Reluctant hero Hiccup Horrendous Haddock III must rescue his best friend, Fishlegs, from the deadly disease Vorpentitis. The only cure is rare and impossible to find... a potato. But where will Hiccup find such a thing? He'll have to dodge the terrible Sharkworms Battle Doomfangs, and outwit crazy Hooligans if he's going to be a Hero. Again.
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How to Train Your Dragon Book 4: How to Cheat a Dragon's Curse
By Cowell, Cressida
Little, Brown Books for Young ReadersCopyright © 2010 Cowell, Cressida
All right reserved.
1. THE HUNTING-WITH-BOWS-AND-ARROWS-ON-SKIS EXPEDITION
Winters were always cold in the Viking Lands.
But this winter was the coldest in a hundred years. It was so cold that the Sullen Sea had frozen over, and all the islands in the Inner Isles were now joined together by a great flat desert of solid ice, two meters thick in places.
On this particularly cold morning several hours before breakfast, it was as if the whole world was holding its breath, frozen in time. The air was as sharp as broken glass; no sound disturbed the pure snowy silence.
No sound, that is, apart from an appalling, mad screaming coming from somewhere out in the middle of the ice.
For a small party of young boys and their teacher from the Hooligan Tribe had set out from the little Isle of Berk where they lived to the Island of Villainy to the south.
Not in a boat, of course, for you cannot sail across a frozen sea.
They were speeding far too fast across the ice in an enormous wooden Viking SLEIGH, pulled by six pure white Saber-Toothed Driver Dragons larger than lions and faster than cheetahs.
The dreadful mad yelling was coming from the man driving the sleigh, Gobber the Belch. Gobber was the teacher in charge of the Pirate Training Program on Berk, and he was an enormous monster of a man wrapped up in furs who could easily have been mistaken for a grizzly bear with a dirty red beard and an attitude problem.
“GEDDONWITHIT, YOU MISERABLE WHITE WORMS!”roared Gobber at the Saber-Toothed Dragons, cracking his whip above their heads. “I’VE HAD SNAILS THAT HAVE MOVED QUICKER THAN YOU LOT! MY GRANNY COULD SKIP FASTER THAN THIS AND SHE’S A HUNDRED AND FOUR! YEEEEEEHAAH!!”
One gigantic furry arm lashed out with a whip that curled through the air like a great black serpent, the other shook the reins in a lunatic frenzy that sent the Driver Dragons bounding forward in terrible uncontrolled leaps.
Behind Gobber on the sleigh sat twelve of his pupils.
Ten of these boys were ugly young thugs yelling as loudly in crazy excitement as their teacher.
“YEEEEEEEHAAAAH!”they whooped, as the sleigh hit a snowbank and sailed ten meters through the air and then slammed back down on the ice with stomach-churning violence.
The last two boys were smaller than the rest and a lot less excited.
“I’m glad,” gasped Hiccup Horrendous Haddock the Third as the sleigh tipped over wildly on one runner with an awful screech and spray of ice. “I’m glad I didn’t have breakfast because I think it would have come up again…”
Hiccup is, in fact, the Hero of this story, although you would never have guessed it to look at him. He was small, and red-haired, and very, very ordinary.
Hiccup’s best friend Fishlegs, a skinny runner-bean of a boy with asthma and a squint, wasn’t really listening. He was praying to Thor with his eyes squeezed tightly shut.
“Please, Thor,” begged Fishlegs, “please make it stop…”
Fishlegs’s prayer was about to be answered.
The sleigh was approaching the great black cliffs of the Visithugs Territories far too impossibly fast for it to stop in time…
“Don’t open your eyes, Fishlegs,” advised Hiccup.
Gobber the Belch reared up and with a mighty roar of “WOOOOOOAH!!!,”leaned back so far pulling on the reins that he was nearly horizontal. The Saber-Tooths came to a plunging halt so sharply that the sleigh wheeled around in a mad arc…. They were going to slam into that cliff at such a speed they would all be smashed to splinters…
“AAAAARGH!” yelled Hiccup, shutting his eyes too.
The sleigh screeched to a quivering halt. Hiccup opened his eyes again. Astonishingly, they were still alive. But the smooth black wall of the cliff was only centimeters away from Hiccup’s cheek. Hiccup held on to the rock for a second to help himself stop shaking.
“RIGHT!”bellowed Gobber, clambering out of the sleigh entirely unconcerned. “WHAT ARE YOU ALL DOING SKULKING IN THERE? GET OUT AND STAND TO ATTENTION, YOU PATHETIC DRIBBLES OF EARWIG DROPPINGS!”
Yawning and chattering, all twelve boys unpacked skis from the back of the sleigh and attached them to the bottom of their furry boots.
For six months of the year the Vikings lived under SNOW… so a Viking Warrior had to be just as good at SKIING as he was at SAILING.
This was a Hunting-with-Bows-and-Arrows-on-Skis Expedition. The boys had to ski down Mount Villainy, the largest mountain in the Inner Isles, shooting with their arrows as many Semi-Spotted Snowpeckers as they could.
“I’m going to get at least FIFTY,” boasted Snotface Snotlout, a tall thug of a boy with huge nostrils and a moustache like a little furry caterpillar squirming on his upper lip.
“SILENCE!” screamed Gobber, cracking his whip.
There was absolute silence immediately. It’s a curious fact, but a heavily armed, mad, six-and-a-half-foot teacher holding a whip tends to get his class’s attention.
“I will be staying here to guard the sleigh,” yelled Gobber. “Hiccup Horrendous Haddock the Third will be in charge of the Hunting Party when you get to the mountain.”
Ten of the boys groaned and turned around to look furiously at Hiccup.
ALL of them reckoned they would make better leaders than Hiccup.
Snotlout had won the Senseless Violence Cup three years in a row. Wartihog could smash chairs to pieces with his bare fists. Dogsbreath the Duhbrain burped so loud he shattered glass.
Small, skinny, and unimportant, only Hiccup looked like he had no leadership skills whatsoever. He stood on one leg apologetically and this made his skis cross and he fell over.
“Why does HICCUP get to be in charge AGAIN?” demanded Snotface Snotlout through gritted teeth.
“Because Hiccup is the son of the CHIEF and one day he will be in charge PERMANENTLY, Thor help us all…,” explained Gobber, helping Hiccup to his feet and dusting the snow off him with one hairy hand.
“Any questions?” boomed Gobber.
Fishlegs put up his hand. “Just a small point, sir,” he said. “How are we going to climb up the mountain in the first place?”
“The Saber-Toothed Dragons will DRAG you to the top ON your skis,” replied Gobber. “It shouldn’t take more than half an hour.”
Fishlegs and Hiccup looked dubiously at the great white creatures crouching dangerously on the ice, tongues spilling out over teeth as sharp as swords, cat-like eyes gazing at their small human Masters with the purest hatred.
“So that’s that, then,” said Gobber. “I shall wait for you here and see you all in three hours’ time…. I really need a NAP… way too early for me…”
Gobber settled himself on the furs of the sleigh and gave an enormous yawn. “Oh, and one more thing… as you know, nobody lives on the Island of Villainy, but the Island of Hysteria is just next door and I should warn you that at this time of year there may be Hysterics about…”
“HYSTERICS???” squeaked Fishlegs, somewhat, well, hysterically. “But the Hysterics are trapped safely in Hysteria, aren’t they?”
HYSTERICS, I should explain, were a particularly bloodthirsty and lunatic Tribe of Vikings. Even tough Tribes like the Visithugs were scared of the Hysterics. Hiccup had never actually met a Hysteric, but he knew they were renowned for killing you first, and asking questions later.
Normally they didn’t trouble the other Tribes, however, because three-quarters of the island ended in dizzyingly high cliffs plunging straight into deep seas, and on the north coast was the Wrath of Thor, where an impossibly huge and monstrous Sea Dragon called the DOOMFANG lived.
A page from one of Hiccup’s note books from when he was much younger
Most dragons hibernate in the winter. Big ones go in a cave but smaller ones dig themselves a hole to sleep in, and the deeper the hole, the colder the winter will be.
A common-or-Garden dragon hibernating for the winter.
Some dragons, like Saber-Toothed Driver Dragons, do not hibernate at all, and they are called evergreens, and this is a funny name for them because Saber-Toothed Driver Dragons are always white.
The good news about this was that nobody could get into Hysteria, and even more importantly, the Hysterics could not get out.
Except at this time of year…
“Because at this time of year,” boomed Gobber happily, “the Wrath of Thor is all frozen over, and the Doomfang is trapped under two meters solid of ice. So if you do happen to come across a Hysteric—and I’m SURE you won’t; it’s far too early in the morning—I suggest you ski like fury in the opposite direction.”
And just like that, Gobber fell asleep.
VIKING DRAGONS AND THEIR EGGS
Saber-Toothed Driver Dragons
Saber-Tooths are enormous lionlike dragons that do not hibernate, and are therefore very useful to the Vikings for pulling their sleighs, and dragging them up mountains during the winter. They have been known to eat their owners.
I don’t like happy endings.
They are too neat, too nice
I like a little spice in my stories.
COLORS: Always white
ARMED WITH: Those terrible Saber-Teeth and super-scary spikes on head… 9
HUNTING ABILITY: Terrifying to watch… 9
SPEED: Not as quick as some, and their heavy bulk makes them slow to maneuver… 6
FEAR AND FIGHT FACTOR: Alarming… 9
Excerpted from How to Train Your Dragon Book 4: How to Cheat a Dragon's Curse by Cowell, Cressida Copyright © 2010 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.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
Reviewed by Barbara Karp for Readers' Favorite Hiccup Horrendous III, only son and heir of Stoick the Vast, chief of the Hairy Hooligans, is back. How to Cheat a Dragon's Curse continues the memoirs of the hero as translated by Cressida Cowell. As the tale opens, the young Viking and his fellow students find themselves on a dragon-pulled sleigh. Today’s lesson is hunting with bow and arrows on skis, and Hiccup is leading the operation. Their destination is the island of the Hysterics, a vicious Viking tribe led by Norbert the Nutjob. As so often happens with the boys’ training, things don’t go as planned, and Hiccup ends up shooting the Hysteric chief in the backside. The boys narrowly escape, but Hiccup has another worry. His best friend Fishlegs appears to be ill. After they return, a concerned Hiccup takes his friend to ask the advice of the wise Old Wrinkly. It turns out that Fishlegs was stung by a dragon known as a Venomous Vorpent. The only antidote is a potato, a vegetable that does not yet exist in Viking lands. However, Old Wrinkly informs Hiccup that there is one: on the island of the Hysterics. Determined to get the potato and cure his friend, the Viking-in-training is joined by Camicazi, a girl as brave and skilled at warfare as she is small. Together, the youngsters, with the help of a dragon named One-Eye, make their way to the Hysterics’ island. Hiccup and Camicazi discover the location of the coveted Vegetable-That-Must-Not-Be-Named (Harry Potter fans will love the inference): the Hysteric Great Hall, where a huge feast is taking place. Hiccup, Camicazi, and reluctant little dragon Toothless snatch the potato from under the noses of the Hysterics and make a harrowing escape from the island. Now they must rush back to Berk in time to save Fishlegs. The fourth volume in Cressida Cowell’s riotously funny series lives up to the reputation of its predecessors. The spot-on narration by David Tennant adds to the fun. Full of kid-pleasing humor, nonstop action, and unexpected twists, Hiccup’s new adventure will have readers enthralled. The surprise ending is the icing on the cake. As soon as kids finish this one, they’re sure to be clamoring for the next installment.
This is one of my favorite books in the series. In the last book "How To Speak Dragonese", one viking in the group gets poison by the deadly dragon, Vorpentitis. Cressida Cowell let it a mystery of who got the poision. Now in this book, Fishlegs to seemes to have the affects. Now it's up to Hiccup and Camicazi to steal a poatato from Norbert the Nutjob to save their friends life. I really love this book, it's action, adventure, comendy, and mystery all wrap into one. I recmend it for 3- 6th grade. I think it is for mostly boys, but girls can still read it (I'm a girl). Also, you should read the books before you read this book. So, you understand the book and characters.
It has always been a challenge to find just the right book for my son to read. He is a high-level reader, but many of the books that are in his reading-range are not approriate, or interesting, for a ten year-old boy. I was so relieved when he stumbled upon the "Dragon" series by Cressida Cowell. He has devoured these books on his "own time" and has been reading the series for pleasure, though the books do have associated AR reading tests available. It is the first time I have ever seen him walk home from school while absorbed in a book; he couldn't bear to put it down. He enjoys the quirky characters and the laugh-out-loud dialogue. Every time he starts a new book in the series, I race to order the next one because I know it won't be long before he needs to know what happens next. "How to Cheat a Dragon's Curse," #4 in the series, follows this rule. My son says that the story picks up cohesively from the other books, and the plot, the group's attempt to steal "the potato" in order to cure Fishleg's supposed dragon-bite induced ailment, is both funny and exciting. I like that my son WANTS to read these books. It is also a plus that the potty-humor is minimal. He and his friends are reading these books at the same time, and they are discovering the bond of sharing a story and characters that typically comes with involvement in a book club (but they don't know that). I think it's neat that they compete to see who has the next book first.
I've read all the other books in this series (they were awesome too!), but this one was the very best! It was very funny and entertaining, and sometimes shocking and weird!
hiccup is always in adventure with toothless and fishlegs then fishlegs gets sick and hiccup has to find the forbidon veggitable-the potato
I will often read through various children's books to determine if it's something that my son will enjoy reading. My son is 9 years old and enjoys any book that will make him laugh. This was a definite hit on his list. He loved this book as it was not only funny but had a lot of excitement in it as well. I would also recommend the other titles in the Hiccup series.
THIS BOOK WAS AMAZING! Anyone who loves dragons and vikings should read the whole sieries like I did, and anyone who read the other three books MUST READ THIS BOOK!!!!! I'm telling you all. THIS BOOK IS AWSOME!!! :-) :-) !!!!!
This is an amazingly well written book. Very entertaining.
Hiccup Horrendous Haddock the Third is not your typical viking, but can he save his friend who has been poisoned by a dragon? In order to do it, he must brave a Doomfang dragon and fight a tribe of ill-tempered vikings to get a rare frozen potato. Oh, and he only has until 10 o' clock tomorrow before his friend is doomed. A wacky, humorous story with a lot of adventure. This title and others in the series will appeal to reluctant readers and cash in on the popularity of dragon books. Recommended for a light, fun, wacky read.
I've been reading these books and very much enjoying them; since they're kids books I cannot wait to give them to my 11-year-old nephew, I can guarantee he'll love them!
We were very disappointed that when this book arrived (also books 5 and 6) the cover image was not the one in the picture. The entire cover was different from the other dragon books that my son already owns. At the time I am writing this review, the cover shown for this book on the web site is blue and has the image of the helmet and book number on the front. The alternate cover has neither of those and has a different picture and color scheme. It simply doesn't look like it is part of the set we were collecting. We returned the book and are trying to find a store where we can buy the matching books but we are not sure they exist in hardcover. It looks like we may have to start over and buy the complete set to get matching books.