Reviews provided by Syndetics
Publishers Weekly Review
Starred Review. Funke's (The Thief Lord) tantalizing fantasy about a quest to find the magical Rim of Heaven, the legendary place where dragons can live in peace forever, is a wildly entertaining ride, thanks to Fraser's top-drawer performance. The actor exudes the enthusiasm of a kid at Christmas as he tackles a full roster of inventively written characters, including heroic dragon Firedrake, human boy Ben (who just may be a dragon rider) and various comrades and enemies. From the mellow whisper of a weary, aging dragon to the spunky and hilarious fast-clip lilt of a Scottish-accented brownie named Sorrell, Fraser nimbly moves through this vivid and briskly plotted adventure. Listeners will find much to like--and much to keep track of--as the journey to escape human destruction progresses and gathers more excitement, travelers, dangers and intrigue along the way. In Fraser's command, Funke's punchy dialogue and descriptive storytelling style sparkle. Ages 8-12. (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved All rights reserved.
School Library Journal Review
Gr 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 (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
Gr. 4-6, younger for reading aloud. Here's news to quicken the pulses of Funke's many admirers: the fantasist's first novel, and her most popular so far in her native Germany, is now available to American readers. Crack open the fat volume, though, and it's instantly clear that this is different from Funke's previous books. With its large type, generous leading, and whimsical line art by the author, it simply looks0 more like a traditional middle-grade novel. The plot is correspondingly gentler, lighter, and more straightforward than those of The Thief Lord 0 (2002) 0 and Inkheart 0 (2003) ,0 involving an ancient race of fabulous creatures under threat from a wily, vengeful foe. Funke proves she knows how to tickle the imaginations of younger readers: there's a silver dragon that absorbs moonlight as flight fuel, an orphan boy destined to become a Dragon Rider, a journey to the Himalayas, and plenty of humor, introduced in particular by the dragon's irritable brownie sidekick and by Twigleg, a homunculus prone to bowing and scraping. A full-color foldout map adds the perfect atmospheric touch. This is a good, old-fashioned ensemble-cast quest in the style of Lloyd Alexander, with a bit of Puff the Magic Dragon 0 added to the mix. What could it be but a winner? --Jennifer Mattson Copyright 2004 Booklist
Horn Book Review
(Intermediate) A book with a blue-and-gray cover image of a flying dragon, the plot device of an orphan granted entry to a magical world, and enough heft to serve double-duty as a doorstop -- Eragon? The next Harry Potter? No, it's Funke's Dragon Rider, newly arrived from Germany to jostle for space in the crowded fantasy market. Ben, a homeless orphan, joins dragon Firedrake and furry, bad-tempered brownie Sorrel both in their quest to find the dragon home at the Rim of Heaven and in their mortal combat with Nettlebrand, a golden dragon-machine who wants to exterminate dragonkind. Exciting adventures abound, albeit counterbalanced with some implausible motivations, a few plot holes, and a dollop of syrupy sentiment (mostly when Ben is befriended by the dragon and later finds a home with the family of a professor of magical studies). But for younger readers who want fantastical events straight up, without complicated backstory or murky moral ambivalence, this book delivers. (c) Copyright 2010. The Horn Book, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted. All rights reserved.
Kirkus Book Review
When human development threatens the remote Scottish valley where the earth's last remaining silver dragons have hidden, Firedrake, a determined young dragon, and his friend Sorrel, an irascible brownie, set out to find the Rim of Heaven, a remote Himalayan valley said to be the ancient home of the dragons. In short order they pick up Ben, a stout-hearted orphan lad, and Twigleg, a homunculus in the joyless employ of Nettlebrand, the evil artificial golden dragon whose sole purpose in life is hunting and killing silver dragons. The twin imperatives to evade Nettlebrand and to find the Rim of Heaven form the engine that drives this narrative, and the importance of belief--in goodness, in possibility, in magic, in love--provides the fuel. Various secondary characters pop up to help or to hinder, genially straining credibility with the tidiness of plot-driven need. This solid adventure lacks the lusciousness of language and intricacy of plot that marked last year's Inkheart, but it does carry the reader along at breakneck pace, the inevitably victorious ending no less satisfying for all its predictability. (Fiction. 8-12) Copyright ©Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.