Brock, the dragon slayer, and his mute assistant, Ansel, travel from village to village in search of dragons to defeat. At first Ansel is torn between esteem for his master and fear of actually meeting up with one of the beasts. Then Brock reveals that there is no such thing as a dragon and he is nothing more than a conman. Fortunately, there are a lot of superstitious people who will pay to get rid of their fear of a dragon.
Together they travel to a remote mountain village where the inhabitants are purported to be terrorized by a dragon. Along with a local priest they head up into the hills expecting to hang out for a few days before killing a sheep and faking a dragon’s death.
On their way they find traces of a human sacrifice left by the villagers to appease the dragon. When they crowd into a shepherd’s cave to escape a violent storm they discover the girl alive. They assume she is delusional when she carries on about a dragon’s eye.
No wonder, seriously, no one in their right mind believes in dragons.
Except that early in the morning, while outside to relieve himself, Ansel looks out and realizes a dragon is stalking him. He barely makes it back to the shelter. The creature in its fury batters itself against the wooden door till it manages to kill and grab one of their horses.
It appears that there is indeed such a thing as dragons.
The motley crew first attempts to flee the mountain, but is hampered by a landslide that decimated the trail. Then the dragon returns; hunting once more. The survivors of this attack realize that they must climb up before they can come down. It looks like they might make it until Brock gets it into his head that he will atone for his many sins when he kills the dragon.
I started this book because I am a sucker for Philip Reeve.
I finished it because not only is it a rollicking great adventure tale, it has hidden depths. Sly truths about the human condition are slipped in midst the treachery, terror, and hair breadth escapes.
I liked that Reeves created realistic and fallible characters. He made me care about all of them, including the dragon. I admit to having some reservations about the priest, and I was often appalled by some of Brocks actions, but I still rooted for him to survive.
This is one I will most definitely recommend to dragon fans.