How to Train Your Dragon is a successful, long-running children's book series written and illustrated by Cressida Cowell. It follows the adventures of the son of a Viking chief, Hiccup Horrendous Haddock the Third, as he struggles to keep control of his dragon and become a respected member of the Hairy Hooligan tribe.Better than it sounds, it's got witty humor, Genre savviness, Lampshade Hanging, clever dialogue and Getting Crap Past the Radar. Thus, teens and adults have founda good read in them.The books in the series include:
How to Train Your Dragon
How to Be a Pirate
How to Speak Dragonese
How to Cheat a Dragon's Curse
How to Twist a Dragon's Tale
A Hero's Guide to Deadly Dragons
How to Ride a Dragon's Storm
How to Break a Dragon's Heart
How to Steal a Dragon's Sword
How to Seize a Dragon's Jewel
More books are likely to come, though it is hinted that the series is reaching its close. There is also a Spin-Off called How to Train Your Viking, which takes place between the second and third books told in Toothless's point of view. Hiccup and his father Stoick the Vast actually made their first appearance in a picture book called Hiccup: The Viking Who Was Seasick, essentially making it a prequel to the main series. No dragons in that one, though.It was recently given an incredibly successful film adaption by DreamWorks Animation, with ex-Disney animator Chris Sanders (Lilo & Stitch) at the director's helm. It is largely an In Name Only adaptation, but most characters retain their book names. Here's the trailer. Trope page for the film is here.Oh, and the audiobooks are narrated by David Tennant.Needs More Love!
Characters from the book include:
Hiccup Horrendous Haddock the Third - The son of the Viking Chieftain of the Hairy Hooligans. Although weedy and ordinary-looking, he's extremely intelligent and the Only Sane Man.
Toothless - Hiccup's dragon, named for his lack of teeth. He is very fussy and disobedient.
Fishlegs - Hiccup's Deadpan Snarker best friend and an even more pathetic Viking than Hiccup. He's got a limp, poor vision, numerous allergies, and is easily scared.
Horrorcow - Fishlegs' dragon. Docile and a vegetarian, she sleeps a lot.
Snotface Snotlout - Second-in-line for the chief's throne and Hiccup's cousin, Snotlout is everything a Viking SHOULD be. He frequently tries to get rid of Hiccup so he may one day become the chief. He succeeds in Book 9, courtesy of Alvin.
Fireworm - Snotlout's dragon. A brutal killer and easily provoked. She's every bit as smug and mean-spirited as Snotface.
Stoick the Vast - The current Viking chief. Is a caring father but is dense and quick-tempered.
Gobber the Belch - The head teacher of the Viking Initiation Program and the Pirate Initiation Program.
Camicazi - Heiress to the throne of the Bog Burglars, Camicazi is a violent Viking girl who fights first and asks questions later. Friends with Hiccup and Fishlegs.
Stormfly - Camicazi's dragon. A rare breed, she's a constant fibber and turns purple when she lies. One of the only dragons to speak Norse.
Tropes for the Books include:
The Ace: Humungously Hotshot The Hero. He's good at everything (except singing). Deconstructed slightly and played for laughs when several members of the tribe, mainly Stoick, dislike him because he's better at everything than they are.
A God Am I: Ziggerastica, the tiny nanodragon, believes himself to be the center of the universe. However, due to his uncanny abilities, including being able to come when called, no matter how far away, makes you wonder...
Alliterative Name: Too many to count. There's just about everything from names ("Hiccup Horrendous Haddock" the Third) to a good portion of the Viking Tribes ("Bog Burglars") to even the names of celebrations ("Thor'sday Thursday"). Also, the text itself is FILLED with alliterations - strings of five or six words starting with the same sound are not uncommon. It's especially obvious in the audiobook version of the series.
Arbitrary Skepticism: The kids have tamed dragons, and Camicazi even has one which speaks some Norse... But mermaids are just fairy tales that can't possibly be real.
Awesome McCoolname: Some of the names fall into this, such as "Humungously Hotshot the Hero". Abbreviated: "Humungous".
Brick Joke: In one of the last remaining chapters of the original novel How to Train Your Dragon, Stoick is furious over a book by Professor Yobbish called How to Train Your Dragon that is only one page describing that the best way to train dragons is to "yell at them" he declares that he is going to send Yobbish a strongly worded letter. The letter, poorly spelled, shows up as a picture prefacing the Epilogue.
Cain and Abel: Subverted with Stoick and his brother Baggybum the Beerbelly. While they initially butt heads over whose son would make a better ruler, when things get rough they stand back to back.
Calling the Old Man Out: In the first book, Hiccup calls out Stoick for banishing all of the Initiates and placing the Law over the life of his own son.
Chekhov's Gun: Norbert's flying machine, in How To Ride A Dragon's Storm.
Create Your Own Villain: Inverted here. By breaking up Humongous Hotshot and Valhallarama so she would marry Stoick the Vast instead, Alvin inadvertently helped bring Hiccup into existence. Karma's a bitch, isn't it?
Darker and Edgier: How to Twist a Dragon's Tale ventured into this territory quite a few times, but it gets back to normal in A Hero's Guide to Deadly Dragons.
How to Steal a Dragon's Sword is considerably darker than the previous light-hearted books. Everyone turn their backs on Hiccup when his slavemark is revealed when Snotlout threw a rock to the helmet and had believed that they should have abandoned Hiccup. Stoick was banished. Alvin the Treacherous ruled as King of the Wilderwest and made Snotlout the new Hooligan chief.
Fishlegs: Oh, how I wish I had a nice smart Bardiguard all of my very own, to chuck rocks at me, and send me unarmed into one-to-one combat with teenage psychopaths.
Hiccup dabbles in it several times, as do most of the dragons.
Denser And Wackier / Lighter and Softer: After The Film of the Book was released, the books took a major shift in terms of cover art and art direction in general, making the covers more cartoony. The dragon profile pages also became simpler, instead describing only "disobedience" and "attack", "defense" and "speed". The actual content of the stories, however, has not suffered from this, fortunately.
The Outcasts are feuding with everyone because of an attitude problem.
The Bog Burglars are feuding with the Hooligans because of theft, the Rashem Oiks because somebody knocked over Bertha's pint, The Hysterics because Bertha sat on the chief's dragon, The Visithugs because Bertha laughed at Visithug axework, and The Ugli-Thugs because of sheep-rustling.
The Hooligans are in feud with the Meatheads because Stoick beat Mogadon in a arm-wrestling contest.
The Meatheads are in feud with the Rashem Oiks because they just don't like each other.
The Hysterics are in feud with the Visithugs because an arm-wrestling contest went a little too far, and with the Ugli-Thugs because Ugli-Thugs are nasty pieces of work.
The Rashem Oiks and Ugli-Thugs are feuding because... who are you looking at, sunshine?
Yes, some of these are very sensitive - particularly Bog Burglars vs Rashem Oiks and Bog Burglars vs Visithugs (in that order).
Growing Up Sucks: The prologue to one of the later books in the series apologises for the Cerebus Syndrome the reader is about to hit, but points out that the books are ultimately about growing up and the difficulties that entails. They then point out that even the (assumed child) reader is going to become an adult, whether they like it or not. The tone of the prologue makes it clear that the narrator believes that everyone would avoid growing up if they could.
Homage: The end of How to Cheat a Dragon's curse resembles the ending of Gilgamesh.
Horny Vikings: This takes place amidst several fictional Viking tribes, such as the Hairy Hooligans, Murderous Meatheads, and Bog Burglars.
Dragons seem to do this, with some enjoying snacking on nanodragons (enjoyed by humans and dragons alike) and the Green Death eating his smaller companions when they get washed ashore.
The Outcast Tribe does this but only with the chief of a village and his heir.
Improvised Weapon: A rather strange example of this trope occurs in How To Twist A Dragon's Tale. When Alvin the Treacherous is about to do away with Hiccup, once and for all, Hiccup bursts into song. This surprises Alvin so much that Hiccup can wriggle out of his grasp. Soon, the second example of this trope occurs when he and his friends start using items from Fishlegs's duffel bag to fight Alvin.
Laser-Guided Karma: In How to Cheat a Dragon's Curse. Hiccup spends much of the book on a quest to save Fishlegs, who, according to Old Wrinkly, the soothsayer, is dying from the bite of a poisonous dragon. Guess who had really been bitten.
Only Sane Man: Hiccup, as well as Fishlegs and Old Wrinkly when they're around.
Our Dragons Are Different: The majority of the dragons in this series are either small and trainable or monstrously huge and primeval. Not to mention, the author comes up with her own breeds of dragons.
Sneeze of Doom: Happened twice in the first book; Fishlegs does one in the beginning ...actually four, waking all the dragons in the dragon nursery and necessitating a hasty escape and the Green Death does one at the end. Because he swallowed Hiccup, Toothless flies up his nostril and causes him to sneeze him out.