The Story of Owen: Dragon Slayer of Trondheim

( 2 )

Overview

Listen! For I sing of Owen Thorskard: valiant of heart, hopeless at algebra, last in a long line of legendary dragon slayers. Though he had few years and was not built for football, he stood between the town of Trondheim and creatures that threatened its survival.

There have always been dragons. As far back as history is told, men and women have fought them, loyally ...

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The Story of Owen: Dragon Slayer of Trondheim

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Overview

Listen! For I sing of Owen Thorskard: valiant of heart, hopeless at algebra, last in a long line of legendary dragon slayers. Though he had few years and was not built for football, he stood between the town of Trondheim and creatures that threatened its survival.

There have always been dragons. As far back as history is told, men and women have fought them, loyally defending their villages. Dragon slaying was a proud tradition.

But dragons and humans have one thing in common: an insatiable appetite for fossil fuels. From the moment Henry Ford hired his first dragon slayer, no small town was safe. Dragon slayers flocked to cities, leaving more remote areas unprotected.

Such was Trondheim's fate until Owen Thorskard arrived. At sixteen, with dragons advancing and his grades plummeting, Owen faced impossible odds—armed only with a sword, his legacy, and the classmate who agreed to be his bard.

Listen! I am Siobhan McQuaid. I alone know the story of Owen, the story that changes everything. Listen!

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
★ 01/20/2014
Debut novelist Johnston envisions an Earth nearly identical to our own, with one key difference: dragons, whose attraction to carbon emissions—whether from campfires or cars—makes them a persistent threat. Everything from pop music to industry, literature, and the historical record has been influenced. The Sahara desert has its roots in a botched dragon slaying after Rome conquered Carthage; centuries later, the logo for the Detroit Red Wings symbolizes the loss of an entire state: “the wheel, for the car that had brought Michigan up, and the wing, for the dragons that had brought it down.” After 16-year-old Siobhan McQuaid agrees to become the bard for dragon-slayer-in-training Owen Thorskard, who has moved with his famous dragon-slaying family to her small Ontario town, she winds up at the center of a grassroots effort to understand an odd spike in dragon numbers. Siobhan’s narration sings thanks to her dry wit, intelligence, and ability to see the inherent musicality of life, while also commenting on the unreliability of history (and storytelling) and the power of a community to rally to save itself. Ages 11–up. Agent: Josh Adams, Adams Literary. (Mar.)
VOYA, June 2014 (Vol. 37, No. 2) - Lindy Gerdes
In this contemporary fantasy, dragons live alongside humans, drawn to the carbon emissions and preying on anyone who happens to get in their way. Once considered a civic duty, dragon slaying became commercialized with the onset of industrialization, leaving poor rural communities vulnerable to attack. A legendary dragon slaying family, the Thorskards, aims to restore dragon-slaying traditions of yore, and their first step is hiring music prodigy Siobhan to become bard to their youngest slayer-in-training, Owen. The teens become close friends and soon find themselves bringing the community together to battle a mysterious surge of dragons in Trondheim. Despite the title, Siobhan is the true star of this novel, narrating the tale with off-beat humor and a believable teen voice. In a refreshing departure from the course many young adult novels take, Siobhan is more interested in developing her talents as a musician and bard, and in saving her community, than in romantic pursuits. She admires the virtues of her female friends—their strength, intelligence, and independence—as much as she does Owen’s. Johnston focuses on developing rich characters and a detailed alternate history, with mild dragon encounters sprinkled throughout. Readers who enjoy world-building will enjoy the attention Johnston gives to infusing history and contemporary life with dragons. Those expecting fast-paced adventure may find that this exposition, while often funny, moves too slowly. Reviewer: Lindy Gerdes; Ages 11 to 18.
Kirkus Reviews
★ 2013-12-24
In an alternate world where humans and dragons battle over fossil fuels, the tale of one slayer and his bard becomes a celebration of friendship, family, community and calling. Once, every village had its own dragon slayer, but those days are long gone; now, slayers are drafted by governments or sponsored by corporations. Sixteen-year-old Owen Thorskard, scion of a renowned line, wants to help reverse that—starting with the rural Canadian town of Trondheim. While Owen is brave, dedicated and likable, this story really belongs to Siobhan McQuaid, dauntless bard-in-training. In her witty account, Siobhan learns alongside Owen from his heroic aunt and her blacksmith wife, schemes with classmates to create local Dragon Guards and enlists the entire county in a daring scheme to attack the dragons' own turf. Humor, pathos and wry social commentary unite in a cleverly drawn, marvelously diverse world. Refreshingly, the focus is on the pair as friends and partners, not on potential romance; Siobhan places as much emphasis on supporting her allies as extolling Owen's deeds. Smart enough to both avoid unnecessary danger and be scared when appropriate, they prove all the more valiant when tragic sacrifices have to be made. It may "[take] a village to train a dragon slayer," but it takes an exceptional dragon slayer to deserve a village—and a storyteller—like this one. (Fantasy. 12-18)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781467710664
  • Publisher: Lerner Publishing Group
  • Publication date: 3/1/2014
  • Series: Fiction - Young Adult
  • Pages: 305
  • Sales rank: 72,112
  • Age range: 12 - 17 Years
  • Lexile: 1020L (what's this?)
  • Product dimensions: 5.70 (w) x 7.60 (h) x 1.10 (d)

Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4.5
( 2 )
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Sort by: Showing all of 2 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted February 4, 2015

    I have been recommending this book far and wide. Although writte

    I have been recommending this book far and wide. Although written for a YA audience, it is appealing enough to hold an adult's interest. I think the characters were very believable, and without giving too much away, I loved the relationship between the dragonslayer and his bard.

    Congrats to E.K. Johnston for a stunning debut. Can't wait to read more by her.

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  • Posted May 1, 2014

    As much as I love YA books, it can be so difficult to find a boo

    As much as I love YA books, it can be so difficult to find a book that I believe would appeal to a wide variety of readers. The Story of Owen is a book that I'm confident in recommending to all types of readers; it doesn't matter the reader's gender, age, or preferred genre. I firmly believe that this is a story that can work for anyone who appreciates fiction and is looking for a good book.




    Reasons to Read:




    1. Just a taste of fantasy:




    Dragons play a central role in The Story of Owen, yet this book isn't pure fantasy. There's just enough appeal for readers who like fantasy, yet it's grounded in reality so that those who prefer contemporary stories are sure to enjoy this book as well (regardless of how they feel about dragons). It's this really cool blend of two genres for a book with a very unique feel to it.




    2. The most incredible relationships:




    The Story of Owen is remarkable in how it portrays a number of relationships; from Siobhan's deep friendship with Owen, to her budding rapport with Sadie, to her relationship with her parents, to Owen's relationship with the (numerous) members of his family. They were all different but reflective of real life and deeply touching. I was particularly thrilled by the friendship between Owen and Siobhan, and I loved that this wasn't really a romantic love story - it's a nice change of pace!




    3. A story about sacrifice:




    I think nearly each and every character in this book had to give up something, as evidenced by the masterful storytelling in The Story of Owen. It's heartbreaking to find out what each of these characters has sacrificed, but it's beautiful at the same time. 




    I did find, however, that there was a significant amount of build up to the story and that it seemed to take a while for the plot to really move forward. There's so much background put into the development and world building that it takes a while to really establish that which makes the beginning part of the book slower than the ending. 




    But I have to say that as a Canadian growing up in Southern Ontario, I loved reading a book set in my neck of the woods! It was so cool to be able to picture in my head the exact places and locations where events in the story took place. Siobhan came across as a very realistic, individual type of character. She had her own interests and voice that stood out. And it is such a beautiful story, there are so many readers who will thoroughly enjoy E.K. Johnston's debut novel!




    E-galley received from the publisher for review; no other compensation was received. 

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