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The Dragon's Tooth by N. D. Wilson
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The Dragon's Tooth

by N. D. Wilson

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Rick Riordan fans will find a lot to enjoy in this first installment of the Ashtown Burials series. When Cyrus Smith is given several strange objects by an old man right before his death, Cyrus and his sister Antigone are quickly swept into danger and adventure. All of the objects have magical abilities, and some very bad men would like to get their hands on them, especially the Dragon's Tooth, which is said to have the ability to raise the dead. Strong characters, interesting plot twists, and plenty of action make this a standout in fantasy. It gets a little far-fetched toward the end, but hey, that's part of the fun. The epilogue hints that the second in the series will feature a comeback from their father, who died years ago at the hands of the arch-villain. ( )
  KimJD | Apr 8, 2013 |
Although the book seems like a Percy Jackson or a Harry Potter wanna-be, it was an entertaining read. I'm looking forward to book 2. ( )
  bookwoman137 | Aug 10, 2012 |
I don't read a lot of Juvenile Fiction. This was a well written book. The descriptions were well done. The story was well constructed as well but dark. That seems to be the trend. People die, adults are not kind to the young. The protagonist, Cyrus is in possession of the magical Dragon's Tooth that the evil figure Dr. Phoenix who is reminiscent of H.G Wells' Dr. Moreau, wreaks havoc to obtain. This novel is one of a series and ends with a cliffhanger to get the reader to come back for more. ( )
  mstruck | Feb 25, 2012 |
I got an advanced reading copy of this book to review through Amazon Vine. The book starts out a bit slow but ends up being a solid and engaging middle grade adventure and fantasy read.

Cyrus, Antigone, and Dan Smith live in a rundown motel that they barely make a living running. When an old tattooed man shows up demanding to stay in a certain room things start changing fast. Within hours of the man's arrival the motel is burnt to the ground, Dan is missing, and Cyrus and Antigone are whisked away to the Order of Brendan.

I thought the book started a bit slow, but as it progressed it picked up pace quickly and introduced the reader to an adventurous and fantastical, if grungy, world. I liked that the book followed both Antigone and Cyrus; it made the book easy for both boys and girls to relate to and engage with.

The Order of Brendan is an order the kids' parents belonged to and an Order that doesn't like the Smith children much because of things that their past relations have done. Cyrus and Antigone are faced with with a lot of hatred from the moment they arrive at the Order of Brendan. They find help in unexpected places though and discover the secrets behind the keys and tooth that the old tattooed man left with Cyrus.

In their exploration of the halls and corridors of the Order of Brendan they find adventure and surprises at every turn. They also find some nifty magical items and meet some fascinating people. Soon though they are on a run for their lives as a very evil man seeks possession of the tooth that Cyrus was given.

Cyrus and Antigone were wonderful characters I enjoyed reading about them and enjoyed the stoicism with which they accepted all of the horrible situations they were put in. They always tried to make the best of things and persevere; they supported each other with bravery and determination.

I loved the Order of the Brenden and all of the secrets that were in its halls. There is a ton of adventure in this book. There are also traitors, spies, and some scary bits...so only for middle grade or older. I should mention the book takes place in a lot of creepy and gross settings. From the moldy and bug infested motel the characters start in, to the water-logged stone halls with scuttling Whip Spiders that they are forced to sleep in at the Order of Brendan; there is a lot of yucky in this book. I found myself wondering how they could ever sleep in those conditions and got a little itchy from time to time. Still, the descriptions were wonderful and really made the settings come alive.

Overall I really enjoyed this book. It was an excellent middle grade adventure fantasy and I enjoyed the world and the characters. You never knew what crazy character you would run into next or what fantastic magical thing you would find around the corner. I highly recommend this to fans of middle grade fantasy. If you enjoyed Fablehaven by Brandon Mull or The Emerald Atlas by John Stephens you should definitely give this book a try. ( )
  krau0098 | Jan 23, 2012 |
The Dragon's Tooth by N. D. Wilson (Ashtown Burials #1)
Pages: 496
Release Date: August 23rd, 2011
Date Read: 2011, September 6th-14th
Received: Own
Rating: 5/5 stars
Recommended to: 12+

Summary -
The Archer Motel is a place where waffles are made every day and the dried up pool outside is full of rubber tires. It is the place where Cyrus Lawrence Smith lives, with his sister Antigone and his brother Daniel, and an elderly woman named Mrs. Eldridge. It's nothing special, until a strange man calls. He knows Cyrus' full name and is vehemently requesting a certain room - a room that happens to belong to Cyrus. But it's not the Motel he's after. It's Cyrus and Antigone that he wants, and this might just be the most terrifying and fascinating thing that has ever happened to them. Cyrus and his siblings are thrown into a whirlwind of adventures and dangers bigger than anything they could have imagined...

My thoughts -
Ummm... Favorite? Ever? In the whole world? Equal to Wilson's other books? The only book equal to Wilson's other books because only Wilson can match Wilson? Yes. To all of it. Say yes to this book. Say yes to Wilson. YES! You thought I loved all those other books? Wilson squashes it all with his pure amazingness.

Now. Moving on. When I was in the process of slowly picking my way through this book (I had no intention of reading fast because then it would be over...), there were quite a few times when I would just stop and stare at the book. Or more frequently, I'd jump up and start pacing, murmuring things like an idiot, saying, "Red, flying vipers. White wings. Genius. Red. Vipers. Flying." And then I'd turn to my family and say, "Do you even understand?!" I was a bit of a mess, lemme tell you. A shocked, amazed, and totally engrossed mess.

Before I head to the next thing I must say something about his writing. It is so his own style, the way he words and places his sentences. I'm pretty sure that if I opened a random book in the store without seeing the cover or any names, and read a few sentences, and it was him, that I could guess - he's that unique, that irreplaceable. There are few who equal his skill in writing, in my opinion.

In any case...

Character notes -
I would write out every character and go through the list of why they're all amazing and how evil one is compared to the other, or how great and noble, and how perfectly imperfectly human they all are, and how you don't really find characters this developed in the industry very often, and it is a delicious treat to have a copy of this book on my shelf, just for the characters alone, not to mention everything else.

I would do that, and it would bore you all to pieces.

So let me use one specific example - without ruining anything for you as the reader. As my sister and I read this book together (well, she finished it way before me), we were constantly talking about the book and how amazing it is and totally going fangirly all over our dear sweet copies (we had to buy one for each - no way we're sharing these books!!). In our discussion one day, one of the aspects of the book caught us by surprise. One of the characters, a lead role, is a bit on the serious side, kind of hardened because life has not treated this character too well; sometimes this character may seem a bit "holier than thou". Not in an I-don't-want-to-read-about-this-snob kind of way, but in a very human way. However, slowly, over the course of the book, something happens: this character morphs and changes into a softer, more refined character - and all without us knowing it's happening!! By the end of the book my sister and I were both shocked, saying that the change in this character was so smooth and perfect that it was like a slow drip, each one right after the next, until you have a full pool below.

That is the extent of the character development in this book - no telling, only showing. And that's how it should be. But Wilson has mastered it. Well done!

And as for the bad guy - holy poop I've NEVER read about a bad guy like this. NEVER. He's like serial-killer-thinks-he's-a-saint type villain, and I loved it. I loved every chilling aspect that he brought to this book. What the heck.

Story notes -
How can I even wait? This story is not over - and obviously, as a hook (though I'd be hooked no matter what) it ends at a very crucial part in the story, which made me gape at the page for about ten minutes.

I know, I'm dramatic. Moving on.

From the first pages there are creepy moments, fires, explosions, rather quirky characters, undying men, car chases and bullets, secret passageways, new societies, strange inventions, exploring, mysteries, etc, etc. The list goes on. And this is only 200 pages into the story - I swear. It's packed. It's a roller-coaster, always exhilarating, never stopping. It has perfect pacing, just enough to keep you drawn in for the whole 500 pages, and it still allows you the leisure of choosing how long you want to take to read it. I chose ten days, my sister chose about five. Take your pick - you won't be sorry either way. I mean, who has the ability to write a book that has it all - and still makes it so that you can personalize the pace (a pace that's still fast, no matter how long you take)?

Only Wilson, DUH.

Apart from being extremely intense and crazy and amazing, this story is really emotional. Cyrus and Antigone are exceptional characters, not only for their ability to be human, but also because they and their story creates intense emotion. Wilson's other books are all very emotional in a sense, but not "I want to cry" emotional. But The Dragon's Tooth had me shedding a few tears in some of the crucial scenes. Very sweet and sad.

Oh, and one last thing - it has X-Men like qualities. Crazy cool, huh? Don't ask - just go read.

Summing it up -
Why would I even dare try to write a single word to compact this book? Such a great feat is impossible. There is no containing this story. You must feast upon it. That is the only way to understand why I love Wilson's books so much. But, granted, there will be those who dislike this book. So while I hope you will all find Wilson's books as incredibly beautiful as I do, you might not. All one can do is hope - and recommend - and push a little bit. Okay, okay, I'll stop with the book-pushing.

Recommended 12+ for some very intense scenes. ( )
  yearningtoread | Nov 29, 2011 |
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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0375864393, Hardcover)

Guest Reviewer: James Dashner on The Dragon's Tooth by N.D. Wilson

James Dashner is the New York Times bestselling author of The Maze Runner trilogy and The 13th Reality series.

The Dragon’s Tooth by N. D. Wilson isn’t a run-of-the-mill fantasy book for kids. Original, captivating, funny, and suspenseful, it’s a book that will appeal to all ages. And it’s certainly not run-of-the-mill.

The Smith children (Dan, Antigone, and Cyrus) run the Archer Motel, living on waffles and periodically visiting their comatose mother in the hospital. With their father dead, they are pretty much on their own. Things quickly get exciting when a strange man with bones tattooed all over his body comes to the motel demanding to stay in room 111. He shows twelve-year-old Cyrus a lightning bug encased in glass that has dangerous capabilities. After much mayhem the motel is destroyed in a fire, and Cyrus’s older brother, Dan, goes missing. Cyrus is given some very powerful keys and a shard of a tooth. Antigone and Cyrus travel to Ashtown, where they learn about the Order of Brendan, which has existed for fifteen centuries, and that they’re considered Acolytes, with some learning to do before they advance. As you can see, there’s a lot going on to keep you reading!

One of the elements I really enjoyed about the book is all the cool imagery that Wilson introduces. Quick Water is a substance that, when shared between two people, allows them to see where the other is. It ends up being helpful to Antigone as she searches for her brother. There’s a room with planks hanging from the ceiling to walk on so as to avoid the Whip Spiders. And there’s Patricia, a serpent that turns invisible when she swallows her tail. She helps Cyrus to conceal the special keys he’s been given.

To say this book is action-packed would be an understatement. It starts quickly and keeps a steady pace right to the climax and ending. The story is well-crafted, with vibrant characters and interesting places. I especially appreciated the way Wilson develops the siblings. The brother/ sister relationship is very authentic, and the dialogue believable. I’m really looking forward to the second installment!

A Letter from Author N. D. Wilson

I love history--and not just the official in-every-textbook stuff (though I enjoy that too). I love the classics of adventure--especially classics magical or piratical or exploratory. I love Latin and maps and running till I’m exhausted and hot days and my grandfather’s old leather flight jacket (which he lost). I have explored tombs in Jerusalem and back alleys in London. I have been lost in the tunnels of Brussels (with a van full of children), and I have been robbed in Rome (it was easy, anyone can do it). But my adventures are nothing compared to the adventures of men like Lewis and Clark and Magellan and Brendan the Navigator, and I can’t help but be stunned by what they were able to accomplish without our technological crutches and gifts (and internal combustion engines).

I love books that give me a thirst to step outside and blink in the sun (or blink in the rain), books that make me put on my boots or my shoes or my sandals, that make me want to climb, to dive, to dig, to have staring contests with anthills, to hold crabs or touch sharks or search out even fatter books.

Escapism in fiction can be a beautiful thing. But that’s not the only thing I hope to create. If kids around the world pass through The Dragon’s Tooth and become friends with Cyrus and Antigone Smith and form clubs and sit in circles to role-play with dice and wish they had more interesting lives, then I will have failed. But if they dream of learning to sail, to swim, to fly, if they dream of running faster than they’ve ever run and studying Latin (or Greek or Persian or Creole), if they walk outside and realize that their world is more wonderful, more surprising, more dangerous, and more exciting than anything I could ever create, if they discover that they themselves could become more interesting than any character I could ever shape, then I will have succeeded.

In The Dragon’s Tooth, I season my story with a pirate cook and flight lessons and truly electric lightning bugs and an old motel beside a quiet road in Wisconsin. I add one or two of history’s rogues (and whip spiders and a bull shark named Lilly and a giant snapping turtle named Leon), and then I put it all on a sizzling end-of-summer barbecue and serve it with lemonade.

Taste. Eat. I hope you like. But if you don’t, step outside and look at the sky. Right now, you’re standing on a ball that is hurtling through space at Mach 86. And that ball of fire up there in the blue is slinging us around like we’re on a string. Birds really can fly. And sing. The ocean is real. The platypus is no myth. Caterpillars turn into soup (and yes, that soup turns into butterflies). This is our fantasy world, and it is the world into which I hope my readers escape.

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:48:33 -0400)

(see all 3 descriptions)

When their parents' seedy old motel burns down on the same night they are visited by a strange man covered in skeleton tattoos, Cyrus, Antigone, and their brother Daniel are introduced to an ancient secret society, and discover that they have an important role in keeping it alive.… (more)

» see all 3 descriptions

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