Tuesday, 17 November 2009

Book review - The Dragon Book edited by Jack Dann and Gardner Dozois

The Dragon Book is a collection of short stories featuring dragons. It includes prolific fantasy authors such as Diana Wynne Jones, Tad Williams, Bruce Coville, Tamora Pierce, and Naomi Novik.

I was eager to read the dragon book because of the authors attached to it – either I had read their work and enjoyed it, or I had heard good things about them and wanted to see for myself. I also wanted to see how all of these authors dealt with dragons in new and interesting ways. There was certainly a spread of genres and writing styles, from alternate reality to historical fantasy to present day. Each author took a completely different approach to dragons, creating an interesting variety of creatures in a mix of genres that I don’t usually read.

However, just as the dragons varied, so did the quality of the stories. Many were awkward and rushed, some were downright cheesy and painful to read. The vast majority of the stories were spectacularly mediocre. They weren’t particularly memorable – they were clever in their use of dragons, but that seemed for some of them to be their only aim. Those didn’t have enough plot to sustain even the short length of their stories.

There were of course exceptions. Tamora Pierce’s The Dragon’s Tale stars Tortall’s Skysong, aka Kit. It was an entertaining story and up to her usual high standard of writing, but I wonder how accessible it would be to readers who hadn’t read her ‘Immortals’ series. On a side note, I have to say that ‘kraken spit’ may be the best fantasy expletive I have read to date! The definite highlight for me was an author I hadn’t read before, Mary Rosenblum’s Dragon Storm. Of all of them, it had the best premise and an actual plot, one which could have sustained a longer story. I’ll definitely be reading more by this author

To be fair, several others were fairly good and most had at least some good points. Some were simply not my style, as you should expect in any collection of stories. It’s an interesting look at the various takes on dragons, it’s inventive in most cases, and probably worth reading. But I found that there is definitely chaff there. If you are an ardent fan of dragons, this may be worth reading for you. If you like collections of short stories, likewise. Overall, the book is ok. There will probably be several stories that you like. Maybe even one or two that you love. Whether you think that makes it worth trying is up to you. Perhaps one to borrow rather than buy.

Thank you to Anderson Press for sending me a copy.

Pages: 448
Category: I think some stories are for children/teenagers, but some are adult. I’d rate some of them at a 12+
Authors: Cecilia Holland, Naomi Novik, Jonathan Stroud, Kage Baker, Jane Yolen and Adam Stemple, Liz Williams, Peter S. Beagle, Diana Gabaldon and Samuel Sykes, Garth Nix, Sean Williams, Tad Williams, Harry Turtledove, Diana Wynne Jones, Gregory Maguire, Bruce Coville, Tanith Lee, Tamora Pierce, Mary Rosenblum, Andy Duncan


  1. Yes, I think some books are like that. Short stories with a variety of authors can be confusing especially when each story is so different, there will always be some you don't like and others that you love.


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