Firedrake the silver dragon and his friends are warned that people are encroaching on the valley in Scotland where they have been hiding for hundreds of years. The other dragons don't want to leave, hoping they can find a way to keep humans away. But Firedrake realizes the truth. He determines to find the other group of dragons hidden at the Rim of Heaven. He and the brownie, Sorrell, embark on a search to find the Rim of Heaven.
Their first stop is in the city to find a mapmaker. Gilbert the Rat is a world reknown mapmaker, and knows about the fantastic creatures like dragons, brownies, dwarves, fairies, etc. He gives them a map that marks the safe routes and the dangerous areas to avoid. He shows the best route for a dragon that can only travel at night.
Sorrell and Firedrake pick up an unexpected friend before they leave the city. Ben is a homeless boy who doesn't remember any family. Although Sorrell is reluctant, Firedrake agrees to take Ben along. Everyone knows that brownies are ill tempered, so Firedrake knows Sorrell doesn't like anything different. Besides, they have spent their lives avoiding humans. It is difficult for Sorrell to believe Ben is trustworthy.
As they begin their flight to the other side of the world to find the Rim of Heaven, they unwittingly disturb an enemy. Nettlebrand, the golden dragon, wants to find and destroy the silver dragons. When Nettlebrand hears about Firedrake, he is determined to find and eat the silver dragon. When he learns they are seeking the dragons who eluded him a long time ago, he instead sends a spy to stay with the group until the other dragons are found. Then he'll get them all.
This a fantasy novel that younger children, especially boys, will enjoy. Firedrake is brave and determined, Sorrell is the comic relief as will as necessary for the mission, and Ben is the boy who turns out to be more than he seems. Nettlebrand is over the top, but children will ignore that. It is a formula story with Funke's style. It's a story where the reader roots for the hero, knowing what will happen.
I liked the premise of the fantastical creatures unconsciously attracting others. We meet dwarves, sea serpents, fairies, and more. When Firedrake lands to sleep, the local fantastic creatures are likely to appear. Funke is able to pull in our childhood fantasy characters in a manner any child will enjoy. This is great fun.
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