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How to Train Your Dragon: 11/30/10

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Like many of the reviews I have listed below, I learned about the Cressida Cowell series from seeing the film adaptation of How to Train Your Dragon. I liked both versions even though they are so very different. But the spirit of the book carries through to the film.

The biggest difference is the dragons. They have the same names and species types but they are smaller. They are the size of the fire lizards in the Pern books instead of being something big enough to ride. The other big difference is that the Vikings already use them as trained hunters and fighters.

How to Train Your Dragon as a title is more direct than it is in the film. The book opens with Hiccup and the other boys (no girls, sadly, who were an improvement in the film) trying to catch dragon hatchlings to keep and train. So it's no surprise that Hiccup ends up with Toothless, nor something he has to keep secret. Toothless's name though here isn't ironic; he's a runt and literally toothless.

So how does one train a dragon? If you follow the handbook, it's by YELLING VERY LOUD. If you're Hiccup, it means listening to dragons and realizing they can speak. Dragonese, spoken about in greater detail in How to Speak Dragonese (review coming), is sort of a dragon pig latin with some potty humor thrown in for good measure.

Hiccup is pretty much the same. He likes the draw. He keeps a journal and the novel is supposedly a transcript of his first journal. He's good with dragon husbandry, though the dragons in the book are more intelligent and less animal like than they are in the film. I find the film dragons more believable.

I would argue that the movie though different in the big details is the same in spirit. While much of the changes I see in the film I see as improvements, I am disappointed that Hiccup's mother is removed from the plot. Hiccup has a completely functioning family in the book and that is replaced with a dysfunctional father / son relationship.

I liked the book. My son didn't. He loved the film and wasn't willing to put up with the differences. That said, he loved How to Speak Dragonese and plans to read the rest of the books in the series. So if you want a perfectly faithful adaptation from book to film, don't read this book. If you don't mind letting the two things to be separate stories that share a title and some other points of similarity, you'll like the book.

Comments (4)

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Comment #1: Wednesday, December, 1, 2010 at 12:36:38


I didn't read the book, but I did see the film with my family. I took my elderly mother with us, and to this day, she tells everyone about her new favorite movie How To Train Your Dragon. It was good. Now I wonder how comparable to the book it is.

Comment #2: Saturday, December 4, 2010 at 18:07:23


The book is very different from the film. My son found the differences too jarring and decided instead to read How to Speak Dragonese, the next book in the series. In tone, that book is more like the film but it's still different. That said, the books are fun on their own but I like the dragons better in the film.

Comment #3: Wednesday, December, 1, 2010 at 22:20:08


I felt the same way you did about it. The differences were really noticeable, but didn't bother me when I just accepted it as a different way to tell a similar story. I think I liked the film dragons better, too.

Read the book with my daughter after we saw the film and she liked it just as much, although made sure to point out all the differences to me!

Comment #4: Saturday, December 4, 2010 at 18:07:23


The differences didn't bother me either but I did find them fascinating. My son though found the differences too jarring.

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