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I'm going crazy trying to remember this book. It was definitely published before 1991. The only thing I'm fairly certain of is there was a scene where the hero falls asleep and there's a metaphysical bubble involved. I think there was a talking dragon, but it may have been a wizard.

I seem to remember, but might be confusing it with another book, that he was a very reluctant hero; possibly the second son or prince forced to prove his worth. And in the beginning part of the book he's traveling on his own bemoaning his fate. I think through a forest.

There was a fair amount of dry humour and I don't think it was part of a series; at least not as of 1991.

  • It was a paperback.
  • I'm not sure about the target audience. I suppose it could've been YA, because I don't remember any excessive sex or violence. Then again, I can't remember if it didn't have any.
  • I thought it might be Talking To Dragons as well, and got very excited that I found it. Alas, no. Not it. I read it and it definitely wasn't it.
  • The bit with the bubble is the part that I'm sure of. He falls asleep and I think he actually talks to the devil. Wow, I'd completely forgotten that until I started writing it.
  • The opening scene, which very well may belong to another book, is him in a forest being very cross with minstrels for making quests sound so glamorous.

Thank you for trying to help!

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    What do you think was the target age group for the reader? Happen to remember any cover art? Was it paperback? First-Person narrative? Did it follow just this reluctant hero or can you remember any other "main" characters? Even small details can help narrow this down quicker. – Firebat Sep 12 '15 at 23:09
  • This could even be The Hobbit. More information would be very useful. – Wad Cheber Sep 13 '15 at 1:27
  • No, it definitely wasn't the The Hobbit; but thanks for the suggestion. – Fern Sep 14 '15 at 14:14
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    I'm glad you expanded on your title, because "reluctant hero goes on a quest" is pretty much every fantasy novel ever. :) – ghoppe Sep 14 '15 at 15:26
  • Hmmm, yes I didn't really think that through! :) – Fern Sep 14 '15 at 21:22
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Sounds a lot like 'Talking to Dragons' by Patricia C. Wrede.

This is book four of a quartet, but when it was originally published in 1985 it was standalone and the 'first' book was not published until 1990. The story follows the adventures of Daystar, who is kicked out of his mother's house one day and told not to come back 'until he can tell her why he had to leave'.

The story is told in first-person, and Daystar spends the first part of the book wandering the forest complaining about having to do so.

The major antagonists are the wizards, who have erected a magical bubble around the royal palace to stop anyone rescuing the King. There are multiple dragons in the story, and they all talk.

It also had quite a lot of dry humour.

The only part I can't directly confirm is the hero falling asleep.

  • 'When Daystar enters the forest, he meets a talking golden lizard named Suz, who tells Daystar that the sword Cimorene gave him is the Sword of the "Sleeping" King.' (source) Maybe this is the sleeping thought the OP remembered? – Firebat Sep 13 '15 at 1:59
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    "At first, I thought it was made of something shimmery, like mother-of-pearl; then I realized that it wasn't the castle that was shimmering, it was something around the castle, like a giant soap bubble. I was still trying to figure out what it was when Shiara poked me, and I looked down. There were approximately two hundred dragons sitting on the ground around the little hill we were standing on. Watching us." From Talking to Dragons, at the end of chapter 17. – Joe L. Sep 13 '15 at 2:02
  • No, it definitely wasn't Talking to Dragons. I just bought and read it going it was, but no. Thanks anyway! – Fern Sep 14 '15 at 15:12
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This could be Blue Moon Rising by Simon Green. It was published in 1991, so essentially fits the timeline. It is the "first" in the series and wouldn't have had a sequel for a while, though it is actually tied to an earlier series too. Rupert is the second son and travels through the Dark Forest and is NOT please about any of this.

Just grabbed my copy and he does indeed blame the minstrels in the 4th paragraph:

Now, finally, he had the chance to be a hero, and a right dog's breakfast he was making of it. Basically, Rupert blamed the minstrels. They were so busy singing about heroes vanquishing a dozen foes with one sweep of the sword because their hearts were pure, that they never got around to the important issues; like how to keep the rain out of your armor, or avoid strange fruits that gave you the runs, or the best way to dig latrines.

He continues to berate minstrels all through the first chapter (50 pages, so memorable), but essentially drops it after that. The whole tone of the book changes, actually, making it feel like more of a "fix-up"

I'm reasonably certain this is what you are talking about as far as the minstrel bit, but the "bubble" part is...a stretch at best. There is no specific bubble, but there are several trips through the Darkwood with only "bubbles" of light. The climax involves a confrontation in a clearing in the Darkwood with the Demon Prince antagonist. At the beginning of the climax, the Demon Prince magically puts the dragon to sleep. As I said, tenuous, but possible.

Since Talking to Dragons came up, there are a lot of superficial similarities, to the Enchanted Forest stuff actually: befriends a talking dragon and a princess along the way, magic swords, etc. but all that is pretty generic.

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