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Dragon Rider by Cornelia Funke

Dragon Rider by Cornelia Funke
Published by Chicken House, 2004
ISBN 1903434904

Reviewed by Shannon Children’s Book Club

Firedrake the silver dragon sets off on a quest from his quiet Scottish valley home which is under threat from human settlers to find the mythical Rim of Heaven, a sort of dragon paradise where he and the other dragons can live in peace.

He is joined by a bad tempered brownie Sorrel, orphan boy Ben and by Twigleg, a tiny creature called a homunculous, who unknown to them has stowed away in Ben’s bag and is spying for the evil Nettlebrand, a strange manmade golden dragon, who hunts down and kills silver dragons. They journey by night with Ben and Sorrel strapped to Firedrake’s back as he flies towards the Himalayas, following the map given to them by a map making rat called Gilbert Greytail. On the way, they battle basilisks and giant eagles, have run-ins with wicked dwarfs and annoying elves but get help from unexpected sources like a giant serpent, a mischievous djinn and from archeologist Professor Greenbloom and his family.

This is a long book of 527 pages and it is a little slow to get going but stick with it and this brilliant story with adventure after adventure will keep you turning the pages. The book club liked the clever fold out map in the middle of the book, supposedly made by Gilbert Greytail. We loved the funny, sarcastic Sorrel and feisty airwoman/rat Lola Greytail.

Members of the book club gave this book a rating of 9½ out of ten.

Reviewed by Kilmihil Children’s Book Club

For many centuries the dragons have been hiding out of sight of man and the threat of The Golden One or Nettlebrand– the large monster who killed so many of them in the past.

However, for the dragons in the North of England, humans have begun to develop the land surrounding them and they must find somewhere that it’s safe for them. The old dragon tells the young Firedrake of the last safe place for the dragons - the Rim of Heaven. Firedrake, the dragon and Sorrel his brownie friend, set out to find the other dragons and the Rim of Heaven.

They stop in London to get a map from the rat, Gilbert Greytail, and while there meet up with a boy called Ben. Ben is all alone in the world and goes with Firedrake and Sorrel to help them in their quest.
Nettlebrand has been waiting for centuries to kill all the remaining dragons in the world….. He is a homunculus, a living machine and was made to kill dragons. He is much larger than any dragon and dragon fire hasn’t any effect on him. He sends his servant Twigleg – another homunculus - to spy on Firedrake and lead him to where the other dragons live at the Rim of Heaven.

Ben, Firedrake and Sorrel have many adventures on their quest to find the Rim of Heaven. They meet lots of good friends like Professor Greenbloom and his family, Lola Greytail - a cousin of Gilbert the rat and Burr Burr Chan the brownie.

They are pursued by Nettlebrand and his spies who come close to them on a number of occasions.
This is a very exciting fantasy read. It is a fast paced book full of adventure and was enjoyed by the children of the Kilmihil Book Club. Some did find that there were too many characters and that it was a little confusing.
Favourite characters were Sorrel the bad tempered brownie and Lola Greytail.

Rating 8 out of 10.