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A Tale of Two Castles 10/19/12
A Tale of Two Castles by Gail Carson Levine is about Elodie making her mark in the world. She leaves her farming village to cross the sea to Two Castles where she hopes to apprentice to become a mansioner (actress). Unfortunately, the apprenticeship rules have changed and she doesn't have the money to return home.
Elodie, who hates being called Lodie, quickly finds her bad luck getting worse. Like September in The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making by Catherynne M. Valente, she ends up finding a very unusual mentor, in the form of a dragon, Meenore.
Dragons in this world are too mysterious for one to presume ITs gender. They are always referred to as IT or in the case of a mentor and student relationship, as masteress. The dragon's ambiguous gender and how it plays against traditional gender roles was an interesting aside to the book.
But things really take shape when Elodie is entrusted by the dragon to keep an eye on Jonty Um, the lord and Ogre of Two Castles. There is a threat against his life that takes the classic Puss in Boots tale and turns it on its head (in a far more clever way than Shrek 2 did).
The friendship between Jonty Um and Meenore and their interest in Elodie as a student and friend is what makes A Tale of Two Castles something special.
The only detractor to this well crafted tale is the Princess's numerous oaths. She comes off sounding like she was possessed by Louise Rennison's Georgia Nicholson. As much as j'adore Georgia and her unique take on the English language, it doesn't working coming out of the mouth of an otherwise refined princess of the realm.
Other posts and reviews:
Comment #1: Saturday, October 20, 2012 at 11:10:12
I remember really liking the dragon in this book but feeling disappointed because this just couldn't quite live up to the other books I've read by Levine.
Comment #2: Monday, October 22, 2012 at 11:39:11
A Tale of Two Castles is my favorite Levine book. Usually it seems she puts a lot more parody of multiple fairytales in one book. This one seemed more focused.