Reviewed by Stephanie Boyd
Fifteen-year-old Talia is being apprenticed to the Dragon Knight’s Guild and leaving everything she has ever known far behind. Then to make it worse, her ride to the guild school is on Clarence, a cross-eyed dragon that can’t fly straight and crash lands. But his rider Kel is a nice guy who seems determined to be a success with Clarence, despite Clarence’s disability. Talia finds the school so alien from anything she has ever been exposed to, but she is determined to do her best and make her family proud. Too bad Kel and Clarence are obviously outsiders because Talia can use all the friends she can get. Will Talia survive her first year in the guild school?
I loved Cross-Eyed Dragon Troubles. The characters are a mixture of typical teenagers and unusual administrators and teachers in the outlandish setting of the Dragon Knight’s Guild school. Author Oliver has a very creative imagination, and I was both charmed and tickled by the things happening in the story. She even makes the school lessons unusual and fun. I’d have loved to have had some of these lessons when I was in school, and a few of them I could have done without.
From the moment Talia meets Clarence and Kel I had to laugh at their spectacular crash landing as they arrived to escort her to the guild school. I don’t know if I would have been brave enough to get on Clarence after that demonstration but Talia shows remarkable determination. Then she is basically abandoned at the school–I’d have been crying to go home, but Talia deals with it. And this is just Talia’s first day. Life for Talia does improve quickly because she is such a resilient character, but the more you learn about Clarence and Kel’s situation, the more you will feel sorry for them.
I enjoyed the imaginative world Gloria Oliver invented for this story and really hope this is just the beginning. I’d love to read more about Talia and her friends or even different students at the guild school. I hope there will be a sequel and soon!
Armchair Interviews agrees.
Though leaving home to become an apprentice to the Dragon Knight guild is
the last thing Talia wants, she accepts her fate to help her family ease its
financial woes. Even her leave taking is less than auspicious; a cross eyed
dragon and a squire, not a knight, pick her up and take her there, giving
her one of the more harrowing experiences of her short life. However,
Clarence and his human, Kel, are not bad sorts, and will, in fact become two
of the most important beings in Talia’s life in the days to come.
Life at school is a tremendous change. Talia finds herself in what she
considers luxury, and though the work is hard, she quickly makes new
friends, earns ample funds, and through bizarre tests, learns new skills. It
is not all good, though. A secret “admirer” brings not only her, but
Clarence and Kel trouble that could prove dangerous for the trio, and an
attack from monstrous beings almost forces Talia to have to do the
With ample maturity to appeal to official adults and enough innocence to
make it teen friendly, this is a story that is sheer magic, and not just
because of the subject matter. Ms. Oliver has built a world that springs to
life in your mind and before it is over, your heart. Hints of budding
romance add a sweetness to things, but that is merely a “flavor enhancer,”
for the mind. Quirky, multi-faceted characters and a heart warming aura
combined with plot elements that make you want to learn more make this a
treasure. If you enjoyed Mercedes Lackey’s Herald Mages, the Harperhall
trilogy of Pern, the Casts’ Marked series, or yes, Harry Potter, you simply
need this in your collection. I hated for the story to end, and hope Talia,
Kel, and Clarence have more ahead of them.
Reviewed by Joan McNulty Pulver and Margaret I Carr
Will Talia be able to handle the unwanted apprenticeship she has been given with the prestigious Dragon Knight’s Guild? Is the Administrator, Lareen, as flighty as she seems? Is Nertek, the store keeper, really such a bad fellow? And why can’t Clarence and Kel bond? These questions and more are answered throughout this fantasy using an assortment of strong characters, well described places, and a fast paced story.
The author takes us on a journey from a rural farming village to a school where nothing is really as it seems. Join Talia, Kel and Clarence as they make their way through the twists and turns of this action packed story, filled with Dragons, students, teachers and the horrific Maeloons.
“Talia shivered. Maeloon-savage creatures who inhabited desolate areas of land. She’d heard many stories about the maeloon. It was said they were cursed long ago by the gods for having the tenacity to bite one of them. Because of it, it was their lot to be born insane.” (Chapter 5)
Gloria Oliver has a way with description that makes you see the world she built in your minds eye.
“Almost there, she turned around to take a last look at her parents and her home. As hard as she could, she tried to engrave into her memory the view of the whitewashed house with its sloping porch, the plowed fields with their earthy smell and swaying stalks of wheat and corn, the barn with all the sheep, cows, and horses.” (Chapter 1)
This is a tale that will delight readers of all ages that love a good fantasy set in an unknown world with all the magic and mayhem of a well told story. This book is highly recommended by two avid readers of Fantasy and Science Fiction.
Reviewed by Janie Franz
Only a partial review here. Click on review link above for the rest of it – MyShelf policy!
Cross-Eyed Dragon Troubles by Gloria Oliver is a marvelous read! The author has created a boarding school in a magical world that could be the envy of Hogwarts.
Reviewed by author Rie Sheridan
I have read all but one of Gloria’s books, and really enjoyed them all. In the Service of Samurai is one of the most unusual fantasies I have ever read, and ranks among my favorites. But there is something about Cross-Eyed Dragon Troubles that trumps them all. I didn’t intend to get so caught up in the story. I honestly didn’t think it would be something I really clicked with. But she proved me wrong.
15 year old Talia finds herself apprenticed to the Dragon Knight Guild. She always expected to be apprenticed, but the quirky school on the mesa is nothing like what she had in mind. From her first encounter with Clarence, the dragon of the title, and Kel, his rider, her life gets complicated. Learning to deal with magic, keeping up with her studies, and making a life for herself in the Guild, Talia has her hands full. And to top it all off, there is the irritating and yet intriguing Kel to deal with.
The action is fast-paced and non-stop. Day to day life in the Guild is anything but boring. The secondary characters are detailed and three-dimensional with enough hidden in their pasts to fuel another volume or two at least. The world is solid in its geography and strong in culture. You find yourself immersed in the story without being distracted by unknown languages or unexplained activities or items.
I really loved this story. I hope that eventually, as in other magical schools in other magical worlds, we will get to see what happens to Talia in Year Two.