What every kid longs for--the acquisition of a pet dragon--sparks a quest to save a dying world in this sprightly fantasy adventure.
Ian Sommers, 13, discovers an ancient, locked box while poking around a rail yard in his small Pennsylvania town. When the mysterious contents of the box jostle mightily to be free, he calls in his big brother John, a locksmith and magician, and the two discover a tiny dragon inside. They stash the creature in their garage, but it swells into a monster with a 30-foot wingspan and breaks out to go flying, leaving Ian and John with a lot to explain to their mom and the neighbors. (Fortunately, the dragon, who calls himself Tabor and can telepathically communicate with Ian by means of a crystal wand, turns out to be a vegetarian with an almost Gandhian ethic of nonviolence.) The uproar brings nasty federal agents to town, as well as an old man named G.W. Merlone, who claims the dragon as his own. At this point the story, which has so far been a well-crafted, Spielbergian children's picaresque, broadens into a mythic tale about the planet Yawnogard, which Tabor and his fellow dragons–and their wizard masters–abandoned when an asteroid struck. The Sommers brothers eagerly join the mission to save Yawnogard from the evil wizard Kradark, his black dragon Shang and the Garloids, a race of pallid subterranean cannibals who are like H.G. Wells’ Morlocks but with superior leaping abilities. But before the operation commences, the boys must bone up on all things Yawnogardian, which necessitates hair-raising dragon-flying lessons and survival training–grubs taste great!–along with instruction in a mystical, New Age-y lore of crystals that is somewhat less exciting. Long has a feel for vivid characters and a lively prose style that takes his adolescent heroes from comic suburban realism to galactic epic by way of blossoming magical powers.
A beguiling, imaginative piece of whimsy.