Molly's Reviews

Aidan of OrenAidan of Oren: The Journey Begins
The first in a series
Alan St. Jean
Illustrator: Judith Friedman
Moo Press

Interesting read ... Recommended ... 5 stars

Aidan thinks he may be dreaming when the words "Awake, Awake" ring out in the stillness of the night. Aidan has lived with Grandmama from infancy, and has never known either his father or his mother. Grandmama is a good story-teller, Aidan lays in his bed in the room beside the fireplace room and listens to Grandmama and her friends as they quilt and visit in the evenings. He hears tales of dragons, the legend of Gorgon, elves, and other beings who are said to live in the land. Sounds coming from the well startle Aidan as he and his friend McKenzie go to draw water. Aidan's best friends are two girls who are also orphans and Charles The Great; a falcon who talks but does not fly. He walks or is carried wherever Aidan and the others are going. The arrival of a strange, frightening hooded man worries everyone in the village. War has been ongoing for some time and men with bandages are seen everywhere. In the old days the guardians kept law, but one day they all left. When the hooded man reaches for McKenzie a sudden tremor causes him to leave. Where the hooded man comes destruction follows.

Lionsgate is the only village in the land that is still free, the men are fighting to hold back the terror sure to come if they do not prevail however, they are weakening and it is only a matter of time. The Guardian must be found and returned to keep the peace. Aidan's friend Lilly has made Aidan a leather neck band, not to be outdone McKenzie gives Aidan a beautiful red 'rock' she has found. Aidan is surprised to learn that McKenzie's gift is not a rock at all, but it is a scale of a dragon. The guardian must be found. The guardian must be found or lionsgate will fall. Before the tale ends Aidan, Charles, Lilly and McKenzie will find elves, stand in presence of the guardians, come face to face with dragons and learn something of Aidan's parents. The group will meet Bernard a talking fish, battle trolls, encounter the frightening Kartha, and travel to the Dead Forest. Damon, a baby dragon, the Great Sitting Rock, and a huge spider all figure in the tale.

"Aidan of Oren: The Journey Begins" is an enchanting tale sure to please the target audience of middle grades to young adult readers. Young readers as well as those who are not thrilled by gore and gloom fantasy tales will especially enjoy The Journey Begins. Writer St. Jean has crafted a fast paced, exhilarative read set off to perfection with the outstanding line drawings provided by illustrator Friedman. The style of the work is reminiscent of that found on the pages of Baum's long time favorite Oz series.

The land of Oren is presented in map and detailed word pictures drawing the reader straight into the narrative where we are treated to the unintentional humor of irascible Charles, listen as McKenzie dances and sings a stirring melody, and feel the water under a magnificent waterfall. The quest to locate the Guardians is filled with all the tingle, amazement and machination readers of exemplary fantasy demand.

Dialogue, descriptions of settings and characters are all presented in glorious well-written prose.

"Aidan of Oren: The Journey Begins" is a commendable addition for the home and school library.
Matchless volume for a long, lazy summer day spent out in a hammock, sipping lemonade and enjoying an enchanting story.

Enjoyed the read, Happy to recommend.




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2005 by Molly Martin