21. The Dragon Book

The Dragon Book edited by Jack Dann & Gardner Dozois (Canada ) - (US)

Pages: 433 pgs.
Ages: 15+
Finished: Jan. 7, 2010
First Published: Nov. 3, 2009
Genre: short stories, fantasy
Rating: 4/5

Comments: This collection of 19 previously unpublished short stories by mostly well-known authors is written for an "all ages" audience, meaning for adults but an acceptable cross-over for older teens. The book is entirely language and s*x free, though the themes keep the book form being suitable for anyone younger. There were a couple of stories I didn't appreciate but for the most part I rated the others 4s or 5s. I really enjoyed that this book of short stories contained one longer almost novella sized story along with several lengthy 30 page stories along with the shorter short stories, making for a wide range of reading, with the longer stories letting the reader become quite involved in the story. I certainly had my appetite whetted for some of the authors here I hadn't read before, which was shamefully quite a few. Of the 19 authors, I had heard of 12 (even owning books by most of them), of those 12, alas, I had read only 8. A very engaging collection of stories with an amazing array of dragons: good, bad, those who fly and those who swim, with wings and without, those who breath fire, those who breathe ice. Plus the stories are told from all sorts of points of view including that of the dragon itself. A very enjoyable collection of stories. Recommended!

1. Dragon's Deep by Cecelia Holland - I really enjoyed this story of a fishing village that the Duke visits one day and tells them their taxes are now doubled. Not knowing what else to do they venture into the dangerous waters called "Dragon's Deep" to fish where they are attacked by a dragon and one girl, Perla, is accidentally taken away by the dragon. The story shows that a beast can learn to love through human tenderness and that humans can turn to beasts when they forget human tenderness. 4/5

2. Vici by Naomi Novik - An enjoyable and funny story with a quirky ending set in Ancient Rome of a man presumably sentenced to death when his punishment is to single handedly kill a dragon. Pure luck makes him successful and he comes home rich with the dragon's hoard and an egg, presumably is dead. When the egg hatches the man's life takes a turn for adventure and will never be the same again. Quite humorous while rather violent at the same time. 4/5

3. Bob Choi's Last Job by Jonathan Stroud - A dragon hunter goes out on a hunt has an encounter with a couple of dragons. Didn't really get this one. Well, I "got" it but wasn't that entertained. 2/5

4. Are You Afflicted with Dragons? by Kage Baker - This was a fun, clever romp of a man who owns a seaside hotel and has a bunch of small dragons come to roost on his roof. After trying the usual pest control measure for ridding oneself of these wyrmin pests he encounters a man who specializes in the job and promises to rid him of his troubles forever. A clever, humorous tale. 4/5

5. The Tsar's Dragons by Jane Yolen and Adam Stemple - Much longer than the other stories at 35 pages this is the story of the beginnings of the Russian Revolution and the repeated attempts to kill Rasputin. Dragon's are in the story but don't really come into play until the end, when the Tsar's black and the revolutionaries red dragons are leashed upon the world. The dragons have a more metaphorical place in this story of empire vs communism. 3/5

6. The Dragon of Direfell by Liz Williams - I really enjoyed this story of a mage who has been hired by a small Dukedom to rid itself of a worm-like dragon wrapped around a mountain. The mage undertakes what should be a routine job and finds more than he expected. Deeper magic is at work and as he tries to expose the hidden dark mage things are even more complicated than they had appeared. 4/5

7. Oakland Dragon Blues by Peter S. Beagle - A Police Officer gets called to a traffic hold-up to find an old, sad-looking dragon sitting in the middle of the intersection. Not wanting to deal with all the hoopla that capturing a dragon is going to cause him he convinces the dragon to move out of the way and out of sight where the officer will see if he can fix his problems for him. Turns out the dragon is a remnant from an unfinished story and he wants to find the author, to have his revenge. Absolutely loved this one. Very humorous and we get to see a dragon's life from his point of view. 5/5

8. Humane Killer by Diana Gabaldon and Samuel Sykes - at 55 pages this started to feel more like a novella than a short story and contained a lot of plot. I really enjoyed it though very much. Two pairs both set off to kill the fierce dragon unbeknownst to each other. One pair is the weakling son of a recently deceased valiant hero who must return with his father's mace to prove himself and joins up with a heartless warrior woman wearing a full body leather thong. The other pair is a half heathen girl, therefore a sorceress, but a nice girl who has reanimated a dead soldier to be her protection and strength as she needs to kill the dragon to rescue a precious spell book. Obviously they meet up and the story is quite hilarious. But it was confusing when it first started with the jumping back and forth between these people without the reader knowing who they were or what was going on. 4/5

9. Stop! by Garth Nix - A short, interesting story that doesn't seem to have anything to do about dragons until the strange ending. 3.5/5

10. Ungentle Fire by Sean Williams - The author has written ten books set in the same world and this short story is also set in that world. A young man is bound to apprentice a warrior until he is deemed fit to go on a quest for his master. After five years his master sends him off to find and slay a dragon plus to bring back proof of the dragon's death, then he will set the man free to return to his homeland and marry his intended. The story starts on the 23rd day of that quest. I really, really enjoyed this story! I've never heard of this author before and this is the first story in this book that makes me want to read more by a new-to-me author. 5/5

11. A Stark and Wormy Knight by Tad Williams - A funny story in which a mother dragon tells her children a bedtime story of the days of old when there were big bad knights who slayed dragons and relates a time when their great great great grandpap pulled one over on such a knight. Humorous story, told with lots of word play in the vein of "Jabberwocky" with Williams creating his own fun words but also adding a "snicker", "beamish" and "uffish" here and there. 4/5

12. None So Blind by Harry Turtledove - Set in some time and world of an explorer's age with magic, a group of explorer's and sorcerers set out to explore a part of the map that has always been labeled "Here Be Dragons". The go to find if these dragons are real and also to find any other unusual flora and fauna. An ok story but I figured out the surprise ending and just didn't enjoy this more than ok. 2.5/5

13. JoBoy by Diana Wynne Jones - DWJ is one of my fav. authors and I loved this one! Can't really tell much without giving anything away but it's about a boy who experiences adolescence with both joyful and painful revelations. 5/5

14. Puz_le by Gregory Maguire - One rainy afternoon, a boy works on an old jigsaw puzzle picked up at a garage sale with strange results. Can't say much as this is short and has a twisty ending. Really enjoyed it! 4/5

15. After the Third Kiss by Bruce Coville - May Margaret is cursed and turned into a dragon by her wicked stepmother and only three kisses from her sea adventuring brother will return her to her rightful form. He unexpectedly does arrive home after hearing his homeland is threatened by a dragon. May Margaret gets her three kisses and the stepmother is punished and you would thing all would be well. But this is just the first few pages! No, this fairy tale-like story has much more to it and May Margaret finds that though she no longer breathes fire, there is a yearning fire burning in her blood. I loved this one! 5/5

16. The War that Winter Is by Tanith Lee - In a land where winter lasts 9 months of the year, and may well last longer as time goes by, the tribes have learnt to cope in this harsh land but one thing they have no control over is the dragon, Ulkioket, who can blast a village with it's breath of of ice and freeze everything and everyone glass-like ice that will shatter. Until one day, a small group of scavengers find a frozen city with a pregnant women near the edge, when they touch her she shatters and a live baby is born, one with pale skin and white hair. This, they believe is the hero who has come to rid them of the dragon. At 29 pages, this short story has a lot of space for a well developed story that I just loved. I've only read a few books and stories by Lee but I've never been disappointed yet. 5/5

17. The Dragon's Tale by Tamora Pierce -This story is set in Pierce's fictional universe of Tortall, which I haven't read before. At 39 pages, this one felt like a novella and really had plenty of time to be a well-developed tale. Told through the point of view of a young dragon who is on a trip with an entourage visiting the Emperor's villages, he gets bored and watches a group of boys through stones at a lady scrounging in the garbage who then runs away. Feeling magic in the air, the dragon follows her and discovers magic and a whole lot more. He keeps his secret and comes up with a plan to keep him occupied with big results. I loved, loved, loved this story!! 5/5

18. Dragon Storm by Mary Rosenblum - Tahlia's eyes are different from every one else in the grove and the other children call her "bad-luck eyes". But she does have a special closeness to the surf dragons and one day when she finds a dragon egg a bit different than usual and it hatches, the dragon does not appear to be a surf dragon. In fact it starts to grow at an alarming rate, protects her against any harm, talks to her and reveals the truth that has been kept secret from her for so long. Another fabulous story that I just loved, just shy of 30 pages making it long enough to really develop some character along with the plot. 5/5

19. The Dragaman's Bride by Andy Duncan - It's the 1930s, in the Virginia mountains and every so often when the sheriff's men are around a few of the adolescents will go missing. At first this caused great concern but they all eventually came back after 6 weeks with tales of a hospital, being treated well, and fed well. The girls all had small scars as they'd had to have their appendix out. The boys, well, they had tiny scars a bit lower down, but after finding out everything worked fine they had no complaints. That is until Allie Harrell goes missing for 3 months causing the mountain folks to rile up against the sheriff and his men. Then one day Pearl Sunday follows an old Fire Dragaman down a hole and discovers a lot of answers. Another longer story just shy of 30 pages that combines some historical fiction with a shapeshifting giant/dragon that reads a lot like a folk tale. Really enjoyed this as well 5/5


  1. This sounds wonderful. Thanks for taking the time to comment on every single story!


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