The Book of Dragons
By Jonathan Strahan (Editor)
Brought to you by OBS reviewer Caro
Scott Lynch, R.F. Kuang, Kate Elliott, Ken Liu, Todd McCaffrey, Garth Nix, Peter S. Beagle, and other modern masters of fantasy and science fiction put their unique spin on the greatest of mythical beasts — the dragon — in never-before-seen works written exclusively for this fantasy anthology compiled by award-winning editor Jonathan Strahan and with art by Rovina Cai!
Here there be dragons . . .
From China to Europe, Africa to North America, dragons have long captured our imagination in myth and legend. Whether they are rampaging beasts awaiting a brave hero to slay or benevolent sages who have much to teach humanity, dragons are intrinsically connected to stories of creation, adventure, and struggle beloved for generations.
Bringing together nearly thirty stories and poems from some of the greatest science fiction and fantasy writers working today — Garth Nix, Scott Lynch, R.F. Kuang, Ann Leckie & Rachel Swirsky, Daniel Abraham, Peter S. Beagle, Beth Cato, Zen Cho, C. S. E. Cooney, Aliette de Bodard, Kate Elliott, Theodora Goss, Ellen Klages, Ken Liu, Patricia A McKillip, K.J. Parker, Kelly Robson, Michael Swanwick, Jo Walton, Elle Katharine White, Jane Yolen, Kelly Barnhill, Brooke Bolander, Sarah Gailey, and J.Y. Yang — and illustrated by award-nominated artist Rovina Cai with black-and-white line drawings specific to each entry throughout, this extraordinary collection vividly breathes fire and life into one of our most captivating and feared magical creatures as never before and is sure to become a treasured keepsake for fans of fantasy, science fiction, and fairy tales.
Dragons are always an interesting topic in stories. There are different kinds and they can either be good or bad. The Book of Dragons is composed of nearly thirty short stories and poems some of which are funny, sad, happy or very serious. The stories have mecha dragons, Naga dragons, DnD dragons, dragons in the mafia, there’s dragon slayers, wyrms, french dragons, mages, priests, among other dragon types.
Here are some of my favorite stories and special mentions:
This short story starts young Magitechnitian, Melee, and her mechanical dragon flying over town looking for textbooks she will need for her studies. The person selling her books is no other than a vampire in a magical shop district. Can you imagine what he wants in payment? Lately Melee has been more stressed than usual. She has her studies to worry about and her father’s store to look after. Melee is determined to graduate and follow in her father’s career, but life won’t give her a break.
This story is a special mention because I would really like to see a full version of it. There’s some questions that one starts coming up with while you’re reading the story, such as, where is her dad? Who is this vampire that is selling her books? What is the mechanism of her mecha dragon? Will Melee get what she wants? And so many more. Definitely a story to keep an eye out for.
Hikayat Sri Bujang, or, The Tale of the Naga Sage
This is a very interesting story with an underrated type of dragon, Nagas. It is also an interesting story for its folklore background. Dragons and water are sometimes related to storms and other weather forecasts, and this story was a good example of what dragons and rain can cause, not to mention the nice and kind ending to it.
This story is about a young farmer/dragon slayer-by-accident. One day our young hero is looking after the sheep with his older brother when they notice some of the sheep missing and go looking after them. All of a sudden, the older brother goes missing and a dragon appears. Our hero defeats the dragon out of sheer luck. Years later, the hero is called to capture another dragon, but his life hasn’t been that of a hero who slayed a dragon and survived to tell the tale. Life has changed him in many ways.
This was one of the few stories in the book whose ending left me thinking about it for a while. It is very interesting and has quite the plot twist.
The Nine Curves River
In this story, two sisters take a walk on a festival night during the Lunar New Year celebration. The oldest sister buys the younger one food and sweets to try. The older sister feels remorse for how she has been treating her little sister and tries to make up for it. The festival is fun and there’s much to see that the younger sister hasn’t seen before, but the sun is setting and the two sisters need to be across the island for a very important event.
This is a story I would like at least another chapter to it or a short story sequel. The sisters mention two legends that leave the reader wondering which one is true. It would be nice to know what’s inside the cave as well.
In this story, a group of priests from outer space are traveling to scout a new planet. On board is also a dragon. When they arrive at the new planet only one priest and the dragon stay. The priest is now in charge of journaling and cataloging the development of the new planet, but as the priest spends time with the dragon, they learn that there is more to the planet than what they expected. This story has a great narrative and would easily be a very well illustrated comic. Space scenes, inhabited planets, water dragons! A story you don’t want to miss.
Except on Saturdays
Author of The Last Unicorn, Peter S. Beagle shares with us a lovely short story between a teacher and a she-dragon disguised as a human. As one of the few short short stories in the book, we get introduced to one of the last Melusine, a female water spirit with a snake tail for legs. If you’ve read The Last Unicorn you will find this story enchanted and with Beagle’s signature fantasy style.
The Long Walk
Ever wonder what it would be like to be a widow in medieval times in a land of dragons? This story takes the reader through the initial reactions of a noble family after the head of the family dies and his wife becomes a widow. The family has to pay a fee in order to keep their mother, otherwise, she will have to take the long walk to the land of dragons where she will die as a sacrifice to the beasts. But there is more to the land of dragons than what the villagers know. This story has a nice plot twist that turns into an afterlife sort of revelation with a brave and magical ending.
One of the other short short stories in the book, in which a dragon takes care of foster children in need of help, but when someone shows unannounced to the dragon’s house, she will do anything to protect her children, for they are hers. I was surprised to know that this short story is by author Seanan McGuire, she has a way with words that always leave you thinking about their double meaning. This was a very motherly and sweet short story 🙂
We Don’t Talk About the Dragon
One of the few very mysterious and intriguing stories of the book. This story is about a family with a dragon living in their barn of which no one can talk about. The knowledge of this dragon stays within the family, no outsiders can know about it. One little girl’s life task has been to feed the dragon and never mention it to anyone else. But is there really a dragon in the barn? Or does the dragon have a different meaning? Very mysterious story indeed.
This book is definitely a must read for the fantasy/dragon fans. The stories are different from one another and interesting in their own way. The Exile is the first story of its genre that I read (can’t spoil much) and very beautifully detailed and narrated. This book is one for your folklore and dragon collection.