The Dream Merchant, book 3 – The Crack'd Shield is written by Canadian author L.T. Suzuki in collaboration with her daughter, Nia Suzuki-White. Lorna Suzuki is the author of the classic Imago series.
This laugh-a-minute farce continues the adventures of prickly, persnickety Princess Rose and her unwilling personal knight, Tag on their quest to retrieve, the Dreamstone which began in TheMagic Crystal. When The Silver Sword, the second book in the series, ended Rose and Tag were trapped in the lair of a dragon, bickering as usual but were about to set out to rescue their old friend Cankles from the evil Sorcerer Dragonite. Tag has sacrificed his most precious possession to save Rose.
Now, a cave-in has separated Rose and Tag, but their friends the elves, Denatheen, Ayden, Roen Aldus digging them out. Dragonite has kidnapped Cankles, but he really wants Princess Rose, although they aren’t really sure why. Soon, Silas Agincor, the Dream Merchant and Lord Rainus Silverthorn, leader of the elves rejoin them.
The adventures really heat up, and we learn a great deal of Cankles’s history, which is grim and sad; but also noble and brave. Also, we see that all is not exactly peachy-keen in the working relationship of Dragonite and his rebellious minion, the pooka (a sort of a fairy) Loken. Somehow two evil geniuses in one lair just don’t get along as well as you would think they would, what with all the jockeying for position and one-upping that goes on. Their interactions are frequently hilarious; Loken is not a good and loyal minion at heart. However, Sorcerer Dragonite does possess something Loken wants badly enough to justify pretending to be the underling in this venture. And Dragonite, whose awesome army is composed of Mimes (!!!) is sadistic, where Loken does not enjoy being cruel but does it out of necessity.
The history between the evil Dragonite and Cankles looms large in this tale. Dragonite is responsible for Cankles’s amnesia. He is also responsible for brutally torturing him a decade before. Now poor Cankles is once more his prisoner, and we discover what it is that really binds Loken to Dragonite.
Now things get really interesting, as if they weren’t already!
I love this whole series, and The Crack’d Shield is a fitting and satisfying conclusion to this 3-volume tale. The characters are vivid, and colorful; their personalities are unique and distinctive. I cared about Rose and Tag and absolutely cherished Cankles. I laughed and cried all the way through their adventures, and I love, loved, loved the ending.
All in all, the three volumes of the Dream Merchant Saga combine all the elements of epic high-fantasy with intense drama and hilarious dialogue, creating a real masterpiece. The Crack'd Shield is a breathtaking finish to a truly awesome tale! I highly recommend purchasing all three volumes, because you will want to read them all.