I watched the movie “How to train your dragon” back when it came out and I absolutely loved it. It was funny, witty and full of adventure.
For my birthday I got then the book series. I have to admit, I didn’t know the movie was based on books, but I was very excited to read more about Hiccup, the main character, and Toothless, his dragon. To my surprise it turned out that the movie and the books have almost nothing in common. Except for some names and the fact that the story evolves around some vikings living on an island with dragons. After having read all 12 books of the How to train your dragon-series, I have to say that, even though I still like the movie and will still watch it now and then, the books are so much better.
At the beginning I was a bit unsure, if the books wouldn’t be too childish for a 30something year old woman, but then again, I always loved and still love children books. And good children books are not just for the young, but also for the ones that stayed young at heart. And those are good children books.
Cressida Cowell created with so much love for details and imagination a magical, but also dangerous world. In the centre stands Hiccup Horrendous Haddock the Third, a young viking boy, who is not a “normal” viking. Instead of being a rough brute, he is weak, but therefore smart and resourceful. And he can talk to dragons, which makes him very unique in his world. During the 12 books we follow him on his way to becoming a hero the hard way. In every book Hiccup is thrown unwillingly into another adventure and only with the help of his wit, his friends and his tiny dragon Toothless, he is able to find his happy end and learn a new life lesson.
As the series progresses we meet new kinds of dragons. Some are helpful and kind, some are evil and murderous. And we meet Alvin, the Treacherous, the main antagonist. The name gives it kind of away. He stands more than once in the way of Hiccup and pays his evilness with loosing several members and other body parts over the years. Those are the details, that make the books not just exciting, but at moments also insanely funny.
The first books stand kind of alone. You can read them in any order you want, although I would suggest, that you read them in the right order, because in the 9th book something changes. Suddenly you realise that every single adventure, that Hiccup goes through, has lead him on a bigger path. I don’t want to give too much away, but in the 12th and last book, a big battle will take place with Hiccup, Toothless and Alvin at the centre and the destiny of dragons and humans at stake.
In the end it turned out that the books weren’t that childish, but actually face a lot of grown-up problems. How do we stay true to ourselves in hard times? How to decide what is right and wrong, when lives are in danger? As I wrote before, it’s about becoming a hero the hard way and I enjoyed very much following Hiccup on this quest.