What I love most about these books by Cressida is the power of the moral in them, the poetry of the language, and the spark of life and wit in the chaWhat I love most about these books by Cressida is the power of the moral in them, the poetry of the language, and the spark of life and wit in the characters. This one is no exception. We find such strong moral themes, again, with dark events so daring in a children's book. This is truly an epic deeper than probably even the film sequel can match, just because of the huge history created by a series of many characters' and ancestors' histories. Moral power cropping up sentence after sentence, especially at the beginning, and the Prologue, where the theme of the testing of a Hero first appears. It's not easy to be a Hero, and a true one is created by challenge and hardship, like a sword in the smith -- a hotter fire could either make or break a sword, or a Hero. It's a complicated moral complexity that runs rich in this, and many, of her books.
The enduring theme of mercy is tested -- does Hiccup save Snotlout from the dragons, or does he leave this bully and traitor to a fate he deserves? Maybe he has changed, or maybe he should save a human being from danger no matter if he is on your side or not. The moral complexity continues, in Cressida showing us how even the motives of the vicious Dragon Rebellion can be understood. Is it right for the humans to extinguish the dragons to save their own race? Just as the dragons wish to eradicate the humans to preserve the dragon extinction they foresee with the evil inherent in humanity? Cressida points out how being a Hero, being that great Leader isn't something to desire lightly. In fact, the truly mature and brave should fear the role. Because Kings and Heroes are the ones to take both the guilt and responsibility that such leadership entails. Hiccup does not want to be a King, because he finally sees the true greatness of courage it requires, and yet he knows he must seize that destiny, because it is better to take that guilt and pain to keep evil men away from that power.
*mild spoilers begin* A parting word must be said for Snotlout, for his arc is truly breathtaking. From the old kid days of throwing Hiccup's face into the sand, calling him names, we get a revelation from him that culminates and explains all his motives those years ago til now, and how he became the villain he is today, and his reasons are as human as any other man's, and we come away only sympathetic to what he has become. The maturity in dealing with Snotlout's actions is beautiful, and the way Hiccup acts in regards to him is truly worthy of a King. Forgiveness, giving second and third chances, giving someone love so that their hatred gives them no satisfaction… it's all wrapped in a brilliant package steeped with the history of eleven books spanning the childhoods of these characters. (I can't forget to mention the Toothless twist. The humblest receive the greatest reward, and all Hiccups own the greatest dragon of them all. And the new dragon, Hogfly, totally stole the show.) *mild spoilers end*
This is a story as moving as any proper dramatic narrative, and it's one worthy of admiration for the characters and the actions that define a true Hero....more
The best book yet in the series (I haven't read book 10 yet), I'm still reeling from the brilliance and depth of the story. Cressida is a genius if thThe best book yet in the series (I haven't read book 10 yet), I'm still reeling from the brilliance and depth of the story. Cressida is a genius if there ever was one, to weave sheer literature into a children's book, to teach character so deftly and beautifully. She's teaching children (and teens like myself) how to be mature, how to be a real Hero. And it's not by what you look like, but what's inside of you -- hope, strength, a selflessness for others. "For a Hero cannot triumph all the time. Sometimes he will be defeated, and how he faces that defeat is a test of his character."...more
This one was more powerful than the first book in the series (incredible as that may seem). Our hero Hiccup Horrendous Haddock III gets into even deepThis one was more powerful than the first book in the series (incredible as that may seem). Our hero Hiccup Horrendous Haddock III gets into even deeper life-and-death troubles, as he learns to sword fight and grow selfless for his future tribe. The three epic battle scenes were crazy good and terribly engaging. The humor was infectious, and the depth at the end hit home hard. The first book taught the meaning of heroism, this one teaches the folly of greed and the glory of self-denial. Give Cressida Cowell a huge hand of applause, to pull of beauty and crazy humor in a kid's book that some grown-ups would do well to take to heart....more
We just had to read this, the original book, after realizing the power that is How to Train Your Dragon by DreamWorks. And so we discovered...
Ach! WhaWe just had to read this, the original book, after realizing the power that is How to Train Your Dragon by DreamWorks. And so we discovered...
Ach! What craziness! My sister and I were laughing our brains out in just the first three pages. So hilariously funny, and then BAM! the deep stuff at the end. Cressida Cowell is a master at humor. And then there's the occasional beautiful, poetic description that just rounds out the genius of this story. No wonder the makers of the movie were so inspired. There's so much to explore in this world and in these characters. The theme is a beautiful one, too -- what real Heroism is, and what selflessness is. No wonder this came up in the movie so sublimely and powerfully. The books do explore it.
Now I can't wait to see what the rest of the series has in store!...more
Although I am far from childhood, I read this story to know firsthand its classic acclaim. It certainly comes alive with colorful, realistic, and memoAlthough I am far from childhood, I read this story to know firsthand its classic acclaim. It certainly comes alive with colorful, realistic, and memorable characters. The narrative itself is wonderfully unique, with the anonymous narrator somewhere between being within the story and being omniscient in it. The image captions display the random specifics and sidenotes of life that spark of reality. I love the honest goodness of Emil, and I believe that his character is the real moral of the story. Certainly, he is a worthwhile model for any child....more