Here Be Dragons!
Updated: Jul 13, 2019
In Dragonkeeper by Carole Wilkinson, Ping, is an orphan and slave for a cruel master, Lan. Lan is the keeper of the last two impereal dragons, but he makes Ping do all of the dirty work. When one of the dragons die, Lan makes Ping pickle the dragon's parts for later consumption. But after seeing the fate of the last dragon, she frees him and they escape together.
After learning the dragon's name is Long Danzi, the two form a strong connection, and Danzi tells Ping her fate of becoming one of the long lost Dragon Keepers. But it is not long until Ping discovers she and Danzi are being chased by imperial guards sent by the emperor to eliminate Ping, and a dragon hunter named Diao is coming to kill Danzi. Ping and Danzi must reach the ocean to save Long Danzi and the sake of dragon-kind, but with both physical and mental threats towards Ping and Danzi, will they even be able to make it?
I first read Dragonkeeper when I was in fifth grade and I have never forgotten it. In fact, the copy I own I stole from my school library! The setting of this book takes place in ancient imperial China, and the book just oozes with Chinese culture and charm. The author puts so much effort into every little detail to the point I could almost smell China.
The main characters are very much likeable, with Ping being the perfect protagonist. She's strong and brave, while still having her doubts about herself and her abilities. I can honestly connect with her.
Long Danzi is like a parental figure to Ping. He teaches her about the world and herself, and tells her the right things that make Ping stronger. I
thought it was good to have Ping struggle with challenges like the people chasing her and Danzi so she can overcome them in the end and become more confident in herself, as it would only makes her stronger and more confident to protect her and the dragons in future books.