Saturday, April 20, 2013

The Dragon Book

The Dragon Book: Magical Tales from the Masters of Modern Fantasy 
Edited by

This is an anthology. I will forewarn all readers now so that my review and rating is better understood.

 I think Jack Dann did a fair enough job picking out stories to put together for this book.  It is a good variety of unique stories written with various styles.  Some I liked better than others so I will be rating and reviewing (briefly) each story individually.

1) Dragon's Keep- by Cecilia Holland
This story is about a young woman named Perla who grew up in a fishing village. One day a fishing expedition goes wrong when a dragon attacks. When Perla tries to escape, she only ends up finding herself trapped. However instead of eating her as she feared the dragon offers her safety in return for stories. After she finally escapes to return home she feels more trapped than ever as she learns from the stories she told of princes and dragons.

Over all, not a bad story. A bit drab at times but still decent.

2)Vici- by Naomi Novik
This book takes place in ancient Rome. Some known names you will find: Cato, Marcus Antonius and Caius Julius (Caesar). This, right off, made me smile.

So for the story, Antony is in heavy with debts and is sent to kill a dragon as reimbursement. No one, including himself, expect him to live. Yet he does and returns home with a special souvenir. A dragon egg. Adventures await once the dragon hatches and starts to grow.

This book was well-written. I wish the author showed a bit more of the Roman life, but you can only convey so much in 15 pages. Still, nice characterization.

 3)Bob Choi's Last Job-by Jonathan Stroud.
First off, I was excited when i saw who wrote this. I loved his series, starting with The Amulet of Samarkand.

This book takes place in a bit more modern time. Bob Choi is assigned the task to kill a dragon. Dragons in this story, are able to hide and pass themselves off as humans but Bob Choi shows us how he tracks them down. Sadly, our hero has bit off more than he can chew when he finds himself up against 2 dragons instead. This story also touches briefly on humanity, and what is considered murder. A very short read of about 10 pages. While the story was okay, it seemed too short and lacked much of an ending. So, while I love the authors novels, I can only give this :

4)Are you Afflicted with Dragons?-by Kage Baker
The Smith family runs a hotel that is quickly becomes a hotspot for dragons. This, in turn, is causing problems for their patrons. So the owner sets out to find a way to get rid of the dragons. After taking the advice of a local company and failing to get rid of them, he hires a man who claimed he could get them off his property with a guarantee of one year without their return. In return: he gets to keep anything in the nests that he finds...

This was a really fun read. I like the authors writing style. It was a good length and great plot. I had never read anything by Kage Baker before this but I now look forward to reading some of his other works.

5) The Tsar's Dragons- by Jane Yolen and Adam Stemple.
This book takes place is Russia and involves more popular characters, including Rasputin. This book revolves around the Revolution of Russia. Both the Tsar and the revolutionist have dragons they are secretly raising for a future power hold. Plus Rasputin has his own agenda and does not like dragons at all.

I was kinda bored with this story. Proof of that is this terrible summary. The book didn't even stick. The writing seemed dry which surprised my since I remember reading something by Jane Yolen before and liked it. Maybe is was the author combination or just bad plot choice. I dont know.

6)The Dragon of Direfell-by Liz Williams
A mage named Cygne is hired in by a Lord to rid the land of a dragon, however he finds the lands true danger is different that what the people think and it involves the Lord's wife. This was well written. I honestly cannot say too much about this story or I will give something away. It twists and turns a bit, all the way to the last page. Kept me guessing.

7)Oakland Dragon Blues-by Peter S Beagle
A city police officer comes across a new situation when on traffic duty. A dragon in the middle of an intersection who stubbornly refuses to move. This is a modern time story so dragons should not exist and the officer has a hard time rationalizing to himself and others what is going on. He finally finds out what the dragon is doing here to learn the dragon was originally from an unfinished story and that he was looking for the author. This is their adventure and conversations.

I love the dragon in this story. Fun story!

8)Humane Killer- by Diana Gabaldon and Samuel Sykes
Too be honest I did not finish this at all. I read the first couple pages but just could not follow or get into it AT ALL. The pace is very story, lots of conversations that seems like it should be in the middle of a full length book. I think this was also the longest story in the book but it needed more at the beginning.  I couldn't even read halfway through (literally tried twice and fell asleep)

9)Stop!-by Garth Nix
A man is seen entering a military area, heading toward their bomb. They even try firing at him, to no avail. One lone officer follows the man to the bomb to see what is going on.

This did not seem like a dragon book until the end. In fact, with the first couple pages I was wondering if they through a zombie at us! Fear not, the dragon references are there at the end. This is a very short story but well written.

10)Ungentle fire-by Sean Williams
A man is sent out to slay a dragon under his masters orders. A standard story, right? Well what if the dragon is not what he seems? What if the man questions slaying him? If he doesn't slay the dragon, then he will not be free of him master. But who is his master anyways?

All these questions and more are in this story. This book has the main character doing a lot of question of himself and those around him. Nice concepts, well written scenes.

11)A stark and Wormy Knight-by Tad Williams
This story has a mother dragon telling he youngling a bedtime story about his grandfather and the knight he faced.

This story has left me very unsure what to think of it. I liked some of the humor and the whimsical, made-up words these dragons use but on the same token I hated it too. I went nuts at times wanting to say, "That's not how you say it" or "That's not how it is spelled." So I would be a bit irritated and laugh at the same time. But it is still a light-hearted quick read.

12)None So Blind- by Harry Turtledove
A mixed group of natives and explorers set out to hopefully find the mysterious dragons. What the do find is a vampire, unicorns and more creatures, all while wondering if dragons exist.
This book was alright. Interesting at parts and boring in others.

13)JoBoy-Diana Wynne Jones
A young man named JoBoy has wondered for years about his fathers unnatural death. Until the day he falls ill. After six months he is sent home since the doctors are unsure why is wrong that has left him so weak. He gets the idea to reshape himself, literally, and it works, and his health improves but so do other things, starting with what he sees in the mirror...

Without giving anything more away I invite you to read for yourselves. Enjoy, as it is a fun story.

14)Puz_le- by Gregory Maguire
A young girl is bored and starts on a puzzle she finds. A dragon puzzle. As she completes more of the puzzle, the dragon seems to come more to life.

This was an interesting read. Quite short but worth it. Only thing is I wish the book spent just a bit more time explaining things at the end but oh well.

14)After the third Kiss-Bruce Coville
A Princess is turned into a dragon by her stepmother and the only way to be turned back is for her brother to kiss her 3 times. He does but this scars his lips. The confront the stepmother who turns into a toad and escapes. The prince takes over the kingdom but finds he is unable to father children so he tries to marry off his sister, the princess. She is missing her dragon side and is unsure of herself.

Self-discovery, fantasy kingdoms...this story was nicely done. The princess was a bit frustrating in her though process at times but still good.

15)The War that Winter Is-by Tanith Lee
Wintering villages have been plagued by an ice dragon who can freeze them and everything else with a single breath. A shaman finds a frozen pregnant woman and somehow the child inside her is still alive! He raises the child, a boy he calls Anlut. He is silvery-white skinned with white hair to match the cold. The shaman declares him the hero and 16 years later sends him to slay the dragon.

This story was well done and has my craving more by this author.

16) The Dragon's Tale-by Tamora Pierce
A young dragon travels with her adoptive human parents and finds a woman the villagers call a witch, she follows her to a cave where she is raising her son. She tries to help the woman with food and is assisted by a friend.

This dragon is adorable and precious! I love how she gestures and sounds her thoughts. The chirps and claw movements, etc. SO CUTE! I wanted to take her out of the story and keep her to myself. Alas, I must share her with my fellow readers. 5/5 stars for great writing, story and one of the best dragons ever!

This was my favorite story in this book by far.

17)Dragon Storm-Mary Rosenblum
A young girl named Tahlia is an outcast in the island grove she lives in. She is considered bad luck because of her eye color. Not to mention she can call on the aid of the local surf dragons. While out with her friend Kir, when they come across a nest of eggs. they start to hatch but shortly after are attacked by ketrals. Tahlia saves one and they escape. She learns what she has is a Sea dragon and that it can communicate with her. But what trouble will this now bring her?

A great story. Another new author discovered! This story could easily expand into a full novel (maybe more) by continuing the story. Nicely done.

18)The Dragaman's Bride- by Andy Duncan
Teenagers are disappearing but later return hope with simply being okay, but they are now unable to have children. Since they come home, the locals don't worry too much. Until one, Allie, doesn't return...
I was bored by this was too jumpy and very dry in my opinion. 
So there you have it.  Definitely worth taking a look at to see what stories you might like!


  1. Wow! I haven't ever heard of this book, but this is such a fantastic review. Some of the authors I've read (Novik, Beagle, Williams). I love stories about dragons, and it looks like overall the short stories are pretty good, so I may have to find myself a copy of this to read!

    1. Most of the stories are really good. Like any anothology, some are good, others...not so much. I just happened to come across it working at the library and had to check it out.

  2. It's a good review! Considering reading it!

  3. I should definitely read this. It's a pity I didn't hear about this book sooner, it's my kind of read. I'm always looking for draconian adventures. My fiance is always buying me dragon-related books (should mention this one to him). :D


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