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No Such Thing As Dragons
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
on 3 November 2009
Ansel's father sells him for a handful of coins to a passing traveller who's in need of a servant. Brock is bound for the north country, to hunt dragons. Ansel would be afraid but Brock reveals that there's no such thing as dragons, only a pretty penny to be made from scaredy village folk who are quick to believe in myths and legends. Yet something is terrorising the town of Drachenberg and when Brock and Ansel set off up the mountain on a false mission to slay it, they discover something far more real and terrifying than any of Brock's stories.

I thoroughly enjoyed this exciting adventure story. Reeve is a writer of exceptional talent - the scope of his imagination is breathtaking. A perfect introduction to this first class writer for boys of 8+. I'll be buying it as a Christmas present for all of my younger relatives!
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
I've never read Philip Reeve before: this was my first. Oddly, although I wasn't too impressed by this book, I'm keen to read his Mortal Engines series anyway, because 'No Such Thing as Dragons', whilst well written enough, feels like a side-project of sorts, of a great author burning off some steam but never really fully committed to the book, and as a result it's a sort book that simply doesn't go anywhere.

It starts brilliantly: mute Ansel is sold by his father to be a dragon-slayer's assistant, and on the way to his next dragon hunt, the dragon-slayer, Brock, reveals to Ansel that there's no such thing as dragons, and his act is all a show to swindel money from superstitious townsfolk. But when they arrive at the foot of a mountain, and find that something really is calling from the jagged peaks and killing the neaby village's livestock, just what is it?

Interesting premise, isn't it? Unfortunately, when the plot begins to advance and revelations are made, it all feels a bit...obvious. It's as if Mr Reeve had a great idea but didn't know quite how to finish it. Nothing in this book will surprise you, which is a shame because it's precisely the kind of book which needs to deliver on surprises. The polished writing style and brilliant descriptions of mountains make it the book as a whole entertaining enough. It's just...you get the impression that it's building up to a clever twist in the dragon lore, or some clever reveal at the end that makes you realise something you hadn't noticed all along. But no. I guarantee, come the ending, all you will say is 'Oh.' Or maybe 'is that it?'

Make no mistake, this is enjoyable enough - short, simple and, when all is said and done, a good one - just don't go expecting anything special.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on 18 January 2010
Ansel is a ten year old boy living in a quiet medieval village who since the shock of his mother's death he has remained a mute. His father believes him to be useless so it's a surprise when a knight arrives in town and buys Ansel to become his servant. The knight is Brock, a fearsome dragon slayer with the scars to prove it, touring the land hunting down the vicious beasts in return for payment. But as the pair journey onwards, Ansel starts to learn a few things about his new master. First of all, he's a fraud who pretends to kill dragons in order to win fame and fortune. Secondly he's never even seen a dragon and the reason for this is simple; dragons don't exist. Things look like they are going well when the travellers arrive at a town suffering from a `dragon' problem. A man has disappeared as well as cattle and sheep and the peasants refuse to work near the mountain which has long been the home of a fierce beast. It seems like another opportunity to trick money out of some gullible townspeople, so Brock and Ansel travel up the mountain where they plan to spend a few days before returning victorious. Things start to go wrong very quickly as they find a terrified young girl hiding in the shack they planned to use. She tells them that she was meant as a sacrifice to the dragon, that it is most definitely real and is likely to be coming for them all any moment now.

Philip Reeve always delivers books that are brilliantly written with fantastic flowing descriptive passages. His descriptions and language sweep you to the mountain side with Ansel as the dragon bears down. This and the clever, polished writing style make this an entertaining enough story but it does feel as if something is lacking. The plot starts off well and has a lot of promise but dramatic tension builds up to anticlimaxes. There are no surprises and as the reader realises that the suspense will come to nothing, little excitement. The fact that it is so short, only two hundred pages, also makes sympathising with the characters difficult as there isn't time to develop either a back story or the main characters. There is a feeling that this was written by an author with only half a mind on his work while the rest was dreaming up bigger things.

This is by no means a bad story. Although short and fairly simple, this book will be accessible to a younger age range than some of Reeve's other work. There is a lot of action, a little bit of blood and violence which is only to be expected in a dragon tale and it is by and large enjoyable although it is a little disappointing after its initial promise.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
Ten-year-old Ansel's life has been difficult. His mother died when he was little, and he lost his voice soon after her death. In the years since, his father has remarried and had more children. When a stranger comes to town looking for a young boy to do servant's work, Ansel's father gladly takes the offered bag of money and sends his son on his way despite the potential danger.

Johannes Brock is a dragon hunter. He likes the idea of a squire who cannot talk and will not be able to share his tricks of the trade. But Brock has a secret, and when he tells it to Ansel, the child is torn between faithfulness to his new master - who has been kinder than his own father - and a desire to tell the truth.

When the two venture into the shadow of a mountain called Drachenberg, their lives and very belief system will be challenged. Readers will be pulled in by themes of loss, grief, friendship, and sacrifice as they struggle on the mountainside along with Ansel and his companions.

Philip Reeve, the author of THE HUNGRY CITY CHRONICLES and THE MORTAL ENGINES quartet, as well as many other young adult novels, has once again produced an exciting story that will dare readers to put it down before they have reached the last page!

Reviewed by: Theresa L. Stowell
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on 15 December 2014
This book is story telling at its best. Reeve manages to take us on an adventure with ansel and brock as they go on a mission to seek dragons. I couldnt put this tale down. Reeve uses descriptive language to skillfully and quickly bring the characters to life. He is able to convey the sense of place throughout the book and yet the tale has a simplicity too it that harks back to a different age. He frequently uses alliteration and assonance producing a poetic feel to the book. It reminds me of Hemmingways The old man and the sea which also has a brilliant simplicity about it. If i have a criticism it is that the book left me hungry for more. Although a complete story i felt lije it was the beginning of a trilogy and that there was so much more adventuri g yet to be done. In this regard the story felt a little 'wrapped up' at the end...but there is still scope for more to come.
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on 9 October 2009
It pains me to write this as I am a big fan of the Mortal Engines Quartet. Mr. Reeve has also written several other novels, amongst which is "Here Lies Arthur". If you enjoyed "Here Lies Arthur" then the chances are that you will enjoy this Novel. The Story follows Brock a Dragon Hunter, and his Serf Ansell. The descriptive passages are rather good, giving a sense of Cold and harshness found as they travel up a mountain to slay the Dragon. However, I could not empathise with any of the characters. I felt rather detached from them all, more like an observer than a participant. Perhaps this was due to the book been rather short, just over 200 pages long in hardback, and in large print, with illustrations from the author. So was it worth the read. I think so, but it was not on par with the excellent Mortal Engines series in my humble opinion.
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on 2 January 2011
No such thing as Dragons is a one off by Philip Reeve and an interesting book. On the simplest level it is an interesting story for children (there is some content which may be distressing for younger children) although I'd recommend it for those closer to their teens. The book explores several themes such as lying, self-preservation vs altruism, fear and family. The graphic descriptions of violence are kept short and are not sensationalist but add to the story. Reeve's ability to suck the reader into his worlds is commendable and you'll build relationships with the characters very early on in the book. There is also a good deal of character development and the book can be an interesting beginning to a discussion on morality or truth.
It should be a children's classic and I continue to be impressed by Reeve's writing.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 5 January 2014
A completely new take on a myth. It is not the 'dragons' who are evil but the human beings whom we are expected to look up to for moral guidance.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 22 April 2013
A thoroughly enjoyable read for juvenile/adult alike. So much so I bought all of Reeves mortal engines, dragon and goblin books.
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on 11 April 2015
Very pleased; very quick delivery, great price and book in great condition. Bought this copy for young friend having loved it myself.
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