believathon · Fantasy · series

Dragonwatch: Master of the Phantom Isle by Brandon Mull

This is the third installment of the Dragonwatch series and while I enjoyed it the pace was relentless. I will read the next book because I am still deeply in love with this world but I hope the author gives me more character development.


SYNOPSIS

Cursed by the Key of Forgetting, Seth has lost all memory of his past—his relationships, his experiences, and who he really is. For now he will align with his new mentor, Ronodin, the dark unicorn, who takes him to the Phantom Isle, the secret gateway to the Under Realm. Though Seth is not formally a prisoner, Ronodin wants to use him and his shadow charmer powers for his own dark ends.

Kendra is frantic to find her missing brother, but the quest will take her and her companions, including Warren, Tanu, and Vanessa, far from Wyrmroost to Crescent Lagoon—a recently fallen dragon sanctuary made up of many islands and underwater domains. Its caretaker has regained a foothold on one of the islands. If Kendra and her friends can save that sanctuary, they might uncover the answers they need to rescue Seth.

With each sanctuary the dragons overthrow, Celebrant, the Dragon King, comes closer to the dawn of a new Age of Dragons. With the forces of darkness on the march, can Kendra and her allies gather enough power to win the epic dragon war? from Goodreads.

A huge green dragon bursts out of the watch splashing a merman holding a golden staff.

REVIEW

It is no secret: I am a huge fan of Brandon Mull’s Fablehaven series. I was thrilled when it was announced that the series characters would live again in the Dragonwatch series. Strike that, I’m still thrilled. I love Dragonwatch so much that I waited until the next book was available before I read it. Dragonwatch: Champion of the Titan Games was published at the end of September. But my unbridled enthusiasm has been dampened just a bit by this third book in the series.

Warning: Series Spoilers Ahead (its unavoidable!)

Kendra and Seth are separated at the onset of this third book. Seth has completely lost his memory after trading it for the key needed in the last book. And you might also feel like you have lost yours while trying to keep track of all the people in this story. There’s the grandparents (that we rarely see), younger cousins Knox and Tess, satyrs Doren and Newel, Patton (not the real one), Calvin the giant nipsie, Marat, Tanu the potion master, Warren and Vanessa (who used to be evil), Bracken the unicorn, dragons and wizards, and countless others. And those are just those on the side of light! Fighting against the safety of the world is the Sphinx, the dark unicorn Ronodin, the Underking, and a host of random evil beings that Seth likes to name. If the sheer number of characters wasn’t enough, there are countless rules and magical items that need to be protected, found, delivered to other realms, and sometimes just discussed.

Some of my lack of enjoyment in this book is completely my own fault. The universe that Brandon Mull has created is, at this point, seven books long. It has been a year, perhaps two, since I read the last book and I had forgotten so many things. Characters that played a major role in the last story felt familiar but unplaceable. Realistically, I need to start the series from book one of Dragonwatch and read all five at once. Or, I need to keep a chart like I do when I read Russian literature.

What may not be my fault is that this book is just running running and more running. Since Seth and Kendra are separated they are both working on their own missions. Which means that the entire story is just one of them heading towards a destination, jumping hurdles or squeezing through rings of fire, only to turn and run some more. I had the same feeling that I used to get with choose your own adventure books without the ability to make a choice. No one slept for more than 20 minutes for this entire story. Similarly, there was too much time is spent listing and naming things and not enough time showing the reader the world.

This is a lot of negative commentary from me. So why am I writing a review? I don’t normally do negative so what is going on here? Truthfully, I just know that the next book in the series is going to be amazing. And, I hope, that all of this running around and inclusion of characters and elements will be suddenly very necessary to the forward momentum of the series. Because, whether I loved every page or not, Brandon Mull has certainly created a beautifully nuanced world full of life and mystery.

Perhaps the best thing he did in this book was give us an insight, although limited, into the Sphinx and Ronodin. Since Seth has lost his memory he has been picked up by Ronodin. This very clever mechanism finally let me see the evil Sphinx that has been hanging around doing his best to nudge the world into chaos since the very beginning of the series. I still don’t understand Ronodin but I do enjoy a good baddie and Ronodin is unique in his methods and his worldview.

When we read a series, especially one this long, we know that not every single book can strike a joyous chord every time. Sometimes the authors give us what the series needs instead of what we want (more Raxtus!!!). I’ll just have to trust that there is a plan in place. AND I need to make sure and read the whole series from the beginning before I continue!

BELIEVATHON

A map of the Manor of Make-Believathon with a red X through the Key and the Chain icons.

This book fulfills my reading for Believathon for the Chain Prompt: Read a Book with a Cast of the Characters – Did I ever!


Tell me, please! Have you had this experience with a series?


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