Book: The Wizards of Once
Author: Cressida Cowell
Rating: 4 Stars
Basic plot: Xar is a Wizard (but without magic) and Wish is a Warrior (with a magic sword) in a place where Wizards and Warriors are taught to hate each other. Brought together, they form an odd team against a deadlier threat. The Witches, thought extinct, are back.
1) Xar and Wish are likeable, but also have their own quirks (and at times can be unlikeable!) I like that Xar is not just a copy of Hiccup. He shares some attributes with Hiccup, but he’s different enough.
2) I liked how Wish’s eye patch comes into the story. (I won’t spoil it.)
3) I really like the talking raven, Caliburn. I love his philosophy and his wisdom. Great character!
4) As with How to Train Your Dragon, the illustrations in the book are wonderful and unique. They add the extra oomph.
5) I like how the parents in this series are not quite the bumbling idiots from HTTYD. I respected them. I even feared them (especially Wish’s mother: Queen Sychorax). Yet, the children each seek approval and love from these parents, which ultimately humanizes them. (Note: I noticed in the early HTTYD books, Cowell portrays her parents as 2D buffoons. But then in the later books, especially during the dragon rebellion, this changes slightly. I wonder if she rather regretted this earlier characterization?? And with this new series, I’m guessing she wanted to start with a different tone.)
6) The Witches make for a formidable foe. I like how she ties the plot points together. When we finally meet the Kingwitch, I was like: Yeah, that makes sense.
7) The Unknown Narrator is a nice touch. I have my guesses, but I can’t/won’t say for sure yet. I’m assuming this is something that will play itself out as the series continues.
8) I don’t like cliffhanger books. I like a book to have its own ending. This book has that! Yay! But, it’s also lets you know that there’s more to come. (Which is a good thing. Because now I am excited for Book 2, which probably won’t be out for a year and a day. But I’m cool with that.)
WHAT’S NOT COOL…
1) I wasn’t too crazy about Squeezjoos, the little baby sprite. He was a little too much like Toothless-meets-Jar Jar Binks. I like Toothless. I don’t care for Jar Jar.
My rating is 4 Stars (out of 5) – Which is a high rating from me. (Rarely do I rate a book 5 stars.) This book is definitely written by the author of How to Train Your Dragon, but it has enough differences that it is its own book/series. I was afraid the book wouldn’t live up to my expectations, but I’m glad to say, it passed the test… with flying colours! 🙂