Garden of the Purple Dragon: Book Review

In the time of the Han Dynasty in ancient China, a young orphan struggles to fulfill her destiny.

Title: Garden of the Purple Dragon
Series:  Dragonkeeper: Book 2
Author: Carole Wilkinson
ISBN: 9781742032467          Language: English

Classification: Fiction
Type: YA fantasy (China-based)
Themes: Ancient China, personal growth, dragons, friendship

What's it about?
Garden of the Purple Dragon is the second book in the Dragonkeeper series. This novel picks up where Dragonkeeper left off. 

Danzi has not been heard from since he left and Ping is left to care and raise his son, Kai, by herself. They struggle to get by until one day a chance encounter sees Ping and Kai at the Imperial Lodge as guests of the very young emperor. She finds though that people and their motivations are not as they appear.

As a sequel, this story moves at a good pace and thankfully doesn't have the overly descriptive passages seen in Dragonkeeper. Kai's young matter-of-fact nature and childish qualities are quaint and help on many occasions to lighten the mood.

It is a long book so you need to pace yourself in the classroom.

This book has some graphic descriptions about black magic that would be very scary to young children. 

Ping, who was coming into her own at the end of the first book appears clumsy and is constantly second-guessing herself in this novel which feels out of character.

My Thoughts
This is a solid sequel to the Dragonkeeper series. It does have a very dark nature to this book so I would only recommend it for grade 2 and up (and even then you need to consider the class composition of behaviours and sensitivities). As noted the necromancer scenes are at times quiet horrific and graphic so I do strongly advise caution as a teacher. It's very important to read this book prior to implementing it in the classroom.

Jun is a nice addition to the story, a poor boy who is set to become Kai's new keeper. He provides a much-needed balance to the story.

There is a lot of development for Ping. In the first book, she really had to learn to do new things whereas this book is more about her emotional development. She is taken in by the splendor of the palace and the Princess and this ultimately blinds her to the real truth. Another point to mention is that we do finally get to learn about her family but this does, in some ways, fall a little flat.

In terms of the historical aspect of this book, it is a work of fiction. Having written that Liu Che was really an Emperor of China. His thirst for finding a way to become immortal is well documented in historical sources and the author has tied in the facet well to the book. Remembering of course that Liu Che is still young in this book but wields much power. The Princess Yangxin is likewise a real historical figure who has a rather sad story. Her relationship with her brother is, in my opinion, not shown to its extent as she was extremely close to Liu Che, even once she had been sent away to be married.

Overall, it is a good read but it is lengthy. If you have a class that needs to be challenged and extended then this book would work really well.


Dragonkeeper series featuring Ping is available by clicking below

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