If you are a dragon lover, this is a blast right up your street. Nearly 200 pages of adventure and 50 pages of dragon profiles and the Dragonese dictionary at the end provide non-stop, rollicking entertainment.
Hiccup Horrendous Haddock III (to give Hiccup his full name), heir to the Hairy Hooligan Tribe, is a Viking. Next in line to the throne of his father Stoick the Vast, Hiccup is spending the year pirate training (the Vikings, as everyone knows, are fierce sea warriors). The story starts with Hiccup celebrating his 12th birthday in a strange manner—hanging on to a windy, narrow window ledge 300ft in the air. Giving him company are his best buddies—Fishlegs, a fellow-Hooligan, and Camicazi, daughter of Big-Boobied Bertha, the chief of the Bog Burglar Tribe.
Rewind to the day when the three return from the Annual Burglary Competition to find that Hiccup’s pet dragon, Toothless, has eaten three-quarters of a leg of King Stoick the Vast’s magnificent wooden throne (dragons love eating wood). Predictably, Stoick takes a tumble when he sits on it.
To make matters worse, the furious King had discovered earlier that morning that Hiccup has written a book, A Hero’s Guide to Deadly Dragons. In a kingdom where reading or writing is banned, this is sacrilege. All books in the land, except one, had been locked up in the Meathead Public Library, which was guarded by the terrible Hairy Scaly Librarian and his bloodthirsty band of Meathead Warriors and Driller Dragons (they do what their names suggest).
The only book the Hooligans worship is How to Train a Dragon—unfortunately, in his greed, Toothless has eaten this up along with the throne’s leg. The punishment for this is banishment from the kingdom. Camicazi, Hiccup and Fishlegs think up the only plan that can save them: steal the second copy of How to Train a Dragon from the towering Meathead Public Library.
They enlist the services of the Stealth Dragon (it can become invisible and, like a chameleon, change colours to merge into the background it flies in), which has been stolen from Madguts the Murderous, king of the Murderous Tribe. Stormfly, Camicazi’s pet dragon, helps them find their way around the labyrinth of the library.
The three adventurers land up in the library, which is infested with more dangerous dragons. Complicating matters is the fact that Madguts and his murderous colleagues are on their trail. And just when they are about to sneak out with the booty, Hairy Scaly Librarian appears with his two swords to finish them off.
Trapped and cornered, Camicazi, Hiccup and Fishlegs try to think of a way out. Do they have a chance?
The first book in the extremely popular Hiccup series, How to Train Your Dragon, has sold around 100,000 copies and has been published in some 30 languages. A film on it is set to release next year.
The writer is the editor of Heek, a children’s magazine.
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