If you've been a reader of this blog for a while, then you might remember when I reviewed Jeff Smith's Bone series in 2009 (review index). Smith's novel Rose takes place before the Bone series and tells the story of the red dragon, Princesses Rose and Briar, the dragon queen, and Lucius.
I am a bit hesitant to discuss the plot in any detail because I do not want to introduce spoilers to the Bone books. Although Rose is described as a prequel, I think it is better read after finishing the nine novels involving the Bone cousins.
Rose focuses on the background story of the Bone novels, when the two princesses of the Northern Valley were young and before the Lord of the Locusts had been awakened. The sisters have very different personalities and talents, and when they were young, they were jealous of each other and competitive. Almost before the girls can finish their schooling, they are called upon to help their people, but each has her own idea of how she wants the world to be. The ultimate consequences of their actions are resolved only decades later, at the end of the Bone series.
If you have read the Bone books, you will comfortably slip into the world of Rose. Smith once again manages to pepper his epic fantasy with a great mix of humor and suspense. Like the other novels in the series, this one can be read at face value or can be mined for deeper, universal issues. This is a must-read for all Jeff Smith fans.
The book ends many years before Fone Bone shows up in the valley, leaving open the possibility that Smith will tell us more about the history of the world he created.
Jeff Smith has a blog, where you can see illustrations and read about the history of his Bone books.
Published by Scholastic / Graphix, 2009
Challenges: Young Adult, What's in a Name, Graphic Novel, Buy and Read, 2010, 100+
Source: Bought (see review policy)