Item description for Jenna of Erdovon: The Philosopher's Egg by Nicholas Dollak...
..."Now, Do As Your Mother Says And Put On Something Nice For The Dragon." Life isn't easy when you're eleven years old---even if you're a princess of royal blood. Princess Jenna is raised from infancy to be docile and subservient, to accept whatever fate others decide for her. At a crucial moment, however, Jenna makes a choice for herself---and her life of adventure begins. Welcome to the planet of Erdovon, where magic lies just around the bend, if you choose to seek it. Islands fly above the clouds. A museum of magic unfolds from thin air. Dragons, both good and evil, obey the commands of sorcerers. Centaurs, Trolls and machine-building Ollogs live outside the law. And Fairies, helpless in the face of evil, seek help from the most unlikely of sources.
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Est. Packaging Dimensions: Length: 8.3" Width: 5.7" Height: 1" Weight: 0.4 lbs.
Release Date Mar 1, 2007
Publisher Malibu Books for Children
ISBN 1929084145 ISBN13 9781929084142
When I heard that Nicholas Dollak had written a book, I couldn't wait to read it. Ever since I discovered his fantastic art work in Preston McClear's children's books, I've been fascinated by his artistic talent and was curious to see what kind of writer he might be.
I was delighted because this book, his debut novel is a brilliant piece of imaginative writing, accompanied by awesome illustrations. One thing that disappointed me was that the illustrations were done in black-and-white; I would have preferred color as on the gorgeous cover ... but we can't have everything.
This book is a fascinating mixture of fantasy and science fiction with the action taking place on another planet called Erdovon which, in addition to people, is inhabited by fairies, wizards, dragons, trolls, and centaurs.
The action begins when a little girl finds a stone with magical properties and takes it to Granny Jenna who then tells them about her childhood and the history of the stone which has been lost for 2000 years. Jenna was a little princess on Erdovon whose parents train her to be subservient and to accept what they deem best for her. They're very uncaring parents, but one day she escapes the palace and meets Armagan, a sorcerer's apprentice who later plays a huge role in her life.
Without giving the plot away, I can tell you that Jenna becomes the predicted Heroine of the Fairies and is sent on a dangerous quest by them. This is the first time Jenna has ever made a decision by herself, and even though she's been sheltered in her castle, she proves very resourceful. Armagan offers to accompany her, so together they set forth ... and wait till you see their awesome mode of transportation, a huge centipede whom I came to love dearly. They meet and befriend a tiny fairy named Pippa who proves to be a trusted ally.
The rest is pure adventure and magic at its best: a malicious wizard named Dranak is their main foe but there are evil centaurs and evil dragons trying to kill them also. Everywhere they turn there is danger.
My favorite scene is the aerial dragon fight where a good dragon--the Blue Dragon--comes to aid the children, and Armagan has a thrilling ride on its back.
I love the children in this book, and Pippa is precious, but two of my favorite characters are the Blue Dragon and the centipede.
Dollak portrays his characters so well that I really care what happens to them. He's also good at description, dialogue and pacing, keeping me on the edge of my seat waiting to see what happens next.
Toss this one in your this site shopping cart, but be careful not to hit any of those evil dragons; they are very vindictive, as this book will show you.
Any Technology, Sufficently Advanced, Is Indistinguishable From Magic Aug 19, 2007
Borrowing from such sources as Arthur C. Clarke, Loyd Alexander, the Arabian Nights and Star Trek, Nicholas Dollak has fashioned together an imaginative debut novel which cleverly mixes together elements from fantasy and science fiction.
While the story takes place on another planet, the planet is of course called Erdovon, the denizens of Erdovon are fairies, wizards, dragons and centaurs.
I particulary liked the chapter in which a museum of magic unfolded from thin air:
"In the clear blue air over the clearing, a thin vertical line suddenly appeared, as if a knife were cutting a slit in the sky. When the line had reached a height of twenty meters, starting one step up from the ground, it began to fan out, unfolding into a vast architectural structure resembling an ancient temple. Grooved columns supported its many tiers and porticoes, and an arched portal extended toward the three people like an accordion."
I don't want to give too much of the story away, but over all this is a solid adventure novel with a unique point of view. It's probably best suited for ages nine and up.
Fantastical but not fantastic. . . . Jun 15, 2007
This book does have some good points and was not a chore to read, but I found the characters were hard to care about, and therefore I could put it down whenever it was convenient to do so--it wasn't really memorable or exciting. I should qualify that by saying I'm not this book's target audience because I'm not a child, so it may be that little kids would find it much more engaging and exciting.
The setting--an alternate fantasy world on another planet--seemed a bit forced and cliché, and the reader feels a bit beaten over the head with the fantasy elements to the point where the setting just doesn't seem very real. Only three pages in and we have been exposed to "casually" dropped information about the dual suns in the sky, the "dragonlets" flying around for no reason, a special stone that was lost for a thousand years but has just turned up in the yard, a random centaur, flying islands floating overhead, and exotic foods such as "spongeberries" mentioned.
How about our main characters: Two plucky kids--Armagan, an amateur magician, and Jenna, a sheltered yet inexplicably resourceful princess who is the subject of a prophecy--and their magical Fairy companion, Pippa, who can sense the presence of evil and conveniently steps in to save the day whenever the situation is beyond hope. The people really never felt very real to me; the main characters seemed detached from their feelings or seemed not to have any feelings. During battles, flights, captures, and adventures, I would normally expect a little mention of a pounding heart or a racing mind--some fear, some doubt, some despair--but mostly we're just told what's happening rather than experiencing it through someone's eyes.
The minor characters are even more one-dimensional. Cardboard evil monarchs; stupid, easily-fooled trolls; battle-hungry centaurs. It's unsatisfying for the heroes to beat them because they weren't there for anything but to get beaten in the first place. This trend toward having a detached storytelling style continues throughout, with the notable exception of some good dialogue. Some of the characters' conversations are very clever and realistic, especially the children. I wish the author had used dialogue more often to get through difficult patches, because he does seem to have an instinctive grasp on how to use characters' voices. Applause!
As for the narration, it suffered from what I call "adjectivitis"--a disease of flowering up descriptions by making the first draft's information more colorful rather than thinking about making a careful choice about what to describe and why. Phrases like "twisting her mouth into a cynical smirk" stuck out to me as overdone. The permutations for the word "said" were particularly cringe-worthy.
Examples: "Sorry," he half-apologized. (Sorry is an apology. We don't need to be told that.) "Yikes!" he exclaimed. (Yes, that's an exclamation. We know.) "Stop interrupting," she lectured. (Hmm, that's not really a lecture. More of a rebuke. But we know what it is without being told.)
Random infodumps are also not necessary, but there are lots of them in this book. Unnecessary detail distracts us and makes the writing sound more like the writer is still learning which worldbuilding details he should include and which he should keep to himself.
And I suppose this happens a lot in fantasy, but some of the battles and the evolution of the characters' skills were a little bit unrealistic. For instance, at one point Jenna can deflect a sword and knock it out of her opponent's hand while RIDING with NO TRAINING. She also volunteers to fight a warrior centaur by herself. Fairies' Hero or not, she has little to no sword training and certainly none in those special cases. I'm afraid I can't swallow it, regardless of Fairy armor and being a Chosen One.
This book had some illustrations which might intrigue younger readers. They are intricately detailed and drawn by the author. They are also kind of disturbing. The shading and the attention to detail indicate that the artist has experience or training or both, but the drawings have weird inconsistencies about them that make them look like they're trying to be realistic without quite getting there--a lot like the writing. Everyone has a giant head.
Now for the compliments and recommendations.
Overall, I thought this book could easily be enjoyed by younger kids. Maybe even as one of those bedtime stories where the parents read a chapter every night before bed. It's a decent adventure story with a solid plot that goes forward in one direction without too many confusing branches, and the *concept* is likeable even though I didn't care for the execution. Little kids who haven't seen these elements in plenty of other books might be excited and intrigued. It's kind of a fun book.
The technical editing was pretty good overall. The author used a non-standard font and one unusual punctuation style--he used "~~~" instead of dashes--and unfortunately doing this tends to make the book look amateurish to more experienced eyes. But I only caught two editing mistakes in the entire book--one a forgotten open quotation mark and one a failure to indent--and that's pretty good.
Anyway, overall I thought this book read not really like a polished, published novel, but more like an author who has a lot of promise but is still learning his craft. I also think that its main audience is too young, inexperienced, and/or, well, not anal enough to let these glitches get in their way of enjoying the book, even though I really didn't. Young children (and their parents) should give it a try, but otherwise I basically found it to be less than enjoyable.