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Review: The Last Dragon

The Last Dragon
The Last Dragon by Silvana De Mari
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Translated from the Italian. The prose is beautifully done; I’d love to be able to read the original Italian. A story in two parts. Yorsh (short for Yorshkrunsquarkljolnerstrink) is a little elf – “one born lately”- alone in a world where elves are persecuted. Indeed, he is the last elf. A young woman and a hunter gradually befriend him, helping him follow his father’s last instructions and make his way to the last dragon. They find him in a cave filled with books — the accumulation of the world’s knowledge. Turns out it was the “great library of the Second Runic Dynasty. It was a time of knowledge, and people treated this place as though it were a temple: in silence, and no spitting, with clean hands, and the dust wiped from their shoes. And to be quite certain that nobody misbehaved, dragons have always been here, and that’s why there are signs that say ‘Here Be Dragons.’ This was the biggest collection of knowledge that had ever existed. Then men lost writing. They forgot how to read. Barbarism flooded the world. the very memory of this place faded away. Many people never believed in its existence, but with my wings, I finally found it. And when I reached this place, great was my joy. All the books in the world were for me.” (103)

The second part of the story begins about thirteen years later. Yorsh has read all the books and kept the last dragon company all these years, though the dragon grows more irascible and grumpy. Turns out he/she was brooding. When the young dragon hatches, Yorsh cares for it, even teaching it to fly. But he also longs for companionship and needs new clothes, so he sets out to find Sajra and Moser, the humans who had helped him before. In their village he finds desolation, but evidence they had a child. Robi’s story is told in parallel, and eventually they come together. There is a fair amount of adventure and danger set in both tales, but the overall mood is more introspective. The varying perspectives of the elf, humans and dragon are convincingly portrayed. Elves do have some magic, but they are capable of great empathy — they literally feel other’s pain, so they don’t make great warriors. The writing is beautiful, often infused with humor as characters misunderstand then get to know one another. It’s lovely to watch characters that grow and change — even when they were already perfect, as in the case of the dragon.

For readers who enjoy fantasy and stories about dragons. Fans of Cornelia Funke (Thief Lord, Dragon Rider), Anne McCaffrey’s Pern books, will enjoy this book.

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