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Reviewed by Barbara Karp for Readers' Favorite
As Hiccup Horrendous Haddock III continues the story of his youth, members of his Hooligan tribe are searching for young Camicazi. The daughter of the chief of the Bog-Burglars was caught in a horrific summer storm while alone in her boat. Their search takes them to the eastern archipelago, where Stoick the Vast, chief of the Hooligans and Hiccup’s father, sets up camp on a beach in the land of the Ugli-Thug tribe. When the Hooligans are discovered by UG, chief of the inhospitable inhabitants of the region, the leader is disturbed. It appears someone from the Hooligan tribe sent a love letter to his daughter. If the author is of royal blood, he will be given an impossible task, and upon its completion will marry the young woman. Imagine Hiccup’s surprise when he discovers the letter was written by his friend Fishlegs, a weak and asthmatic boy. To save his friend, our hero claims responsibility. UG, despite his daughter’s protests that she will only marry one of the previous eleven suitors, informs Hiccup that he must bring five pots of honey from the island of Berserk’s bees.
As Stoick mobilizes his warriors to assist Hiccup in his task, Fishlegs — feeling responsible for the turn of events — slips away to obtain the honey himself. When Hiccup discovers his friend’s intention, he flies after him on his riding dragon. When the warrior-in-training catches up to him, both boys fall into the clutches of the vicious Berserk tribe. Upon discovering that they are “fiancés” to UG’s daughter, the chief determines that Hiccup and Fishlegs, along with all the previous suitors, will be killed in a ceremony that very night. While the other fiancés appear unconcerned about their fate, Hiccup knows he must come up with a plan to escape from the Berserks — and find the missing Camicazi.
Cressida Cowell has outdone herself with this continuation of Hiccup’s tale. The humor and levity of the previous volumes is tempered by a more complex plot. There is an aura of sadness and longing surrounding the events of the story and experiences of the characters. Followers of the Viking-in-training’s earlier adventures will enjoy this tale and find the deeper insights into the lives of Hiccup and his friends meaningful. The elderly warrior’s epilogue is haunting. This multi-layered tale is brilliantly narrated by David Tennant.