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Middle grade fantasy growing up in a dragon's world

  • Feb 20, 2013
They grow up too fast don’t they? At least, that’s what everyone says, and in Dianne Lynn Gardner’s Ian’s Realm trilogy, young Ian is certainly growing up—but he’s not full-grown. After all, heroes aren’t born, they’re nurtured with wisdom from mistakes, valor from battles, and kindness from pain. Ian learns all these lessons in this book as he steps forward to take his father’s place, and learns there’s a lot more to leading than just saying no to potential followers.
You could probably pick up the trilogy without reading book one, Deception Peak, though you’d be missing a thoroughly enjoyable fantasy novel if you did. But if you’re a forgetful reader, like me, you’ll be happily satisfied by how well author Dianne Lynn Gardner incorporates all the necessary information from Deception Peak into a thoroughly exciting first chapter of Dragon Shield. There’s plenty more satisfaction and excitement within this middle-grade readers’ novel too. It’s boy-friendly, with teen male protagonists who don’t understand what the girls are getting at. And it’s girl-friendly with a boy who has much to learn, a young woman waiting to help, and a small child’s innocence. Suddenly Ian’s back in his curious realm, swords and sorcery coming to life out of the computer screen, and there’s really no time to regret the mistakes that brought him there. The story’s exciting—it even has a dragon. It’s intriguing, with satisfying connections waiting to be discovered in the pages. It’s intelligent. And even the parents will approve (and enjoy) as wise lessons are illustrated and learned. Add beautiful writing, evocative descriptions, gorgeous scenery, cleverly plausible computer wizardly, and great fight scenes and there’s something for all of us.
Three years have passed since Deception Peak. Ian’s finishing high school. His father’s disappeared. Abbi is still his best friend and only confidante.  And the neighbor’s children are learning entirely too much about Ian’s Realm. But can one angry young man really save anyone, least of all himself? And can a child kill dragons?
Told from Ian’s point of view, the writing switches from third person to first as readers listen to his internal monologue—and it really works. There’s a teen freshness about the voice that pulls the reader in, an honest awkwardness, a genuine sense of guilt and frustration, and a fascinating look at what it means and doesn’t mean to make mistakes and be a hero.
Of course, with the story moving so far so fast, the ending feel like a beginning and readers will finish this begging for more. I’m about to start reading book three. You'll want to too. Enjoy.
Disclosure: I was lucky enough to win an ecopy of this book.

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June 15, 2013
Good detailed review!
About the reviewer
Sheila Deeth ()
Ranked #4
Sheila Deeth's first novel, Divide by Zero, has just been released in print and ebook formats. Find it on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Powells, etc. Her spiritual speculative novellas can be found at … more
About this product


The Dragon Shield is packed to the rafters with incident and peril. Ian's resolve is tested like never before, the camaraderie of his supporters and their combined efforts will keep the reader engrossed. 

There is a constant battle being waged between hope and despair and you are never quite sure how things will develop. By the novels end I felt that things were only just beginning for Ian and I wanted more - a mark of Gardner's skill as a storyteller. 
What can I say? This is an excellent follow-up as well as a bridge to the next installment. -
The Independent Review
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