10 July 2014

Here, There Be Dragons by James A. Owen

"What is it?" John asked.
The little man blinked and arched an eyebrow.
"It is the world, my boy," he said. "All the world, in ink and blood, vellum and parchment, leather and hide. It is the world, and it is yours to save or lose."

An unusual murder brings together three strangers, John, Jack, and Charles, on a rainy night in London during the first World War. An eccentric little man called Bert tells them that they are now the caretakers of the Imaginarium Geographica -- an atlas of all the lands that have ever existed in myth and legend, fable and fairy tale. These lands, Bert claims, can be traveled to in his ship the Indigo Dragon, one of only seven vessels that is able to cross the Frontier between worlds into the Archipelago of Dreams.

Pursued by strange and terrifying creatures, the companions flee London aboard the Dragonship. Traveling to the very realm of the imagination itself, they must learn to overcome their fears and trust in one another if they are to defeat the dark forces that threaten the destiny of two worlds.

An extraordinary journey of myth, magic, and mystery, Here, There Be Dragons introduces James A. Owen as a formidable new talent.
I once owned Here, There Be Dragons although I don't think I was the one who purchased it.  I tried reading it, because I was intrigued by the full-page illustrations, but never got that far into it.  Then, skip forward several years later, to a picture of me staring, starry-eyed, at the sight of the entire series lined up on the library shelf and my deciding to give it another go.

It wasn't that Here, There Be Dragons was a bad book by my own opinion.  It wasn't a fault of character development, or writing, that kept me from getting to the end.  But there was something -- some unknowable, intangible "something" -- that carried me only halfway through before keeping me from going forward.  I'm saddened by my inability to finish, because there is so much about it that I want to like.

The characters were awesome, and their development even more so because each had a very distinctive voice and impression in my mind.  I knew, even after only fifty pages in, how each character was bound to react to a new situation.  (Also, the three main characters are famous writers, which I thought was unbelievably clever.)

The writing was charming as far as fantasy books go.  And the world was interesting and intriguing with dragon ships doing battle on the high seas and satyrs manning said ships and Winter Kings running around wreaking havoc and stealing people's souls.

But there was something that kept me from reading, something that lost my interest.  Perhaps, in a few more years, I'll pick it up again and find that thing that leads me on the road to emotional investment but for right now, I'll put Here, There Be Dragons on its way back to the library.  A shame, for it seems like a perfectly exquisite series to be invested in.

Our weaknesses are always evident, both to ourselves and others. But our strengths are hidden until we choose to reveal them--and that is when we are truly tested. When all that we have within is exposed, and we may no longer blame our inadequacies for our failure, but must instead depend upon our strengths to succeed ... that is when the measure of a man is taken, my boy.
Power, true power, comes from the belief in true things, and the willingness to stand behind that belief, even if the universe itself conspires to thwart your plans. Chaos may settle; flames may die; worlds may rise and fall. But true things will remain so, and will never fail to guide you to your goals.
Book Info
  • pages - hardcover, 326
  • published - September 2006
  • publisher - Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers
  • genre - fantasy
  • received via - library :)
  • rating - 3/5
  • series - The Chronicles of the Imaginarium Geographica
    • Here, There Be Dragons
    • The Search for the Red Dragon
    • The Indigo King
    • The Shadow Dragons
    • The Dragon's Apprentice
    • The Dragon's of Winter
    • The First Dragon