Dealing with Dragons, by Patricia C. Wrede, is a fun and easy-to-read book often taught in schools. This synopsis is intended to help students review what they've read, NOT as a substitute for reading the book.
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Chapters 1 to 3
Chapter 1: In this first chapter we meet Cimorene, princess of the kingdom of Linderwall, who absolutely hates being a princess. She can’t stand spending her days doing what princesses are ‘supposed’ to do, but every time she convinces someone to give her lessons in something interesting (Latin, philosophy, magic, etc.) her parents make her stop. On a trip to a neighboring kingdom Cimorene learns that her parents plan to marry her off to a not-so-bright prince, and in desperation she follows the advice of a talking frog and runs away.
Chapter 2: The frog’s advice leads Cimorene to a beaten-down hovel containing several dragons. She manages to convince one of the dragons, Kazul, to take her on as a ‘dragon’s princess’ to cook and organize the treasure rooms. Cimorene is happy with her new job, which is much more interesting than princess lessons, until knights start to show up who are intent on rescuing her.
Chapter 3: Cimorene meets a friendly witch, Morwen, who gives her some advice on how to get rid of the knights. While traveling away from Kazul’s cave to hang a sign to warn the knights away, Cimorene has a rather disturbing encounter with a wizard named Zemenar. She stands up to the wizard, showing impressive courage, but is then threatened by an unfriendly dragon and has an encounter with Therandil. After telling Therandil that her ankle is sprained and she won’t be able to be rescued for a long time, Cimorene is certain he will spread the news and she will be free from visiting knights for a while.
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Chapters 4 to 6
Chapter 4: Cimorene learns that the unfriendly dragon’s name is Moranz, and he is jealous of dragons with princesses. He wants to spread rumors to discredit Cimorene and Kazul, so Kazul holds a dinner party for some friends to prove that her princess has not run away but is obedient and useful. The dragons debate over what to do about Zemenar and the other wizards, but are uncertain of the wizards’ plans and so do not reach any conclusions.
Chapter 5: After learning more about the nature of magic and wizards, Cimorene meets three princesses who are also captives of dragons. Two are very proper and typical princesses, but the third—Alianora—is much more open-minded. Alianora and Cimorene become friends, and begin to search for a spell that will protect them from dragon fire in case of accidents.
Chapter 6: Zemenar and his son visit Kazul’s caves, and Cimorene pretends to be a typical empty-headed princess in hopes of learning the wizards’ plans. She catches one in the act of reading a history book about dragons, and with Kazul’s help is able to figure out that the wizards are likely interested in the magical Caves of Fire and Night. Cimorene also learns about the method by which dragon kings are chosen.
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Chapters 7 to 9
Chapter 7: Cimorene and Kazul must travel though the Enchanted Forest to visit the witch Morwen. They journey through the Caves of Fire and Night, seeing many things—most notably a room full of princes who have been turned to stone.
Chapter 8: Reaching Morwen’s house, Cimorene and Kazul tell her about the wizards’ snooping and borrow a rare book about the Caves of Fire and Night. Cimorene also questions Morwen about ingredients for the fire-proofing spell, which she is still preparing to cast. On the way back to Kazul’s caves, Cimorene is threatened by a large magical bird and kills it with a magic sword, in exchange receiving three feathers that will transport her and anyone she is touching instantly to a location of her choice.
Chapter 9: Therandil returns to the caves, and Cimorene enlists him to help her find ingredients for the fire-proofing spell. He accidentally releases a jinn, which threatens to kill them, but Cimorene cleverly devises a solution that keeps them safe. She then sends Therandil to rescue Keredwel, one of the other dragon’s princesses, who would be perfectly happy to be rescued. Also, Cimorene and Alianora finally succeed in casting the fire-proofing spell.
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Chapters 10 to 12
Chapter 10: The fireproofing spell is a success, and Cimorene returns to her work. She attempts to read the book Kazul borrowed from Morwen, which is dry and difficult. Later, she and Alianora visit a clearing to gather a herb and encounter a wizard: Zemenar’s son Antorell. Antorell was gathering an unfamiliar purple plant, and after they get him to leave Cimorene picks one of the plants to take to the caves and show to Kazul.
Chapter 11: Cimorene tells Kazul about the wizard and shows her the purple plant, and Kazul reacts by panicking and breathing fire on the plant. Inhaling some of the smoke from the burning plant makes her very ill, and Cimorene learns that the plant is called Dragonsbane and is deadly to dragons. After learning that the wizards were gathering dragonsbane, Kazul sends Cimorene to a friendly dragon named Roxim to warn him about the wizard’s plans. While traveling through the Caves of Fire and Night to get to Roxim, Cimorene meets a prince who has been turned halfway into to stone, and finds him a place to hide until she can return to help him resolve his predicament.
Chapter 12: Cimorene finds Roxim and asks him to warn the dragon king about the wizards, but learns that the king was recently poisoned with dragonsbane. There will be a contest to determine the new king of the dragons. Returning to Kazul’s caves, Cimorene helps her dragon prepare for the contest, which all adult dragons are required to participate in. While preparing for the big day Cimorene runs into Alianora and the stone prince. The stone prince overheard a conversation between two wizards and Alianora’s dragon, Woraug, and learned that the wizards intend to cheat the contest and make Woraug king of the dragons.
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Chapters 13 to 15
Chapter 13: The wizard Antorell catches Cimorene and the others talking about the wizards’ plans, and threatens them. Alianora, however, melts Antorell with a bucket of soapy water. Cimorene, Alianora, and the stone prince prepare to do what they can to stop the wizards, mixing more buckets of soapy water and then using one of Cimorene’s magic feathers to transport to the clearing where the contests are taking place. They are unable to convince any dragons to help them, however, and so use the second feather to transport to Morwen’s house.
Chapter 14: Morwen uses a magic mirror to find out where the wizards are, and they all use the last feather to transport to that location. They discover several wizards, and melt them with the soapy water, but are then confronted by Zemenar himself. Zemenar uses Morwen as a shield, but the stone prince is clever enough to realize Morwen won’t be melted and destroys the head wizard. They then find the stone the wizards enchanted in order to cheat the contest, and with the help of a small rock Cimorene found in the Caves of Fire and Night destroy the spell. The furious Woraug attacks them, and they are all (including Woraug) arrested by an escort dragon who decides to take them to the new king of the dragons for judgment.
Chapter 15: We discover that the new king of the dragons is none other than Kazul, who was able to win the contest successfully after the wizards’ spell was broken. Cimorene and the others tell Kazul everything that has happened, and Woraug turns into a toad due to his un-dragon-like behavior. Alianora plans to leave with the stone prince to marry him and live in his kingdom, and Cimorene worries that Kazul won’t need a princess anymore now that she is king. However, Kazul puts Cimorene’s fears to rest by asking her to stay on as the king’s helper, and Cimorene is pleased with this role and optimistic about the future.
Dealing with Dragons by Patricia C. Wrede is one of those rare books that are fun for both kids and adults. A creative spin on the fairy-tale genre, it is often taught in elementary school classrooms. This series assists students in understanding and studying the novel.