A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this book.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that The Story of Owen: Dragon Slayer of Trondheim is more of a geo- and socio-political history of North America (with dragons) than a traditional dragon-based fantasy. Seekers of magical realms with talking dragons, princesses, and knights in shining armor won't find them here. The dragons are wild animals that attack because they're hungry, and humans have been fighting them since prehistoric times. The few scenes with dragon attacks are brief and not gruesome, although there's a short but gory description of one burned dragon egg.
What's the story?
When a famous family of dragon slayers moves to her small Canadian town, 16-year-old Siobhan McQuaid quickly befriends Owen, the family's heir apparent and dragon-slayer-in-training. Humans have been fighting to survive against dragons forever, but lately the attacks have become more frequent and may soon become more than the dragon slayers can handle. Siobhan, Owen, and new friend Emily try to find out why the dragon population is on the rise and how they can stem the tide before all of southwest Ontario is engulfed in flames.
Is it any good?
With THE STORY OF OWEN: DRAGON SLAYER OF TRONDHEIM, E. K. Johnston creates a vivid, realistic modern world -- in which there are dragons. The level of detail is remarkable, encompassing everything from the effects of dragons on daily life to popular culture, as well as small-town and global politics. As a result, the dragon-fighting action tends to get lost in the shuffle, and kids looking for traditional dragon-fantasy lore might be disappointed. The premise, overlaying the world we all know with the fantasy element of dragons, is engaging and unique. Late middle-school- and high-school-aged kids ready for some broader context for their world, or perhaps who are budding politicos themselves, will enjoy the seamless integration of dragons into human history.
The backdrop of an evolving friendship between Siobhan and Owen as they navigate 11th grade will give kids relatable, admirable characters. Telling, small moments between the two create a touching friendship worthy of emulation. The action builds slowly between long passages of history and politics, but for the more mature teen reader it strikes a good balance and builds well to the final action-filled climax.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about why fantasies are so popular. Why are dragons such a big part of fantasy lore? What do we find so fascinating about them?
Do you find the way the author incorporates dragons into real events such as the Gulf War convincing? How do you think the world would be different if dragons were real?
Siobhan tells stories of Owen's exploits in song. Does music pass stories on in a way that's different from books, movies, or social media?
- Author: E. K. Johnston
- Genre: Fantasy
- Topics: Magic and Fantasy, Friendship, Great Boy Role Models, Great Girl Role Models, High School
- Book type: Fiction
- Publisher: Carolrhoda LAB
- Publication date: March 1, 2014
- Publisher's recommended age(s): 11 - 15
- Number of pages: 312
- Available on: Nook, Hardback, Kindle
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Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.