An Audio-Book Review: Books? Vikings Don’t Write Books!


A Hero’s Guide to Dragons

Book 6 of “How to Train Your Dragon”

By Cressida Cowell

Published by Hachette Audio

Read by David Tennant

 

The Book:

It is Hiccup’s third birthday… yes, he is 12 years old, but he was born on February 29. I’m not sure if that was ever mentioned before, but if his career as a Viking fails to pan out it means he has a position available among the Pirates of Penzance. Naturally he is not having a good birthday. Toothless, his diminutive dragon has not only eaten his father’s throne, but shredded the only copy of “How to Train Your Dragon,” stolen from the Hairy Scary Librarian of the Meathead Tribe. So now he and his loyal friends, Fishlegs and Kamikaze, must infiltrate the library and steal another copy.

The Meathead Vikings, it seems set great store in their library and keep it guarded lest anyone break the rule of the Thing (the meeting of the tribes) that no books be read save “How to Train Your Dragon.” which, by the way, only says, “Yell at it… very loudly.”

So first they must sneak past the hundreds of Meathead guards and then battle with the Hairy Scary Librarian himself, all the while avoiding some of the other terrors allowed to fester within the library to discourage literate invaders.

All told, it is a lot of fun whether you are an adult or a younger person for whom the author obviously intended the story for. As I have said before, these books bear only the most passing resemblance to the two movies, but in many ways I think they are better, having a delicious mix of adventure and humor. Admittedly, they contain a few lame puns, genuine groaners, but what the heck, they are kids’ books and considering how few of that sort have genuine humor I can forgive the puns. Also excepting he fact that you know the heroes are going to not only survive, but win out in the end, there are a lot of surprises along the way.

Some of the books between the first and this one fell a little flat, but this one definitely brings the series back on track.

 

The Audiobook:

What can I say? David Tennant! As in the previous five books, this one is read by Doctor Who, or rather the actor who played the Tenth Doctor. He does it in his native Scots accent which is fine. In fact, I find it delightfully refreshing since so many readers seem to either want to read in Londonish English or American Midwest. There is definitely room for regional accents so long as they are not so thick as to be a distraction, which Mister Tennant’s is not. That may be why I enjoy listening to the wide variety of readers who record for Librivox. It is just nice to hear a different accent from time to time.

David Tennant, however is not just a reader. He is an actor and unlike some, he seems to know instinctively when to act out the book and when to just read the words. His pacing is excellent and in spite of a series of funny voices they almost always seem to be just right for the characters.

So… fun book, great reader. You cannot go wrong!

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