Book Review: “How to Cheat a Dragon’s Curse” by Cressida Cowell

This book starts with a warning from a dragon about something terrible they’ve planned or have done. The curse of the Venomous Vorpent, which has struck one of the characters, unbeknownst to anyone, with venom.

While out for a class lesson on shooting arrows while on skis Hiccup and Fishlegs run into Hysterics. Because it’s winter it’s one of the few times members of the Hysterics tribe can venture out of their land. They’re suppose to be very scary but a giant dragon hovers around their island not letting them pass, except during winter when the sea freezes over. Fishlegs freaks out and goes on a Berserker rage and attacks/chases the Hysterics hunters.

To save Fishlegs, who is out of his mind and might get murdered, Hiccup shoots his bow and arrow and hits one of the hunters, which turns out to be the Hysteric Chief, Norbert the Nutjob. (Again, really not enjoying these names and titles. I don’t find them funny.) Fishlegs seems to be getting ill which keeps throwing him into Berserker rages which includes yelling at Stoick, Hiccup’s father and the chief of their own tribe.

“SOMETHING WRONG WITH YOUR EARS AS WELL AS YOUR EYES?” screamed Fishlegs. “I’VE MET SHEEP MORE INTELLIGENT THAN YOU ARE! I’VE MET JELLYFISH WHO COULD OUTPLAY YOU IN A GAME OF CHESS!”

Hiccup just barely is able to keep Fishlegs from being banished, pointing out he’s sick, so he manages to get Fishlegs to his grandfather, Old Wrinkly (sigh) who says Fishlegs has been bitten by a  Venomous Vorpent, and the only cure for Vorpentitis, is the vegetable-That-No-One-Dares-Name that only rumors state can be found where the Hysterics live. Stoick bans Hiccup from going, thinking Fishlegs isn’t really a worthy friend of Hiccups anyway (he’s weak and not good at a lot of things) but also because where the Hysterics live is not only dangerous due to the tribe but also the serpent, because who knows how long the ice wild hold.

But Hiccup refuses to let his friend die if he could do something so he goes anyway, with Camicazi whose always down for an adventure. They cross into the land of Hysterics, who haven’t left their home for over 15 years, around the same time the serpent, a Doomfang came.

Whomsoever removes the Arrow from this Vegetable Shall Rid Us of the Doomfang and Prove Himself Right True Hero and Ruler of all the Viking Tribes. 

They manage to steal Vegetable-That-No-One-Dares-Name (a potato) and learn that the Hysterics old chief once sailed to America, and was followed back by the Doomfang. Who killed the chief. With the potato in hand they rush back home to save Fishlegs only for the Doomfang to follow them, freeing the Hysterics from their curse.

“You can Cheat a Dragon’s Curse.
You do not have to accept the hand that Fate has dealt you.”

It’s a book against the clock and about true friendship, even if you’re parents don’t understand why you’re friends. (Though a lot of these books seem to be about parents not understanding their kids and not listening.)

“Sometimes it is only a True Friend who knows what we mean when we try to speak.

Somebody who has spent a lot of time with us, and listens carefully to what we are trying to say, and tries to understand.”

I thought it was a nice change of pace as well that instead of Fishlegs complaining about being on the trip with him the entire time/on the adventure, because Toothless already is always whining and complaining about everything, that this time Hiccup is joined by Camicaze. Camicaze was just a refreshing change of pace.

What’s your favorite trope?

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