Title: Wizards of Once
Author: Cressida Cowell
Page Count/Review Word Count: 480
I’m mostly familiar with Cressida Cowell because of her How to Train Your Dragon series, and so it was interesting to see her take on something new. It still had similar vibes though, and so you could almost imagine that the two series exist in the same world. It also included the illustrations that for me have always been the heart and soul of the How to Drain Your Dragon series.
The plot here is that there are warriors and wizards, and the two sides don’t much like to mix. In part, that’s because the warriors have a deep mistrust of magic due to the history of the realm in which there used to be witches roaming around and doing all sorts of unpleasant things to the unfortunate people they came across.
We follow the story of one of the younger wizards who’s still waiting for his magic to come in. It should have happened by now and he’s impatient, so he sets out to capture a witch in the hope that he can steal its magic for himself. But then he bumps into a warrior, who happens to be the daughter of the warrior queen.
The result is an adventure that takes us to both camps and does a great job of familiarising us with Cowell’s lore. What I think is particularly interesting is that it’s said to take part in the British Isles before that’s what they were called, and I love the idea of stories like that which are set in our world and which feature magic that’s since been forgotten about.
The story itself has a little bit of everything, from action and adventure to character development and the all-important world-building which I think will have an even bigger payoff as the series continues to develop.
It’s also sufficiently different from the How to Train Your Dragon books that it doesn’t feel as though Cowell has resorted to imitating herself. In fact, if she sticks with it and keeps writing books then this could easily go on to threaten it as her most popular series. Shock, horror, I know.
I read this book on the exercise bike at the gym, and I think that helped with my enjoyment of it because it meant I read it in just a couple of sessions. At the same time, I think it could work well if you were reading it to your kids at bedtime. There’s no reason why you can’t dip in and out of it.
All in all then, you can probably tell that I’m pretty happy with this one. If you’re looking for a children’s book with a ton of magic in it, you’ve come to the right place. Just beware of the witches.