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The Story of Owen: Dragon Slayer of Trondheim (Fiction - Young Adult) Hardcover – March 1, 2014


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Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

*Starred Review* When Owen’s legendary dragon-slayer aunt is too injured to continue her vocation, she starts teaching him the ways of the family business. And when Owen meets Siobhan, their friendship becomes part of an epic saga, as Siobhan turns into Owen’s bard and tells the tale of his adventures to help him change the future of dragon slaying forever. Johnston’s masterful book is a refreshing blend of alternative history, high fantasy, and contemporary teen life. Johnston has done careful research for her intricate world building, and the result is strikingly original and believable. Elements from our world are delicately shaped to fit this alternative, such as the Romans taking dragon slayers from their hometowns and conscripting them into service for the state. Even less illustrious historical elements—the songs of Gordon Lightfoot, for example—are now dragon related. But for all the emphasis on her world, Johnston does not neglect the depth of her characters: Owen and Siobhan’s friendship is a beautiful, solid thing, and the authenticity of their relationship goes a long way to making this strange world more familiar. Siobhan’s narration, in particular, perfectly blends her dry humor with her musical talent. Johnston, like Siobhan, knows how to spin a tale. Grades 8-11. --Snow Wildsmith
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 312 pages
  • Publisher: Carolrhoda Books (March 1, 2014)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1467710660
  • ISBN-13: 978-1467710664
  • Product Dimensions: 1 x 4 x 6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 14.1 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (27 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #23,775 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Emily Kate Johnston is a forensic archaeologist by training, a bookseller by trade, and a grammarian by nature. Someday, she's sure, she's going to get the hang of this whole "real world" thing, but in the mean time she's going to spend as much time in other worlds as she possibly can.

When she's not on tumblr, she dreams of travel and Tolkien. Or writes books. It really depends on the weather.

Customer Reviews

I loved the characters and the humorous banter.
Mromero
The pacing is great, the narrator is great, the characters are great and the plot moves along nicely while exposing you to a carefully crafted world.
Ang
I highly recommend this book to anyone, young or old (Canadian or otherwise!)
J. Stein

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Mommaof5 on January 29, 2015
Format: Hardcover
This is one of the harder reviews for me to write. And the reason is that I am a bit unsure if I truly enjoyed this book. Usually I have to decide between if I loved the book or liked it or just didn't enjoy it at all as the overall theme. Harder than normal is this task for this book. I have to admit that I had a pretty hard time continuing in this book. And I really am not sure why.

Conversely, I was at least intrigued by a few things. One was the lack of magic in this book. I am of the mindset that dragons equal magically, fantasy world fun. But in this book it just happened that dragons are in a modern world. Huh, that is different? And honestly, I was a bit confused by logistics of it but decided to just roll with it.

I am also the type of person who enjoys a love story. I mean look at my reading list and you can see that. But this holds nothing of that. I mean, it is very specifically not a love story or even a hint of one. That is a bummer in my mind.

One of the things that frustrated me or confused me at least, was the wonderment of the back story. No, let me clarify. There was no back story given, it just felt like there should have been one. And then perhaps I would not have felt so confused. A good back-story can make a book go from an OK read to an epic story in a heartbeat.

So overall, I have very mixed emotions about this book. On one hand, I applaud the original idea of the story and characters. But on the other, I was frustrated and confused and dare I say a bit disappointed. I will give this story 3 out of 5. I feel someone out there will really like this and be less confused by it.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Artemis9307 on March 20, 2014
Format: Kindle Edition
I picked this one up on a whim, and read it every chance I got. Now I'm sad that it's done. The take on dragons as vicious, deadly pests is different than many of the stories I've read where they are intelligent, helpful creatures, but the change was refreshing and realistic. Siobhan the narrator is witty, sarcastic, and completely believable as a 16 year old girl, even though she admits many times that she is learning to lie. Owen the dragon slayer in training is also loveable and funny, with an inner strength that perfectly matches his character. The ending leaves room for a sequel should the author choose to go that route, but it can stay as a stand-alone novel as well. Recommended for junior high and up!
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Michael K. Smith TOP 500 REVIEWER on June 25, 2014
Format: Hardcover
Trondheim is a very ordinary small mining and farming town in southwest Ontario, and Siobhan McQuaid is a pretty ordinary sixteen-year-old -- except for her music, which fills all the world around her. But this is actually an alternate history novel, and Trondheim, like all other communities, has problems with attacks by flying dragons. Dragon-slayers have been part of human society since prehistoric times. The Romans used them in establishing the Empire, St. George is the touchstone in English-speaking countries, the two world wars (which produced lots of smoke) attracted hordes of dragons, and Henry Ford's expanse of automobile factories finally led to the abandonment of Michigan. Because dragons are strongly drawn to any source of carbon, even driving a car can be dangerous, and no one with any sense builds a bonfire. Dragons in this world are rather stupid, always dangerous, and quite vicious.

Lottie Thorsgard, the most renowned dragon-slayer in the Western world, used to protect the industries of Hamilton, but then she was injured and was forced to retire. But Lottie has plans, and she moves her family -- her partner, Hannah (a noted swordsmith), Hannah's brother, Aodhan (a giant of a dragon-slayer and a hero of the Gulf War), and especially young Owen, who represents the next generation in the family business. He shows great talent with a sword, but he's really bad with algebra, so Siobhan ends up tutoring him. But her music is more important to Lottie's plans than she knows, and she soon finds herself recruited as Owen's future bard.

This is Johnston's first novel and it has various "first novel" problems, mostly in the slightly jarring missteps in word-choice and phrasing that are scattered through the book.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Ang on August 29, 2014
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
A family of dragon slayers and their posse in a Canada where dragons are attracted to carbon emissions (like the kind that comes out of your car). Told from the perspective of the newly recruited bard/high school BFF of Owen, the youngest of the dragon slayers. The pacing is great, the narrator is great, the characters are great and the plot moves along nicely while exposing you to a carefully crafted world. I love this book and I'll be buying copies for people for Christmas. Great book to share around.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Stephanie Samphire on February 16, 2015
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
This book is just so funny, warm, and just lovable in every way. Dragon-slayers in modern Canada! And the wry, deadpan voice of the narrator, Siobhan (Owen's bard, a wonderfully geeky, music- and history-obsessed girl whom I adore) is my favorite part of the whole book. (In different ways, the writing style reminds me a bit of Connie Willis and a bit of Robin McKinley in her contemporary, SUNSHINE/SHADOWS mode, but really, it's just original and heartfelt and funny and perfect, with some surprisingly - and wonderfully - heartbreaking bits, too.)

And if you come from Ontario (where it's set) or Michigan (known in this world as the State That Fell, brought down by dragons due to the hubris of Henry Ford) you will get extra bonus fun. I come from Michigan (and spent a lot of time in Ontario when I was a kid), and I loooove the specific, detailed description of how the history of dragons influenced that whole area, not to mention the real sense of place in the Ontario setting. But even if I hadn't come from that area myself, I can't imagine not enjoying this book. I already know that I'll be re-reading it many, many times as a comfort read, and I can't wait to read book 2 in the series, PRAIRIE FIRE.

This book fills me with missionary zeal. Read it!
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