How To Slay a Dragon – Bill Allen

How To Slay A Dragon - Bill  Allen

This is a young adult novel I was granted access to by Netgalley – my thanks.

It's a classic idea: a much-bullied 12-year-old boy is whisked off from his down-trodden life to another world, where he can become a hero. Greg Hart is just that boy – and Myrrth is just that other world. He abruptly finds himself in the middle of a ring of wizards who have gone searching for him through the worlds. Well – searching for the mighty Greghart, prophesied to slay the dragon who will take the princess. Greg protests futilely that he would have trouble slaying a dragonfly, much less a dragon ("He'd be lucky to win a fight against one of the smaller girls at school") – particularly when he realizes there's a local bonafide dragonslayer called Greatheart – but no one listens: they are certain that the prophecy clearly points to him, and prophecies guide everyone's lives on Myrrth, and therefore a-slaying he will go.

It's a clever and fun twist on the idea. I had two problems with the writing: Greg was constantly "almost scream"ing or "nearly scream"ing or straight out screaming – and when it wasn't screaming it was shrieking. The other fingernails-on-a-blackboard thing was a misuse of language, an incorrect past tense used constantly. It's actually a sort of a spoiler to be more specific; the blunder is necessary. But really irritating.

If you find puns intolerable, this is not the book (or series) for you; from chapter headings on through puns abound. My favorites herein are the names of the dragons, Ruuan being the one Greg is expected to take out. It does wear a little thin after a while, but might be fun for its actual target audience.

I liked Greg (mostly) and the other characters (mostly – and especially Ruuan), and while I found it a little irritating that there were some mysteries left mysterious (who Nathan is, exactly, for example) it is understandable in light of plans for a series. It's a good foundation - and with one of my favorite covers of the year so far.