10. No Such Thing as Dragons by Philip Reeve

No Such Thing as Dragons by Philip Reeve (US) - (Canada)

Pages: 186
Ages: 8+
Finished: Jan. 10, 2012
First Published: Sep. 1, 2010
Publisher: Scholastic
Genre: children, fantasy
Rating: 3/5

First sentence:

So they went North, the man and the Boy, and the roads narrowed, and big slate-headed mountains reared up ready to eat the sky.

Acquired: Received a Review Copy from Scholastic Canada.

Reason for Reading: I read one book previously by the author, Fever Crumb, and enjoyed it.  This one looked like it would make a good read aloud to ds.

Publisher's Summary: " Dragons don't exist...or do they? Ansel is a mute boy whose master, Brock, is a dragon slayer. Brock wears shining armor and has the scars to prove his heroic stories, but Ansel still suspects that there is no such thing as dragons. So what is the man-eating monster that haunts the crags of Dragon Mountain? Ansel and Brock must make a terrifying journey to the top of the mountain to find out!"

Set in the middle ages of presumably our world, the book is immersed in a religious Catholic society, with both bad and good people, but a society who presumes there is a God.  He can be found on all pages and while some characters use His name as a curse others use it as a cry for help.  I really enjoyed being sat down in this society.  We explore a real life event similar to St. George's infamous incident with the dragon, only when it comes down to just a handful of regular people, dragon fighting and maiden saving is not quite so heroic a deed as legend leads us to believe.  Ansel, the mute, and Else, the offered maiden, are wonderful main characters who grow in character both in maturity and spiritually as does the at first, somewhat villainous Brock.  Unfortunately, the antagonist is played by a Friar who is greedy, selfish and used his position and religion when it suits him best for his own purposes.  The dragon is the foe and always is but he is not the protagonist anymore than a bear in the woods would have been.

The book starts off slowly and does take time for the story to settle in and the action to take grip, but once all the characters are on the mountain we were hooked and ready by the time the dragon made his first appearance.  A few bits of gory scenes as a horse and man are eaten but nothing overdone.  DS wants a sequel but I've told him we have to enjoy books that are just a story all by themselves sometimes.  I'm glad it is a standalone and enjoyed it as a readaloud as well.


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