Book Review: “How to Ride a Dragon’s Storm” by Cressida Cowell

I think as the series progresses I’m enjoying the books a little more. There seems to be more heart in them, lessons, and thought. The earlier books seemed to have had a goal to be crude and a little cruel in their humor. But this is the last one in the set I have.

How to Ride a Dragon’s Storm starts of with a swimming race with all the different viking tribes. The Vikings believe that the world is flat and at a certain point you’ll just fall off the edge. But there are rumors of another world depending on where you go. In the fourth book we learned that another tribe believed they’d found the new world. (the Americas). All of the Vikings are very excited for the swimming race but poor Fishlegs who can’t swim and thus has little flotation devices. (Did they have swimming wings back then? Okay according to this website they’ve been around in some form  of a flotation device or another since 860 BC.)

This is the trouble with a Proper Viking Swimming Race. It’s a game of judgement as well as endurance. You have to be very careful that you don’t go out so far that you run out of energy to make it back.

While on their swimming race things go wrong, of course, and Hiccups grandfather warns him he must get back in three months, five days, and six hours which is a long time to be out swimming in the ocean, near impossible. (The best record in the history of the race.) The swimming contest has a simple rule, whoever spends the most time out at sea without seeking rest or aid from a ship can request anything from the other two tribes. And so everyone goes rushing off into the water and Fishlegs Camicazi, and Hiccup (and Toothless) end up separated from everyone else doing their best to keep Fishlegs above the surface since he can’t swim and his flotation devices were destroyed by the village bullies (Snotlout and friends). A dragon pulls them under and then takes them away to a ship named the American Dream 2, which is bound for America and full of prisoner Wanderers.

“Of course, Hiccup, Camicazi and Fishlegs did not want to go to America. Besides which, there was the tiny problem of crossing the Great West Ocean which, Hiccup knew, was full of Sea-Dragons so large and fearsome that they could swallow the ship they were standing on in one gulp.

Hiccup promises to free the slaves when he accidentally falls into the hull and fears they will kill him in revenge. To make sure he keeps his promise they brand him with the slave mark, something that automatically makes any viking banished from their tribe and an outcast.

“Hiccup had never met a Wanderer before, and she was an awful sight, her hair all askew like a bundle of hay, and those terrible grim and gloomy eyes, always staring into the far distance as if she’d just spotted something terrifying.”

It bothers me a bit that he finds the Wanderer’s terrifying when in fact they’re a group of people who in this situation need help and are understandably angry and scared. They’ve been kidnapped after all.

Hiccup generally tries to be a person whose good. He’s an animal lover, no matter the animal and will happily talk to them. But he’s not so good with people usually because either everyone is trying to kill him or he’s scared they’ll kill him or they’re going to trick him. (Which does happen a lot) But the Wanderer’s speak Dragonese so he speaks with them through the language he taught himself before ever getting a dragon.

Speaking of Toothless, Toothless throughout the series is just an annoying pest. He’s like a poorly trained pet that can talk who goes out of his way to make life difficult for Hiccup even though Hiccup can communicate to him and explain things. I actually actively disliked Toothless throughout the series. Even though it’s suppose to be a friendship between him and Hiccup, he only calls Hiccup Master. (There is an awkward parallel between the Wanderer’s and the dragons the Vikings use. The Vikings kidnap the dragons and then use them for menial tasks or to help them hunt) And in every book all Toothless does is whine. Sometimes he needs rescue or someone else needs rescue and then that propels the story forward a bit. But it makes him an annoying side character which kind of sucks because the whole story is suppose to be about a boy and his dragon. Except I hate the dragon.

That is until this book. I think in this book Toothless showed a lot more emotion then he had in the previous books and a lot more heart, especially towards Hiccup, which is supposedly something dragons don’t do which is why I find them a bit annoying. They’re like all the bad cliches of cats written by a person who hates cats.

It does however make me relieved that this is the last one I have. Maybe I’ll read the rest some time by borrowing them from a library. There’s at least 12 books total, so I’m more than half way through and it does seem to be getting better. Slowly. But I also want to read so many other books…so we’ll see.

Have you read the How to Train Your Dragon series? What did you think of Toothless?

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