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How to Train Your Dragon Book 8: How to Break a Dragon's Heart
By Cowell, Cressida
Little, Brown Books for Young ReadersCopyright © 2011 Cowell, Cressida
All right reserved.
PROLOGUE BY HICCUP HORRENDOUS HADDOCK III, THE LAST OF THE GREAT VIKING HEROES
History is a ghost story.
My own childhood has passed into history, and the ghosts I find there are the ghosts of Heroes and dragons and Berserks and witches, and it has become fashionable not to believe in these things anymore.
But I believe, for I was there.
And just because YOU, dear Reader, have never seen a dragon or a witch—or a ghost—does not necessarily mean that they do not exist.
This Quest is the story of the most important moment in my entire life so far.
It was the first time I learned that the names on the flat map of the Archipelago, such as the Bay of the Broken Heart, were not just made-up fantastical names, but names that related to real people who had real, flesh-and-blood lives, and the things that happened to them still haunted the place where I was growing up.
That is what I mean by ghosts.
Peering above the great gray remorseless ocean, poking defiantly out of the endless, ever-changing sea, is the broken back of an island like a humpback whale. And somewhere in the wind-tossed, storm-blown grasses, where the wind howls across the blasted heather and the trees are all blown into hoops, are the two stout stone stumps on which once stood the Everlasting Throne of the Kings of the Wilderwest.
HERE sat Grimbeard the Ghastly, the Last Great King, looking out over the rooftops of his bustling Viking city, stroking his great sword, the Stormblade.
And HERE, where the seagulls circle and the wolves gather pace for the hunt across the marshes, was once a harbor for a hundred ships that Grimbeard sent to the north, south, east, and west, seizing plunder, treasure, and slaves, in jolly Viking fashion.
HERE he once stood, clenched his fist, and shouted, “I NAME THIS LAND TOMORROW, FOR IT SHALL LAST FOREVERMORE!”
And a thousand men lifted up their spears and shouted their approval, while the dragons winked their ancient eyes as if to say, “We have heard all this before…”
HERE he was betrayed by his own flesh and blood in the middle of a game of chess…
HERE is where he spilled that blood, the blood of his own son, on the kingly marble…
HERE the flames licked the sky as the city went up like a million candles…
HERE the bright clean sound of sword on sword…
HERE the harbor crammed berry-red with corpses…
And HERE the defeated Warrior-King looked back to see several lifetimes’ worth of dreams go up in smoke as his boat began to limp like a wounded wolf across the sea to the island of Despair.
And that was the end of the Last King of the Wilderwest. The throne was lost, the chess pieces scattered across the ocean, the Stormblade buried, the Kingdom shattered into a hundred warring Tribes again. And Grimbeard sailed into the west, never to be seen again.
But HERE was where it once all happened.
HERE, where the eagles soar over knotted rags of brambles.
And the sea-filled caves in the bleak black cliffs echo to the ache of no human voice.
There are many storms in the Barbaric Archipelago.
But this was the greatest storm in more than one hundred years.
It came, without warning, at the height of midsummer.
For three days it raged without stopping, howling like a god in pain, blowing over houses, tearing up trees, picking up ships and tossing them down into the depths of the ocean as if they were matches, caring nothing for the tiny human habitations clinging like ants to the barren island wildernesses, mowing them down as if they were nothing.
A storm like this causes many things to be lost, and many things to be found.
Many a boat can be dragged down in the tempest. And many a strange object that everyone had forgotten about can be dragged up from the depths of the ocean and tossed up along with a whole heap of driftwood on one of the beaches.
This particular storm caused someone to be lost.
Camicazi, the tiny, intrepid, tangle-haired daughter of Big-Boobied Bertha, the Chief of the Bog-Burglars, was out on the sea, alone in her boat, The Stormy Petrel, when the storm struck.
Even before the tempest was past, the Bog-Burglars were out looking for her. And when the winds finally dropped and the Tribes of the Archipelago were waking up to the devastation of flattened cowsheds and walls and houses and upside-down trees, and were wearily getting down to the task of rebuilding their lives again, the Bog-Burglars were already scouring the very edges of the Archipelago in their black-sailed boats, shouting, “Caaaaaaa-mi-caaaaaaaaaaaa-ziiiiiiiiiiiiii! Caaaaaaa-mi-caaaaaaaaaaaa-ziiiiiiiiiiiiii! Caaaaaaa-mi-caaaaaaaaaaaa-ziiiiiiiiiiiiii!”
But answer came there none.
1. THE LOST CHILD
And so it was that one summer evening, two Hooligan ships were going round and round in circles around the little island of the Quiet Life in the Eastern Archipelago.
It was odd for Hooligan ships to be in the Eastern Archipelago, for that part of the world is exceptionally dangerous, and the Vikings tended to avoid it at all costs.
There are many, many horrors in the Eastern Archipelago. The only reason the Hooligans were there at all was because they were helping Big-Boobied Bertha search for her missing daughter. And now evening was drawing in, and in their quest to find the lost child, they had traveled far, far, far from their safe, cozy little home on the Isle of Berk, and it was too late to go home.
They would have to drop anchor and spend the night in the Eastern Archipelago, never a happy thought. But where could they camp?
All the lands to the north and east were part of UGLITHUG territory, and the Uglithugs were slavers and the wickedest pirates in the Barbaric World, and they had a tendency to kill any uninvited visitors on the spot. Besides, a lot of their beaches were haunted.
Of course, there was the island of Berserk.
But then again, the Berserks went crazy on a full moon and howled like dogs and fed people in baskets to some nameless thing that lived in the wildness of the woods…
So that left the island of the Quiet Life as the only safe place in the Eastern Archipelago to spend the night.
Which was why the Hooligans had spent the last hour and a half going round and round it in circles, searching for the perfect camping spot.
“HALT!” shouted Stoick the Vast, O Hear His Name and Tremble, Ugh, Ugh, the Chief of the Hairy Hooligan Tribe. He was an impressive figure with a magnificent red beard like a lion’s mane that had been vigorously back-combed by maniacs.
“REST YOUR OARS A MOMENT!”
Stoick turned to his son, Hiccup Horrendous Haddock the Third, who was standing beside him on the deck of The Fat Penguin, peering anxiously over the figurehead, shielding his eyes from the setting sun as he scanned the horizon.
Hiccup was a most unlikely Heir to the Hooligan Tribe. An ordinary-looking boy, with red hair and long, skinny limbs and the kind of anxious freckled face that was easy to overlook in a crowd.
“Now, Hiccup,” said Stoick importantly. “I want you to watch what I do carefully here. A Chief has to be ABSOLUTELY SURE that he finds a safe spot to camp. The well-being of his entire Tribe depends on his finding the PERFECT camping spot.”
“Yes, but we’ve been looking for ages now,” Hiccup pointed out. “And there was a place back there on the island of the Quiet Life that looked really quite nice.”
“Too exposed,” pronounced Stoick gravely. “The perfect spot should be sheltered from wind and sudden storms.”
“Yes, but, Father, we’re all quite tired, and it’s getting dark, and the Eastern Archipelago is very dangerous,” Hiccup said. “What about all those other places we looked at?”
“Too muddy, too many jellyfish, not enough places to pitch the tents, no lookout area…” said Stoick. “You need to look for the PERFECT spot, Hiccup.” He patted Hiccup condescendingly on the back. “That’s why I’m the Captain, son. Watch and learn, my boy, watch and learn.”
Stoick stalked off enthusiastically to look for other suitable spots, while his crew rested their weary arms and grumbled mutinously. Somebody said that perhaps if Stoick was so keen to find the perfect camping spot, he might like to take over at the oars.
But they said it very quietly, so that Stoick wouldn’t hear.
“I hate camping,” said Fishlegs, Hiccup’s best friend. “It does terrible things to my asthma.” Fishlegs was a tall, spindly runner-bean of a boy who had eczema as well as asthma and was allergic to wheat and dairy. Not to mention dragons.
“This is all your fault, Useless…” snarled Snotface Snotlout, Hiccup’s cousin. Snotlout was a large, arrogant adolescent with a natural air of leadership and a lot of skeleton tattoos. He spat thoughtfully into the sea.
“We wouldn’t be out here looking for a lousy little Bog-Burglar if you hadn’t turned your father soft, so that he made allies with those mud-trotting female no-hopers,” sneered Snotlout. “Before you started interfering, there was an excellent saying, ‘The only good Bog-Burglar is a dead Bog-Burglar.’ And what I say is, if we find her dear ickle Bog-Burglar corpse floating down that gorge over there tomorrow morning, I, for one, will not be blubbing into my cocoa.”
“Har, har, har,” snorted Dogsbreath the Duhbrain, Snotlout’s friend and fellow bully.
“You’re such a charmer, Snotlout,” snapped Hiccup. “No wonder you make friends easily.”
“But seriously,” drawled Snotlout, “look around you, Useless. You and your father have really put us in danger here. We’ve drifted into UGLITHUG territory. See that island over there?” Snotlout pointed to an ominous, brooding dark shape to the south from which a strange, humming, drumming noise seemed to be coming. “You want to know what that is, sweet pea? That’s BERSERK, that is. And this beach that we’re drifting into now? This is the Beach of the Broken Heart…”
Dogsbreath the Duhbrain stopped giggling abruptly and turned an unattractive shade of green. “The Beach of the Broken Heart?” he stammered. “But isn’t that… supposed to be… haunted????”
“Sure is.” Snotlout grinned.
“Haunted????” squeaked Fishlegs.
Snotlout opened his eyes wide and leaned forward to Fishlegs, whispering conspiratorially. “That’s right, you weed. The Beach of the Broken Heart is haunted, so they say, by a ghost lady in a ghost ship… searching forever for her lost, dead child… and if she finds YOU instead… why”—and he paused for effect—“she reaches into your chest with her horrible ghosty fingers”—Fishlegs and Dogsbreath both covered their chests hurriedly—“and she takes out your beating heart and sails with it back to the ghost world,” finished Snotlout with relish.
Dogsbreath was so anxious that he dropped his drawn dagger rather painfully onto his toe. “OOOOW…”
“That is such RUBBISH, Snotlout,” said Hiccup loudly. “That’s just a myth, created because the marshes behind the beach are home to a rare kind of bird called the Neverbird, and it makes a sound like a crying ghost.”
Snotlout leaned back and crossed his tattooed arms casually. “Is it rubbish though?” he said. “We could be in serious danger here. And all for a dirty little Bog-Burglar who has nothing to do with the Hooligan Tribe. I repeat. All your fault, Useless.”
And it was just at that moment that Hiccup’s hunting dragon, Toothless, returned to The Fat Penguin from a scouting mission, making a clumsy crash landing on Hiccup’s head.
Hiccup had sent Toothless ahead to investigate coves and rocks and beaches and likely places where a small boat might have been blown and wrecked by a mighty storm.
If Hiccup was an unlikely Heir to the Hooligan Tribe, Toothless was an even more unlikely hunting-dragon-to-the-Heir. He was a Common or Garden dragon, the least rare of the dragon species (although he claimed to be something much more exotic), and he was at least half the size of the other young Warriors’ hunting dragons. He had no obvious weapons and, as his name suggests, no teeth.
At the moment he was genuinely anxious, but the drama of the search, and the lateness of the hour, and the importance of him, Toothless, leading the hunt from the front, not to mention the fact that he had missed two meals and two naps, had led him to cross the line into hopeless, fidgety, overexcitement.
He was wound up tighter than a tick that had feasted on several large, sugar-laced cups of coffee.
Toothless always had a stammer, but now he was so beside himself he couldn’t even get the words out. He just jumped up and down on Hiccup’s head, pointing his wings at the Beach of the Broken Heart.
“What is it, Toothless? What is it?” asked Hiccup. Stoick, who was squinting all around him and discussing with his second-in-command the relative merits of different camping areas, spotted Toothless pointing and turned his telescope toward the Beach of the Broken Heart.
“Well that’s not a suitable camping spot.” Stoick grunted but then he stopped. “Hang on a second. What’s that? THERE’S SOMETHING ON THE BEACH OVER THERE!”
2. THE SOMETHING ON THE BEACH
Poor Fishlegs jumped two feet in the air, thinking that the Something might be a ghost lady.
But it was Something large and solid sticking up out of the white sands of the Beach of the Broken Heart.
“Maybe it’s Camicazi’s boat!” cried Hiccup hopefully, screwing up his eyes and trying to see. “Perhaps it crashed and it’s sticking kind of upward out of the sand…”
“WARRIORS!” bellowed Stoick. “LET US INVESTIGATE THE SOMETHING ON THE BEACH BEFORE WE CARRY ON LOOKING FOR THE PERFECT CAMPING SPOT! IT COULD BE THE MISSING CHILD WE’VE BEEN LOOKING FOR!”
The Warriors were a little reluctant, to say the least.
The sun was sinking rapidly in a beautiful display of pink and red and gold. However, no one was in the mood to appreciate a lovely sunset. Was it their imaginations, or was that drumming noise coming from the direction of the island of Berserk getting louder?
“But Chief,” Nobber Nobrains pointed out, “that beach over there is not only haunted, it is also part of the territory of UG the Uglithug.”
UG the Uglithug didn’t like visitors.
“Well we’re not going to land or anything, are we?” barked Stoick the Vast. “We’re just going to check it out… And what are you doing questioning my orders? I AM THE CAPTAIN OF THIS SHIP, AND YOU SHOULD OBEY WITHOUT QUESTION!”
So they oared their weary way toward the Something on the beach, grumbling as they went.
“Oh, Useless, you’re just a delight. I could just smack your Useless fat head,” snarled Snotlout savagely. “And I would if I wasn’t too tired and hungry to be bothered.”
But as they drew nearer, into the shallower water of the Bay, through a jigsaw of floating driftwood that had been thrown up by the storm, even in the failing light of the dying evening, they realized that the Something clearly wasn’t a boat.
“It’s too rectangular,” said Fishlegs.
What could it be?
Fishlegs had just decided in his head that it was a coffin when there was a sudden CRRRUNCCH!! from the ship’s bottom, and they came to an abrupt halt.
“FOOLS!” yelled Stoick. “You’ve hit a rock!”
“You didn’t tell us to stop,” pointed out Nobber Nobrains, not unreasonably. “You’re the Captain. We just obey orders.”
They had hit a rock and holed the boat.
Water poured in from the starboard side.
And The Fat Penguin gently laid her very fat bottom on the sand of the Beach of the Broken Heart and refused to move.
It is always embarrassing for a Viking when he sinks his own boat.
Especially in only two feet of water.
It is an occupational hazard.
But it could not have happened at a more awkward time.
The Vikings got out of the boat. The water was knee-deep. Tactfully, nobody said anything.
“THUNDERING THIGHS AND GINGERY WHISKERS AND LITTLE TWIRLY BITS OF THE GREAT GOD THOR!” exclaimed Stoick the Vast, bright red in the face. As he shook his fist at the heavens above, the last blink of sun disappeared on the horizon, and there they were, stranded on the Beach of the Broken Heart until they could mend the boat in the morning.
“RIGHT!” shouted Stoick the Vast. “I think we’ve found our camp for the night.”
The Hooligans on the other boat weren’t so very eager to join them on the beach. “Our boat is all right,” called out Baggybum the Beerbelly. “We might just stay aboard and sleep here…”
“WHADDAYATALKING ABOUT?” roared Stoick the Vast. “HOOLIGANS STAND TOGETHER! GET OUT HERE DOUBLE QUICK!”
It was not what you might call the perfect camping spot. But what choice did they have?
The sun had sunk.
So had their boat.
The moon was coming up, and the first of the Glowworms were beginning to light up the still evening air.
Too tired to argue, the Hooligans anchored the other boat where it was, threw their animal skin blankets over their shoulders, and waded through the knee-high water and up onto the beach.
At least they found out what the Something on the beach was.
It was a throne.
An enormous, empty THRONE.
It was carved out of a single piece of white marble, but it had obviously just come out of the water, for it was covered with a film of green algae, and it was plastered as thickly with barnacles as if they were jewels, and long trails of seaweed drifted from the shell-encrusted arms.
The throne was enormous, and such was its solid position on the beach it was as if it were inhabited by a giant invisible god, sitting there quietly, looking out to sea.
“How extraordinary,” breathed Stoick the Vast. “Where do you think this came from? And the Hooligan coat of arms is on the back! This must belong to US… How very extraordinary! But I’ve never seen a throne like this in my life! And what on earth is a valuable Hooligan throne doing miles out here, abandoned on a beach in the Uglithug Territories? It’s ini… ini… what do I mean to say, Hiccup?”
“Inexplicable,” said Hiccup, peering rather cautiously at the throne.
There was something about this throne that gave him the spooks.
Maybe it was the faint impression of a bloodstain on the back of it. A very old bloodstain, washed in the waters of the ocean for some time, but still there, a faint brown flower, the memory of some ancient betrayal.
“I think it must have been washed up by the storm, like all these other things,” said Hiccup, gesturing to a whole load of driftwood and bits of old bottles and jugs and crab shells and axe handles and half of a fish-box that lay drowning in pools of water in the sand on the beach.
“But what a treasure!” breathed Stoick the Vast, cheering up tremendously. “And it belongs to US! It must have been some Hooligan Chieftain’s throne back in the old days!”
Well, well, well! It was worth holing The Fat Penguin for this. Stoick rubbed his hands together excitedly.
Stoick’s present throne back on Berk hadn’t really been the same since Toothless accidentally set fire to it a couple of months ago.
It was hard to impress anyone with a throne that had only three legs.
“OK, Warriors!” Stoick yelled. “Haul the thing above the high-tide mark, and then let’s get the supper on and have an early night!”
“Now, Hiccup,” Stoick continued, “you will learn the importance of Making the Best of Things, another very important Hooligan characteristic. This may not be such a bad camping spot after all. Look! No jellyfish! Perfectly sheltered! Plenty of lookout areas! LET’S SET UP CAMP OVER BY THAT FAT ROCK WITH THE RUNES ON IT, GUYS!”
Stoick stomped off up the beach toward a large rock covered in UG runes.
“What do the runes say, Hiccup?” asked Fishlegs nervously.
Hiccup knelt down beside the rock. “They say, ‘Trespassers will be Killed Horribly but Mercifully Quickly if they are Lucky.’ That’s the gist of it anyway. UG runes are very difficult to read.”
“PSHAW!” shouted Stoick the Vast, throwing down a whole heap of driftwood for the campfire. “The Uglithugs very rarely come to this beach because of the whole, you know, haunted thing. So if you think about it, this could be the perfect camping spot. They’ll never find us here!”
The Hairy Hooligans moved the throne and built the fire on a heap of stones and driftwood on the beach, and roasted and ate some mackerel for supper. Then they rolled themselves up in their bearskins around the fire, their hunting dragons lying beside them, and tried to get to sleep.
Which wasn’t easy.
For, as the Hooligans found out, there may have been ANOTHER reason why the Uglithugs didn’t visit the Beach of the Broken Heart much.
For the mild humming and drumming that had been coming from the black silhouette of the island of Berserk to the south earlier in the evening got louder and louder as the stars came out. The drums beat out a warlike tribal beat that seemed to dance a tattoo in time to Hiccup’s racing heart.
And as the moon rose, a truly terrible, unearthly sound rose from out of that island.
A ghostly, ghastly HOWLING is the only way to describe it, like the howling of hungry wolves. But only a human throat could make that noise, or a half human anyway.
The dreadful sound slipped down Hiccup’s spine like an icy trickle of water.
“Berserks…” came the deep voice of Stoick the Vast from out of the darkness on the other side of the fire. He tutted disapprovingly. “They’re still very into their human sacrifices, I’m afraid. So old-fashioned. That reminds me. My father always used to say, ‘Never invade a major landmass at the beginning of the winter and NEVER go to Berserk.’ Remember that, Hiccup,” he said importantly. “That’s a fine piece of fatherly advice.”
“Oh, don’t worry, I’ll remember that,” Hiccup whispered back.
“I know I shouldn’t be criticizing your father, but this really is NOT the perfect camping spot,” moaned Fishlegs, shivering in his bearskin beside Hiccup. “We’re sleeping on a haunted beach, trespassing on the territory of the most brutal and suspicious Chief in the Barbaric World, and a whole load of weirdos are having a ceremony of human sacrifice on the island next door. I’m not generally in favor of camping out anyway, but this really is the worst-case scenario…”
Eventually, one by one, the Hooligans drifted off to sleep. Hiccup was the last, staring at the stars, and at the flickering dying of the firelight. He was wondering where Camicazi was. He was feeling fairly frightened himself, but at least he wasn’t alone.
Four hours later, he sat bolt upright as an electrifying scream ripped across the beach.
“Berserks…” grumbled Stoick, groaning as he turned in the sand, pulling his bearskin over his head. “Unpleasant, but no threat at that distance…”
The Hooligans and their dragons, who had all sat upright as one at the sound of that scream, settled themselves back down again.
But Hiccup didn’t lie down immediately. He was looking at something.
Beyond the firelight, where the throne sat quietly in the darkness.
Oh, stark mad Berserks and lunatic ghost ladies!
There was somebody SITTING on the throne!
3. DEFINITELY NOT THE PERFECT CAMPING SPOT
It could only be one of three things really.
It could be the ghost lady of the beach coming for their hearts.
It could be a Berserk looking for another human to sacrifice.
Or it could be an Uglithug wanting to kill them Horribly but Mercifully Quickly if they were Lucky.
All three of those things were worth a pretty good scream, a real belter in fact, and Hiccup opened up his mouth.
But a great hairy hand closed over it.
Hiccup could only watch with terrified, popping eyes as quiet, dark shadowy figures poured over the beach and positioned themselves silently behind every Hooligan’s head.
The figure in the throne was shrouded in darkness. Hiccup could see the magnificent stag-horned outline of his helmet against the night sky. He was slowly smoking a cigar that glowed bright in the moonlight. He made a motion with his hand, and every Hooligan around that campfire was awoken with a knife to his throat.
Every Hooligan except for Stoick.
Stoick snored on, regardless.
The figure seated in the throne got up and strolled toward the sleeping Stoick. He gave him a gentle kick.
Stoick the Vast snatched the bearskin blanket from his head and sat up indignantly. “Wossat? Who’s there?”
He made a sleepy grab for his axe.
The horned figure made another slight gesture with his hand, and quiet shadowy figures drew the throne closer to the Fire.
“UG the Uglithug! What are YOU doing here?” gulped Stoick the Vast, his axe already drooping in his hand in dismay that all his Warriors had knives held at their throats.
Stoick the Vast was a little slow on the uptake, but even he could see it didn’t look good.
They were on Uglithug land, and the chewed bones of Uglithug mackerel were littered all around their campfire.
“Well, you know, Stoick,” purred UG the Uglithug. His smile was the smile of a tiger being friendly. “This is MY beach…”
Most of the Chieftains Hiccup had come across were tough but a little dim.
UG was scary because he was not only the most powerful and brutal King in the Barbaric World, whose territories stretched so far that a dragon could fly east for a week and never reach the end of them, he was also highly intelligent.
“I can explain, UG!” gasped Stoick the Vast.
“Live and let live is my philosophy, Stoick,” smiled UG the Uglithug. “All you Chieftains out there in the wild west are burglars. If you want to burgle each other, and raid each other, and murder each other, do I interfere? I do not. As long as you don’t try to burgle ME,” said UG, who had stopped laughing with terrible abruptness and now spoke with pure menace, “because then that is my business. If anyone tries to burgle ME, then…” UG let the sentence trail off suggestively.
“… Then you kill them Horribly,” said Stoick eagerly, pleased he now knew what UG was talking about, “but Mercifully Quickly if they’re Lucky. Yes, I know that, UG…”
“Well done, Stoick, well done,” said UG. “I’m glad to hear it. But you see, Stoick, my spy dragons tell me that you have come here, uninvited, in the middle of the night, with all your army…” He gestured at Stoick’s ships with his cigar. “A suspicious man might say that by planting your throne on my beaches you are laying claim to my lands. Some people might say that wasn’t very friendly…”
“No, no, UG, it isn’t like that!” blustered Stoick the Vast. “That isn’t my throne! We just found it lying here on the beach!”
UG the Uglithug smiled, and it wasn’t a pretty sight. “You are an old friend, Stoick,” said UG, and now his voice had hardened to ice, “but even your friends would say that you have never been the brightest barbarian in the business. If it isn’t your throne, why is the Hooligan coat of arms plastered all over the back of it?”
UG leaned back in the throne and jammed his cigar between his teeth. He lifted his arm. Hiccup could see that all the Uglithugs, their knives poised over the Hooligans’ throats, had their eyes on that arm, and he knew that if UG’s arm came down, they would all be executed on the spot.
Hiccup bit the finger of the brute who was covering his mouth, and shouted, “BIG-BOOBIED BERTHA KNOWS WE ARE HERE!”
Excerpted from How to Train Your Dragon Book 8: How to Break a Dragon's Heart by Cowell, Cressida Copyright © 2011 by Cowell, Cressida. Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
Reviewed by Barbara Karp for Readers' Favorite As Hiccup Horrendous Haddock III continues the story of his youth, members of his Hooligan tribe are searching for young Camicazi. The daughter of the chief of the Bog-Burglars was caught in a horrific summer storm while alone in her boat. Their search takes them to the eastern archipelago, where Stoick the Vast, chief of the Hooligans and Hiccup’s father, sets up camp on a beach in the land of the Ugli-Thug tribe. When the Hooligans are discovered by UG, chief of the inhospitable inhabitants of the region, the leader is disturbed. It appears someone from the Hooligan tribe sent a love letter to his daughter. If the author is of royal blood, he will be given an impossible task, and upon its completion will marry the young woman. Imagine Hiccup’s surprise when he discovers the letter was written by his friend Fishlegs, a weak and asthmatic boy. To save his friend, our hero claims responsibility. UG, despite his daughter’s protests that she will only marry one of the previous eleven suitors, informs Hiccup that he must bring five pots of honey from the island of Berserk’s bees. As Stoick mobilizes his warriors to assist Hiccup in his task, Fishlegs — feeling responsible for the turn of events — slips away to obtain the honey himself. When Hiccup discovers his friend’s intention, he flies after him on his riding dragon. When the warrior-in-training catches up to him, both boys fall into the clutches of the vicious Berserk tribe. Upon discovering that they are “fiancés” to UG’s daughter, the chief determines that Hiccup and Fishlegs, along with all the previous suitors, will be killed in a ceremony that very night. While the other fiancés appear unconcerned about their fate, Hiccup knows he must come up with a plan to escape from the Berserks — and find the missing Camicazi. Cressida Cowell has outdone herself with this continuation of Hiccup’s tale. The humor and levity of the previous volumes is tempered by a more complex plot. There is an aura of sadness and longing surrounding the events of the story and experiences of the characters. Followers of the Viking-in-training’s earlier adventures will enjoy this tale and find the deeper insights into the lives of Hiccup and his friends meaningful. The elderly warrior’s epilogue is haunting. This multi-layered tale is brilliantly narrated by David Tennant.
Love the series and Love the movie!!!
My boys got interested about this series after seeing the movie. The books are nothing like the movie, but equally as good!