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Patricia C. Wrede

book review Patricia C. Wrede(1953- )
Patricia C. Wrede is an American fantasy writer, born in Chicago, Illinois; she is the eldest of five children. She finished her first book in 1978, working as an accountant and financial analyst in the meantime. In 1980 she was a founding member of The Scribblies who also included Pamela Dean, Emma Bull, Will Shetterly, Steven Brust, and Nate Bucklin. She is a vegetarian and lives in Minneapolis, Minnesota with her three cats. She has no children of her own, but has four nieces and four nephews.

The Seven Towers: You’ve come a long way, baby

The Seven Towers by Patricia C. Wrede

I was strangely dissatisfied by The Seven Towers but really couldn’t figure out what exactly was the problem until I sat down to write the review. I normally start with a plot summary, and I couldn’t figure out how to summarize the story. A lot of stuff happens, and a lot of characters run around and do a lot of things, but there is a fundamental disjointedness to the story that is exacerbated by the multiple points of view.

The Seven Towers is the story of one world’s attempt to defeat the Matholych, a magical beast that reappears at long intervals and eats magical power. The most power is gained from killing people, so the beast wreaks havoc when it appears. The seven nations must join together to defeat the creature, but this time of turmoil is also used for various people to advance agendas of their own. The sorcerer Amberglas may b... Read More

Dealing with Dragons: No more embroidery!

Dealing with Dragons by Patricia C. Wrede

Princess Cimorene is tired of embroidery, etiquette, dancing, and protocol classes. She wants to take Latin, fencing, magic, and cooking lessons instead. But, that's just "not done." Princesses are supposed to be beautiful, submissive and, preferably, in distress. They're supposed to wait for a handsome prince to rescue them.

Not Cimorene. To avoid a betrothal to a handsome and charming (but not particularly bright) prince, she runs away to become housekeeper for a dragon. As a dragon's princess, Cimorene gets the freedom to cook and clean and to organize libraries and treasure rooms. She also has to fend off persistent knights who come to rescue her, and investigate the actions of a couple of sneaky wizards in The Enchanted Forest.

Patricia C. Wrede's Dealing with Dragons is a refreshing change from some of the more recent fantasy ... Read More

Searching for Dragons: Funny and entertaining

Searching for Dragons by Patricia C. Wrede

It’s been more than 5 years since I read Dealing with Dragons, the first book in Patricia C. Wrede’s ENCHANTED FOREST CHRONICLES. I loved the way the story, written in 1990, ridiculed and subverted the princess stereotype. It stars Cimorene, a teenage princess who runs away to avoid marrying a handsome but dull prince. She ends up working as a housekeeper and librarian for a dragon. (Housekeeper and Librarian seem like “female” roles, but at least these are the jobs Cimorene wants to do and she doesn’t shy away from “men’s” work.)

In my quest to finish all the series I’ve started, I read the rest of the ENCHANTED FOREST CHRONICLES this week. Searching for Dragons, the second book, gives ... Read More

Calling on Dragons: Weakest book in the series

Calling on Dragons by Patricia C. Wrede

Warning: Contains spoilers for previous books in this series: Dealing with Dragons and Searching for Dragons.

Calling on Dragons is the third book in Patricia C. Wrede’s ENCHANTED FOREST CHRONICLES series for young readers. I loved the first book, Dealing with Dragons, for its fun quirky plot, but mainly because of the way Wrede turned the princess and fantasy tropes on their heads. Princess Cimorene decides she does not want to do princess things such as etiquette and embroidery, and she doesn’t want to marry a silly handsome prince, so she runs away and becomes the right-hand man of the King of the Dragons (who happens to be female). I found this refreshing for a children’s ... Read More

Talking to Dragons: The first, fourth, and final ENCHANTED FOREST book

Talking to Dragons by Patricia C. Wrede

Talking to Dragons is the fourth and final book in Patricia C. Wrede’s ENCHANTED FOREST CHRONICLES, though it was actually the first book in the series to be published (1985). Wrede wrote the later three books (Dealing with Dragons, Searching for Dragons, Calling on Dragons) as prequels and now the correct reading order is to start with those three prequels and read Talking to Dragons last. So, in this review, I’ll be spoiling a bit of the plot of the prequels.

The hero of Talking to Dragons is Daystar, son of Princess Cimorene and King Mendanbar. At the end of the previous book, Calling on Dragons, Mendanbar was trappe... Read More

Sorcery and Cecelia (The Enchanted Chocolate Pot)

Sorcery and Cecelia (The Enchanted Chocolate Pot) by Patricia C. Wrede

To best understand Sorcery and Cecelia one has to first flick to the back of the book in order to read the authors' afterword in which they explain the format and history of their story. After hearing of a game called "The Letter Game," Patricia Wrede and Caroline Stevermer decided to have a go — each took on the persona of two young women in a more magically flavoured 1800's, and wrote to each other concerning their activities. Patricia Wrede plays the role of Cecelia Rushton, living in the country and somewhat envious of her cousin Kate Talgarth (Caroline Stevermer) who is being presented to Society in London. And so the correspondence began, each woman drawing on the magical angle of their created world as well as a 'Jane Austen' flavour, so tell each other of the gradually more... Read More

The Grand Tour: If you enjoy Jane Austen…

The Grand Tour by Patricia C. Wrede

We last saw the cousins Cecelia and Kate at the conclusion of Sorcery and Cecelia:The Enchanted Chocolate Pot, in which they had foiled a devious plot and found true love with their new husbands, Thomas Schofield and James Tartleton. The story was unique because it was told in the format of letters between the two cousins, each one telling the other about their separate adventures; and as they did with their previous collaboration, the authors Patricia Wrede and Caroline Stevermer each take a character (Wrede is Cecelia; Stevermer is Kate) and write to one another, each one adding aspects to the story till they join up at its conclusion. Things are a little different this time around considering the authors write in the format of a journal and a testimony, instead of letters.

The Kate and Cecelia stories (... Read More

Thirteenth Child: Lots of controversy

Thirteenth Child by Patricia C. Wrede

Imagine what the settling of the West would have been like if, along with hunger, drought, and malaria, the settlers also had to deal with dragons. Patricia Wrede’s Thirteenth Child is a sort of a magical version of Little House on the Prairie. Eff is the titular thirteenth child, which means she is a beacon of bad luck and will curse all those around her as she ages. Her twin brother Lan is a seventh son of a seventh son, which traditionally means that he will be incredibly lucky and magically powerful. When she’s four years old and Eff’s uncle accuses her of cursing his house, her family moves to the frontier, where her father has accepted a position as a professor of magic at a new land grant university.

This is an engaging tale. Having grown up in a large family with a wide range of ages, I can say that the family dynamic rings true... Read More

Across the Great Barrier: Great adventure for young adult readers

Across the Great Barrier by Patricia C. Wrede

Eff is back in this alternative magical history of the settling of the West. After the encounter with the mirror bugs that almost destroyed most of the settlements across the Great Barrier and came close to killing Eff’s brother and father, Eff gets hired on to a small expedition to chart the extent of the mirror bugs’ devastation. What they find surprises everyone — magic has completely disappeared from the soil and all the magical plants and animals are gone. As their journeys continue, they find further evidence of large scale migrations of animals as they respond to the changes in their habitat. But what is even stranger is that it looks like animals are fleeing something in the unexplored West — something that has the capacity to turn animals to stone in an instant. Animals… and humans.

Across the Great Barrier, the sequel to Patricia Wr... Read More

Magazine Monday: Apex Magazine, Issues 44 and 45

Issue 44 of Apex Magazine leads off with “Trixie and the Pandas of Dread” by Eugie Foster. It would take a hard heart to resist a story that starts like this: “Trixie got out of her cherry-red godmobile and waved away the flitting cherubim waiting to bear her to her sedan chair.” In the world Foster has created, one can become a god when the Karma Committee appears at her door bearing prizes akin to the Publishers Clearinghouse bonanza. Trixie uses her power to get rid of the jerks who write sexist, homophobic or racial comments on public internet forums. Can we all agree that we really need a goddess like this? But the work is growing less satisfactory lately; Trixie is having a mid-goddess crisis. The story is about how she gets past it, and it is as satisfying as it is funny.

Lettie Prell’s “The Performance Artist” asks serious questions about what constitutes life in a world where people can do... Read More

Black Thorn, White Rose: So many wonderful stories

Black Thorn, White Rose edited by Ellen Datlow & Terri Windling

Black Thorn, White Rose is the second in Ellen Datlow and Terri Windling's series of adult fairy-tale anthologies. I'd have to say that this is my favorite of the bunch; most of the volumes are good, but this one has so many wonderful stories that have stayed with me for years. A few highlights:

"Stronger Than Time," by Patricia C. Wrede , is a sad but hopeful take on "Sleeping Beauty," told through the eyes of Arven, an ordinary peasant widower. He has lived his whole life in the shadow of a mysterious briar-guarded tower. When a prince enlists his help breaching the tower's defenses, the reader is just as surprised as Arven is. Why does the prince need Arven's help? I dare you not to mist up a little when all is revealed.
... Read More

More fantasy novels by Patricia C. Wrede

Lyra — (1982-1997) Young adult. Publisher: In Alkyra, children’s tales are told of a time long past when humankind shared the land with folk who had magic in their blood and bones: the small, fierce Wyrd of the forests; the proud Shee in their mountains citadel carved of ice-white rock; and the shimmering Neira of the dark sea. As a child, Alethia had shivered in delicious fright when the bards sang the lays of Alkyra’s mythical past. But as a grown woman her nightmares come from the world of human reality: the spreading discontent in a land ruled by querulous noble families, and the soft rumors of war. As a daughter of one of Alkyra’s leading families, she has no time now for children’s tales. Until she learns that they are all true.

Patricia Wrede Lyra: Shadow Magic, Daughter of Witches, The Harp of Imach Thyssel, Caught in Crystal, The Raven RingPatricia Wrede Lyra: Shadow Magic, Daughter of Witches, The Harp of Imach Thyssel, Caught in Crystal, The Raven RingPatricia Wrede Lyra: Shadow Magic, Daughter of Witches, The Harp of Imach Thyssel, Caught in Crystal, The Raven RingPatricia Wrede Lyra: Shadow Magic, Daughter of Witches, The Harp of Imach Thyssel, Caught in Crystal, The Raven RingPatricia Wrede Lyra: Shadow Magic, Daughter of Witches, The Harp of Imach Thyssel, Caught in Crystal, The Raven Ring

Magic and Malice — (1991-1997) Publisher: Kim doesn’t hesitate when a stranger offers her a small fortune to break into the travelling magician’s wagon in search of a silver bowl. Kim isn’t above a bit of breaking-and-entering. Having grown up a waif in the dirty streets of London — disguised as a boy! — has schooled her in one hard lesson: steal from them before they steal from you. But there is something odd about this magician. He isn’t like the other hucksters and swindlers that Kim is used to. When he catches her in the act, Kim thinks she’s done for.Until he suggests she become his apprentice. Kim wonders how tough it could be faking a bit of hocus pocus.But Mairelon isn’t an act. His magic is real.

Mairelon the Magician, The Magician's Ward Magic and Malice Patricia C. WredeMairelon the Magician, The Magician's Ward

Patricia C. Wrede Snow Whie and Rose RedSnow White and Rose Red — (1989) A retelling of the Brothers Grimm fairy tale. Publisher: Snow White and Rose Red live on the edge of the forest that conceals the elusive border of Faerie. They know enough about Faerie lands and mortal magic to be concerned when they find two human sorcerers setting spells near the border. And when the kindly, intelligent black bear wanders into their cottage some months later, they realize the connection between his plight and the sorcery they saw in the forest. This romantic version of the classic fairy tale features an updated introduction by its editor, Terri Windling.Patricia C. Wrede Book of Enchantments

Book of Enchantments — (1996) Publisher: This witty and charming collection of ten short fantasies includes a story, set in the Enchanted Forest, about Queen Cimorene’s Frying Pan of Doom; a zany yarn about a magical blue chipmunk with a passion for chestnuts; and an eerie tale of a caliph who turns his vizier’s daughter into a wolf.