Book Review: The Battle of Hackham Heath, by John Flanagan

cv_the_battle_of_hackman_heathJohn Flanagan is most well known for his Rangers’ Apprentice series, featuring Will, a young man apprenticed to the mysterious ranger, Halt. In this series, Rangers’ Apprentice The Early Years, we join Halt in his early years of training, and see how Will’s world was formed.

I have not read the first in this series, but I found the story flowed very well regardless. Events in The Tournament at Gorlan were explained in enough detail to carry this story on and fill in the blank spaces. Having read the first few Rangers Apprentice books, Halt was no stranger to me. Hackham Heath picks up with Gorlan left off. Morgarath is exiled and in hiding, building an army by recruiting powerful wolf-apes known as Wargals, and plotting his vengeance on King Duncan. Halt is employed to uncover Morgarath’s secrets, whilst his friend Crawley is tasked with protecting the Queen and the heir she carries. Both tasks will require the young rangers to take great risks and make difficult choices, choices that will change their lives forever.

What follows is a fairly standard, albeit rather clever, medieval fantasy. Flanagan certainly knows his tactics and techniques, and creates a convincing and compelling battle (on Hackham Heath, as you may have guessed) that will keep younger readers eagerly turning the pages. There are several nods made towards the Ranger’s Apprentice series too, which should appeal to fans of the latter. Overall, a solid plot, characters that display appropriate levels of heroism, and a lot of action.

Reviewed by Angela Oliver

The Battle of Hackham Heath
by John Flanagan
Published by Random House
ISBN 9781742759326

Book Review: Dragon Knight #4 – Dragons! by Kyle Mewburn and Donovan Bixley

Available in bookshops nationwide.cv_dragon_knight_dragons

Dragon Knight Book #4: Dragons! is a continuation of the Dragon Knight series in which young shape-shifting dragon Merek is following his dream to become a knight.

This book is set in medieval times, and features an evil dragon called a cyclorg. The cyclorg has seven heads and hates the villagers because they try to take his gold. As expected in medieval tales, there are a lot of action-packed battles and big fighting scenes as well as a few lessons in the time-honoured practice of falconry.

Every page is illustrated with funny action shots, family trees and maps, and the writing style is very humorous.

“The Castle shook as the cyclorg’s fierce cry resounded across the sky. A normal dragon’s call was loud enough, but with it’s seven heads, the cyclorg screech was almost deafening. It wheeled around in a wide arc high above the castle.


A second cyclorg was close behind.


A third cyclorg swooped low over the tower. It shot a fiery blast that turned the banners into ashes, then rose to join the others that were flying in formation above, Merek’s whole body tensed, ready to spring into action.”

Author Kyle Mewburn has had over 40 children’s books published in 9 countries! His work has won numerous awards, including the NZ Post Children’s Book of the Year.

Donovan Bixley is an amazing artist with a range of different styles. His work brings another dimension to Kyle’s text, often adding hilarious parts of his own to enhance the storyline.

I recommend boys and some girls aged 6 and over who like action-packed magical stories, for example, Harry Potter, to check out this book. I give this book 3 and a half stars – had I been more of a fan of the genre, I’m sure I would have given it a better rating.

Reviewed by Ava Knowles, Age 9

Dragon Knight #4: Dragons!
by Kyle Mewburn and Donovan Bixley
Published by Scholastic NZ
ISBN 9781775432623

Dragon Knight: Witch! by Kyle Mewburn, illustrated by Donovan Bixley

cv_dragon_knight_witchAvailable in bookshops nationwide.

Witch! is the third book in the Dragon Knight series for young readers (aged 6+). It is written by Kyle Mewburn (Kiss, Kiss, Yuck, Yuck and No Room for a Mouse) and illustrated by Donovan Bixley. They also collaborated on the Dinosaur Rescue series.

Merek and his family are shape-shifting dragons that live in the human world during medieval times. Merek wants to be a knight, so attends knight school. Ironically, knights train to slay dragons, so this is where Merek’s problems lie. In the third book of the series, Witch!, Merek is stuck in the stocks. He is covered in sores and dribbling green slime from his nose. As the doctor is unfamiliar with the condition, he decides it must be witchcraft! The community is keen to blame Granny Smith. If he confesses to being in her garden then he will be set free – and get Granny in a lot of trouble. The problem is that the sores and green slime are typical side effects of eating brussel sprouts – if you are a dragon of course! The novel explains the sequence of events leading up to this dilemma, and of course, how it resolves.

The text and illustrations work very well together with every page featuring at least one illustration. Some of the illustrations serve to explain background to medieval times or the plot. My favourite was an explanation of the ‘Top Five Medieval Dangers.’ Seeing a doctor was not always good for your health! There are a lot of jokes and ‘gross bits’ that children enjoy. You do not require knowledge of the previous books in the series to enjoy this book.

My five-year-old daughter enjoyed listening to the story and my eight-year-old rapidly read through the whole story in one sitting! It is just perfect I think for six- and seven-year-old independent readers.

Reviewed by Emma Wong-Ming

Dragon Knight: Witch! (book 3)
Written by Kyle Mewburn and illustrated by Donovan Bixley
Published by Scholastic NZ
ISBN 9781775432616