Never and Forever by Cressida Cowell (Hodder, 2020); audiobook read by David Tennant (Bolinda, 2021) The finale of Cowell’s Wizards of Once series proves both cathartically climactic and something of a let-down, the extended codas drawing attention to a bloated cast of characters and the padding these provide. Nonetheless, a rousing MG adventure, elevated in audiobook form.
How to Train Your Dragon dir. Chris Sanders & Dean DeBlois (2010) Although bearing little resemblance to Cressida Cowell’s books (especially those earlier in the series), this film adaptation plays out with much the same heart. The ending is emotional without being saccharine and there are some nice touches of animation. Viva the sheep!
How to Train your Dragon by Cressida Cowell; audiobook read by David Tennant (Hodder, 2004) A simple, self-contained beginning to what would become a long and fantabulous series. Cowell introduces us to Hiccup, a brainy Viking in a world of boneheaded heroism and deadly dragons. The story, though predictable in its arc, is magical in the telling.
Knock Three Times by Cressida Cowell (Little, Brown Books for Young Readers, 2019); audiobook read by David Tennant (Bolinda, 2020) Magic, conflict, adventure and silliness. This third instalment of Cowell’s Wizards of Once series treads water to an extent but also moves elements into place for a dramatic finale in books to come. David Tennant’s audiobook reading is as exuberant…
Twice Magic by Cressida Cowell (Hodder, 2018); audiobook read by David Tennant (Hachette Audio, 2018) Although the world is fantabulous and 13-year-old protagonists Xar and Wish are full of zest, this second instalment of Cowell’s wizards and warriors series reads as if emoting the climax, not merely the early unfolding, of their great adventure. Fun but overdone.
The Wizards of Once by Cressida Cowell (Hodder, 2017) Having poured so much creativity into her How to Train Your Dragon series, Cowell could be excused for not finding success elsewhere. Far from it! The Wizards of Once offers, if anything, even more scope for magic, conflict and adventurous growing up.
How to Fight a Dragon’s Fury by Cressida Cowell (Hachette, 2015); audiobook read by David Tennant This epic conclusion to Hiccup’s twelve-book quest brings the Viking-Dragon war to a resounding, heroic, emotional end. Cowell’s ability to linger long in a moment without losing her audience is exceptional. Tennant’s ebullient, multi-voiced narration will cement the series in childhood memory.
How to Betray a Dragon’s Hero by Cressida Cowell (Hachette, 2013); audiobook read by David Tennant High above a publishing landscape devastated by gormless, plotless, half-illustrated fluff, Cowell’s How to Train Your Dragon series soars majestically. How to Betray a Dragon’s Hero is thoughtful, exhilarating, vivid and fabulously fun, with David Tennant putting in a full-on acting performance.