is interesting. I wonder if I can smell— Yes, I can smell everyone and they have distinct scents. Fascinating.

Jake: Halp! I’m a dog! This is weird. And creepy. And . . . kind of awesome.

Baz: COOOOOL.

Non-dog-Tare: (Mentally face-palming.) What did I do to deserve this.

All the puppies paused in their frisking about, to glance up at Tare.

Oh, hey, I can hear what Tare’s thinking—awesome! was a collective sort of general thought from them all.

Tare blinked and instantly closed off his mind so they could no longer hear his thoughts, while he could still hear theirs. His experience with mind-communication in another world made him able to do this, while the Chess Club had no such abilities.

It was like slamming a mental door in their faces, and affected the Chess Club puppies acutely. All six of them sat right down, staring mournfully up at Tare with tragic eyes, ears drooping.

It was absolutely devastating.

Tare blinked down at them. But he didn’t let them back into his mind. He cleared his throat. “Now, what am I supposed to do with you all?”

A confusing mixture of responses followed this, jumbled up in the mental pathways like a traffic pile-up, so that it was difficult to discern who was thinking what. And some of it had nothing to do with his question.

Play?

Oh, wait, how about we figure out how to turn us back.

Being a puppy could be fun!

I’m so short.

Fix it, Tare!

It’s scary and dark in here.

Where’s the flashlight? Oh, over there on the floor . . . but I guess I can see better as a dog.

Ooh, I wonder what Tare’s boot lace tastes like . . .

How do I work this tail thing?

My paws are cold. Wait, what? Must focus! I’m a person.

Maybe we could change back if we go back in the circle?

This is too weird.

Make it stop!

Tare, help!

This last was repeated several times by different Chess Club puppies.

“Okay, hold it—hold it!” Tare held out his hands, and the thoughts quieted down. “You’re going to have to be more organized. We’ll figure something out. And stop panicking.”

You’d panic too if you were suddenly a dog, Lavender thought, tail wagging worriedly in little jerking motions.

“I like to think I wouldn’t. Now calm down, and we’ll—” Tare broke off as an eerie sound of booming laughter echoed through the cave. He glanced around, instinctively in a fighting stance.

The puppies whimpered, tails and ears down, and crept to crouch near Tare’s feet where it felt safer.

“Who’s there?” Tare said warily, ready to reach for a gun or knife hidden away in his leather jacket—weapons he still kept handy, despite the lack of monsters of late. There were friends—well, puppies—to defend.

No one answered, but the laughter went on and seemed to be moving overhead and toward the entrance to the passage they had come through. An indistinct shadowy cloud—left from when the puppies had appeared—lurked there, concealing . . . something. Whoever—or whatever—was laughing, exited through there, and the voice faded away.

Okay, I’m scared now, puppy-Baz announced to their minds.

I was already scared before the creepy laughter, Lavender thought.

Can we go home now? Jake asked.

What? We can’t go home like this! Ivy spluttered.

Yeah, my dogs might not like me . . . Adrian mused.

We need to change back first, somehow, Marie thought.

They all looked hopefully up at Tare, shiny button-black noses quivering.

Tare sighed. “Look, I don’t know how to fix this right now. Let’s get out of here to start with, while we can get out.”

A short while later, Tare climbed out of the hole in the cliff with six little puppies clambering after him on clumsy paws too big for them, and down a little stony path to the autumnal forest floor of Kedran’s Wood.

The change was instantaneous.

A thousand sights and scents—from the trees, underbrush, leaf-strewn ground, and wildlife—kaleidescoped in a crescendo of new experiences for the heightened puppy-senses of the erstwhile Chess Club members. Everything smelled new and different and exciting, in desperate need of being investigated at once. They shot off into the wood, scampering about on overgrown paws, sniffing everything and yapping happily, their thoughts running as wild as their furry bodies, in a confusion of excited curiosity mixed with the half-obscured thoughts from their human selves, buried deep, who kind of knew better.

Tare put a hand over his face, muttering, “Why. Why did I get saddled with Chess Club puppies.”

We’re sorry, it’s just—

It’s so exciting, and there are all these smells—!

“I don’t want to know.” Tare made a half-hearted move to go after them, made difficult by the way they were scattering. “Now would you get back here?”

There followed a somewhat chaotic scene in which Tare attempted to herd them back together where he could keep an eye on them. There were also some awkward moments where they wanted him to throw sticks for them. He didn’t. They needed to get together and talk about this, but it was like their attention spans (already rather short, to Tare’s mind) had suddenly gone extinct. It was basically hopeless.

Tare finally gave up other methods and instead sent a stern mental message to the effect of “You. Back here. Now.

It worked.

They instantly transformed into meek, obedient puppies, and trooped angelically back toward him, a little sheepish.

Sorry . . .

Tare shut his eyes and pinched the bridge of his nose. “Don’t—even apologize.” Then he drew back and leaned against a tree, looking down at the small dogs. “All right. We need to figure out how to turn you back into . . . yourselves. Which means we have some questions to answer. Like how, and why, you got turned into a bunch of dogs.”

Puppy faces turned to look at each other in conference.

We were just imagining being dogs—talking about it—and suddenly we were, Ivy thought.

And we stepped into that circle in the middle, Marie added.

“Ye-es . . .” Tare drew out the word meaningfully. “And?”

And you told us not to? Lavender asked, with a guilty tilt of her ear.

Which means you guessed something was up, thought Adrian.

“It was just a bad feeling.” Tare folded his arms. “I’m no more certain about the cause than you are, though I do have a couple of hunches.”

Baz went on, Then there was that creepy laughter . . .

I didn’t like that. Jake shook his fur. It made my paws cold and my hackles go up. . . . Sorry, too doggy.

Tare quirked a wry eyebrow. “If dog instincts are all you’ve got, that’s better than nothing.” He straightened. “I was wondering how far you could get. So far, I’d gotten that stepping in the circle set off something—a transformational trap, if you will—and it had to do with what you’re thinking about at the moment. No one else was in the cave before that, so it also seems to have released someone, or something—whatever was laughing—which seems to have left and is presumably at large now. I bet it came through from somewhere else when you set it off—because the Faerie world’s veil between our own is thinner around now, like I said.”

Are you saying it’s a faerie, or just from Faerie?

“I’m saying I don’t know what it is, but I have suspicions. And whatever it is, it probably shouldn’t be wandering around in our world. What we—I—need to find out is where it is, what it is, how to stop it, and how to get you turned back. Because I’m not going to dog-sit you lot forever, or explain this to all your families,” Tare added forcefully.

Their little pink tongues lolled out as they sat and panted, grinning puppy grins up at him.

But we’re so adorable.

Don’t you just want to pet us and keep us forever?

Tare rubbed a hand over his mouth to cover a grimace—or some other facial expression.

Anyway, we can help—with our noses, and our detective skills.

Tare snorted.

Several puppies looked hurt. (Never underestimate the amount of devastating that six sad puppies can pull off.)

We’re not doing too bad . . .

Tare conceded this for the sake of getting anything done. “You’re not doing too bad. At least your brains aren’t totally gone.”

Ivy bristled, annoyance clear in every line of her fur. Well, thanks for—squirrel!

The gaze of five other puppies shot in the direction her nose pointed. A second later they were off again, crashing through the underbrush and dead leaves, yapping and panting, delighted with the chase.

Tare rubbed a hand down his forehead and over his eyes and left it there. “This is going to be a long day.”

* * *

In the end, it was the rain that allowed Tare to herd them together this time. The overcast clouds which had been threatening rain up beyond the looming, clutching, half-bare autumn branches, at last made good on their threats, and the rain started coming down.

All at once there were several alarmed puppies who hated being wet and didn’t like thunder at all looking for shelter—the nearest of which seemed to be Tare. They scampered back to him and he suddenly found himself with six damp puppies all trying to somehow hide by his boots under the partial shelter of him and his leather jacket.

Tare sighed. “Come on, let’s find somewhere dry.” He marched grimly off through the trees, while the puppies tried to stay as close to him as possible. It was likely only his fighter’s grace that kept him from tripping over six little round canine bodies all pressed against his legs—certainly anyone else would have ended up flat on their face on the forest floor a few times before they reached their destination.

It was not far: an old abandoned house in the woods. They stopped just under the eaves of the building, not quite out of the rain, before the door, looking up at it.

Because coming to the haunted house on Halloween is a great idea . . .

Oh, be quiet—it’s dry in there. Adrian reared up against the old wooden door, scrabbling at the tarnished doorknob, which didn’t help. Okay, hands are useful. He turned and blinked liquid brown eyes up at Tare. I hate to ask this, but—

Let us in—let us in—let us in! One of the puppies—who shall remain nameless—bounded up and put eager front paws against Tare’s leg, leaving large amounts of extremely wet mud on his black jeans.

Tare’s eyebrows were as formidable as the sad-puppy looks were devastating. “Down.

The unrepentant puppy frisked out of reach. The others hunched in the rain, looking wet and miserable.

“Fine.” Tare relented and opened the door.

The puppies bounded up and rushed inside, joyously, paws pattering across the unsteady floorboards, which creaked hollowly as Tare stepped in after the erstwhile Chess Club.

What now? asked several thoughts, as blunt claws clicked on boards (leaving muddy pawprints all over) and curious noses sniffed and pointed cautiously toward different shadowy corners.

“We wait out the rain. Unless you want to stay here while I see what I can figure out.”

There was alarmed yapping and several of them jumped up against Tare with their front paws. Don’t leave us alone in the creepy house in the rain!

“Mm-hmm. Didn’t think so. Now what did I say about down.

He didn’t seem about to leave, so they complied.

Tare lowered himself to sit cross-legged on the floor in the open doorway, looking out at the rain.

At least it’s dry in here . . . Still cold though. And we’re so wet Adrian planted his four paws firmly on the floor and—

“Don’t do it,” Tare said.

All six puppies briskly shook themselves, sending rainwater everywhere. (Hint: everywhere included Tare.)

Tare sat grimly where he was, wordlessly wiping water from his face. The six little furry critters came up to lie down to either side, leaning against him—more or less in his lap, but not quite. Tare remained unmoved, and in a few moments they were all cozily situated close to him. They smelled like wet dog, but they were cute—and also impossible. Tare wasn’t sure quite what to do about them.

Especially when a few of them started spontaneously licking his face as if they couldn’t help themselves.

Tare recoiled. “Don’t even—!” He pushed their soft furry heads back down, hands petting slightly-damp velvety ears in the process.

Purely by accident.

Of course.

Tare pulled his hands back and quickly folded his arms.

Sorry. It just happened. They didn’t sound sorry at all.

Tare gave a wordless noncommittal grunt.

You said you’ve thought of us as puppies before, Tare. Admit it, this is far worse.

“This,” Tare conceded evenly, “is far worse.”

With contented little puppy sighs, they settled down in the shelter of the old house next to Tare, and stared out at the falling rain along with him.

The peace did not last long.

A sudden roaring sound came in a rush of air through the rainy trees, with a cracking of branches. There was a kind of crashing, groaning noise, shaking the floor and walls as if a large thing had just landed on top of the “haunted house.”

What was that?

Tare had gotten enough of a glimpse as it passed overheard to know what it was. He was on his feet instantly. “That was a dragon, and we need to get out of here now.”

What?!

And why would we leave shelter to run around in the open?

“Because it already knows we’re here and will just burn the house down around our ears and pick us out of it like a buffet if we don’t get out.”

Tare jumped down from the threshold into the rainy forest again, with the puppies scrambling at his heels, hoping this was some sort of joke to scare them—

Nope.

They spied a large scaly green dragon perched on top of the “haunted house,” bat-like wings half spread, peering down at them through the rain.

Hello, my fluffy little succulent morsels, the dragon thought to them.

Okay, Tare, your dragon story is scarier than my ghost story, Baz thought, all the puppies shrinking away to hide behind Tare’s legs while they peeked out at the dragon.

“It’s not my dragon story,” Tare murmured. Then, louder, to the dragon, he said, “What do you want?”

Lunch. Being stuck in a Faerie cave for a few centuries until some careless people let you out is a hungry business. These little things look like just the thing as a small appetizer before exploring the neighboring villages for a few dozen people for lunch. You look a little tough for my palate, so I have no quarrel with you, if you’ll just step aside.

Tare stood his ground in the rain. “No.”

The dragon’s tail swished across the roof, carelessly, rather like a cat’s. Its red-gold eyes narrowed and a tiny wisp of grey smoke drifted up from its nostrils. Is that so?

Tare watched the creature evenly, and kept his mind closed off against the dragon, but opened it to the Chess Club and sent them a mental message. I need you to run. Run as fast as you can and make it back to cliffs. Find some small cave too small for a dragon, and too far in to get burned if it found you. I’ll handle this.

The puppies, although almost radiating fear, were not so easily persuaded.

No!

We’re not leaving you here to face that thing by yourself.

Tare kept his gaze fixed on the dragon—not looking directly into its eyes—but a muscle in his set jaw twitched. Don’t be difficult. What are you going to do? You’re puppies. Now get somewhere safe. Don’t worry. I won’t let you get hurt.

The Chess Club puppies stood their ground too—they could be nearly as stubborn as Tare sometimes, and that hadn’t changed in their smaller, fluffier forms when faced with something like this.

We’re sticking with you!

The dragon heard them, though it seemed not to have heard Tare.

How touching. But ultimately misguided. You should have run while you could. The dragon laughed as it pushed off from the roof and floated lightly down on its wings to land heavily on the ground in front of Tare among the trees. It was not as huge as they’d thought at first—of course, it must have been slender enough to make it through the passage they had come out of—but still loomed a few feet taller than Tare, curling its wings in to get them out of the way of the branches. It moved sinuously forward, serpent-like, tail curled around a nearby tree. The wet ground hissed with steam where it touched. Now I only have to get through this one, and you’ll be mine. It spoke to the Chess Club puppies, but watched Tare with its sinister gaze.

Tare faced the dragon and was unmoved. “Why don’t you pick on someone closer to your size? Like me.” He pulled a handgun from inside his jacket, leveled it at the dragon’s head, and fired.

The bullet struck the dragon’s forehead. It blinked, then shook its scaly head. The bullet fell to the ground, leaving a slight dent between the dragon’s eyes, like dented armor, without bothering it. The dragon blinked balefully at Tare.

“Didn’t think that would work, but it was worth a shot,” Tare remarked.

Literally, thought Baz.

“Don’t go punny on me.” Tare holstered the gun, pulled out two long knives, and charged at the dragon, yelling over his shoulder, “Get out of here!”

The large creature breathed fire at him. Tare rolled neatly out of the way, and then he was beneath the dragon, slashing and stabbing. Sparks flew from blades and scales, but the knives couldn’t pierce its natural armor. Then the fight was on in earnest with a mixture of flames—which Tare dodged—and slashing claws and tail and knives, whirring about with startling speed. The rain fell on them, hissing on the hot dragon and the patches of flames where the forest floor caught on fire.

I SAID— Tare’s thought reminded them.

The puppies looked at each other, formed a collective Chess Club agreement—which Tare and the dragon were far too occupied fighting to listen to—and made their decision.

Over here! they chorused at once, in the equivalent of a mind-shout. Come get your lunch! And they scampered off into the woods as fast as their paws could carry them.

Roaring (not laughing now) the dragon took to its wings, crashing through the trees, which hampered its movements. It broke off large branches as it went. Tare ran after it, attacking, distracting, while the Chess Club puppies drew it on toward the cliffs and caves.

In here, you ugly scaly thing! the Chess Club puppies taunted, and dived down into the hole leading into the passage and cave where everything had started.

The dragon hissed in rage and dived in after them. Tare grabbed its tail and yanked it back, burning his hands. That gained them a moment. Then it shook itself loose, tossing him against a tree, and disappeared after the sound of the Chess Club’s taunts echoing inside the cave.

“Idiots,” Tare muttered, rolling to his feet and ignoring his bruises. He sprinted down the passage after them. But he suspected what they might be doing, luring the dragon back here in case they could get it trapped again, and it was something he’d considered trying himself—with the Chess Club safely out of danger’s way, of course. But they never knew when not to get involved. How he ever kept them alive was a mystery to him.

He dashed into the cave and attacked the dragon before it could crisp the puppies, which were on the other side of the large circular cavern. The dragon roared in rage and batted Tare away with its tail again, sending him sliding into the middle of the room.

NOW! the Chess Club puppies thought loudly, as if they had been counting down to something which Tare had been too busy to attend to. Groaning and trying to roll over and get up, Tare vaguely heard them thinking very specifically of dragons. Black dragons. Dragons—

What? Tare suddenly found himself enveloped in smoke, and figured he was probably dead—except the smoke hadn’t come from the green dragon . . . Oh.

Tare rose to his feet—all four of them—and spread his wings and lashed his tail, staring the dragon down with eyes now as fiery as its own. He had landed in the middle of the circle in the center of the room, and the Chess Club had been thinking very hard about him being a dragon—and consequently he was vaguely thinking it too—just like they had been thinking of puppies, which had turned them into their current furry shapes.

Tare was a dragon.

He was smaller and more lithe than the green dragon, and his scales gleamed black with an almost purple-ish glint. But he was a dragon, and that was what counted.

Don’t mess with my Chess Club! Tare roared, blasting fire at the green dragon and attacking it.

The puppies sent up mental cheers and then stayed crouched out of the way while the two dragons fought like a whirlwind of furious . . . well . . . dragons.

They rolled around over and over on top of each other, clawing, biting, breathing fire. The stone chamber echoed around them and lit up in sporadic red flashes of light. Smaller and more agile than his enemy, Dragon-Tare managed to wrestle the green dragon over and shove it directly into the circle in the middle of the floor.

The green dragon gave a roar of thwarted anger and vanished in a flash of light and smoke.

Sudden silence fell.

Tare spun to be sure the Chess Club were all right—they were still puppies, but alive and well. Tare breathed out a long breath.

Then he looked down at himself.

Still a dragon.

He looked back at them—a large black dragon towering above six small puppies who ought to be afraid in the presence of such a creature, but instead radiated content, relief, and a feeling of safety, along with some mental cheers.

They clearly weren’t thinking about the fact that they were still puppies and that Tare was now transformed too.

Now look what you’ve done, Tare thought to them.

You’re a dragon—that’s awesome!

Dragon-Tare growled.

The puppies wilted very slightly.

Sorry, but getting you turned into a dragon was all we could think of so you could defeat it without—you know—dying? they thought uncertainly, and tilted their little soft ears, as though wondering if they were in trouble or not.

Tare’s dragon shoulders slumped. He sighed and slid down to lie on the floor, front claws folded, great head resting on them, and black wings furled tight against his scaly back, tail curling around his side.

The puppies hesitantly approached, and they tentatively put their paws on his tail. Tare didn’t mind. They climbed up him and curled up on his back together in a little pile of fluff.

Sorry you’re a dragon, Lavender thought. But you do make a nice one.

I could get used to it, Tare grunted. I’m just not sure I want to.

At least you’re not freaking out like we were, Baz quipped.

How do we change back? Marie asked.

I don’t want to be a puppy forever, Jake mourned.

Don’t worry, you’ll grow into a big dog someday, Ivy thought dryly.

That’s not what I meant! Jake wailed.

Adrian licked Jake’s head. It’s okay. We’ll figure it out.

We’re getting more dog-like all the time . . . Baz thought.

I know. It would be awesome if it wasn’t so ominous, Adrian answered.

Wait, are you going to start getting more dragon-y? Lavender asked Tare in alarm.

Yeah, like hoarding gold and wanting to eat small puppies and getting super smart and cunning and living in a lair by yourself? Baz contributed.

He’s already super smart and living in a lair . . . replied several thoughts.

Right. My bad.

Tare grunted and heaved himself to his feet, with the puppies still on his back. Thanks. I think. And no, I’m not going to eat you, and hoarding gold is not on my list of things to do in the near future; who has time for that. Besides, I don’t plan to stay a dragon long enough to get any more dragon-y than (you claim) I already am.

I wish I was me again, Baz thought forlornly. It was fun at first, but I’m with Jake.

Me too, thought the others, ears drooping as they lay flopped sadly in their pile on Tare’s back while he prowled across the room. I wish I was me again. I wish I was me again . . . they repeated in their minds.

And Dragon-Tare stepped into the center of the circle, and merely thought: I am Tare.

POOF.

The next instant, Tare, Adrian, Lavender, Ivy, Baz, Marie, and Jake all tumbled in a tangled heap on the floor—in their own human forms again. There was no sign of a repeat performance of a dragon returning.

“Whoa,” Adrian said, getting quickly to his feet and pulling his backup keychain flashlight out of his pocket for a little light. “I can’t believe that worked!”

Several of the others laughed in relief, trying to get untangled.

“I’m me again!”

“I have hands!”

“Yesss, no tail!”

“I’m kind of a person again.”

“You’re kind of on top of me,” Tare grunted.

The others hastily stood and stepped away, a little awkwardly.

Tare climbed to his feet, stretched his limbs a little stiffly, and rotated his neck. “Dragon-fight aftermath,” he explained when they looked at him anxiously. “I’m fine, though.”

“Oh.”

“Good.”

“Um. Thanks for, you know, saving us from being eaten.”

Tare straightened his leather jacket, possibly shrugging in the process. “It’s an occupation. Thanks for being nuisances and helping out.”

They laughed. “Any time.”

“But wow, puppies and dragons,” Jake said, wide-eyed

“Won’t we have something to talk about,” Baz laughed.

Tare cleared his throat. “We never speak of this again.”

The Chess Club looked at each other and grinned.

Then Lavender sighed and said, “Let’s go home.”

* * *

It was still raining—which fortunately had put out the small fires the dragon had started—but they made it through the woods back to Mr. Larch’s house, where they usually gathered for meetings. It was light and warm inside, a welcome change to the cold, wet, somehow currently spooky-feeling woods.

“Ahh, I have hands again,” Adrian said as he opened the door.

“Yeah, let’s put them to use—anyone for chess?” Marie asked.

“Hi, everyone,” Mr. Larch called from the kitchen.

“Hey,” the Chess Club chorused.

Yapping barks met them. Small Occasion came barreling over to greet them enthusiastically—he was their actual puppy, fluffy and white, and they found themselves laughing, realizing they’d never look at puppies quite the same again . . .

It was also a little weird to switch from communicating mentally to not hearing each other’s thoughts, but they were pretty good at understanding each other without that, like they always had, so it was all right. (They never knew what Tare was thinking, but that wasn’t new; and they hadn’t much while they were puppies, anyway.) It was also nice to be tall again and be, well, people. They left wet coats and muddy boots by the back door and ambled into the living room.

Small was catching some odd smells about them, and didn’t know what to do with these. Puzzled, he followed them over to the couches, where they collapsed comfortably, tired from all their adventures. They started setting up a couple of chess boards on the coffee table.

“Staying?” Ivy asked Tare.

He shrugged, draping his leather jacket on the back of a chair. “For a bit. ’Til the rain lets up.” He dropped into the chair, stretching out his long legs.

“So how was your day?” Mr. Larch asked them, sitting in the easy chair at the head of the room, and letting Small hop up onto his lap.

“Fine,” Tare said noncommittally.

The rest looked at each other over the chess pieces. “It was . . . interesting.”

Baz grinned innocently. “Nothing happened. Nothing at all.”

Tare quirked an eyebrow and sent him a resigned “Really? That’s how subtle you’re being?” look. But he didn’t seem to really mind.

Mr. Larch smiled while Small Occasion tried to lick his owner’s long nose. “Sounds like there might be a story here . . .”

* * *

The next day, there was a piece of news on TV.

There has been a report of the aftermath of a small forest fire in the woods just outside of town. The fire took place sometime on October 31st. Locals found several fallen burnt branches and patches of burnt ground, near an abandoned house. It appears to have been started by lightning, although there are no eye-witness accounts. Fortunately, the rainstorm seems to have contained the fire and kept the damage from spreading. There were no injuries.”

“Weren’t you out hiking in the woods yesterday with your friends?” Lavender’s dad asked her as she passed through the living room.

Lavender paused on her way to her room. “Yes, why?”

He nodded at the TV and repeated what the reporter had said. “I guess it must have been somewhere else in the woods, or at a different time.”

“Mm,” Lavender said.

“How terrible!” Lavender’s mom said. “At least no one was hurt. I’m so glad you were safe.”

Lavender smiled. “Me too.”

Humming, she went upstairs to her room, dropped her school backpack on her bed, and pulled her window curtain aside to look out at the woods just beyond her back yard. Was it her imagination or was there a faint wisp of smoke rising, left over from a fire in the woods?

As she looked, a dark patch of movement caught her eye. Tare came into view, walking past within the fringe of trees at the edge of Kedran’s wood. A dog from the neighbors’ house bounded up to him. Tare picked up a stick and threw it off into the trees for the dog, who chased after it. Tare stuck his hands back in the pockets of his black leather jacket and walked on.

Lavender let the curtain fall back over the window, and she smiled.


Note: I’m posting this (extremely late) in honor of Jenelle Schmidt’s #Drachtober story challenge. “The Dragon of Kedran’s Wood or Tare and the Puppies” belongs to my contemporary fantasy series work-in-progress Kedran’s Wood, which (if for some reason you are new to my blog or live under a rock and have never noticed me talk about–JUST KIDDING) you can read more about here. Thanks for reading—I hope you enjoyed. 🙂

Yorien’s Hand Review

I’ve been looking forward to reading another book by Jenelle Schmidt ever since reading her gorgeous Beauty and the Beast retelling, Stone Curse, in the Five Enchanted Roses collection. So what a delight to be able to say that a book of hers is releasing today!

I’m joining in a blog tour for the launch of Yorien’s Hand — the blog tour will be continuing this week and includes a delightful giveaway which you will not want to miss!

Dragon Sapphire Pendant Hand and a Half Training Sword

Check out Jenelle’s awesome website for all the info! 🙂

And now, my review . . . (Drumroll, please…)

*drumroll*

(Thank you…)


Yoriens Hand - Cover Reveal MediumYorien’s Hand (The Minstrel’s Song, #3)

by Jenelle Leanne Schmidt

Amazon-Buy-Button GoodreadsButton

5 stars

Christian Fantasy

I received a free advance reader copy of this book from the author in return for my honest review. These opinions are my own.


My Review

I had no idea what I was getting into when I started this book. I enjoyed it well enough as I read along, completely unsuspecting, until I suddenly realized that somewhere along the way, without noticing the exact moment, I had fallen in love with it. I had been entirely pulled into a rich fantasy adventure in an increasingly wondrous world filled with characters who wrapped themselves around my heart. Let me just say, Yorien’s Hand was a fantastic read!

It’s been a long time since I’ve read a true High Fantasy novel, and I had no idea I missed the genre so much until reading this excellent specimen. It was coming home! Aom-igh, Llycaelon, and the rest of Tellurae Aquaous . . . what a wonderful land! With heroic warriors, majestic dragons (oh, how I loved the dragons!) and the occasional unicorn or gryphon . . . fantastic creatures, beautiful magic, a thread of Christian allegory drawn through (loved that!), and of course a darkness to be defeated . . .

The adventure was thrilling and exciting, filled with danger; I was constantly worried for my favorite characters, especially nearing the end there . . . I was on the edge of my seat! Aaah! That climactic ending! I could hardly breathe and was so invested. (I’d say I was flipping pages, but it was an ebook, so I’ll say that I couldn’t click the ”next” button fast enough.) It was SO intense and awesome! And then a certain fabulous twist . . . which I LOVED (and sort of guessed at . . . sort of . . . which made it almost better) and just YES. YES YES. I’m torn between feeling satisfied with the ending but also desperate for the next book! (That epilogue!) Minstrel’s Call had better come out soon! *flails around a little*

Can we talk about the characters now? Oh my! So many have become favorites of mine! Oraeyn the hero, Princess Kamarie, young King Jemson, brave fighter Devrin, sturdy yet sweet Dylanna, Yole and the awesome dragons, and of course my very favorites, Brant the majestic warrior, and that ever-mysterious minstrel, Kiernan Kane! Though Brant MAY be my favorite (he’s just so… awesome! And… strong? I don’t even have words for him!), Kiernan Kane intrigues me the most! I’m very curious to learn more about him! Gaah! I just love these characters a lot, okay? ^_^ (Also, I will not give anything away, but a scene in the final chapter involving two certain characters had me laughing out loud and beaming and let’s just say I’m basically very very happy right now. *glows*)

The FEEL of this story reminds me of some of my favorite fantasy tales, like those of Tolkien and Lloyd Alexander, while at the same time the story itself feels entirely new and unique. It was told with at times lyrical writing, as Jenelle Leanne Schmidt seems to excel at — with lines that sometimes blew me away or caught at my heart — alternating between beautiful, epic, heartstoppingly perilous, and then sometimes I found myself laughing aloud.

Downsides? I’m trying to think of any, in the interests of being balanced, but really I only have a couple little quibbles — it was mostly so awesome! I did wish that Devrin had gotten more focus, since he seemed to fade away after awhile, while others took more prominence, which made me sad. (But hopefully he’ll be in the next one!) Along that line, there was a lot of hopping about between points of view (which I LOVED!) but occasionally, since there were so many, it spent more time with ones I didn’t care as much about. And a few times I was confused for a bit, but I usually sorted it out eventually; I think those problems were only because I hadn’t read the first books.

That being said, although it’s the third book in The Minstrel’s Song series, I found Yorien’s Hand stood alone fairly well. Of course, now I’m looking forward to reading the book before this one (King’s Warrior) as well as the prequel to both (Second Son). I’m intrigued by many of the references to the characters’ pasts! Hopefully they will tide me over until the next book (Minstrel’s Call) releases!

If you love good clean adventurous fantasy tales with lovable characters, a touch of faith and mysteriousness, a large dose of epicness, and of course majestic dragons, I encourage you to pick up Yorien’s Hand! Hopefully it will twine itself around your heart as it did mine. 🙂

Not to mention, you need Brant and Kiernan Kane in your life. YOU JUST DO! ❤

About Yorien’s Hand

The years of Oraeyn’s short rule have been peaceful, but now ominous nightmares plague his sleep and cling to him during his waking hours. When two of his most trusted advisors disappear without a trace and not even the power of dragons can locate them, the fell promise of the king’s nightmares becomes reality.

From the furthest reaches of the world, an ancient enemy stirs. Stretching beyond his crumbling prison walls, this foe seeks to bring life to the darkest of shadows. His army marches towards Aom-igh with deadly intent, threatening all Oraeyn holds dear.

Aided by dragons, and with the warrior Brant and Princess Kamarie at his side, Oraeyn must journey into the wilds of a forgotten realm. Trusting in the wisdom and skill of the enigmatic minstrel, Kiernan Kane, the companions race against time in search of Yorien’s Hand, a relic that may hold the power to save them all.

Buy Yorien’s Hand on Amazon | Add Yorien’s Hand on Goodreads

Find the other books in the series:

kingswarriorsecondsonKing’s Warrior (The Minstrel’s Song, #1)

Amazon | Goodreads

Second Son (The Minstrel’s Song, #2)

Amazon | Goodreads

About the Author

JS Author Photo ColorJenelle Schmidt grew up in the northern-Midwest. She now resides with her husband and their three adorable children in the wilds of Wisconsin. Jenelle fell in love with reading at a young age during family story-times when her father would read out loud to her and her siblings each night before bed. Her imagination was captured by authors such as Madeleine L’Engle, J.R.R. Tolkien, C.S. Lewis, and Lloyd Alexander. It wasn’t long before she began making up her own stories and sharing them with her family. To this day she enjoys creating exciting adventure tales filled with poignant themes and compelling characters in the fantasy and sci-fi genres.

Connect with Jenelle on:

Her Blog | Twitter | Facebook

***

What do you think, O blog readers of mine?

Sound interesting?

And please reassure me that you love dragons. 😀

Don’t forget to check out the rest of the blog tour and giveaway!

Tags: Loyal Dragons to Infinity and Beyond!

(Warning: This post is being was written late at night. I am not responsible for the shenanigans my sleep-deprived brain gets up to. Thou art warned.)

I was tagged! By Raychel Rose for the Dragon’s Loyalty Award, and by Madeline J. Rose (wait… ALL OF THE ROSES. :O Are you two related…? *eyes suspiciously* I’m waaatching you…) for the Infinity Award. Thanks so much to both of you!! ❤

I’m doing a double tag post ketchup catch up in a single post, because a) I am lazy, b) I’ve been blogging too much, and c) let’s be honest, “Loyal Dragons to Infinity and Beyond!!!!!” is a fabulous title (even without all the exclamation points). Can we agree on that? Yay!

Okay! So tags. Right. Onward!

Dragon’s Loyalty Award

dragonaward

Gaaah, what a prettiful blog award!! ❤ I love it. *clings affectionately*

Ruuuules

  1. Announce your win with a post, [check] and link to whomever presented your award. [*drrrumroll* Raychel Rose]
  2. Post 7 interesting things about yourself. [Um. I’ll see what I can do. Ahem.]
  3. Present 15 awards to deserving bloggers.
  4. Drop them a comment to tip them off after you’ve linked them in the post.
  5. Display the award certificate on your website. [See my newly-updated Badges page with other awards and aaaall the NaNo participant badges. Yesss.]

7 interesting (?) things about this dragonish blogger

  1. I love Toothless and he is possibly my favorite dragon ever.
  2. I do not love Smaug because he is evil but at least he is clever. (BOOK Smaug! We do not speak of movie-Smaug. Ahem.)
  3. Some of my favorite dragonish books are proooobably the Enchanted Forest Chronicles by Patricia C. Wrede, specifically Searching for Dragons BECAUSE MENDANBAR! Ahem. Kazul is cool too.
  4. I own a little golden dragon figurine which is glued to a turquoise rock. It once fell off so I re-glued it on. Yes you needed to know that. I would take a picture but I am lazy.
  5.  Sorry, scratch number 3, I just remembered how much I love The Reluctant Dragon by Kenneth Grahame. ❤
  6. Also the dragon stories by E. Nesbit. I LOVE THEMMM. (I still love the Enchanted Forest books though! I just remembered… other… dragony books. Dragony. Dragony is a wonderful word.)
  7. I have not read Eragon. Oops?

OH WAIT THOSE WERE ALL FACTS ABOUT ME ABOUT DRAGONS. See what I did there.

Tagging?

I verily awardeth you this veritable Dragon’s Loyalty Award if thou lovest dragons! (I’m looking at YOU, Lauri and Sarah and Cait. 😉 And YOU. Yes, you, in the dragon t-shirt.) You can dragon-theme it if you want. *shrug* But obviously nobody has to do it. XD

Infinity Award

Which is… apparently?… different than the Infinity Dreams Award…? Not sure.

Anyhoo!

This one has interrogations questions!

*dons monocle* Proceed.

*cymbals*

Who is your best blogging friend?

Can I not answer this. Pleeeeease? *makes adorable puppy eyes* I don’t like the saying “best friend” because it shows others that THEY are not. Which is not fair to ANYBODY. And makes them sad. Or is that just me. And this question sound suspiciously like that. HOWEVER. If a) you’re reading this and therefore (apparently?) read my blog, or b) if I comment on your blog aggressively obsessively, or c) both… then you may rightly assume you are one of my bestest blogging buddies. GROUP HUG, C’MERE. ❤

What is the best book cover you’ve ever seen?

SO MANY. Umm… Five Enchanted Roses or The Captive Maiden? POSSIBLY. I’m not sure. Let’s just say I’m partial to the color blue and girls in gorgeous dresses.

What’s your favorite slang word?

Y’all. Does that count? It’s super useful (and not only to alert people to the extinguishing excruciating distinguishing fact that I am… wait for it… a TEXAN). For instance, if you don’t say “y’all” to address a general group, you probably say “guys”, or “people”. Example: “Hey, guys!” “Hey, people!” This can be problem if a) there is a girl present (or, more likely, if there is not actually a guy in the group. Which happens a lot), or b) if not all those addressed happen to be people. What if they are aliens? Elves? Dragons (me, me! …Oh, right. That tag’s over… *sad face*). Cats. Noodles. Or other serendipitous sentient or not beings/creatures/items. THEY MIGHT TAKE OFFENSE. And we wouldn’t want that. Especially if they had sharp claws. Hence, y’all = solves every problem ever.

If you could have any animal as a pet, what would it be?

DRAGON. GRIFFIN. Oh right, I already have those… Okay, a puffin AND an otter. Naturally. Because they are the most adorable things EVER. (I also want a hummingbird to ride on. *makes even more adorable puppy eyes* PLEEEEEASE?)

Favorite flower?

Roses!

7197a05bb00548626faca019720bc1cd

(Especially if they come with BOOKS…!)

(Wait a minute. Roses AGAIN. That’s it — it’s a PLOT.)

(And we all know that plots are needed to have books. SEE ABOVE!)

(Wait. I’m going in circles. This is getting confusing.)

Scariest roller coaster/ride you’ve ever been on?

Haven’t. (Unless you count the above question.) Nor do I intend to. Duuuh. I’m not CRAZY. O_O (Heh… heh heh… Oh, right, you caught that, did you? *sidles subtly sideways and slips self in serious siding hiding place*)

Favorite Disney movie?

Ow! How do I decide? (Was Prince of Persia Disney?? *is too lazy to check*) …Okay, Tangled.

Book you want made into a movie?

Illusionarium! (See my Illusionarium Fangirling Babbles post from earlier this week…) It would make the positively coolest movie EVAR.

Also one of the scariest.

lfsacrificewillintomake

Favorite piece of jewelry?

The One Ring. My Celtic-cross necklace. ❤ ‘Tis my fave.

Savory or Sweet snacks? Which ones?

ALL OF THE SWEET THINGS. I’m good with chocolate. And cookies. With chocolate chips in them. And mushrooms. (Why did I say mushrooms. I hate mushrooms. Unless they are from the Mushroom Planet books. Umm… CHOCOLATE MUSHROOMS.)

All time favorite movie?

The Avengers/The Return of the King/How to Train Your Dragon/Prince of Persia. IT’S TOTALLY ONE MOVIE I SWEAR. (Actually that would be the coolest thing ever. *brainstorms* *finds thing on pinterest*)

THE END.

P.S. AND NOW WE KNOW HOW CRAZY DEBORAH O’CARROLL IS WHEN SHE IS FOOLISH ENOUGH TO BLOG LATE AT NIGHT. ISN’T IT EXCITING, FOLKS.

Audience: *round of applause mixed with horrified stares*

Me: *giggles hysterically*

Me: *quickly erases your memories*

P.P.S. You are tagged if you want. ^_^

Unpopular Opinions Tag

So, you know how I said I had one tag left? Well back up, I have an amendment to that statement. Why, you ask?

Because Cait @ Paper Fury just tagged me with the bookish Unpopular Opinions Tag! Which kind of makes my day/week. Thanks Cait!!

So, I am going to do that! (Which will nicely carry my final [?] tag-post to my normal posting day of Monday. I like tidiness, I do.)

At first I was thinking of not doing it, because I’m not naturally a negative person. But I decided to give myself license to rant a liiittle bit today. For therapeutic reasons, you understand. 😉 I hope I won’t offend/annoy anyone. o.o But… well… these are kinda my opinions and as Cait so wisely said, we can all have differing opinions on small bookish things and still be friends! (Mostly. Hopefully. I have learned such things the hard way. :P)

So. Let’s do this thing!

(Pictures from Pinterest and Goodreads. Yes I did just raid my entire store of gifs on Pinterest why do you ask… Gifs make everything better and are stupendous at lightening moods. *nod nod*)

The Unpopular Opinions Tag of a Bookish Variety

1. A POPULAR BOOK OR SERIES YOU DIDN’T LIKE.

Um… I’m not sure if they count as popular, but I’m going to pick two books for this.

knightlyunfortunate

The End, the last book in A Series of Unfortunate Events by Lemony Snicket — which I just hated how it ended and it didn’t explain ANYTHING and just gaahh. I kept reading the whole series, partly because they were amusing (in a dark way) and partly to find out what happened. BUT IT DIDN’T TELL US.

And Knightly Academy by Violet Haberdasher, because it had such potential to be awesome (I mean, a boy goes to school to become a knight in an alternate Victorian England? Sounds awesome, right?) but just UGH it let me down. I guess it’s just how all schools are with the bullies and the pointlessness and stuff. But I couldn’t see WHY the hero wanted to go to that school and he was so trod upon and it was sad and so annoying.

(Or… more like angry. But the gun shooting is accurate so…)

2. A POPULAR BOOK/SERIES EVERYONE HATES BUT YOU LOVE.

Again, don’t know if they count as popular, but…

houndillusionarium

The Princess and the Hound by Mette Ivie Harrison. I just loved it but nobody else seems to! What? PRINCE GEORGE, OKAY. He’s the best. And the story did enough twists and turns to make me rearrange my brain and just it was kind of amazing.

Also maybe Illusionarium by Heather Dixon, which might not count because it just came out but people seem to complain about it and I’m just sitting here going EXCUSE ME?? Aside from it being too creepy for me, it was SPECTACULAR. How can people complain that it’s… um… boring??

3. A LOVE TRIANGLE WHERE THE PROTAGONIST ENDED UP WITH THE PERSON YOU DIDN’T WANT THEM TO BE WITH.

(Is it bad the first thing in my mind at this question was a confused notion of Hawkeye? But he’s not a book character and I think I’m okay with it but I don’t know…)

halflings

I don’t know if I can think of one… I guess I don’t read much love-triangle stuff? But how about Halflings by Heather Burch — that has a love triangle and I kind of like both of the guys but Raven is kind of awesomer than Mace, so. And then I’ve HEARD suspicious things about Maria and Quinn and someone else later in the Destiny trilogy by Sarah Holman… so I’ll have to see. Ahem. I’ve only read the first in each series (I actually really liked The Destiny of One) so actually have no idea and am totally unqualified! But still.

destinyBut yeah. Love triangles in general… A mess.

4. POPULAR GENRE YOU HARDLY READ.

dystopian

Dystopian! Just… no. -_- I DO NOT LIKE IT. I’ve read, like… three? The genre makes me shrivel inside and is thoroughly unpleasant and just it gives me this awful feeling and depresses me. No thank you. THEY ARE JUST SO… HOPELESS OKAY. Like, the evil people have everything and are rich and the good people live in the dirt literally and are oppressed and everybody’s grumpy and everyone dies and sure mayyybe eventually the good guys will win (maybe?) but who even cares by now? Life just doesn’t sound worth living. Blech. I don’t have anything much specifically against the ones I have read, I mean, they’re fairly good and all (Captives by Jill Williamson, and Swipe and Sneak by Evan Angler… and yes I will read the Swipe sequels because PECK. PECK PECK. Though I just remembered some others I’ve read and no). On the whole I’m just not a fan of dystopian and will only read them when forced. NO THANK YOU.

5. A POPULAR/BELOVED CHARACTER YOU DISLIKE.

Marianne Dashwood from Sense and Sensibility by Jane Austen. I’m sorry, people, but I cannot abide characters who pine away and make themselves ill for love, especially for love of someone who’s a complete jerk, especially when there’s a really nice guy in plain sight, especially when all she’s doing is being a burden to her sister and mom and basically being worthless and it’s just stupid stupid stupid. I’M SORRY OKAY but I just can’t understand why anyone likes Marianne Dashwood. To me, she was just extremely unlikeable. I’m sure everyone else is seeing something I can’t and I’m just sitting here trying to figure it out…

mdashwood

6. A POPULAR AUTHOR YOU CAN’T SEEM TO GET INTO.

Suzanne Collins? I haven’t read the HG books yet but I read Gregor the Overlander years ago before HG was even a THING and I just… couldn’t get into it. Or Orson Scott Card with anything other than Ender’s Game and Ender’s Shadow.

7. A POPULAR TROPE YOU’RE TIRED OF READING.

The tough girls. Maybe this is extreme, but I’m very very sick of the so called tough heroines who think they’re so awesome (but are in reality even whinier than their more timid counterparts) and are all “I can be one of the guys and awesomer than they are and yeah I’m so tough.” I’m sooo tired of those. Ladies, you can use weapons and stuff — that is awesome, I have no problem with it, go you — and fine you can wear trousers if it’s more practical (though usually it’s more to make a statement) but can we please have enough of this attitude and making a big deal of everything? SERIOUSLY. -_-

shoojack

8. A POPULAR SERIES YOU HAVE NO INTEREST IN READING.

Um… Twilight? Though I almost want to read it just to see what everyone’s deal is with hating it so bad. 😛 Almost. Recently I would also have answered this with Harry Potter and the Hunger Games trilogy. I guess they would fit under the question actually because “no interest in reading” which is rather true of me, but maybe someday I might end up reading them anyway just to see what on earth is up with them, peoples. Y’know, some decade when I actually have time and if they ever actually take priority over books that I’m excited about and WANT to read… Ha.

(Yeah, that’s funny…)

9. A SHOW/MOVIE ADAPTION YOU LIKED BETTER THAN THE BOOK.

The Princess Bride, and the 1990 Treasure Island with Christian Bale and Charlton Heston. OKAY I SAID IT. There are a couple movies I like more than the books. But this is really extreme. 😛 I do love both the books too though! But the movies were just… aaahh, so awesome! Of course the screenplay of The Princess Bride was done by the author, which is cool. I as-you-wish The Princess Bride. ❤

And Treasure Island, especially with its epic music by The Chieftains and just I loved all the casting and whatever changes they made I mostly liked and it was just awesome. And Charlton Heston as Long John Silver was awesome and Christian Bale as Jim Hawkins was perfection, and I kind of really loved Captain Smollet for some reason. It may have been his hair, or accent…? Anyways nobody really knows about it because I think it was a TV movie, and maybe it’s a bit violent but I kind of just loved it.

10. A POPULAR STYLE OF COVER YOU CAN’T STAND. (Cait’s addition to the tag)

I’m… not much of a cover connoisseur I’m afraid, other than unashamedly loving gorgeous dresses on covers… But it kind of annoys me when part of a face is missing… And mostly I think minimalistic sort of covers, popularized by The Hunger Games methinks, are super annoying. Like… a black background with some words and maybe some sort of icon thing. *shrug* It’s kind of boring I’m afraid. I wouldn’t say I “can’t stand” it but yeah. LET’S HAVE PEOPLE ON THE COVERS. DRESSES. WEAPONS. I DON’T KNOW — SOMETHING INTERESTING. Oh, and also, in general, covers that looked like they were made by a three-year-old. They make me sad.

***

There are no specific “rules” for this tag, so again I’m not tagging anyone — those who like stating their unpopular opinions are likely to take it anyway, and those who are more timid about it (like me…) might be torn about doing it.

So! Once again, if you would like to do this, play snag-the-tag! It’s a fun game, I assure you.

There is my post. I have now gotten my bookish negativity checked off my list for the next… hopefully year. 😛

What do you think? Agree? Disagree?
Have I done an unsafe thing by stating unpopular opinions?
WILL I BE SAFE AT NIGHT? O_O

(I guess we’ll find out… I keep a dragon under my bed as a burglar alarm. I do. His name is Flame the Frabjous and he’s very well trained against bilboes and other less harmless things that go bump in the night like frumious bookworms out armed with weapons of revenge that cause paper-cuts.)