The first How to Train Your Dragon book (How to Train Your Dragon) came out the year my daughter was born. We love the show and the movies, but they are very different from the book series (which we started reading out loud at bedtime when daughter was around five) and the book series has a special place in our hearts. The last book, which happens to be the twelfth book (How to Fight a Dragon’s Fury), was released in the UK just in time for daughter’s twelfth birthday, and I special ordered it from the UK and read it before I wrapped it. Many tears were shed. Here’s a short, non-spoilery review – it will be released in the USA on November 3, 2015. But you guys, a word to the wise – shipping from the UK is actually pretty cheap. I’m just saying.
How to Train Your Dragon is a series by Cressida Cowell about a Viking boy, Hiccup, and how he becomes a hero “the hard way” with the help of his extremely badly behaved dragon (Toothless), his best friend (Fishlegs) and his other best friend (Camicazi). The movie series of the same name shares names, settings, and some common themes, but is very different in story and detail. For instance, in the books Hiccup speaks Dragonese and can talk to dragons, and Toothless is very small and chatty, while in the movies Toothless is huge and Hiccup communicates with dragons through observation, instinct and empathy but not language.
Here are four non-spoilery thoughts on the final book:
Yes, it really is the last book.
It is actually the last one, and it has an ending that means spin-offs within the universe are possible but the arcs of the main characters are resolved.
In keeping with the rest of the series, which became progressively darker since Book 3 (How to Speak Dragonese), this book is very dark and scary and at one point I grew so concerned that I skimmed ahead a little just to see if poor Hiccup would ever get some first aid and maybe a snack.
…But it’s also hopeful and inspiring.
As the series grew darker, when my daughter was still pretty young, I worried that it would scare her or upset her, but she was fine. This last book (and the preceding book, How to Betray a Dragon’s Hero), are REALLY intense. However, I like that the series doesn’t talk down to kids. It basically tells them, “Look, being a hero is HARD. And life is hard. But it’s also full of love and joy and friendship, and you can handle it. Now go be awesome.”
I cried my face off. Seriously. BAWLED. And I won’t tell you if it was a sad cry, a happy cry, or both, but I will tell you that for the most part I was satisfied by the ending. Thank you, Cressida Cowell. Best birthday present ever – at least for me!