Ten of the best dragons in literature

John Mullan at The Guardian
Argonautica, by Apollonius of Rhodes This Greek epic poem tells the tale of Jason’s quest for the Golden Fleece. The fleece is guarded by an unsleeping dragon; Jason enlists the help of the sorceress Medea, who gives him a magic potion with which to spray the dragon. It falls asleep on the spot. But then our hero has to repay her . . .

The Hobbit, by JRR Tolkien The ancient dragon Smaug lies amidst his wealth in his lair in the lonely mountain. He is not just fierce and fire-breathing, but cunning and witty too. Bilbo visits him with a company of brave but foolish dwarves and learns of the one weak spot on his jewel encrusted body. An archer does for the enraged dragon when he flies out to destroy a nearby town.

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Black Holes! Glamour! Ultra-Violent Reality TV! August Books Have It All

By Kelly Faircloth at io9
August brings some exciting new speculative fiction releases. We’ve got conclusions for the Hunger Games and Void trilogies, plus Regency magic and a sentient MMORPG. Here are the books you can’t miss out on this month.

The Evolutionary Void, Peter Hamilton (Del Rey) Sprawling, ambitious: Peter Hamilton’s Void Trilogy is an example par excellence of modern space opera. Hamilton posits the black hole at the center of our galaxy is home to a micro-universe. But it’s not just a abstraction—millions of believers avidly follow a Dreamer’s visions of life inside the void, and they’re convinced they’ve glimpsed paradise. The final volume in the series, The Evolutionary Void apparently picks up right where The Temporal Void left off.

Mockingjay, Suzanne Collins (Scholastic) For dystopian young-adult book fans, there’s only one August release that counts: Mockingjay, the conclusion to Suzanne Collins’ Hunger Games trilogy. Scholastic has kept a tight lid on any plot details, but here’s what we know: Tough-as-nails Katniss is still standing after two rounds of the games, and the Capitol wants her dead. They don’t care who they have to kill to get to her, either. She’s a threat, and no one around her is safe — not her family, friends, or even District 12.

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Parallel Universe: Extraordinary Heroines by Marcella Burnard

via Galaxy Express
Let’s start right off with my contrarian take on extraordinary characters: Make them ordinary. Make them vulnerable. Make them real. Then give the character a twist that makes you giggle like a maniac. Start there and then you can do just about anything.

In my first book, ENEMY WITHIN, Ari is a fencing master, a starship captain, a bit of a scientist and an all around wise-ass. She does stuff I think we can all agree no one person could possibly do with the physical limits of the human body and the temporal limits of a single life span. None of it makes her extraordinary. It’s fun. It helps move the plot, but the thing that makes Ari interesting and memorable is the kernel of truth at her core. She suffers from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. There’s a tiny scene where the hero walks into Ari’s cabin and she’s playing a sound file on her room speakers –the mating songs of amphibians from a world she’s visited. …Ari was interesting because she was an uber-capable woman whose emotional and mental lives had been utterly deconstructed and left in ruins.

Every one of us has strengths and weaknesses. Think through the heroes (male and female) of our world. Sometimes, we root for people based on that person’s strengths, but how much more intrigued are we by someone who has overcome weakness to achieve something? Remember the Olympic skater whose mother died the night before the woman was scheduled to skate? The skater wasn’t doing particularly well in the rankings, but that program she skated in her mother’s honor was a triumph that had the entire stadium on its feet for her. Why? Because every single human being watching could relate to the loss this woman had endured

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Vampires, Werewolves, Angels, and Monster Trucks: Natasha Rhodes’s Kayla Steele Saga Has It All…

by paulgoatallen at Barnes and Noble
Vampires, werewolves, avenging angels, a super sexy heroine, an apocalyptic storyline, nonstop action and adventure, monsters—and monster trucks!—Natasha Rhodes’s Kayla Steele saga (Dante’s Girl, The Last Angel, and the recently released Circus of Sins) has absolutely everything a paranormal fantasy reader might want… so why isn’t she a household name like Laurell K. Hamilton, Kim Harrison, or Charlaine Harris?

That is precisely the question I was asking myself when I finished Natasha’s latest Kayla Steele novel, Circus of Sins. I know there is no such thing as the perfect read but this novel certainly came close. Heroine Kayla Steele is a character any reader can relate to—although she is a fledgling Hunter in an underground organization whose mission is to protect humankind from supernatural cabals, she is at heart a loner, an outsider, a searcher, seeking not only some kind of meaningful existential connection but also a place where she can be accepted for who she truly is. I love Kayla—and it’s not just because she has an aversion to wearing underwear—she’s courageous, vulnerable, smart, and has a terrific sense of humor, which I’ll talk more about later.

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I think some of the “dragons” on the list shouldn’t count. There aren’t technically dragons so much as pictures of dragons that the plot relies on. And had they been replaced with some other violent animal, it would have worked just as well. I think the list was trying to play into the popularity of The Girl with the Dragon tattoo a little too much. So they missed a few great dragons. And there are too many good books coming out! I need to be able to pause time so I can read them all!

Which dragons do you think should have been on the list? What new release are you looking forward to the most? What do you think makes a heroine likable?