By Ed Sum (The Vintage Tempest)
The last four novels in the How to Train Your Dragon series may well form a tetralogy. Although the last volume is not being penned yet, the second to last volume, How to Betray a Dragon’s Hero is proving to be the turning point of Hiccup Horrendous Haddock III’s final adventure.
Cressida Cowell has crafted a fun and exciting world that ranks right up there with Harry Potter. When nothing new will be coming for the magical realm anytime soon, readers can enjoy the fascinating world of dragons that this author has crafted.
From book one to number eleven, readers get introduced to a wide menagerie of beasts. But for the story, everyone knows Hiccup will be King. He says so in the first volume. But to see how he became king, that’s part of the ride readers will enjoy discovering in his journey to become a respected leader.
As for how some parts of the tale features less of Hiccup and more of another character, like Toothless his pet garden dragon, perhaps he heard their story later so he can tell it. Or that he has a Seer to help reveal those little details when he is not nearby to recount them. Throughout his many adventures, he has learned what it takes to become the Lord of Wilderwest, a larger world that occupies the entire “barbaric” archipelago—perhaps located off of Scotland when considering where this author lived in her youth.
Hiccup has made some enemies along the way, but the worst thing that can happen to him the most is to get betrayed by the person he hoped to redeem. When he looks at the good in people and is willing to forgive, perhaps that’s what makes him such a great figure to look up to. Young readers can benefit from reading the How to Train Your Dragon books for the little morality lessons it teaches and adults will enjoy reading the books to them.
In book eleven, Snotlout, Hiccup’s cousin, finally shows his true colours. Cowell has nicely crafted many illustrations to show the many sides of this complex character, and as a bonus, this book is decorated with many more illustrations than before!
Despite all the attempts by Snotlout to force Hiccup to really hate him, these two are becoming more closer than they realize. When Hiccup decides to rescue his cousin at the novel’s start, that sets in motion a plan to recover the ten things that Alvin has stolen if he is to be crowned king. But the true ruler has yet to be decided.
Throughout the course of the earlier books, Hiccup was the one who recovered these items. But at every turn, his enemy Alvin would steal them and proclaim them as his own. Despite these claims, some readers may well wonder why the Druid Guardian, a powerful spiritual figure, can not see past Alvin’s lies. If he did, the HTTYD series probably would have ended sooner than later. Part of what makes this novel interesting is the character development. Hiccup does more than earn the respect of his peers and many readers should be able to see why.
A few lessons can be gleamed from the narrative in how to treat people, including those whom individuals may not normally want to associate with. Understanding honour and humility is at the heart of the final act of the book and by that virtue alone makes this book an exceptional read. And for viewers of the animated version, they may be able to take what they know from this book series’ characters and get to understand the animated counterpart just as well. That’s especially true for Snotlout.
But the wait may be tough to see how this series will end. This book sets up what will transpire in the final volume. Hiccup will have to overcome one more hurdle before he can be crowned king. There’s an impenetrable “fortress” that’s protected by land and air. Very little has been said about by sea, and that may be the approach he will have to take. When this book does a nice bit of foreshadowing, readers can guess at what may happen. Hopefully the wait for this final volume will not to be too long.
The rate of each volume being pumped out has been yearly. All readers have to do is to learn how to be patient.
4½ Stars out of 5