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Dragon Rider Hardcover – September 1, 2004

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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

It's a fantasy, it's long, and it's got dragons in it. Dragon Rider is bound to be another hit book from Cornelia Funke! Ever since the popularity of bestselling fantasies The Thief Lord and Inkheart went global a few years ago, legions of fans have demanded more books from the German author than she can reasonably hope to write each year. So, re-discovering this hefty, earlier novel from 1997 was a logical development--and her keenest readers will devour it as before.

Aimed at slightly younger readers than her previous novels, despite its massive five hundred pages, Dragon Rider is about a brave young dragon called Firedrake who embarks upon a dangerous journey to the Rim of Heaven in the Himalayas--a magical place where silver dragons can rest easy, free from the threat of destruction by mankind and their only hope of sanctuary. The key to its location is a map rendered by a rat who is a master cartographer.

Firedrake is joined on his quest by Ben, an orphaned boy, and Sorrell--a wise-cracking Brownie that is an odd, but ingenious, grumpy kind of fairy. Their journey is not a straightforward one by any means. Created by an alchemist called Petrosius Henbane in 1424, Nettlebrand (a malevolent creature covered in impenetrable gold plates) is their biggest threat--he is intent on destroying them. Nettlebrand is aided by Twigleg, a homunculus who has stowed away in Ben's bag and who is feeding reports on their progress back to his master.

Their exciting encounters are many... It is easy to forgive the narrative's excessive length when readers are gorging on such a wonderfully inventive and readable story from an author who has her readers in the palm of her hand on every page. (Age 9 and over) --John McLay

From School Library Journal

Grade 4-6–Young Firedrake is the only dragon to heed a warning from his colony's senior resident: return to the hidden city at the Rim of Heaven, or suffer imminent discovery and destruction by humans. Accompanied by a feisty Scottish brownie, an orphaned boy who becomes his dragon rider, and a large group of other supporters, Firedrake fulfills an ancient prophecy and safely returns to his ancestral home. Occasional black-and-white illustrations show many of the book's more exotic characters, a plus for young readers who may not know the folklore from which the creatures are drawn. The omniscient point of view follows each member of this ensemble at length, providing the tale with humor and action but also preventing the main characters from fully developing. The company survives encounters with a basilisk, a djinni, a roc, and a sea serpent, as well as an ongoing threat from Nettlebrand, a malevolent being intent on destroying them. Although each of these confrontations is interesting, the sheer number of episodes, the lack of strong central characters, and Nettlebrand's blustering inability to actually hurt anyone make for a story with much less dramatic tension than Funke's outstanding novels, The Thief Lord (2002) and Inkheart (2003, both Scholastic). A well-known author will assure the book's popularity, but the overlong plot is forgettable.–Beth Wright, Fletcher Free Library, Burlington, VT
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Product Details

  • Age Range: 9 - 10 years
  • Lexile Measure: 710L (What's this?)
  • Hardcover: 528 pages
  • Publisher: Chicken House; Deluxe edition (September 1, 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0439456959
  • ISBN-13: 978-0439456951
  • Product Dimensions: 7.8 x 6.3 x 1.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (313 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,138,141 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Cornelia Funke is one of today's most beloved writers of magical stories for children. She is the author of The Thief Lord, Dragon Rider, Inkheart, Inkspell, the Ghosthunters series, When Santa Fell to Earth, and Igraine the Brave. She lives with her family in Los Angeles, California, in a house full of books.

Customer Reviews

To everybody who is thinking about reading this book -- DO!!
J. G. Ziegler
I think this will entertain young readers and adults who read aloud to them.
C. Stephans
Funke's story is filled with vivid and well-rounded characters.

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

105 of 111 people found the following review helpful By E. A Solinas HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on August 28, 2004
Format: Hardcover
Cornelia Funke shot to literary stardom with the international bestseller "The Thief Lord," an instant hit in the UK, US and Germany. And in her third American release, she shows no sign of slowing. "Dragon Rider" is a solid draconian fantasy, although laced with a bit too much whimsy.

In fantasy stories, peaceful valleys are prime targets. This one is no exception -- the home of a clan of dragons is being threatened. So the silver-skinned Firedrake sets out to find the Rim of Heaven, which may be the sanctuary they need. Along the way he and his brownie sidekick Sorrel pick up a human boy, Ben, who wats to help them out.

But their quest is being complicated by Nettlebrand, a strange manmade dragon with metal scales and a serious attitude problem, and a bow-and-scraping homunculus. Nettlebrand's goal is to destroy Firedrake and the other dragons, unless Firedrake, Ben and Sorrel can defeat him, and find the Rim of Heaven.

Cornelia Funke strays into lighter turf with "Dragon Rider," which was originally written seven years back. It's not lightweight exactly, but it lacks some of the somberness of her past two books. It's not vaguely dark like "Thief Lord," and it doesn't have the overstrained seriousness of "Inkheart." Rather it feels like Funke loosened up and decided to just write something more whimsical.

No Anne McCaffrey dragons here -- Funke doesn't overburden readers with the nitty-gritty of dragons. At times she does take the whimsy too far (a dragon living on moonlight? What's up with that?). However, her solid writing and fantasy trappings avoid being precious, and add a grounded feel to a 100% fantastical storyline.

And Funke doesn't fail readers with her characters.
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76 of 85 people found the following review helpful By J. G. Ziegler on August 18, 2004
Format: Hardcover
I have to admit that this is the first Cornelia Funke book I have read. I wasn't sure what to expect, but I knew the story would intrigue me. I certainly was not disappointed, even though I am an adult.

This is a great read for kids (and for adults who like adventure that isn't too dark). This is a story of a long journey full of great whimsical adventure. Every child in the 9-12 age group should read it. I love how Ms. Funke uses flashbacks and foreshadowing to provide elements along the way that are key to side stories within the story and to the climax of the story.

The only (not necessarily negative) comment I would make about the book is that the translation to English seems a bit rough in some places -- but in a way this kinda helps add to the whimsical nature of the story.

I am also amazed at the length of children's books these days. I remember when a book for 9-12 year-olds was 100 to maybe 200 pages long -- not 423. It seems like J. K. Rowling started something. But this was a page-turner and should keep anyone's interest (especially kids) throughout. I think it is good to see children's books get longer -- it is more challenging (and less insulting) to a child's intelligence, and it allows them to enjoy the adventure of the story (and reading) even longer. Bravo!!

Thanks, Cornelia. Like Professor Greenbloom, I too now BELIEVE in "fabulous animals". Now I need to read some more of Funke's work -- I think Inkheart will be first.

To everybody who is thinking about reading this book -- DO!! You will enjoy it!!
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18 of 19 people found the following review helpful By G. Tenison on September 11, 2004
Format: Hardcover
When I bought this book, I had already read Inheart and The Thief Lord and was hoping Ms. Funke wouldn't let me down. Well, she didn't! This book is very likeable and a fun fantasy read. Though, as previously mentioned by another reviewer, it isn't as serious as her other works, but more light-hearted. I really enjoyed it, and thought that the author did a good job of putting a clever spin on over-familiarized mystical beasts. Not to mention I was sad when it ended, and that's always a good sign! It's a little slow getting started, but is hardly a drawback at all. Recommended!
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17 of 18 people found the following review helpful A Kid's Review on December 4, 2005
Format: Hardcover
"Dragon Rider" was first published in Germany as "Drachenreiter" several years ago, long before Eragon was first published. So no, Cornelia Funke is not ripping off Paolini's "idea". Not to mention the fact that Paolini has a (cough) slight tendency to plaigarize a bit himself.

But more to the point...


1. An engaging read for younger audiences...with a five-hundred page attention span, anyhow.

2. Great for extended bedtime or family reading sessions.


1. The characters are very flat and static, with the possible exception of the homunculus, Twigleg.

2. Firedrake just seems at times to be nothing more than an exotic vehicle for the "hero," Ben, who rarely does anything save for getting captured by giant monsters left and right. While poor Firedrake is doing all the hard work, Ben is just kind of...there...without much to offer but emotional support.

3. For older readers, many of the book's concepts can seem a bit overly whimsical (e.g. the dragons living by "drinking" moonlight).

4. The dialogue is almost nauseatingly corny in places.

In conclusion, I give Dragon Rider 3 out of 5 stars because, while not perfect, it is a charming read and you'll love it if you're a fan of dragon-fantasy scenarios as I am.
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