- Series: Fiction - Young Adult (Book 1)
- Hardcover: 312 pages
- Publisher: 21st Century (March 1, 2014)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 1467710660
- ISBN-13: 978-1467710664
- Product Dimensions: 4 x 1 x 6 inches
- Shipping Weight: 14.1 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 63 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #741,066 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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The Story of Owen: Dragon Slayer of Trondheim (Fiction - Young Adult) Hardcover – March 1, 2014
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Chapter 1, Page 1
Before the Thorskards came to Trondheim, we didn't have a permanent dragon slayer. When a dragon attacked, you have to petition town hall (assuming it wasn't on fire), and they would send to Toronto (assuming the phone lines weren't on fire), and Queen's Park would send out one of the government dragon slayers (assuming nothing in Toronto was on fire).
*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
"The promising Story of Owen is a clever first step in the career of a novelist who, like her troubadour heroine, has many more songs to sing." --The New York Times Book Review
"Humor, pathos and wry social commentary unite in a cleverly drawn, marvelously diverse world." starred, Kirkus Reviews --Kirkus Reviews
"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." starred, Publishers Weekly --Publishers Weekly
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Ladies and gents, I’d like you introduce you to one of the most creative takes on dragons/dragon slaying that I have read in a very long time. Warning – I am likely to be less than coherent with this review. Babble tends to happen when I discover a story I love.
The Story of Owen definitely falls into the category of “books I love.” Why, you ask?
Well, for one, Johnston managed one of the most well thought out alternate histories I’ve seen in years. The existence of dragons affect some of the major incidences in our history, the Suez Canal in particular, and you know that vast desert across North Africa? It was caused by improper dragon butchering after Rome defeated Carthage. Draconic existence also affects even the most ordinary parts of day to day life. Drive a car that still runs on fossil fuels? You definitely had to pass a class in how to avoid being attacked on the road by a carbon-eating dragon. Like the music of the Beatles? That’s probably because they paved the way for popular culture to not mention the large and scaly elephants in the room. These are the types of details that I just love, and this story has tons of them. It was like Easter egg hunting, and I was grinning with every one I noticed.
On to the characters! Owen himself was the kind of teen you’d expect a budding dragon slayer to be – awkward, popular, and really terrible at homework but really incredible with a sword. I enjoyed how normal he was, if that makes sense at all.
However, I have to admit that Siobhan, our narrator was definitely the character I connected with most. The Bardic aspects of this story, complete with the way she “heard” each person around her in various musical tapestries and instrumentation, created a wonderful full-audio effect for me. I grew up with music in school and this was a wonderful trip through band-hall nostalgia.
Added bonus: the supporting cast was just as well-rounded out as Owen and Siobhan. Owen’s aunts in particular warmed my heart in the best of ways. And of course, I’m always excited anytime an author can manage women with swords and smith craft seamlessly in a present day setting.
And finally the plot! Well… I can’t tell you much about the plot without risking River Song in my ear whispering “spoilers!” Let me just say that Johnston does a great job of connecting the small Canadian town to the global scale while still making the story about a community. People, not dragons, are at the heart of this tale. Which is as it should be.
I really, really hope that this book turns into a series. I haven’t gotten enough of these characters, and I could see this turning into a popular series the likes of “Percy Jackson and the Olympians” or something of similar fame. Very amazed this is the author’s first book, but clearly this person has talent to watch out for.
A map would have been helpful, though!