These aren’t strictly the first five books I read this year but I thought it made more sense to group them all together. These are the first five books in the How to Train Your Dragon series by Cressida Cowell (who is, interestingly enough, married to a Simon Cowell, but not THE Simon Cowell). I decided to read these because I saw the movie – I think that about 97% of my new book reading is based on either seeing the movie or seeing the author on TV.
The Books are very different from the movie, but they’re both good in different ways. The book does things in ways that aren’t cinematic enough because it is focused on language and reading – hard to portray entertainingly in films, especially for the kiddies. Here’s the rundown of the first five – there are several more that I haven’t gotten copies of. I read these all on my new Kindle. It was awesome.
1. How to Train Your Dragon – Cressida Cowell
Hiccup is a Viking but sucks at it because he’s skinny, nerdy and kind-hearted. That’d be difficult enough but he’s also the heir to the Chief. Being loud and violent doesn’t really suit him or his best friend, the aptly named Fishlegs. In their universe, the coming-of-age ritual is stealing a sleeping dragon to raise as your hunting partner. Thanks to some mishaps, Hiccup ends up with a boring, tiny, common dragon who doesn’t have any teeth. Toothless is also a smart ass. Hiccup is the only Viking that speaks Dragonese, which makes him an outcast but ends up ultimately saving the day from some giant sea dragons, with Toothless’ help. Basically the lesson of these books is that intelligence and kindness beat brute force and ignorance every time. A
2. How to be a Pirate – Cressida Cowell
This book introduces the arch-nemesis Alvin the Treacherous, who I don’t really find interesting. Hiccup’s grandpa was a crazy awesome Viking with a hidden treasure that only his heir could find. So Alvin kidnaps Hiccup, finds the treasure and nearly kills Hiccup. Hiccup discovers that he’s secretly been left-handed his whole life and is a sword-fighting prodigy, in a scene reminiscent of The Princess Bride, and defeats Alvin, leading to his apparent but not actual demise. B-
3. How to Speak Dragonese – Cressida Cowell
This book introduces Camicazi, the heir of rival Viking tribe of Big Boobied Bertha (I know, right?). She’s a tiny, tenacious escape artist. The Romans, under the command of Alvin, who survived the previous demise but lost all of his hair, kidnaps Camicazi, Fishlegs and Hiccup who have to escape and keep their tribes from killing each other. B
4. How to Cheat a Dragon’s Curse – Cressida Cowell
This is my favorite of the series. Hiccup thinks Fishlegs has been poisoned by a dragon, and the cure is the potato, a mysterious vegetable thought to be only a myth. A nearby, particularly violent Viking tribe is rumored to have one of these under close guard and so Hiccup, Camicazi and Toothless cleverly steal the frozen vegetable. It has an arrow stuck in it and it is rumored that whoever removes the arrow will save the tribe from the big sea dragon that stays in their bay. Well, when it thaws in Hiccups hands, he easily pulls the arrow out, only to have the giant dragon steal the potato, leaving him without a cure for his friend, but a hero to the tribe. When he returns to his village, it turns out that Fishlegs is fine, it is in fact Hiccup who is dying. Fortunately, the arrow has enough potato to save him. In the epilogue, it turns out the Sea Dragon had been dying from the same poison and he becomes Hiccups guardian angel. A
5. How to Twist a Dragon’s Tale – Cressida Cowell
I thought this was intended to be the last of the series and it has that sort of finality to it’s ending, but it turns out I was wrong and there are at least three more so far. So, I’ll have to seek them out. This book is about a super epic stopping of a volcano from erupting, with histories and dastardly past lives revealed. It seems bigger in scope than the earlier ones, but is just as fun. I didn’t find it quite as engaging as the one immediately previous. B