Friday, April 11, 2008

Dragon Rider by Cornelia Funke

First time reading this author. I had heard great things about her Inkheart series but it was a YA book and unless I get a vibe I tend to push it aside, but I have discovered with books like Eragon and the Gemma Doyle series, you sometimes have to take a leap of faith, so I picked up one of Funke's earlier titles and was pleasantly surprised. I think the fact that this audiobook was narrated by Brendan Fraser added to the enjoyment. The man is the real deal. His manager should be fired for not getting him the roles he deserves because he has an extraordinary range and brought to life each and every character in the book.

Humans are invading the mountain caves that a group of dragons call home. One of the dragons has decided to go in search of a legendary sanctuary all think to be just just that, a legend and not really 'REAL'. Firedrake was raised on the tales of the Rim of Heaven and decides to journey into the world in search of this place so that the dragons of his clan can go live a peaceful existence with out the humans breathing down their throat. He takes his closest friend, a brownie girl called Sorrell, and collects quite a few more companions on his way.

One of these companions is a homeless boy called Ben. Firedrake and Sorrell have flown to the city to get the assistance of a mouse called Gilbert Great Tail who is a cartographer known for his maps and who, is rumored to know how to reach the Rim of Heaven. While they are hiding from the humans, Ben runs into them, offering his assistance in navigating the streets, hiding from the other humans and finding the mouse cartographer among all the mouses in the city. Firedrake agrees over Sorrell's protestations and by the time they leave the city Ben has joined their adventure.

Before they do leave, Gilbert Great Tail tells them how to get more information on finding the sanctuary by giving them a map that will take them to a genie, who can answer questions on how to get to the Rim of Heaven, the mouse also tells them that they are not the only ones searching for this place. The Ravens have been asking about it for many years. They have been searching for The Golden One, a dragon said to reside in the Rim of Heaven. But the Ravens are not searching for the Golden One, they work for Nettle Brand who is in fact a dragon with Golden scales. Nettlebrand searches for the dragons that have fled to the Rim of Heaven. And he has very bad intentions when he does find them.

This book was filled with great adventures and is a true treasure for children. The trio adds another companion in the form of a homunculus called Twiglegs. Twiglegs was first a spy to Nettlebrand but finds love and acceptance with Ben and Firedrake (Sorrell is always disagreeable in a humorous way). It's Twiglegs emotional growth and his turnaround that gives the book the moral lessons that parents are looking for in a children's book (there is always a lesson learned).

When I looked for books for my daughter I remember always searching for a book that held enough fantasy to intrigue her, enough adventure to grab her and a lesson that would add to her moral fiber. This book has it all. A book that if she would have read it as a child would most likely still be sitting on her bookshelf with her keepers.

Grade: B+
Format: Audiobook


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