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When I was young, in the late 80s/early 90s, in Ontario, Canada, I read a novel in our school library. I believe it was specifically a YA novel, and may have been available though Scholastic, though I can't be sure of that. It was written in English, which I assume was the original language.

In the novel, the main character is named Gen – I can't remember the gender for sure. They have a piece of metal that they wear around their neck, which was given to them by their father. They set out in search of (or despite the presence of) "dragons", feared by the community.

Civilization seems to be very pastoral, and Gen leaves their village and goes on a journey, eventually finding some sort of cave or opening. They crawl into it, and it eventually is revealed to be a metal tunnel, perhaps a ventilation shaft. Eventually it opens up into a chamber where they find the so-called sleeping dragons – the cave is an ICBM silo. The metal talisman around Gen's neck turns out to be a missile launch key, handed down through the generations while its meaning had been lost. Similarly, Gen's name is revealed to be short for general, having been shortened and passed down from their ancestor, who owned the launch key.

From here things get hazy – either I've forgotten the rest, or I didn't finish the book. Obviously the implication is that the setting is post-apocalyptic, but I don't think it was the common post-apocalyptic wasteland, but rather the pastoral "return to simpler times" style that might suggest that it takes place long after the apocalyptic cataclysm.

I had initially conflated these memories with those of another book, which turned out to be Monica Hughes' The Guardian of Isis, but this is definitely something separate, though the pastoral post-apocalyptic setting is similar to the luddite colony of Isis.

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  • I got excited when I ran into scifi.stackexchange.com/questions/151028/…, then realized it was you splitting that question out. :-D
    – FuzzyBoots
    Commented May 1, 2020 at 20:15
  • Yeah, I edited the question, but didn't realized I had some stuff in the answer as well. I've fixed the answer. Good catch. Commented May 1, 2020 at 20:40
  • I'm confused, is this answered by the Isis series? Commented May 2, 2020 at 7:53
  • 2
    @ClaraDiazSanchez no, see the edit history. The Isis series doesn't have a character called Gen or the references to dragons. Hence this question. Commented May 2, 2020 at 11:49

1 Answer 1

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It could be Guardian of the Dark by Bev Spencer.

Description from Amazon:

Gen has lived his whole life in a society ruled by order and obedience. Now he and his friend Duff want to make a break for freedom. But do they dare enter the forbidden tunnels . . . and defy the Guardian who controls their entire world?

“It was a beast of nightmarish size. Its skin glimmered slightly in the half-light, like the scales of a fish. Its feet were hidden in a pit. Enormous wings were folded back against the massive body. ‘Run now!’ an inner voice urged Gen, ‘before it turns to see you.’ ”

The Canadian Book Review Annual online review is:

Senedu, a post-holocaust society enclosed beneath the earth’s surface, is the setting for this novel of a young man’s coming-of-age. Gen, son of Senedu’s Guardian, is struggling with his role as heir to the Guardian, the duties attached to that role (which separate him from his peers), and his father’s seeming lack of love. In his attempts to find some unregulated space where he can assert his identity, Gen discovers the world of ancient technology existing outside the walls of Senedu, and, following the traditional hero pattern, he saves his society from destruction. In the process, Gen finds his place outside the primitive and restricted society and leads a portion of Senedu’s population to a new life based on knowledge and freedom.

Guardian of the Dark is a satisfying adventure, which uses well the conventions of the hero tale and of science fiction. Although slow at the beginning, it soon picks up the pace, and Gen’s discoveries about himself, his friends, and the world beyond the walls of his society are believable and intriguing. Because of its use of well-worn science fiction conventions, the story is, at times, clichéd, but on the whole, it is well written and enjoyable. Recommended.

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    Thee is a more detailed summary at farah-sf.blogspot.com/2005/02/… - it looks like a solid match to me! Commented Oct 12, 2022 at 10:36
  • This is absolutely it, particularly after reading the synopsis @ClaraDiazSanchez posted. I probably didn't find it because I always asserted "dragon" instead of "dragn", but the "wand" is the metal I remembered, and other aspects mentioned, such as the "wizard" ring a bell. Interestingly, Gen's father is the "Guardian", which is probably why I had it mixed up with Hughes' Guardian of Isis. Commented Oct 12, 2022 at 16:40

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