The Heroic Misadventures of Hiccup the Viking
by Cressida Cowell
Further mishaps and glory of Hiccup the scrawny little viking. In this story, one of the young vikings is deathly ill from a poisonous dragon's bite, and only has a few hours to live. The only cure, according to Old Wrinkly (of unreliable predictions) is a strange, unknown vegetable called the potato (because potatoes are from America, which hadn't yet been discovered). Everyone laughs or shushes him when Hiccup says they must find a potato quickly, so he sets off on his own to fulfill a dangerous quest: sneak into enemy territory in the dead of night to steal a frozen potato that is one of other tribe's prize possessions. To make things worse, Hiccup has already antagonized the leader of this other viking tribe, and the sea surrounding their island is haunted by the enormous dreaded Doomfang dragon. But this time Hiccup has a new friend: in addition to his little mischievous dragon Toothless, he's got Camicazi at his side- a fierce viking girl who's an accomplished thief. Can the little team make it through all the dangers, procure the mysterious potato and make it back on time?
I liked a lot of this story, but some parts really bugged me. I found myself really enjoying the strings of imaginative insults (like "you pathetic pieces of earwig droppings!" or "you horrible halitosis haddock!") There are some really lively scenes including a mad escape sledding down a mountainside, and the most monstrously funny food fight ever (which also happens to be a battle). I kept picturing them as film scenes with 3-D animation, having the audience rolling. But on the other hand, I was a bit annoyed at the forumla I'm starting to see. Every one of these books opens with the young vikings out on a training lessons that goes wrong. The whole idea of Hiccup's tribe having already discovered America and "the feathered people" seemed kind of farfetched to me. And I was irritated that the potato was called "the Vegetable That No One Dares Name" (it being unlucky) because that constantly reminded me of Voldemort's title in the Harry Potter books (an extremely similar euphanism). There was also the deal about the arrow stuck in the potato which smacked of King Arthur's sword-in-the-stone episode. Now, I don't always mind it when an author borrows from other works, but for some reason here it really bothered me. Regardless, the story is quite lively and kept me chuckling, and the end had a twist that took me entirely by surprise.
Rating: 2/5 ........ 241 pages, 2006
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