Handbook for Dragon Slayers

Handbook for Dragon Slayers

4.7 4
by Merrie Haskell

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Tilda has never given much thought to dragons, attending instead to her endless duties and wishing herself free of a princess's responsibilities.

When a greedy cousin steals Tilda's lands, the young princess goes on the run with two would-be dragon slayers. Before long she is facing down the Wild Hunt, befriending magical horses, and battling

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Tilda has never given much thought to dragons, attending instead to her endless duties and wishing herself free of a princess's responsibilities.

When a greedy cousin steals Tilda's lands, the young princess goes on the run with two would-be dragon slayers. Before long she is facing down the Wild Hunt, befriending magical horses, and battling flame-spouting dragons. On the adventure of a lifetime, and caught between dreams of freedom and the people who need her, Tilda learns more about dragons—and herself—than she ever imagined.

Merrie Haskell, author of The Princess Curse, presents a magical tale of transformation, danger, and duty, starring a remarkable princess as stubborn as she is brave.

Editorial Reviews

The Horn Book
A haphazard, almost accidental progression of episodes builds smoothly to a lively and cohesive plot arc that will keep readers enthralled.
This accessible medieval fantasy features three likable young people, several imaginatively depicted magical animals, and a couple of dastardly villains. As in Haskell’s The Princess Curse (2011), elements from European fairy tales inspire parts of the plot. This engaging fantasy traces the adventures of a bookish but brave heroine.
Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books
Tilda is an extremely likable heroine....Kids with their own physical anomalies may particularly respond to Tilda’s adventures, as will fans of the movie Brave or the How to Train Your Dragon book or movie.
Children's Literature - Renee Farrah Vess
Tilda is regretfully a busy princess with royal duties. But when her cousin Ivo usurps her village of Alder Brook by kidnapping her and telling Tilda her own people fear her and believe she is cursed because of her twisted foot—she decides to escape and leave Alder Brook forever. With the help of her handmaiden Judith and friend Parz, they all decide to try a new glamourous life of dragon slaying. They all quickly realize this is a huge mistake, and set their sights on returning to Alder Brook and restoring Tilda to her rightful place as princess. The second half of the book is where the fantasy elements finally start appearing. Readers who got through the first half waiting for those very elements will notice how the speed picks up once the group is out of Alder Brook and starts facing dragons, new characters, and best of all, the Wild Hunt. This book has a strong female character with a physical disability and she does not let it affect her ambition. Tilda’s twisted foot prevents her from walking normally, and can be a source of ridicule and a nuisance at times, but it never seems to dampen her outlook. She has clearly accepted her foot, and prefers intellectual pursuits, such as her idea to write a handbook for dragon slayers. But she still decides to tag along in person and for field research rather than hear stories later from Judith or Parz. Her initial stubbornness and self-interest prevents Tilda from seeing things from other perspectives, which at times is her downfall. This is a coming of age book as the reader watches Tilda become more open minded and eventually proud of her royal responsibilities. Reviewer: Renee Farrah Vess; Ages 12 up.
School Library Journal
Gr 6–8—In this entertaining fantasy, 13-year-old Princess Matilda of Alder Brook yearns to abandon her royal responsibilities and run away to copy books in a cloister scriptorium or, even better, write a book of her own. Tilda never imagines how prophetic this is until she is taken hostage by her evil cousin Ivo, who is intent on wresting ownership of her castle away from her for himself. He believes it will be easy to take control of her principality because Tilda was born with a crippled foot and everyone believes she is cursed. He convinces her that no one in Alder Brook wants her as their princess. Secretly, Tilda is relieved because now she is free of her obligations and can make her own choices. With the help of Parzival, 14, a failed squire, and Judith, her loyal handmaiden, Tilda escapes, and they embark on a quest to slay dragons. During their adventures, the friends are captured and placed under a spell by a Bluebeard-like Lord who has buried seven wives and intends for Tilda to be his eighth. This fast-paced tale celebrates courage and perseverance. It refreshingly portrays Tilda as strong and intelligent yet flawed as she is forced to acknowledge her shortcomings and learn from her mistakes. Fans of Gail Carson Levine or Shannon Hale will be enchanted.—Sharon Rawlins, New Jersey State Library, Trenton
Kirkus Reviews
A delightful middle-grade fantasy falters only in its excess of exuberance. Matilda, the 13-year-old princess of a tiny medieval fiefdom, has been lame since birth; consequently, her people consider her "cursed" and fear she will remain unwed. Tilda refuses to show any hurt; after all, she'd rather retire to a convent and write great treatises anyway. But when her only friends, her handmaid Judith and the disgraced squire Parzifal, rescue her from a kidnapping plot, Tilda decides that, rather than return home, the trio should instead begin researching her first work: a Handbook for Dragon Slayers. Dragons, however, prove to be the least of the perils ahead of her….Haskell's sophomore outing is another clever, witty and empowering tale, fluently melding historical fact and legendary material. Tilda is a splendid heroine: Wry, intelligent, sensitive and stronger than she thinks, she conceals her pain behind icy stoicism and discounts her courage and compassion as foolishness. Judith and Parz seem to be charming and supportive companions, although readers scarcely get to know them. There are simply too many intriguing characters and too many dramatic encounters for any to be explored satisfactorily. Tilda is held prisoner no less than three different times, and she faces down supernatural threats, from dragons to the Wild Hunt to an evil sorcerer, all on the way to an epiphany that completely alters her self-perception and goals. While suffering from a surfeit of events and ideas, still a truly terrific read. (Historical fantasy. 10-14)

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HarperCollins Publishers
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1 MB
Age Range:
8 - 12 Years

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