HOW TO TRAIN YOUR DRAGON: The Serpent’s Heir by Dean DeBlois, Richard Hamilton, & Doug Wheatley
This graphic novel takes place shortly after the events of the film How to Train Your Dragon 2, which finds Hiccup as the new chief of Berk in the wake of his father’s death. Amidst the rebuilding of the village, the suspicious nature of Berk citizens at the presence of outsiders, and the ongoing training of new dragons, it’s a struggle for Hiccup to adjust to his new role as leader.
So when an envoy named Calder arrives from the island of Nephenthe, Hiccup jumps at the chance to take some time off. Along with Toothless, Astrid, Fishlegs, Snotlout, Eret, the twins and his mother, he travels to Nephenthe at the behest of King Mikkel the Munificent to investigate strange tremors across his island.
If you’re a fan of the How to Train Your Dragon films or animated television show, then there’s nothing in The Serpent’s Heir (2017) that’ll disappoint you. Perhaps Dean DeBlois’ and Richard Hamilton’s story is a little on the thin side (especially with its bland villain), but all the characters are as likeable as ever, and it builds nicely on some of the things established in the last movie: Stoick’s absence, Toothless as alpha, Hiccup as chief, and the ongoing research and classification of dragons.
The banter and interactions between the characters is excellent (though I would have liked a bit more between Hiccup and Valka, his long-lost mother) and you can almost hear the cadences of the voice-actors in the dialogue they’re given. Likewise, Doug Wheatley’s artwork carries a strong resemblance to that which appears on up on the screen, though at times it also reminded me of Terry DiTerlizzi (best known for illustrating THE SPIDERWICK CHRONICLES) in their brightness and colour — and some of the dragons that appear near the end of the story.
The best thing I can say about The Serpent’s Heir is that it really does feel like you’re watching an episode of HTTYD — in fact, I’ve no idea why this story wasn’t adapted for an episode. There’s some good material here that would have looked great on screen, not to mention more widely seen had it aired on television.