Fantasy Mystery Romance Comics Non-Fiction

Brother to Dragons, Companion to Owls

Tuesday, July 3, 2007

Brother to Dragons, Companion to Owls (1994) Jane Lindskold

Brother to Dragons, Companion to Owls

Brother to Dragons, Companion to Owls is an urban fantasy set in the future, with bits that remind me of The Velveteen Rabbit.

Sarah lives in the Home–an asylum for the insane. Her past–adn even her last name–are unknown. She was initially diagnosed as autistic and mute, however, after years in the home, it is eventually discovered that she can communicate by repeating verse, such as lines from Shakespeare or the Bible, that have been read to her. Although this is at best a cumbersome method, it allows her in some small manner to communicate with those around her.

Unfortunately for her, budget cutbacks are forcing her and others from the home–diagnosed as socially functional, whether they really are or not. Sent out to survive on her own, she meets up with a member of the Wolf Clan, who take her in.

I was browsing when I picked this up because the title looked interesting. I read the back, wasn’t too impressed, and was going to put it back on the shelf when something possessed me to read the first page.

“Morning falls on the just and the unjust,” I observe, and the nurse smiles politely and continues brushing my hair.
Betwixt laughs from where I clutch him in my hands, Between, snores. He is not a morning dragon.
“Turn us over Sarah,” Betwixt coaxes, and I do this carefully, balancing the four stubby legs in my pant leg just above the knee.
Betwixt growls approvingly, “That’s a good girl. Now, be a love and scratch in front of my left horn, right above the eye ridge.”
I do this, studying my friend as I do. Betwixt and Between are a two-headed dragon. They are small as dragons go, standing only ten inches long from barrel chest to tail tip. They also have blue scales, red eyes, and faintly smell of strawberries.

The I turned and read the next page, and was hooked. In fact, I stayed up past my bedtime last night so I could finish reading the book.

Because Sarah has been sheltered her entire life, and is unable to read, she knows nothing of the world outside. I think what I liked most about her was that many of the new discoveries she makes are wondrous for her. Things that those around her would take for granted, she enjoys. Not that she doesn’t have her share of fears, and not that her past doesn’t have its share of unhappiness, but she seems to take joy in the world around her–not as part of her illness, but as part of her nature. Even the bad things that happen to her don’t seem to loom large in her mind, but seem to be seen as things that happened, and then brushed aside.

Although the world is strange and complex, because Sarah has grown up completely isolated, she must discover the world as we do, and it is only slowly that we come to discover that her world is quite different from our own. It’s a very subtle thing, and very well done.

What I found interesting was Sarah’s view of the world. When bad things happen to her, she takes them in stride, seeming to see them as simply what happens to her. She adjusts and goes on. What is interesting is that this seems to be not an inborn trait, but a response to spending her entire life institutionalized–it was an interesting view, and I felt it was well done.

It was also a relatively short book, which I enjoyed–I appreciate authors who are able to tell a compelling story in under 300 pages, as opposed to three 700 page books.

If you’re looking for something different to read, then you might want to check out Brother to Dragons, Companion to Owls. It’s a relatively quick read, but an enjoyable one.
Rating: 8/10

Categories: 8/10, Fantasy, Paper
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