The Barnes & Noble Review
The bestselling author of Inkheart and The Thief Lord serves up an adventurous novel for middle-graders about a team of bravehearts seeking a mysterious lair of ancient dragons. Keeping up the epic, magical atmosphere that makes her older books so appealing to fans, Cornelia Funke tells the nail-biting tale of Firedrake, a silver dragon who leads a mission to locate the Rim of Heaven, in response to the threat posed by humans who are scheming to flood the valley where his clan of dragons currently lives. Soon, accompanied by a brownie named Sorrel and an orphan boy named Ben, Firedrake begins the expedition toward the Rim of Heaven with only scant information to go on. Readers quickly learn that the group is being pursued by a golden, manmade dragon named Nettlebrand -- a destroyer of other dragons -- who turns up throughout the story, using water to transport himself and aided by a homunculus who spies on Firedrake while pretending to be an ally. Funke provides audiences much to chew on with her cast of friendly and dastardly characters, signature multi-stranded story lines, and heart-pounding climax, making sure to keep the action coming and audiences constantly guessing what will happen next. At over 500 pages, the book shouldn't be a problem for her fans -- or lovers of Harry Potter, for that matter. A fantastic, high-flying journey that's pure proof that Funke knows her storytelling. Matt Warner
The humans are coming! That spells trouble in the valley where the last dragons live and sets young Firedrake on a quest to find refuge for his dwindling species. Author Funke's straightforward style makes this an excellent option for younger readers longing for big-kid fantasy. The (Ages 8 to 12)
Child magazine's Best Children's Book Awards 2004
This fantasy that established Funke's (Inkheart) reputation as a gifted storyteller in her native Germany (available for the first time in the U.S.), is sure to appeal to her many American fans. When humans encroach upon his home valley, Firedrake, a young silver dragon, sets off to find the Rim of Heaven, a legendary haven in the mountains. But evil Nettlebrand, a human-made hunter of silver dragons, is spying on him, hoping Firedrake will lead him to even more delicious treats. The creature, referred to as the Golden One, resembles a huge dragon, but he is covered in cold, hard gold scales and cannot fly; however, he can magically appear in any body of water. During his journey, Firedrake is joined by a feisty brownie, a homunculus (who initially spied for Nettlebrand) and Ben, an orphan who may be the dragon rider foretold in an ancient prophecy. Readers will delight in the creatures that turn up in this extended quest. The elves, dwarves and a thousand-eyed djinni (a kindly professor of archaeology and his friends also aid the travelers in piecing together clues) help contribute to a rich lore (all enchanted creatures have red eyes, for example, and dragon-fire will reveal their true natures). While readers may have trouble keeping track of all the plot's strands as they soar through this story, they will no doubt find themselves drawn in by the lively characters and their often hilarious banter, as well as the nonstop obstacles they encounter before the inevitable face-off with Nettlebrand. Ages 8-12. (Sept.) Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
Although not as uniquely charming as Inkheart (The Chicken House/Scholastic, 2003/VOYA December 2003), this latest adventure story of "a boy, a dragon, and a quest" will thoroughly satisfy Funke's North American fans. After hiding in rural Scotland for years, a community of dragons finds itself threatened by the incursion of man. Warned of their impending doom but frightened, the dragons refuse to act. Only one, Firedrake, and Sorrel, his Brownie companion, strike out in search of the Rim of Heaven, a haven for dragons remembered only vaguely by the oldest among them. The pair soon finds an unlikely but helpful companion in Ben, a homeless boy. Threatened by ancient predators and assisted by sympathetic scholars and other mythical creatures, the trio triumphantly locates a new haven for the dragons and discover Ben's destiny as the Dragon Rider. The plot is rich, but characters sometimes lack development. The dragon Firedrake is sympathetically drawn, but Sorrel's and Ben's characters are less complete. Sorrel's dialogue is often choppy, and readers learn nothing of Ben's past despite his lack of family or home. Still the novel is engaging and suspenseful and will be read and enjoyed by fans of Funke and fantasy. VOYA CODES: 4Q 4P J S (Better than most, marred only by occasional lapses; Broad general YA appeal; Junior High, defined as grades 7 to 9; Senior High, defined as grades 10 to 12). 2004, The Chicken House/Scholastic, 528p., Ages 12 to 18.
Dragons are fascinating creatures and many stories and myths feature these sometimes benevolent and sometimes fearsome creatures. Funke gives us a likeable dragon in Firedrake. He is young, as far as dragons go, but he is willing to risk everything to find the mystical dragon home called The Rim of Heaven and save his kin. The main cast of characters includes Ben, a human orphan who becomes a dragon rider, Sorrel a smart-mouth always complaining Brownie, and Twigleg a homunculus. Twigleg was the slave of Nettlebranda horrible fabricated dragon whose whole raison d'etre is to hunt down and kill dragons and anything else that happens to get in its way. Other interesting characters include a dwarf named Gravelbeard and several helpful humans including Professor Greenbloom and his daughter, Zubeida, a dragon expert, and an entire community of Tibetan lamas. Through many arduous months and ordeals, the travelers finally reach the end of their quest. It is not, however, as they had expected, but the final chapter brings it all to a tidy and happy ending for all involved. Nettlebrand, the invincible is finally brought to a just end. Funke's story is not short, but it moves quickly and once they are into it, kids will keep the pages flipping. Also, it is nice to have a happy ending. 2004, Scholastic, Ages 8 to 12.
Gr 4-6-Cornelia Funke's novel (Scholastic/The Chicken House, 2004) about Firedrake, a young silver dragon who has lived peacefully in an isolated Scottish valley with other dragons and assorted fabulous creatures for many years is a charming fantasy and a listening delight. When the dragons discover that humans plan to take over their valley, Firedrake and a feisty, headstrong brownie named Sorrel set out to find the Rim of Heaven, the legendary home of silver dragons, rumored to be in the Himalayan Mountains. The two are soon joined by Ben, an orphan, who helps the pair obtain a map to the area and escape the perils of the city. The quest to find the ancient homeland is soon complicated by the realization that Nettlebrand, an evil artificial golden dragon whose sole purpose in life is to hunt silver dragons, is following their every move. A cast of sympathetic humans and fabulous creatures, elves, sea serpents, and a djinni help and sidetrack Firedrake in his journey. The urgency of the mission is carefully conveyed through Brendan Fraser's expert pacing and timing. His boyish charm and irresistible enthusiasm gives each character a distinct voice and personality. The quick humor and intellect of the characters is handled deftly by Fraser. Listeners will be carried along by the narrator's excitement.-Wendy Woodfill, Hennepin County Library, Minnetonka, MN Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.
When human development threatens the remote Scottish valley where the earth's last remaining silver dragons have hidden, Firedrake, a determined young dragon, and his friend Sorrel, an irascible brownie, set out to find the Rim of Heaven, a remote Himalayan valley said to be the ancient home of the dragons. In short order they pick up Ben, a stout-hearted orphan lad, and Twigleg, a homunculus in the joyless employ of Nettlebrand, the evil artificial golden dragon whose sole purpose in life is hunting and killing silver dragons. The twin imperatives to evade Nettlebrand and to find the Rim of Heaven form the engine that drives this narrative, and the importance of belief-in goodness, in possibility, in magic, in love-provides the fuel. Various secondary characters pop up to help or to hinder, genially straining credibility with the tidiness of plot-driven need. This solid adventure lacks the lusciousness of language and intricacy of plot that marked last year's Inkheart, but it does carry the reader along at breakneck pace, the inevitably victorious ending no less satisfying for all its predictability. (Fiction. 8-12)First printing of 150,000
"Marvelous stuff for dreaming adventurers of any age." -- Clive Barker
"A warm-hearted dream of a book." -- The (UK)
"A good, old-fashioned ensemble cast quest." -- Booklist
"Engaging and suspenseful." -- Voice of Youth Advocates
"Exciting adventures abound...This book delivers." -- The Horn Book
A New York Times Bestseller
A USA Today Bestseller
A People Magazine Top 10 Pick