I am a self-professed fangirl for dragons. I love dragons in all their forms and fashions, and will instantly perk up at the mention of a story that has dragons in any capacity at all. When Rachel started talking about the Harper Hall trilogy two years ago when we plotted about the first Flights of Fantasy Reading Challenge (You can still sign up for this year, if you want to!), she had me at “dragons” – or at least, the titles of these novels did. I finally committed to binge reading the entire series this summer, and I’m so glad I did because this is a set of books best read one after the other!
Anyway, before I tell you what I thought, let me tell you about the books. Dragonsong centers around Menolly, a girl who is passionate and talented in a musical capacity – which makes her very different from the rest of her clan, a sea-faring folk. When she realizes that she and her family will never see eye to eye on her aspiration of being a Harper (basically a musician), it causes a rift between them. Menolly eventually runs away, takes up residence in a cave and somehow winds up with nine fire lizards (small dragons) of her very own. Her life takes a turn for the unexpected, and for the good by the end of the first novel. The rest of Menolly’s story continues in Dragonsinger, and the third novel, Dragondrums, is actually more of a companion that centers on a friend Menolly makes in the second book – so I’m not going to be telling you much about them.
I’m taking a page from our revamped Friends with ARCs feature, and going to be breaking this review down into sections. I’m going to be talking about the series in general, so there will be no spoilers and you’ll get an idea of my overall feelings towards this story.
Plot? Dragonsong has a very simple plot that unfolds in a straightforward way: Menolly loves music, but her parents forbid her from pursuing it and so, she is forced to make a choice that changes the course of her life forever. It actually takes less time than you’d think to cover the main plot; the author spends a bit more time showing the reader the world and the culture. Dragonsinger is a continuation of Menolly’s story, and I feel like it’s definitely better paced. In part, it’s because less time is spent describing the world and history, and more time is spent on what actually happens to Menolly. I really loved this one, and if you read the books, you’ll probably see why! Dragondrums is a change of narration, since the main character is different. Since I was already mentally prepared for that, it didn’t surprise me or throw me off! The pacing is still really good in this story, and I actually wound up enjoying the adventure in it a whole lot. And if you’re wondering about Menolly, she’s still around!
Character? I loved Menolly! I admired her musical inclination and her abilities as a Harper so damn much. But she’s not only gifted musically, she’s also capable of taking care of herself in other ways. She’s got an independent streak a mile wide, and a strong need to prove that she is worthy and capable and strong. Every single time she overcame an obstacle, I wanted to cheer for her! But mostly, I just wanted to be her friend. I would have loved to just listen to her making music! (That being said, even though she is my favorite, the secondary characters were also really well-written, especially considering the length of these novels. That includes her nine fire lizards!)
Writing? I feel like the writing style is definitely of its era, as it was published in the 1970s. Perhaps it’s because I don’t read as many older fantasies as I should, but I definitely needed a little bit of time to really get into it. It was chockfull of simple yet effective descriptions, and even though I did feel like some parts got a bit long-winded, overall, it worked for this story.
Overall? I’m really happy I finally read the Harper Hall trilogy. I can definitely see why Rachel loves it, and why the second book in particular is her favorite. (It’s mine as well, in case you wondered!) I really think, as I mentioned earlier, that this series is best binge read so that you are fully immersed in this world and among these characters for a while. It just enhanced my entire experience with the series! Now, did I love it enough to reread? That, I’m not too sure about. I liked it a lot, for sure, but I don’t know if I’d ever revisit it now that I’ve read it.
Series: Harper Hall #1-3
Publisher: Aladdin | Publication Dates: June 1, 2006 / April 1, 2003 / April 1, 2003
Source: Paperbacks bought from Book Outlet