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Literature: Dragon Rider
A novel by German author Cornelia Funke, following a dragon, a Brownie, and an unassuming human orphan (and eventually a few more partners) as they travel from one end of the earth to the other searching for the Rim of Heaven - the only true sanctuary left for the dragons, now that humans are building over all the others. On the way, they'll encounter an assortment of magical creatures both good and bad and travel through exotic locations, all while trying to keep themselves out of reach of a very persistent beast with a hunger for dragon flesh.


This book provides examples of:

  • Ace Pilot: Lola Graytail, who even introduces herself as such.
  • Applied Phlebotinum: Although it doesn't show up until more than halfway through the book, the Moon Dew collected from Zubeida Ghalib's special flowers.
  • Artificial Human: Twigleg.
  • Author Tract: The book is flagrantly plagued by the author's numerous holier-than-thou agendas. Every character we are supposed to like is a vegetarian, a pacifist, and will never stop bemoaning mankind's need to put animals in cages even though this theme has cursory relevance to the actual plot, at best. The author places Eastern people high up on a pedestal over Western people to a point of othering them.
  • Becoming the Mask: Twigleg goes from using Ben as a cover to spy on Firedrake to genuinely liking him as a friend, mostly because Ben is nicer to him than Nettlebrand would ever be.
  • Big Damn Heroes: A few times. First, Barnabas Greenbloom shows up with a mirror handy when Firedrake wakes up a Basilisk; Firedrake and the others arrive in the nick of time to prevent Ben becoming a Roc chick's dinner; and Lola getting Twigleg out of Nettlebrand's reach during the final showdown.
  • Big Eater: Sorrel is always either eating or wanting to eat. By extension, all of the Brownies seem to be like this.
  • Breath Weapon: The dragons breathe fire, of course. Although it also has a few other uses, like healing wounded animals or revealing the true nature of enchanted creatures.
  • Bunny-Ears Lawyer: Barnabas Greenbloom.
  • Chekhov's Gun: Nettlebrand's missing scales.
  • Chekhov's Skill: Sorrel's marksmanship and proficiency with spitting, coupled with the properties of Firedrake's breath, come in handy near the end of the book.
  • Creating Life: The Mad Scientist who created Nettlebrand was adept at this, although his real goal in life was to make gold.
    • Twigleg says that the Mad Scientist actually COULDN'T create life, but instead "borrowed" a life from another creature... in Nettlebrand's case, a frog, in Twigleg's probably a spider or other small insect.
  • Creepy Ravens: The majority of Nettlebrand's forces are ravens. Except they're actually enchanted crabs.
  • Deadpan Snarker: Sorrel, when she isn't complaining about her hunger.
  • Death by Irony: Nettlebrand's indestructible armor is melted by the very thing it was made to withstand- dragon's fire- because the good guys fiddled with his beloved scale polish.
  • Doorstopper
  • Fatal Flaw: Nettlebrand's Pride.
  • Feed the Mole: Twigleg, to save Ben's life, gives Nettlebrand fake directions to the Rim of Heaven so he'll be trapped in a desert. And then turned against them when Nettlebrand not only survives, but gets Gravelbeard to fudge a story about his demise so the good guys don't know they're being followed.
  • Feathered Fiend: The Giant Roc.
  • Flaw Exploitation: When Nettlebrand shows up to reclaim one of his scales, Professor Greenbloom is able to use Gravelbeard's obsession with precious metals to escape.
  • Foreshadowing: Firedrake is actually warned about Nettlebrand several chapters before he becomes a threat by an old dragon back in his home, and Gilbert Graytail's comments about the ravens serves as a warning for Sorrel and Ben that they might be being watched.
  • Gone Horribly Right: Nettlebrand, who was created to hunt dragons for an alchemist, was SO good at his job that he eventually ran out of dragons to hunt. This led to him getting bad-tempered, and, well... he ate the majority of his servants AND his master.
  • Happily Adopted: Ben's eventual fate adopted by the Greenblooms, as shown by the ending. Twigleg joins him in this.
  • Hoist by His Own Petard: Nettlebrand's creator, devoured by his own creation. And Nettlebrand's obsession with his scales, as well as his abusing his servants also turns around to hit him where the sun don't shine.
  • Our Dragons Are Different: Firedrake's race of silver dragons look like the Western archetype, although they breathe enchanted blue fire and can only fly when the moon is out; in fact, they live off the light and don't even need to eat.
  • Our Homunculi Are Different: Twigleg is a homunculus created by an alchemist. Turns out the alchemist couldn't actually create life - only "borrow" it from other creatures. Thus, Twigleg was probably created from a spider or a beetle.
  • Red Eyes, Take Warning: Nettlebrand has them, as does his army of Creepy Ravens. Of course, Twigleg has them too, and it's possible all enchanted creatures are born with red eyes, so it's subverted and played straight.
  • Stock Ness Monster: Two of these were rumored to have driven Firedrake's last relations from the Rim of Heaven into hiding... except they meet one of the said Nessies, and not only is she VERY helpful, but it turns out she and her sister were trying to stop Nettlebrand from killing them.
  • Super-Persistent Predator: Nettlebrand is this trope.
  • Taken for Granite: When the last group of dragons Nettlebrand attacked went into hiding and stopped taking in moonlight, they turned to stone. Gravelbeard actually says this is a threat to a lot of magical creatures; thankfully, some of them can be broken out of it and they don't seem to notice the passage of time while frozen.
  • The Dog Bites Back: Hey Nettlebrand! That tiny armor-cleaner you've been pushing around for a few hundred years, and his greedy replacement? Yeah, bad idea.
  • The Fair Folk: While not being full-fledged villains, the fairies and elves in this book can be dangerous if you annoy them. According to Firedrake, they're also one of the few magical creatures able to stop humans from building over their homes, thanks to all the nasty tricks they pack.
  • The Mole: Twigleg, although this isn't revealed (to the other characters, at least) for a good portion of the book. And after his relatively early Heel-Face Turn, Gravelbeard takes his place.
  • Weirdness Magnet: Fantastic creatures attract each other, the intelligent ones considering Muggles to be too boring. This both helps and endangers the good guys a few times.
  • Where The Hell Is Springfield?: Intentionally invoked, as Lola Graytail fakes the mapping information to her uncle, so nobody will find the Rim of Heaven.

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