Book Review: “How to Speak Dragonese” by Cressida Cowell

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How to Speak Dragonese
by Cressida Cowell

Book 3 of How to Train Your Dragon tells how the unlikeliest boy ever to grow up to be a Viking hero fared in his first encounter with the Roman Empire. It begins when Hiccup and his wimpy friend Fishlegs accidentally board a Roman galleon during a Pirate Training exercise. They escape with their lives, but without Hiccup’s dear, disobedient dragon Toothless and half of his notes on being a dragon-whisperer.

No one, including Hiccup’s father and tribal chief Stoick the Vast, will listen when he tells them about the Romans’ fiendishly clever plan to turn the Viking tribes against each other so that they can finally conquer the Barbarian Archipelago. So it is up to Hiccup, Fishlegs, Toothless, and a wild warrior-girl named Camicazi to foil the Romans’ plan. Not that they have any choice, once the three children are kidnapped as phase one of the Romans’ plan. Simply escaping the Roman garrison at Fort Sinister, eluding the malice of a strangely familiar Thin Prefect and the greed of a Fat Consul, and surviving a gladiatorial contest against creatures that combine the worst parts of sharks, alligators, and dragons, will be challenge enough.

Their only advantages are Hiccup’s fading hope that Stoick will send a rescue party, and a life debt owed by an arrogant, beetle-sized nanodragon. Plus, of course, the uncommon courage and cleverness of a skinny, ordinary-looking boy with the heart of a hero. Will it be enough to hold back the vengeance of a seemingly unkillable enemy? Well, if Hiccup can get an ungrateful, selfish little brute like Toothless to hug him and say “Thank you,” there’s no telling what he can’t do…