Beth's Reviews > Dealing with Dragons

Dealing with Dragons by Patricia C. Wrede
Rate this book
Clear rating

by
4063913
's review

liked it
bookshelves: reviewed

I remember loving this book ten years ago. It's funny how my reaction has become more complicated. This reread, I kept thinking of Melissa's comments about Raisa and femininity in her review of The Demon King.

And yet is Dealing with Dragons really a rejection of traditional femininity? I'm not sure. True, Cimorene finds her entire life boring and hateful, and runs away and finds herself an interesting, exciting new life. But she's not rejecting femininity, really. In fact, she's doing many more domestic chores than she'd done as a princess in her parents' castle.

But the idea of running away from that traditional "marry a king, live simperingly ever after" has certainly become much more entrenched in our identify-a-powerful-woman consciousness, and I suppose that's what brought Melissa's comments to mind.

There's a certain narrow-mindedness at play, though, with regard to the now-typical rejection of princess life as shallow and vapid and stupid - a lack of appreciation for having food on the table, for being warm and safe and comfortable. I suppose that's not something a secure child would recognize, and I can't fault the protagonist for feeling stifled. It is a bit discomfiting to read as an adult, though. And Cimorene is certainly lucky that she didn't die horribly or get abducted or have any number of terrible things happen when she waltzed out of her home and into the Enchanted Forest.

There's a lot of good stuff here, too. Kazul and the wizards and the other dragons' princesses. Those just aren't the elements that stood out to me on this reread.
6 likes · flag

Sign into Goodreads to see if any of your friends have read Dealing with Dragons.
Sign In »

Reading Progress

Finished Reading
February 7, 2015 – Shelved
February 7, 2015 – Shelved as: reviewed

Comments Showing 1-8 of 8 (8 new)

dateDown arrow    newest »

Hallie This is really interesting, Beth! I should reread sometime - though it's unlikely to be soon. When you ask whether the book has a "rejection of traditional femininity" in this context, it becomes obvious that you'd want to figure out *whose* "traditional femininity it is. Servants at Cimorene's parents' castle would be the ones doing those chores, so does it become more of a rejection of complete powerlessness? Not being allowed even to be good at washing dishes or cooking, let alone being involved in the duties of ruling.

I'm really curious now what elements would be more obvious on a reread.


Beth so does it become more of a rejection of complete powerlessness?

Probably more that, yeah. Though it's hard to argue that Cimorene's mother is completely powerless, isn't it, with the degree of influence she has in Cimorene's life? It just isn't the sort of power Cimorene (or the author, seemingly) respects or wants to wield.

let alone being involved in the duties of ruling

See, this I don't remember seeing. I think her mother was involved in decisions applying to her children's education and marriages, and those, especially the latter, do have a political impact.


message 3: by Katie (new) - added it

Katie You know, I have vague memories of feeling this way. I mean, in a child's view of the situation.

It makes me think back to discussions about Sansa. Where are our heroines who want to marry the prince? And have that portrayed in a not-terrible way?


Beth It makes me think back to discussions about Sansa. Where are our heroines who want to marry the prince? And have that portrayed in a not-terrible way?

YES.


Hallie Beth wrote: "et alone being involved in the duties of ruling

See, this I don't remember seeing. I think her mother was involved in decisions applying to her children's education and marriages, and those, especially the latter, do have a political impact.
..."


Oh, I don't remember the books at all well enough to have a feeling for what the situation was like for Cimorene's mother. I just threw that out because of what Melissa said about how Chima's rebellious don't-wanna-be-a-princess heroine was more than usually - off - because she would have been going into a position of real duty/power, only she wasn't being trained for it. Cimorene didn't have that, however much she had through eventual training of children for their future marriages. (Which, as I said, I don't remember at all well!)


Laia I love that you bring up the idea of rejection of traditional femininity in the attempt to be empowering, and examine it. To me, this book seemed to strike a good balance, seeing that Cimorene's interests and forbidden pursuits were a mix of what is considered both traditional feminine roles (cooking and cleaning, which she chose for herself & got satisfaction from) and non-traditional (magic, fencing & Latin.) Plus, the princess who becomes her friend, helps with the rescue of the dragons, and chooses to marry the kind prince she has fallen for, is treated with respect in the book. Cimorene does not expect her friend to have her same desires or follow her same path, and supports her friend in the pursuit of her desire to leave and get married. You see a variety of strong women, all making individual choices to follow their own paths, respecting and supporting one another. I didn't see this book as belittliing to liking or choosing more traditional interests or paths, but more of an ode to the empowerment to look for/create opportunities and choose for oneself what fits one best, whether that is traditional or not. A truly empowering message for all, not a limiting one...but maybe that is partly what I am bringing to it? I don't know if everyone would interpret it the same way. Maybe some kids would read it and think, "Cimorene's the cool one, and the other princess sold out by getting married." I'm not sure what message kids would most likely conjure up...probably depends on what they bring to it, and how black & white their thinking tends to be, if they can recognize there being more than one "right" path, more than one heroine.


Beth That's an interesting read! I can definitely see how you reached it, but somehow, this past read, I ended up stuck on the "LOOK HOW LUCKY YOU GOT, WHY CAN'T YOU SEE THAT" aspect of the story! And from there the story went on a different slant for me.


Laia Do you mean how lucky Cimorene got in it turning out o.k. for her...she didn't get eaten by a dragon and escaped her close encounters being attacked, and didn't end up lost and alone and vulnerable?

If that's the criticism...as a fun little exercise, try applying that criticism to other stories or circumstances. Say you are reading just about any other story with a character that has a bunch of close calls, makes some risky decisions, but is brave and moves forward, and things work out, sometimes impossibly, & they save the day....I mean, isn't that most stories, especially kids' fantasy stories?

Not the most real, but very typical for kids' adventure stories. It fills that human desire to have stories that aren't bound by the constraints of reality...where everything does work out & the impossible is possible. Do you find it upsetting in stories with male protagonists that do the same thing? (I think most of us are sometimes annoyed by these stories, wanting things to be more "real," but also have a contradictory yearning for those stories where things turn out o.k., despite the odds.)

Would you find it just as upsetting to hear a story about a female protagonist that lives an amazingly lucky and happy traditional life?

Just some interesting thoughts to explore.


back to top