The Dragon Hoard
By Tanith Lee
Paperback, 162 pages
1971, Tempo Books
The Dragon Hoard is a fairy tale following Prince Jasleth on his quest to win his family a fortune and maybe break the curse set upon he and his sister by the wicked witch, Maligna.
As I mentioned in a previous post, I’m making a better effort to read more of my Tanith Lee collection and I decided to start with the first novel she published. The Dragon Hoard is a children’s book, but I had fun reading it and would recommend it for fans of fairy tales (or Tanith Lee), regardless of age. Maligna puts a curse on Jasleth (love his name) and his sister Goodness on their birthday, which will last for one year – he will turn into a raven for an hour each day, but he will not know when it will happen, and his sister will be too good. Goodness immediately begins giving away all the king’s wealth to the servants and poor people of his kingdom. The king sends Jasleth on a quest to win them back their fortune before Goodness leaves them begging.
There are many familiar fairy tale elements mixed together in this story and Tanith weaves them with vivid simplicity. I had no problem imagining her world and its goings on, despite the shorter page count. I loved her characters too – Maligna could be your cliche fairy tale witch, but she has some original elements, like the bats living in her hair and her penchant for riding evil, winged chariots without paying her bills for previous rides. I wish I could draw, or find fanart for this book, because her characters are so wild and fun that I’d love to see them animated. There’s quite a bit of wit in here too – I found myself chuckling more than once.
It’s a quick read and I think it would be a good start for children who are learning to master chapter books and enjoy magical tales. Could also be a great bedtime story to read to your little ones.