Cover image for The Crouching Dragon
The Crouching Dragon
Lamensdorf, Leonard, 1930-
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
Santa Barbara, CA : SeaScape Press, [1999]

Physical Description:
278 pages : illustrations, maps ; 23 cm.
In 1959, French teens create a half-fantasy kingdom in an abandoned castle, uncovering modern and medieval arms and armor and withstanding siege from their parents and a criminal cartel, with an assist from President de Gaulle.
Geographic Term:
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
X Young Adult Fiction Central Closed Stacks

On Order



Fourteen-year-old William lives in French Normandy in 1959, abused by his father and bullied by the kids, who insultingly call him the "Little American." He discovers a strange man--a former professor and World War II resistance fighter--who occupies a mysterious abandoned castle.

Author Notes

Len Lamensdorf pursued successful careers as attorney, realtor, stockbroker, and investor-developer before turning his attention to writing. A multi-published author with novels, a feature film, and a full-length play to his credit, Lamensdorf draws on his extensive travel experience to create realistic settings for his works.

Reviews 2

Booklist Review

Gr. 6^-9. Set in 1959 in a small French coastal town, this first book in the Will to Conquer series is an unusual, intriguing adventure tale, with a touch of fantasy gaming. William Montreux, 14, is irresistibly drawn to the forbidden, crumbling castle, named the Crouching Dragon, that looms "menacingly over the town from its rocky perch." His uneasy relationship with his father, Paul, is exacerbated by Paul's drunken rages and William's fears that his rumored illegitimacy is true. When William's persistence gains him entrance into the castle, he is enthralled and greatly intrigued by its mysterious resident, who, it turns out, knew William's mother during the French Resistance. Eventually a group of teens secretly helps to renovate the castle's interior, learning a good deal of history in the process and creating a fantasy medieval kingdom within, complete with costumes, weapons, and jousting. Also involved are cattle stealing, a crooked town mayor, and the truth behind the murder of the castle's last owner. The stand-off between the teens barricaded within the castle and the townsfolk, which is only straightened out by a visit from President Charles de Gaulle, provides a suspense-laden conclusion. --Sally Estes

Library Journal Review

Gr 7-9-In 1959, William Montreux, 14, lives with his mother and abusive father in Bonville, France, near the site of the Normandy invasion in 1944. On the hill above the village is a rundown castle known as the "Crouching Dragon." On occasion, unusual sounds and smoke come from it. Willi is drawn to the mysterious structure and eventually meets its reclusive resident, Roger Guiscard. From him, the teen learns that his mother and Guiscard worked for the French resistance during the war. Other students are drawn to the castle and embark on a restoration project that includes displaying collections of World War II weapons as well as medieval spears, swords, and armor held within. Simultaneously there is a cattle-rustling operation in the area and the mayor blames Willi for the missing animals. Although the novel is interesting and compelling, it has some flaws. The fact that Charles de Gaulle, who is in the area to celebrate the 15th anniversary of Normandy, mediates the problem between the town's people and the students over the future of the castle is too convenient and unbelievable. This story has elements of realistic fiction, historical fiction, and mystery, and, basically, it's all too much for one novel.-Debbie Feulner, Northwest Middle School, Greensboro, NC (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Table of Contents

1. Under the Dragonp. 1
2. The Unspeakablep. 9
3. Mystery Manp. 25
4. Facing the Musicp. 43
5. The American Connectionp. 55
6. Word Gets Outp. 67
7. Proud Paulp. 83
9. Beaches and bistrosp. 87
10. Moret's Secretp. 103
11. Arms and the Manp. 119
12. A Different Warp. 139
13. The Furry Detectivep. 147
14. Lances and Chargersp. 161
15. The Chasep. 173
16. The Citadelp. 189
17. The Inspectors Generalp. 203
18. Siege and Revelationp. 213
19. Blowupp. 233
20. Willi and the Generalp. 251
William and Williamp. vi
Bonvillep. 8
The Dragon Castlep. 66