The Story of Owen is the third of the five 2015 Morris Award nominees. An alternate history of the world featuring a teen dragon slayer and his bard slaying dragons in rural Canada? Okay, I totally would have picked this up on my own even without the Morris nod – but I sure am glad to see it on the list!
Listen! For I shall tell you a tale of Owen Thorskard, the last in a long line of dragon slayers, and the story of how he came to save the town of Trondheim from dragons. So settle in, relax, and try to ignore the sound of the dragons eating your sheep outside the walls of your (hopefully) fireproof dragon shelter. I’m sure the government sanctioned slayers will get there, eventually – as soon as the traffic on I-94 clears up.
After the world-famous dragon slayer Lottie Thorskard, who also happens to be Owen’s aunt, fell from the bridge in suburban Toronto trying to save an idiot civilian videoing her battle with a rather large dragon on his iPhone, her injuries forced her into semi-retirement in small town Trondheim, along with her nephew, brother, and wife. Which is how musician, composer, and high school student Siobhan met Owen – on the first day of school, more than a bit lost on his way to algebra.
When it turns out Owen is not that great at algebra (or English), Siobhan is enlisted as his tutor – but Lottie has other plans for Siobhan as well. Owen, it seems, needs a bard to sing songs of his (due to the fact that Siobhan prefers to spend dragon attacks in a fireproof shelter, mostly made up) glory if the Thorskards are going to successfully encourage other slayers to move out of the cities and into rural areas. Lottie feels that protecting farmers and lone motorists from dragon attacks, not just leaving them to wait for government slayers for hours, by which time their fields, homes, and livelihoods are usually burned to a crisp, is just as important as protecting the government’s oil reserves and military outposts in the Middle East.
As Siobhan spends more and more time with Owen and the Thorskards, training in dragon evasion and defensive sword fighting, patrolling on weekends, and trying to find the time to squeeze some homework in, she realizes that the dragon attacks are increasing in frequency – and in number of dragons. But with only the damaged Lottie, her inventor/swordsmith wife Hannah, one full-time dragon slayer (Owen’s father), an extremely enthusiastic history teacher, Siobhan’s friend Emily, who also happens to be a conspiracy theorist, hacker, and master manipulator of the media (see: hacker), a sixteen-year-old slayer and his bard, and a high school soccer team fully trained in dragon evasion, how can the Thorskards prevent Trondheim from going the way of Michigan (i.e., fiery annihilation)? You will have to read Siobhan’s tale to find out!