Excerpt from Dragon Rider by Cornelia Funke, plus links to reviews, author biography & more

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Dragon Rider

by Cornelia Funke

Dragon Rider
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  • First Published:
    Aug 2004, 528 pages
    May 2005, 528 pages

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Sorrel gave the girl and the woman a dark look. But when Guinevere held out her hand, saying, "Hi! I can’t say how pleased I am to meet you!" even the brownie’s furry face softened in a smile.

And while Firedrake carried the three of them to the hill beyond the huts where the tomb of the dragon rider stood, Ben followed on foot with Barnabas Greenbloom and Twigleg.&

"As you see," said the professor as Firedrake’s tail dragged through the sand in front of them, "Guinevere loves riding anything—elephants and camels, too. Personally I’m happy if I can stay on a donkey’s back for five minutes. Oh, by the way," he added, putting his arm around Ben’s shoulders, "my wife is waiting for us at the tomb, where I hope you’ll tell us what’s happened to you all since we last met.Vita is particularly looking forward to meeting you and Sorrel, and she will be delighted to see Twigleg, too. She knows some other brownies, but she’s been wanting to meet a homunculus for ages."

"Hear that, Twigleg?" Ben asked, turning his head to the manikin on his shoulder.

But the homunculus was lost in thought. In his mind’s eye, he could still see the happy faces of the villagers as Firedrake approached their huts. Twice in the past he and his master had entered a village of humans, but Nettlebrand certainly hadn’t made any of them feel happy. Fear was all his master ever brought, and he relished doing it.

"Is something wrong, Twigleg?" asked Ben.

"No, no, nothing, young master," replied the homunculus, mopping his forehead.

The professor put his arm around Ben’s shoulders again. "I’m so eager to hear your news I can hardly wait! But tell me one thing first." He glanced up at the sky; there was still no sign of any ravens. Even so, he lowered his voice. "Did the djinn know the answer? Did you manage to ask the right question?"

Ben grinned. "Yes, but his answer was rather mysterious, like a riddle."

"Like a riddle, eh? Typical of a djinn, but—" The professor shook his head. "No, no, tell me what he said later, when Vita’s with us. She ought to hear it, too. If it weren’t for her I’d never have ventured to board the wretched plane that brought us here. And besides, ever since this business about a spy came up I’ve been feeling very cautious."

Twigleg couldn’t help flinching when he heard the word spy.

"My dear Twigleg," said the professor, "you really don’t look at all well. Perhaps flying doesn’t agree with you, either?"

"I don’t think he looks too good," agreed Ben, examining Twigleg with concern.

"N-no, really," stammered the manikin. "Honestly I’m fine. I just don’t like this heat. I’m not used to it." He mopped the sweat from his brow. "I was meant to live in the cold. In the cold and the dark."

Ben looked at him in surprise."Why, I thought you came from Egypt! At least, that’s where we first met you."

Twigleg glanced at him, alarmed. "Egypt? I . . . er . . . yes, right, but . . ."

Barnabas Greenbloom spared the homunculus the problem of finding a plausible answer. "Sorry to interrupt," he said, pointing ahead, "but we’ve nearly reached the tomb. It’s up there. And there’s Vita!" He waved—and then suddenly let his hand drop, horrified. "Oh, good heavens! Do you see that, my boy?"

"Yes," replied Ben, frowning. "Two fat ravens waiting for us."

28. The Tomb of the Dragon Rider

From Dragon Rider by Cornelia Funke, Chapters 27 & 28, pages 275-295.  Original copyright 2000 by Dressler Verlag.  Original English translation copyright 2001 by Oliver Georg Latsch.  First published in Germany as Drachenreiter by Cecile Dressler Verlag, 1997.  This translation by Anthea Bell copyright 2004 by The Chicken House.  Reproduced by permission of the publisher, The Chicken House.  Published in the USA by Scholastic by arrangement with The Chicken House.

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