Wednesday, March 2, 2011
How to Slay a Dragon
How to Slay a Dragon is a new middlegrade fantasy novel by Bill Allen.
Greg Hart is normal, kinda scrawny kid. He likes to write out elaborate fantasy hero sequences in his journal, with himself as the star of course, and spend time alone in his treehouse. Being twelve and about ready to start seventh grade is tough enough without getting chased by the school bully, so he tends to avoid as much conflict as possible.
But when he wakes up by the prodding of a rather rude stick and sees a bunch of cloaked and excited-looking faces, he is unable to avoid the situation. Apparently he has been taken to another world called Myrth, and the magicians of this land believe him to be a legendary dragon slayer prophesied to save the King's kidnapped daughter.
Um, yeah right.
Greg tries his hardest to convince them that they have the wrong guy - but no one believes him. No prophecy has ever been wrong before.
But Greg is afraid that he's been yanked into their world of sorcery and danger to prove that, unfortunately, there is a first time for everything.
Sounds like a fun premise, right? And it is!
It starts off humorous and imaginative, but my initial issue was that I thought the narrative flow felt stilted. I was unable to really connect with the story, and some of the characters that I got the feeling I was supposed to like just came across as annoying to me. And sometimes Greg's hesitance (which is understandable) read more like cowardice.
I was, admittedly, having a bit of a hard time getting into How to Slay a Dragon and began to get a bit *ack* bored.
However, as the novel progressed and I kept reading a couple new characters were introduced: a enigmatic traveler named Nathan and a pretty creepy witch named Hazel. And with the awesome name of the witch and the suddenly deeper fantasy shape and mysteriousness that How to Slay a Dragon was taking, I got a glimmer of hope - and hooray, it improved!
How to Slay a Dragon ended up having a fun sense of adventure, of a quest. And I started to recognize some cleverness and wit that I think I may have been missing earlier on. With Greg as our unsuspecting hero and surprising twists that kept things interesting, I began to enjoy the story and see how boy readers would probably gobble this up!
Though there were odd bits that I still felt like skimming, I found that the characters (even the one I initially found annoying) were colorful and delightful - and I could see where the sequel could be something to keep an eye out for.