After many years of searching, artist James Gurney has discovered in a used bookstore a never-before-seen journal by the nineteenth-century explorer Arthur Denison.
Now Professor Denison and his saurian companion, Bix, set out on a perilous journey to the forbidden empire of Chandara. When their personal invitation from the emperor goes missing, they are forced to cross the border penniless and in disguise. Every step of the way, Denison documents in exquisite detail the creatures, characters, and architecture he encounters: a village composed of three ships propped up on end, a fifty-foot-tall Brachiosaurus outfitted for fire fighting, an Allosaurus tending its hatchlings, young pilots air jousting on giant pterosaurs, and a lot more.
The Italian explorer Marco Polo made many hard-to-believe claims about his famous journey to
Dinotopia: Journey to Chandara is essentially a retelling of Marco Polo's travels, but set in the imaginary continent of Dinotopia. The book, the fourth in James Gurney's series, returns to the journal format of the first Dinotopia. Not only is Journey to Chandara the best sequel in the series, in some ways it surpasses that first work.
Journey to Chandara takes place not long after the events of The World Beneath, with the scientist and explorer Arthur Denison anxiously awaiting word about whether he will be allowed passage to the mysterious city. Chandara, we learn, is one of the great centers of Dinotopian civilization, rivaled only by
In many ways, Gurney seems to be trying to recapture the spirit of the first Dinotopia book in Journey to Chandara. Both start with the artist stumbling upon one of Arthur’s forgotten journals, and both share similar images, such as a group of kids running along a beach with a sauropod or a visit to a snow-covered mountaintop temple. The difference here is that Gurney has refined his skills as both an artist and a storyteller. Journey to Chandara combines the first-person narration of first book with the focused storyline of The World Beneath. The characters are not just wandering Dinotopia to see the sights. They have a goal in mind and must undergo hardships to reach that goal. They meet interesting characters along the way and come across several different cultures that parallel real-world civilizations, but with their own twists – my favorite being a group of very anti-Pilgrim Pilgrims.
Of course, Dinotopia is most famous for its dinosaurs, and keeping with the Asian theme of the setting, several species of feathered dinosaurs discovered in the
The production values of the book also are top-notch, with a map of Chandara printed inside of the dust cover, the cover stamped to look like dinosaur hide and the book sporting a cloth bookmark. Sure, these are tiny things, but they make readers feel they got the most out of paying the $30 cover price.
The Dinotopia books are children’s books, but Journey to Chandara has plenty for dinosaur-loving adults as well. This is a book that parents will want to read even when their kids are not around, if just to ogle at the gorgeous illustrations.
- Marco Polo is not the only explorer Gurney is channeling in Journey to Chandara. Part of
’s travels also mirror the real-world adventures of British explorer Sir Richard Francis Burton, particularly his trip to Denison . Mecca
- It is interesting to see how our knowledge of dinosaurs has changed over the series. For example, in The World Beneath, Gurney painted an Oviraptor with scales, but in Journey to Chandara, the dinosaur sports feathers.
- A few Ice Age mammals also make appearances in Journey to Chandara, including one that essentially plays the role of Santa Claus. (Santa Claws, anyone?)
- The Web site ExpandedBooks.com recently posted a preview of the book and an interview with Gurney:
- The official web site www.dinotopia.com has previews of Journey to Chandara as well as ordering information.
- LJay (Dinotopia message board)