Give me books, fruit, french wine and fine weather and a little music out of doors. --John Keats
Friday, October 8, 2010
Reading in Retrospect: "Dragon Rider" by Cornelia Funke
My sister first introduced me to Cornelia Funke's books a number of years ago. Meine Schwester wohnt in Deutschland, and Funke is like a German J.K. Rowling, if perhaps the junior version. I think Sis first told me about The Thief Lord, which I devoured with relish before quickly working my way through several of Funke's other books.
It's been several years since I read Dragon Rider, but luckily I marked down a few notes about it at the time. The story took me a little while to get into, although I’m not sure why, because it turned out to be a very enjoyable book. Perhaps not quite as good as Inkheart (which is by far my favorite Funke book), but every bit as good as The Thief Lord--and maybe just a little bit better because, rather than beginning realistically but suddenly and strangely becoming an obvious fantasy halfway through, Dragon Rider was fantastic in its entirety.
This is the story of Firedrake, a silver dragon, and his furry Brownie companion named Sorrel. Firedrake and Sorrel have embarked on a journey to find the Rim of Heaven, a protected valley of legend where any number of dragons could live undisturbed. Their reason for this quest, and for leaving their happy and comfortable home among other dragons (in Scotland?), is that humans are encroaching on their caves, and discovery--with the inevitable destruction that would follow--is imminent. Once Firedrake has found the Rim of Heaven, he plans to return for the other dragons and lead them to it.
Not far into their journey, Firedrake and Sorrel acquire a small orphaned human named Ben when they stop to purchase a map from Gilbert Graytail, the white rat. Unfortunately (cue menacing music), the trio attracts the attention of a wicked golden pseudo-dragon named Nettlebrand, a creature created by an alchemist for the purpose of destroying dragons.
Not surprisingly, my two older kids have taken to Funke's stories just as much as I have. My son read Dragon Rider for a school project last spring once his interest was spurred by the movie How to Train Your Dragon. Not long afterwards, my daughter also read it when she was on her Cornelia Funke kick.