Tag Archives: dragons

How To Train Your Dragon by Cressida Cowell

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hiccup1How To Train Your Dragon by Cressida Cowell, paperback novel, 227 pages, first published by Hodder Children’s Books in 2003, this edition published in 2010.

Hiccup Horrendous Haddock the Third is a boy, but not just any boy, he is the son of the Viking Chief, Stoick the Vast. He is expected to achieve great things and become a Viking Hero. Unfortunately, Hiccup doesn’t seem much cut out for life as a hero; he is scrawny, and already known as Hiccup the Useless by most of the other boys of his tribe. In order to become a full member of the Hairy Hooligans, the boys must pass the initiation tests, including capturing and training a wild dragon.

I’m quite fond of stories featuring dragons; I enjoyed the movie of “How To Train Your Dragon” when I saw it with my kids. I promised myself I would read the books when I had a chance. I was expecting the first book in the series to be similar to the movie, so I was surprised to find the book vastly different. Some of the names are the same, but the bulk of the story was not translated. This was by no means a disappointment though, I thought the book was great. My 9 year old was also very taken with the book, and has asked to read more of the series.

How to Train Your Dragon is funny and action filled, if just a tad silly! It has serious entertainment value, I didn’t want to put it down. It made me laugh and sigh, and glare when Snotlout was being mean to Hiccup. He is quite a bully!

Vikings using small dragons to fish for them is ingenious. Having a dragon companion would definitely have its advantages, though I’d be too afraid to crawl into a dark cave full of sleeping dragons to catch one! Most of the dragons weren’t particularly nice, especially Snotlout’s dragon, nor are they overly loyal. The humongous seadragons were the most arrogant of all. Toothless reminds me of my youngest child: stubborn, disobedient, whiny, always complaining, never stops eating! He is there when hiccup needs him most though. I really like Hiccup and Fishlegs; they aren’t your typical blood-thirsty vikings, but they are trying.

Even the names in this story are humorous. The Hairy Hooligans and the Meatheads are funny names for tribes, but what about names like Fishlegs, Hiccup or Snotface Snotlout? And a dragon called Horrorcow; I love it!

How to Train Your Dragon is suitable for primary school children and up. It is the first in a series featuring Hiccup and Toothless; I want to read all of them and so do my kids. I have already started the second book in the series, How to Be a Pirate.

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Dragon’s Heir by Kandi J Wyatt

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Dragon's Heir CoverDragon’s Heir by Kandi J Wyatt, e-book, 199 pages, expected publication by Updrift on the 8th December 2015.

Ten years after Dragon’s Future, Braidyn is no longer a youngling, though he has not found his place in the world yet. After an altercation in the marketplace, a nestling is stolen and carried away to southern lands unknown to the riders. Braidyn is determined to recover the nestling and bring her home safely. He returns to Three Spans Canyon to ask Ruskya and Carryl to aid him on his journey. Together they fly out in search of the nestling. In the southern sandhills they encounter camps of dragon riders with very different customs. Their leader is drunk on power, with a cruel and greedy nature. Braidyn is offended by the leader’s treatment of his youngest daughter, Sarai, as he treats her like a slave. The beautiful Sarai is much stronger than she first appears though, and quickly captures Braidyn’s attention.

This is the second book in the Dragon’s Courage series. It was wonderful to step inside the dragon rider’s world again, and catch up with Duskya and Cerulean, Ruskya and Carryl, Kyn and Braidyn. It felt like hearing news of old friends. There were also many new characters to meet from between the arid sandhills, where the Agamid of the El’shad’n make their homes. I especially liked getting to know Sarai.

The whole book revolves around Braidyn, and his journey to find where he belongs in the world. He had become restless, so the quest to find the nestling came at just the right moment. It provided him with the opportunity to explore new lands and meet new people. We see him mature, and discover more about himself and his dragon, Turqueso.

The story is very plot-driven, and rolls along at a quick pace, with character development centred on Braidyn and Sarai. We also got to know some of the Agamid a little but not their dragons. I would have liked to see more of the dragons. They were mostly in the background as the drama unfolded among the riders. I did have a few moments of confusion as Braidyn, Ruskya and Carryl are referred to as “Northerners” but then when they return home, the fly south, perhaps I misread something there.

At first I was angry at Sarai for stealing a nestling, but as her motives were revealed that anger ebbed away, and I came to admire her. She was strong, determined and brave. The customs of her people dictated that all women are beneath men, and are nothing more than possessions to do with as the men please. Such appalling behaviour towards women, but Ya’cove took it a step further in the way he treated Sarai. He humiliated, degraded and tormented her, until she cracked. He was a most despicable character, and I greatly disliked him, he just felt slimey. Luckily, his sons Av’ior and Ye’sock were much better men, and open to change within the encampment for the betterment of its people.

There wasn’t as much action as I was expecting, but I still enjoyed the book thoroughly. There was only a couple of brief battle scenes where we got to see the dragons in action, though there were other moments of danger, so it was still very exciting. I read through it quickly, not wanting to stop at the end of any chapter, and it kept me engaged until the end.

Suitable for upper primary school students and up, Dragon’s Heir is a wonderful fantasy adventure. I can’t wait for the next book in the series! I want to know more about Kyn and what direction he will take in his life. I hope the wait’s not too long.  Dragon’s Heir is due for release on the 8th of December 2015, and if you haven’t already, read Dragon’s Future first to get up to speed 🙂

 

*I received this book as a digital copy from the author, who asked me for an honest review of this book. I did not receive any other remuneration, and the review is composed entirely of my own opinions.

Dragon’s Future by Kandi J Wyatt

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dragonsfuturecoverDragon’s Future by Kandi J Wyatt, young adult e-book, published by Booktrope Publishing, due for release 10th August 2015.

During their tenth winter, twins Ruskya and Duskya are chosen to become dragon riders. They leave their home to live in the dragon riders’ colony, learning to communicate, care for and ride their dragons. Fifteen years on, both twins have become talented riders under the guidance of their father-like mentor Glendyn. However, the dragon population is in danger. The younger dragons aren’t pairing up to mate, and the supply of eggs is dwindling. Without new hatchlings the future of the colony is uncertain. Suddenly a dragon rider from a different and hitherto unknown colony appears in the nearby village. Dragon attacks begin and innocent people are injured and killed. Ruskya must defend the colony and the village, with the help of his dragon, Wyeth, and his family and friends. The invaders are powerful and battle-ready, but what is it that they want?

The first in an exciting new series, Dragon’s Future is an enjoyable and intricate story full of magic and action. I love stories about dragons, I think they are fascinating creatures, especially the friendly ones! This book hit the spot, and I flew through it. It was engaging and entertaining, and I’m looking forward to the next book in the series.

The characters had their back stories told slowly, with the past nicely balanced with the present, creating rich character profiles. I felt like I came to know them, especially Ruskya, Carryl and Kyn. Loyalty, trust, friendship and courage are all evident amongst the riders and villagers. They worked as a community to face the adversity that had befallen them, it took strength and sacrifice, but they rose to the challenge. The dragons also had such individual and appealing personalities, beyond just being the dragon attached to a certain rider. I enjoyed the way they communicate and bond with their riders. Alternatively, the turquoise rider was arrogant and power hungry, delighting in the pain of others, an excellent nemesis for Ruskya. Kyle was also highly dislikable, partly for his cruelty, and partly because I found him incredibly annoying and rather stupid.

At first I had trouble connecting the dragon with the right dragon rider, as the dragons’ names are all very similar. I soon worked it out though, I mostly kept getting Wylen and Wyden confused. I liked the names given to the dragons and the people, but as I really like the letter ‘y’, perhaps I am a little biased. The names of most of the characters contain the letter ‘y’, but it didn’t make them difficult to pronounce. I thought it gave the story a sense of community and tradition.

The landscape in which the story is set is well constructed, with vivid descriptions of the village, dragon colony and their surrounds, making it easy to step into this new world. The vast canyons, and sandy desert seemed like it should be inhospitable, but the people made it homely and welcoming. It is reminiscent of a time gone by, before technology, when communities were small and tight-knit, when magic was still possible. It is a great place to escape to.

A wonderfully complex fantasy, Dragon’s Future is suitable for upper primary school through to high school students. Many adults will also enjoy this story. Dragon’s Future is available for pre-order on Amazon right now, and will be released on the 10th August 2015, with its sequel coming later in the year.

 

*I received this book as a digital copy from the author, who asked me for an honest review of this book. I did not receive any other remuneration, and the review is composed entirely of my own opinions.

 

 

Zog by Julia Donaldson and Axel Scheffler

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IMG_4426Zog by Julia Donaldson and Axel Scheffler, paperback picture book, published by Alison Green Books in 2010.

Zog is the largest dragon in Madam Dragon’s class. He is learning to fly, roar and capture princesses, but while he tries very hard, he also tends to be a bit clumsy. Luckily for him, every time he hurts himself, a friendly girl comes along and helps him. As the years pass, and the girl grows older, perhaps they will find their true calling together.

Dragons, dragons, dragons. This book is about dragons, and much like they react to books about dinosaurs, my kids gravitated straight to this book. I was pleased to find that it is witty, amusing and fun with rhyming text (I really am a sucker for rhymes!). I like to read it aloud and laugh with my kids, we always crack up when Zog catches his own wing tip alight! The illustrations are perfectly matched to the story, and as always from Axel Scheffler, beautifully detailed with bold colours and memorable characters. I recognised some little creatures from The Gruffalo among the scenery too. I found the ending unexpected, yet perfect. A beautiful book to share with primary school children, Zog, will entertain parents as well.