Thoughts on Dragons

The announcement of Cressida Cowell’s latest book, The Incomplete Book of Dragons (or The Complete Book of Dragons in the U.S. because we apparently are stupid) inspired this post yesterday a couple days ago. In describing the different covers, I remembered something I’ve been thinking about for a while—how the movie might possibly have influenced the books.

The cover of How to Steal a Dragon's Sword features the Windwalker.

Book #9’s cover features Hiccup and his Windwalker

As every fan of the books knows, the movie is only loosely based on the books.  Hiccup is significantly older in movie, there is no Astrid (although there is Camakazi, whose dragon is named Stormfly), and Toothless is an entirely different type of dragon (as is Stormfly).

In the books, Toothless is a small Common or Garden dragon, much like the Terrible Terrors of the movie.  He’s also exceptionally noisy, self-centered, and disobedient.  (But in a lovable way.)

Hiccup’s riding dragon in the books is the Windwalker.  Personally, I think he’s based (at least partially) on the movie’s Night Fury Toothless.  He’s completely black and among the fastest flyers of the dragon species.  When Hiccup first picked him, the Windwalker was rather pathetic.  He was timid, appeared to have been abused, didn’t speak (book-Hiccup is able to speak Dragonese), and he was physically damaged.  Even now, six books later, he still has a bandaged foot.  (Well, except for his featured cover.)

Under Hiccup’s care, the Windwalker finally began to speak, and we learned he is a kind, gentle dragon.  While he’s not inherently brave like the Night Fury, he’s always willing to go in harm’s way to protect Hiccup and others. He’s called simply “Windwalker.”  And he smells like chocolate!

The cover of How to Seize a Dragon's Jewel features the Deadly Shadow and Hiccup.

The Deadly Shadow graces the cover of book #10.

Gronkles, Nadders and Monstrous Nightmares appeared in the first books (in slightely smaller forms), but there was no Hideous Zippleback.  Just when I was starting to wonder about the feasibility of a two-headed dragon, Cressida Cowell introduced us the Deadly Shadow, a three headed dragon.

Where the Zippleback Barf and Belch is (are?) primarily comic relief, the Deadly Shadow is much more terrifying and, well, deadly.  Innocence, Arrogance, and Patience, the Deadly Shadow’s three heads, don’t always agree with each other, but they have a poignant story to tell, and they’ve become an integral part of the story.

All this recent talk about the How to Train Your Dragon books (not to mention today’s movie release) has compelled me to pull out my books and reread them.

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