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How to Train Your Dragon #2

How to Be a Pirate

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Hiccup Horrendous Haddock III was a Viking Hero--dashing, brave, and ever so clever. But even Viking heroes have to begin somewhere. In this rip-roaring adventure he recounts his early days--when he still had a lot to learn about swordfights, shipwrecks, and homicidal dragons....

211 pages, Hardcover

First published July 15, 2004

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About the author

Cressida Cowell

210 books2,093 followers
Cressida Cowell grew up in London and on a small, uninhabited island off the west coast of Scotland. She was convinced that there were dragons living on this island, and has been fascinated by dragons ever since. She has a BA in English Literature from Oxford University, a BA in Graphic Design from St Martin's and an MA in Narrative Illustration from Brighton. Cressida loves illustrating her own work, but also loves writing books for other people to illustrate as the end result can be so unexpected and inspiring. Cressida has written and illustrated eight books in the popular Hiccup series. The unique blend of child centred humour and sublime prose made Hiccup an instant hit. How to Train Your Dragon is now published in over 30 languages. A DreamWorks Animation feature film is out in March 2010. Also the author of picture books, Cressida has won the Nestle Children's Book Prize 2006 and has been shortlisted for many others. Cressida lives in Hammersmith with her husband and three children.

Her Books:
1. How to Train Your Dragon (2003)
2. How to Be a Pirate (2004)
3. How to Speak Dragonese (2005)
4. How to Cheat a Dragon’s Curse (2006)
5. How to Twist a Dragon’s Tale (2007)
6. A Hero’s Guide to Deadly Dragons (2008)
7. How to Ride a Dragon’s Storm (2008)
8. How to Break a Dragon’s Heart (2010)
9. How to Steal a Dragon's Sword (2011)
10. How to Seize a Dragon's Jewel (2012)

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 1,299 reviews
Profile Image for Laura.
475 reviews52 followers
August 31, 2015
People said this book was funny...I didn't find myself laughing..Maybe it's due to my age but I got the idea that adults also found the humour in this novel amusing..Even if I didn't find LOL moments I still enjoyed the storyline though!

My one complaint if you own the Kindle version...The text when Toothless speaks is kinda hard to read and you can't turn up the font size cause the pages are like in a PDF..And as you read you come to a letter from someone and it's basically unreadable on the Kindle. The font used is pretty terrible and I get they were going for a scrawly type writing which I'm sure is fine in print but for the Kindle it becomes a smudgy mess.

But besides this if you've any interest in dragons or the 'How to Train Your Dragon' world then this short but sweet novel is worth picking up. Again you're following the main character Hiccup and his hard to please dragon Toothless. But don't think the novel and the movie are really alike because they aren't.

Hiccup is starting to learn what it really means to be a pirate and how important his role is even if he doesn't completely agree with their ideals. He still struggles with many things and he's always getting an ear bashing from someone (or sometimes physical). This tale sends him deep into the ocean and just maybe he'll discover some treasure or not!
Profile Image for [ J o ].
1,938 reviews428 followers
June 10, 2017
After a while, the How to Train your Dragon books all seem to merge in to one big pile of not-for-me so, whilst I said a full review would follow, sadly I don't particularly remember anything, either vaguely or pivotal to comment on. I think the series as a whole has some things to offer, though perhaps most of it sails underneath me.

From my rather abysmal memory, I just know that the humour seemed forced and wasn't particularly... anything, really. I didn't enjoy the historical aspects because they were wholly inaccurate right down to the pointy helmets and, though it had its fun moments, this truly is not a series for me.

Though I am loath to admit that the books aren't for me because I'm not a child. I dislike books that are "just for children". I'd prefer if your child read something else-something historically accurate but also extremely fun, but I don't know any books like that. To be honest, I'd suggest just watching the film.
Profile Image for Jennifer.
23 reviews1 follower
September 22, 2008
This is another book that was recommended to me by my son. I found the hero, Hiccup Horrendous Haddock III, to be very likable and funny. He is an unlikely viking, scrawny and uncoordinated, who is forced to take pirate lessons from "Gobber-the-Belch," another member of his tribe. Luckily Hiccup has a sympathetic best friend named Fishlegs and a small pet dragon named Toothless to see him through his adventures. An engaging quick read with a surprisingly wise ending, I recommend this book to all pirate lovers and anyone with a sense of humor.
Profile Image for Trish.
1,931 reviews3,403 followers
December 30, 2015
So this was the 2nd volume in the series about Hiccup Horrendous III and his dragon Toothless. I must say, the differences to the movie(s) are enormous and I don’t mean that in a good way. But I suppose both forms have their strengths and weaknesses.

The movie’s strength: Toothless and his loyalty, his hilarious cat-like behaviour and his and Hiccup’s teamwork.
The movie’s weakness: Not too deep a message except for in the first movie where the topics misfits, wits beating muscels and physical disadvantages are mentioned. Maybe, if one was looking very hard, one could say that family issues and environmentalism were topics in the second. Maybe.

The books‘ strength: Somewhat deeper message or at least dealing with certain topics more thoroughly / for longer than the movie(s). Toothless‘ stutter and Dragonese (dragons language).
Books‘ weakness: Toothless‘ character often isn’t very nice but whiney which got on my nerves. The adventures are sort of dull (maybe because there is no flying because Toothless is too small to carry Hiccup?).

This time the young Vikings are supposed to get their lesson in (surprise) How To Be A Pirate. The dragons are more in the background. It’s the same-old same-old banter about which dragon is better, which Viking can fart louder …

Hiccup is still his little clumsy self. At least we now know WHY Hiccup was so clumsy with his sword (that was actually not bad because – considering when the book was released – this was a major issue back then and the author sort of criticising common practice is nice). But he is also still a misfit and still at war with his cousin who wants to become the heir to Stoic (Hiccup’s father and leader of the tribe) while Hiccup’s best friend still observes several times that most Vikings are just brainless. This COULD be good but it’s more like observation after observation after observation without any progress. Toothless is still complaining about everything.
The only difference is the scenery because this time there is more water.
However, again there is the lesson at the beginning, some major embarrassment for Hiccup and his dad, then some complications, mortal danger and …. TADAAAAA … our hero is victorious once more. Not bad, just … meh.
But it was still kind of funny. Just not always.

The best thing about this? Definitely David Tennant again. This is me whenever I hear him (especially when he’s not holding back with his accent):

Profile Image for Tarissa.
1,353 reviews80 followers
August 22, 2017
The plot begins when Hiccup's tribe locates a coffin, more exactly, one of Hiccup's ancestor's coffins. And it leads to a treasure. In for a scary adventure filled with dragons and danger?

… and Hiccup even finds out some interesting truths about himself. He may very well make an excellent sword-fighting Viking one day...

Cons? There some rather disgusting cracks that the boys may say – I suppose to show their Viking manliness – but I don't enjoy reading it too much.

But my favorite part is being able to listen to an audiobook narrated by David Tennant in his Scottish brogue.
Profile Image for Keturah Lamb.
Author 3 books44 followers
November 24, 2018
*listened to audio book*

This book made me smile so much.
I also had the thought again that Toothless is so annoying. And Hiccup has such a sad outlook on life ;p

Hiccup knows he's destined to be good with the sword. So that's why he foolishly takes on an older boy. And nearly dies. But he's saved by a box - a coffin. Or is he? Because what's in the coffin is about put him on an ever crazier path toward death. And poor Hiccup knows he has no chance of living or of ever being the future chief.

I love the sound effects. I love humor and sarcasm. I love how deep the characters are for a middle grade book. And the story was fun and sometimes surprising, too.
Profile Image for Daniel.
753 reviews72 followers
October 16, 2015
Još jedna zabavna knjižica za mladje naraštaje. Mada ovog puta ipak dosta ozbiljnija, sa manje humora i čak par strašnijih scena. Par likova je malo uznapredovalo mada sve ukupno status quo je ostao isti.

U svakom slučaju oseća se napredak u odnosu na prethodnu knjigu i ako spisateljica tako nastavi buće super.

I dalje važi ako ste fanovi filmova slobodno navalite.
Profile Image for Joey.
219 reviews82 followers
July 15, 2019
I had a lot of the same feelings after this one as the first. It was good! And the characters were amazing and hilarious! But I felt the plot was maybe a tiny bit lacking. I’m not going to go on ranting about this one bc it would probably be a duplicate of my review for the first one lol
Overall it was good. And yes, I will continue the series, and I’m excited to start the next one!
Profile Image for Amina.
1,255 reviews265 followers
December 26, 2018
Lots of humor, sarcasm, fun and surprises too!
I don't like this toothless, at all!
Profile Image for Marnie  (Enchanted Bibliophile).
821 reviews122 followers
August 24, 2019
“The past is another land, and we cannot go to visit. So, if I say there were dragons, and men who rode upon their backs, who alive has been there and can tell me that I'm wrong?”


I might be enjoying these books a little too much for a full grown human being…
Not that I care. I’m still a child at heart!

I’m going to listen to them all and not care what anyone say.
And come the day I have children of my own, I’ll read it to them and enjoy them just as much!
Profile Image for Yasamin Seifaei.
Author 1 book51 followers
January 9, 2016
actual rating: 3.5
اینم از اولین کتاب سال 2016!! :دی
خب این به مراتب بهتر از کتاب قبلی بود. حداقل برا من. ولی نه اونقدری که بتونم نمره بیشتری بهش بدم. ولی خب کتاب فانی بود و لذت بردم. فکر کنم اگه بچه تر بودم بیشتر حتی لذت میبردم!
Profile Image for Kiki.
4 reviews
December 4, 2008
This book is really good, also it's not that difficult to read,but a challenging book.This book is about a kid/boy named Hiccup Horrendus the 3.you should really try to read this really great book.
Profile Image for muh.
3 reviews
October 13, 2021
Spoilers ahead.

Alright. Book 2: "How to Be a Pirate". I’m pretty sure this is the first one I read…? Not sure why I started at 2, but I guess that's my first bit of praise for this one- its excellent yet subtle summary of the previous book. This series isn't your average Common-or-Garden set of interchangeable children's stories (calling you out again, Stilton, come at me) where you can just start anywhere- the story is just a little bit important- but for the stupid little shitbrains like me who just start wherever the hell they please, 'How to Be a Pirate' manages to cater perfectly. As is customary of Cowell's writing, the transition between exposition and current events is flawless, and the storytelling feels in no way hindered by the unfortunately necessary explanation.

Speaking of the story, Cowell yet again manages to completely enrapt her audience. With the titular dragons an obvious ever-present, braindead children are sure to be amazed and astounded at every turn of the page, while the implicit themes this dedicated reviewer aims to bring to light are still there in spades- but we'll get to that. Most of these books- at least up until the series' thrilling conclusion, where the novels gain a little more focus- will star at least one new species of dragon to draw in the kids in droves, and while I didn't really realize it as a child, it does get pretty obvious- the Skullions, the Sharkworms, the Exterminators, all serve to the same purpose- edgy cool new unkillable predator dragon, completely irresistible to children. However, the Skullions- the blind, deaf but still insanely terrifying dragons that protect the treasure of Grimbeard of Ghastly- kind of turn the tide of the series' tone. Book 2 puts away the kiddie stuff and flawlessly scares the pants off the average ten year old. The Skullions- not to mention the horrific Monstrous Strangulator- give the reader the impression that the dragons are not just the main 'gimmick' of the series, but these ancient, primordial beings. It's a hard scale to grasp for a child, even with the massiveness of dragons like the Green Death of the first book, and it's, at times, unnerving to think about.

But we all know why we're here. Cowell doesn't shy away from beating the crap out her readers psyche, and this determined reviewer has had to pull out the big guns to really touch on the big issues: literary masculine critique.

As accurate as it may be, I will try to refrain from pointing out the phallic implications of the emphasis placed on the grandeur of ones sword throughout the novel, and indeed, the series- these are, again, children's books.

But we have yet another relevant faucet of evidence on this front: that of Hiccup's legacy. In his eventual ascension to King of the Wilderwest, this legacy is explored heavily, as will be made ever the more clear as we continue through the series. Specifically, Book 2 concerns the looming shadow of Grimbeard the Ghastly, not only over Hiccup himself, but the entire Hooligan tribe. The importance of masculinity is pretty obvious in the series, as can be seen in the dirty, gritty, hard-farting values of the Vikings- but it's also intensely clear in the long-dead expectations of Grimbeard unto his heir. The hunt for his treasure threatens to tear apart the Hooligan clan in their greed, and it is consistently made clear that only Grimbeard’s true heir will be able to find his lost booty. Hiccup's failure to do so causes an almost tangible aura of disappointment in the story, most explicitly from his own father. In the heavily patriarchal lineage of the Haddocks, Hiccup's branding as the runt of the litter is all the more clear in his defeat. Grimbeard's instructions to his future family are adamant that only the manliest of men will have the resolve to find his treasure, and it seems his prediction was correct.

But then we have the twist- the treasure on the Isle of the Skullions was only a ruse, and a mere smidgen of riches compared to the treasure hidden beneath the waves. Here, we learn that perhaps Grimbeard was not as oozingly manly as we were led to believe- after all, only one with cunning, cool-of-head and an unbreakable kinship with dragons could possibly reach the true treasure and escape alive. Perhaps the future of the Hooligan tribe isn't doomed to be held in the hands of warlords with walnut brains after all.

I disagree.

Absolutely nothing in Grimbeard's letter to Hiccup, or in his Last Will or Testament, point to this conclusion- while it can be and is implied, there is no evidence to support that Grimbeard's vision of his future heir was a boy like Hiccup. Grimbeard had envisioned a cold-blooded, watermelon-biceps pirate, and while it isn't stated explicitly, I believe that's why Hiccup leaves the treasure behind: not because he wants to preserve the peace of his tribe. Not because it would be near impossible to dredge up from the ocean floor. It's because he knows he is underserving of Grimbeard's legacy, and his tribe- his own father- would think the same. This world isn't a modern one, and people like Hiccup just aren't relevant in the eyes of the Barbaric Archipelago. It's a sad tale, to be sure, and maybe it's this first defeat that serves to spur on the rise of the future King of the Wilderwest- the classic revenge of the underdog.

Book 2 was, as I said, my introduction to the series, and I'll always hold a soft spot for it when I remember how significant these books were to me. Even when trying to place bias aside, however, Cowell still consistently upholds her literary prowess in creating a highly engaging tale, and I'm giving "How to Be a Pirate" (Book 2) a solid 8/10.

(On page 26, they use the Deadly 60 font. That's a whole extra point on the spot).
Profile Image for Andris.
331 reviews57 followers
January 24, 2019
Pekstiņi turpinās - 4 zvaigznes.
Cik var nojaust, tad latviski šo tālāk netulkos, žēl, bērniem patīk.
Profile Image for Emma Ann.
299 reviews682 followers
March 29, 2023
This was always my favorite of the early Hiccup books.
Profile Image for Калина Минчева.
392 reviews85 followers
March 21, 2019
Абе пирати няма да станете с тази книжка, но забавлението ви е гарантирано. Стига да не сте приспали дълбоко детето у вас. Остроумна, сатирична и графична, "Как да станеш пират" ни разказва за второто приключение в младия живот на Хълцук и любимия ни дракон Беззъбчо. Всякаква прилика с екранизацията липсва, което прави прочита дори по-вълнуващ и увлекателен.
Profile Image for Liviu Szoke.
Author 29 books364 followers
November 15, 2017
Parcă mi-a plăcut mai mult primul volum al seriei, „Cum să-ți dresezi dragonul”. Cel mai probabil cauza o reprezintă faptul că n-am mai avut senzația de nou, de inedit, de amuzament ca atunci când am făcut cunoștință pentru prima dată cu numele personajelor și cu modul autoarei de-a-și imagina cele mai năstrușnice situații (având, totodată, și substrat). „Cum să fii pirat” este totuși o demnă continuare a celebrei povești a lui Sughiț și a dragonului său, Știrbul, de data asta pe mare, în căutarea unei comori blestemate. Mai multe, pe FanSF: https://wp.me/pz4D9-2Gg.
Profile Image for The Flooze.
757 reviews249 followers
September 23, 2011
Hiccup Horrendous Haddock the Third is not so Heroic - at least not by Viking terms - despite the fact that he’s the Hooligan chief’s only heir. What he is is very, very clever, an attribute overlooked in a society revering such skills as Shouting, Senseless Violence, Badd Sppeling, and Advanced Rudery. (Well, with a clan name of Hooligans, what did you expect?)

Hiccup is Heroic by my standards though. He reads and observes and studies, and uses that brain of his to make decisions for the good of his tribe - even if it means he looks more than a bit useless in the process.

How to Be a Pirate finds Hiccup learning Swordfighting at Sea with both hilarious and catastrophic results. As he showed in How to Train Your Dragon, Hiccup is more than willing to try, try, try again. He’s also not too afraid to speak his mind when the adults around him are about to do foolish things (adults can be rather silly) like open a cursed coffin or trundle off on a suicidal hunt for legendary treasure. He manages to keep his head in scary situations, and he stands up for what he believes in. Admirable traits indeed, resulting in a character we want to root for.

Hiccup’s companions don’t really fit in with the Viking norm either. His best friend, Fishlegs, has “a squint, a limp, numerous allergies, and no coordination whatsoever,” not to mention an utterly inept dragon. But he’s loyal and smart and supportive of Hiccup - what more can you ask for in a friend? Hiccup’s dragon, Toothless, is small and contrary and demanding as heck; he’s constantly giving Hiccup a hard time. However, he’s the only dragon in the whole Hooligan clan who sticks around when things go arseways. Though he may complain bitterly about heading into danger, he’s actually a faithful little thing who helps both boys when it counts. These three are not well-loved by their tribe, but it doesn’t matter much since they have each other.

Since the rest of the characters are beefy, battle-hungry Vikings, How to Be a Pirate includes a fair amount of fighting and bullying. This is balanced against Hiccup’s distaste for such behaviour, taking the glamour out of the violence. As the story unfolds, Cowell’s message of brain over brawn is abundantly clear; I don’t think kids will have any problems discerning which route is preferable.

The illustrations are horrible…in a good way. Simple, unrefined pencil sketches, they give us an idea of what the characters look like while providing amusement. They look like doodles more than anything, adding to the feel that we’re reading Hiccup’s personal diary.

The pacing was great: brisk, with several cliffhanger chapter endings to keep kids eagerly flipping pages, yet Cowell still managed to incorporate lots of character development, too. For a chapter book, I’m surprised at how well Hiccup’s personality is described. Rather than coming off as a mere template, he possesses depth, making the lessons more poignant. I imagine this also makes it a more enjoyable read for the adults involved in storytime.

How to Be a Pirate is a silly book. It will make you chuckle and smile and shake your head in exasperation. At the same time, it presents a valuable message without ever seeming preachy. I think young readers will be immensely entertained - so much so they won’t even notice the lessons on being selfless and thoughtful as they sneakily seep into their brains.
Profile Image for Adi.
272 reviews12 followers
May 22, 2022
it seems the whole 'epilogue almost making me cry' thing is going to be a theme for this series.

kids' books are so cool though because of the way the good ones function on multiple levels. which obviously all books do but i think kids' books especially, because the most basic level has to be simple enough that it's very clear to people whose brains have barely started Becoming Brains. like not in a mean way! just, children don't tend to have strong understandings of theme. so you have to spell things out for them: here, it's like, greed is bad. treasure is not the most important thing.

one level above that, it's about leadership, and how blind hero-worship is neither useful nor accurate, but that also doesn't mean that the people we think of as heroes are terrible: they're just people, with joys and regrets like the rest of us.

and one level above that, there's this whole other thing going on about barbarity and civilization: the world of these books isn't static; we're nearing the end of the dark ages, when we had dragons and heroes, and moving into something else. hiccup's very existence is an omen: that the next chief of the hairy hooligans won't be a dumb muscleguy with a sword, but someone clever and interested in natural history, is a sign that the old ways are changing. while the vikings worship tradition--are willing to risk their lives for the mere chance to grasp a sword that a Famous Guy wielded a century ago--their very survival necessitates adapting to the new state of things: by listening to (and eventually, i assume, following the leadership of) hiccup, they betray the values that they claim to espouse. and, actually, they're only better for it. cool shit!!!

and YES i know i'm overanalyzing this children's book. we have established this. but like, these elements all exist in the story; it's just that most people don't notice. so i'm just LOOKING at these things that exist and saying, hmm. that's pretty neat.
Profile Image for Sara Saif.
543 reviews222 followers
June 16, 2016

"Hiccup knew that Grimbeard had been the ULTIMATE in pirate-ness, the GREEDIEST, GRISLIEST, GORIEST Viking who had ever sailed and slew and farted his way across the Northern Seas."

There was a lot of farting in it so obviously I loved it.

"DEATH OR GLORY!" yelled Stoick the Vast, performing the complicated Hooligan salute, whcih consists of making a slitting motion across your own throat while letting out a fart like a clap of thunder.

The Viking boys are training to become pirates by taking part in the Pirate Training Program. While out in the sea for a lesson, Hiccup comes across a treasure chest of his great-great-great grandfather Grimbeard the Ghastly. One thing leads to another and the Vikings go on a quest to find the real notorious treasure. They encounter many perils including a battle with the Outcasts and being hunted by Skullion dragons.

---There was still no sign of Astrid.
---The "lessons" by Gobber were the best thing ever. Things like Advanced Ruddery, Senseless Violence, Pointless Graffiti, Badd Sppeling Hoomwurk, Basic Burglary and Spitting.
---Toothless remained as untrainable and stubborn as ever, helping only when Hiccup was close to certain death.

--- The illustrations! Love'em.

Cressida Cowell is hilarious.
December 28, 2015
This was good and really fun! I enjoyed it! Hiccup is starting to understand the real meaning of being a hero and that's really important! He keeps evolving as a character, which is great to see! Also, the sarcasm in this book is so on point... I LOVE IT! My first read for the Christmas Booktube-a-Thon is done! Now, I don't know if I should start An Abundance of Katherines today... (I completed challenge number 3 – a gifted book - by reading this book)
Profile Image for Tyrell ⚔️.
482 reviews32 followers
April 3, 2023
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“The past is another land, and we cannot go to visit. So, if I say there were dragons, and men who rode upon their backs, who alive has been there and can tell me that I'm wrong?”

The second book in the How to Train Your Dragon series was an interesting, exhilarating ride! With the characters already established, the plot and pacing of the second installment tends to go much quicker than the first book.

The new characters introduced were interesting and the character relationship between Hiccup and Fish Legs was rewarding.

My biggest criticism would be that I feel as though this book took away some of the wonderous parts of the world introduced in the first book. The setting didn't feel as 'magical and fun' as it did in the first book.
Displaying 1 - 30 of 1,299 reviews

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