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What's the story?
In a valley in Scotland the last of the silver dragons hide from the encroachment of humans. But now this last valley is being invaded too. Firedrake, a young dragon, sets out to find the legendary ancestral home of the dragons, the Rim of Heaven, high in the Himalayas, where dragons can be safe and undisturbed forever. Accompanying him are Sorrel, a crabby brownie, and eventually Ben, an orphan, and Twigleg, a homunculus who may be hiding a treacherous secret.
Following a map drawn by a rat, the trio trek across Europe and the Middle East, heading for India. But they are followed by the spies of Nettlebrand, an artificial golden dragon created to destroy all dragons, who also wants to know where the Rim of Heaven lies, so he can finish the task he was created for.
Is it any good?
This book is exciting but not too scary, humorous, with short chapters and plenty of cliffhangers. DRAGON RIDER was actually Cornelia Funke's first book in Germany, but it wasn't offered in English until after the success of her two other books. Despite its excessive length, it's aimed at a younger audience with a simple, straightforward plot, one-dimensional characters, and a gentle approach that, while exciting, eschews violence. The villain is all bark and bad temper, most of the characters are helpful and kind, and the ending is predictable, but satisfying.
It reads like a middle-grade novel -- well, all right, three middle-grade novels. Ambitious young readers will want to read this themselves, but it would be a great extended bedtime read-aloud.
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