Bookish Rants or Raves: Here Be Dragons + giveaway

Filed in 5 Stars , Bookish Rant or Raves , Draconismoi , Fantasy , featured , Giveaways Posted on August 1, 2012 @ 11:00 am 38 comments

Warning: I devour any and all books, movies, or shows that feature dragons. I’ve exhaustively researched dragon mythology. I refused to play Magic: the Gathering in 9th grade because they wouldn’t give me any dragon cards. Also, I’m an attorney. Taken together this means that I have opinions about dragons in popular culture.

So, without further ado, I present…

The Five Dragon Books You Should Have Read Already!*

The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien.

Poor Smaug, napping on his hoard of unparalleled treasure, minding his own business, literally embedding his flesh with diamonds to render him impervious to weapons – you know living out the dream of the 1% – when some pint-sized moron gets conned into stealing from him.

My very first dragon book. It was awesomely illustrated.

Thieves! Fire! Murder! Such a thing had not happened since he first came to the Mountain! His rage passes description – the sort of rage that is only seen when rich folk that have more than they can enjoy lose something they have long had but never before used or wanted.

Rather than get distracted from his vengence by some leggy blonde (I’m looking at you Dragos), Smaug goes on a rampage, reigning fire and destruction down on all those in his path, forcing the 99% to unite in defense against his wrath.

Smaug gets bonus points for actually utilizing his treasure hoard. Primarily as a bed, but also as a secondary defense system. As an aerial creature, your primary weakness is ranged weapons. Embedding diamonds into your flesh while napping is a stroke a brilliance.

The Hero and the Crown by Robin McKinley.

Damar has two varieties of dragons. The whole country is lousy with the little ones. They breed like rabbits and will infest any home, barn, or village if not kept in check. A nuisance, but only a real danger to animals, children, and the really stupid adults. These fire-breathing reptiles are the midget inbred cousins of the Great Dragons. Such as Maur. The Black Dragon. Sleeping for centuries, lulling humans into a false sense of superiority, allowing all the dragon-scholars and dragon-defense-systems to die out, this bad-ass wakes up fully prepared to triumph over all.

Which is fucking brilliant from a world-building perspective. The evolution of fire-breathing reptiles. All the larger/smarter dragons stay in hiding, growing in strength and numbers until the tactical advantage is too great to ignore!

Or it could be an example of devolution caused by human encroachment into an endangered species’ ecosystem territory. Only the smaller dragons escaped extermination by trophy hunters. But with smaller skulls came smaller brains….and so dragons went from mighty beasts capable of laying waste to entire kingdoms, to fire-breathing shrews. A tragedy of epic proportions. (Not that I am discounting the mighty shrew. I’m an Alaskan. Shrews are vicious. These little vermin can chew their way into a live grizzly bear. Just ask Google.)

Regardless of how the dragon split came about, it’s amazing and unique, and, most importantly, keeps Aerin’s story from aping King Arthur.

Emperor Mage (The Immortals #3) by Tamora Pierce.

Dragons are not native to Tortall. They are an overly-educated, magic-using species of immortals that live in the Divine Realm. Obviously. Through a series of unfortunate events, Skysong, a hatchling, ends up in Tortall being raised by humans.

By the third book in the series our orphaned dragon, who answers to Kitten, starts coming into her own. (Who doesn’t love the idea of nick-naming a dragon ‘kitten’? Hah! I want a pet dragon that I can hide in my room and blame ‘kitten’ when roommates ask about smuggled food, funny smells, or mysterious gouges in my flesh.) She is discovering new abilities every day – such as lock picking or magic detecting – and does not hesitate to show off her skills at any time.

Typical Pre-teen.

This leads to several fabulous exchanges when Kitten is sent out with a party of diplomats to treat with a hostile nation. The smart ones see her as a tactical asset – and attempt to bribe or lure her to their side. The dumb ones? The dumb ones underestimate her intelligence, seeing her as nothing more than an interesting pet that can easily be caged.

The dumb ones suffer for underestimating youth and non-human sentience. Basically, in this book, a lone dragon, cut off from her kind, really learns how she fits in the human world and human affairs.  (Some other things happens too. Zombie mammoth army. Human soldiers brought down by mice. Epic mage showdown. Borderline pervy teacher/student relationship. You know. Stuff.)

Now I’m sure some of you are asking why I am giving Kitten’s coming-of-age story in Emperor Mage more props than her highly adventurous birth in Wild Magic? Kitten’s pregnant mother takes down warships! How is that not a more worthy read?

Here’s a hint: Dragons are immortal. Very magical. Amazingly educated. And you expect me to believe a goddamn brilliant ancient dragon with potentially limitless magical powers doesn’t know she’s pregnant, or realize she’s giving birth until a human teenager points it out? I call bullshit. Ergo, Kitten outranks her mother in awesome. Kitten’s mother is a contender for the draconic darwin awards.

Brother to Dragons, Companion to Owls by Jane Lindskold.

Betwixt and Between are the two-headed dragon companions/advisors/protectors to Sarah, a life-long mental patient who can communicate with inanimate objects. Sarah is only capable of speaking in famous quotations, so Betwixt and Between have an incredible ability to contextualize and analyze the literary masters. (We’re talking at least Ph.d in literature. And a Masters. Probably a divinity degree as well. The Revs. Drs. Betwixt and Between, Esq.)

Nevertheless it would be foolish to underestimate their street savvy. Most people dismiss Betwixt and Between as a rubber toy, but that is just part of their cunning disguise! Together they help Sarah outsmart mad scientists, avoid forced prostitution, find refuge in a street gang, and commit elaborate heists. All while expanding her appreciation for literature and fine art.

Note: I have, in fits and starts, attempted to annotate Sarah’s dialogue ever since I got my hands on this book. Sadly, many of the sources elude me. I emailed Jane Lindskold once to find out if she had an annotated copy….and it turns out she did most of it from bloody memory! That is twisted intellect that creates a two-headed bad-ass dragon companion and disguises them as a toy. Diabolical Frakking Genius.

Dealing with Dragons (The Enchanted Forest Chronicles #1) by Patricia C. Wrede.

The dragons in the Enchanted Forest like to keep things simple. Why change titles based on the person doing the work? Ridiculous! As all readers quickly learn, the King of the Dragons is a job that can be held by any dragon, regardless of gender identity. Perfectly reasonable – as are all draconic behaviors. Unlike moronic human tendencies to confuse titles with gender. (You know who wouldn’t have freaked out when Hillary Clinton was running for President because we wouldn’t know what to title her husband? The dragons of the Enchanted Forest.)

Did you ever wonder why dragons were so interested in kidnapping princesses? Turns out they really aren’t. Princesses are a hassle. They aren’t flame-retardant. They aren’t particularly tasty. Most of them aren’t exactly useful around the house. And to top things off? Once you get saddled with a princess, there is an inevitable barrage of knights and princes, barging into your home at all hours of the day and night to engage in various ill-advised rescues.

Which is why Kazul jumps at the chance to acquire a volunteer princes. All the status, none of effort – but plenty of dragon-intrigue. Plus magic, buckets of water, powdered hen’s teeth and FEMINISM!!!!!!!

 

These 5 books all get 5 starts from a diehard dragon fan who is utterly unforgiving of anything less than draconic perfection.

Honorable Mentions: 4 Star Series Featuring Dragons. For those of you who prefer your dragons on an epic scale.

Currently Sitting in My Dragon TBR Pile:

 

*In no particular order.**

**No, seriously, not ranked. I don’t need any outrageously pissed off dragons laying waste to the western U.S. because I dared to label them inferior to some other dragon.

 

*** SURPRISE GIVEAWAY ***

Every year I purchase at least 3 copies of Dealing with Dragons to gift. I’m currently over-stocked. There was a lack of impressionable young minds to convert to dragon obsession this year. One of my primary goals in life is to nurture nascent nerds. Anyone know a person in desperate need of an introduction to the brilliance of all things dragon? With bonus feminism? Whomever shares the most need of a draconic-infusion in the comments shall win a copy. Open internationally. Because when you live in Alaska, everything is international.

About Draconismoi


Draconismoi is a Legal Aid Attorney out on the frozen tundra. After two weeks of -30F, she started telling people she moved to Alaska because she loves the indoors. Right now you'll find her curled up under all the blankets she owns, surrounded by a pile of books. Every so often she emerges from her cave (when there is food) and wonders how she'll justify prolonging this behavior once the temperature rises and the sun returns.

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38 Comments

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  • blodeuedd August 1, 2012 at 11:53 am

    Lol, I love dragons 😀

    • draconismoi August 1, 2012 at 3:51 pm

      Who doesn’t? Only soulless monsters. Like Roman in Party Down.

  • diane peters August 1, 2012 at 12:14 pm

    I loved turning my middle schoolers onto Dealing with Dragons. Some of them really got the humor. A few went on to read The White Dragon-Anne McCaffrey.

    • draconismoi August 1, 2012 at 3:46 pm

      Pern got a special mention in my forthcoming WORST dragon books post. Because while The Enchanted Forest gives us an introduction into the harm caused by oppressive gender roles and other feminist tidbits, Pern gives rape rape rape rape rape.

  • Ren August 1, 2012 at 2:09 pm

    Ohhh, me love Dragon!!! My favorite books which feature dragon is Eragon series by Christopher Paolini. Nah, I know its kinda like LOTR meet Star Wars, but still I love it. Latest dragon book I read is Eon. And I love it too since its portrayed Eastern Dragon. Not like in the Europe culture that consider dragon as beast, in most Asian culture, Dragon is deity and guardians.

    I think that’s a little tidbit about dragons, lol!

    • draconismoi August 1, 2012 at 3:49 pm

      I know, my list is ridiculously Euro-centric. I blame this on my ability to only read English. I’m sure there is a magnificent selection of stories featuring the oriental dragons that I have not yet found – either because the translations haven’t come through, or USian publishers fail at multiculturalism.

  • Estella August 1, 2012 at 3:31 pm

    I enjoy dragon books!

  • Sullivan McPig August 1, 2012 at 4:11 pm

    You didn’t get any dragons among your Magic cards? either that’s a very unlucky draw or they removed the dragons after I stopped playing Magic (which was back in 1997 or 1998 so that could easily be the case with all those new editions)
    And I will have to confess I haven’t read any of the books in your top 5. seems i’m very uneducated when it comes to dragons.

    • draconismoi August 1, 2012 at 4:19 pm

      Well…..If I remember correctly, the guys were trying to convince me to play the game. I demanded dragons (because WHY would I want stupid rocks?) and they spent quite a lot of time explaining the strategy and purpose of the game.

      It sounded wicked-boring, so I focused on my lack of dragons as an excuse to bail without belittling their year-long obsession.

      • Sullivan McPig August 2, 2012 at 3:10 pm

        Aha! So the dragons were a convenient excuse! I should remember that strategy next time people want me to play a game I don’t like :-p

  • Sheree August 1, 2012 at 6:08 pm

    I’ve read two of your top five and one of the honorable mentions. I was really into reading about dragons a while back but not so much recently (and no dragon-shifter PNR either).

    I like the Enchanted Forest series (and most of Patricia C. Wrede’s books), but I could not STAND the audiobook, read by a cast lead by Bruce Coville. Egad.

    • draconismoi August 1, 2012 at 8:34 pm

      Audio books are always terrible. They don’t pronounce the names right, they read to slow, the voice just IRRITATES you. I can never handle them.

  • Susan August 1, 2012 at 6:37 pm

    Yay. Thanks so much for the dragon list!

    I’m afraid to ask: What about Barbara Hambly? Or Patricia Briggs’s Hurog Duology? Are you going to shame some of my faves by putting them on the “worst” list? (Oh noes!)

    I was surprised that I’d only read a few of your selections: The Hobbit, Emperor Mage, and Earthsea.

    I own, but have not yet read, Brother to Dragons, Companion to Owls and the Enchanted Forest Chronicles (the latter of which I have only in paper, but really want to read as ebooks).

    In that vein, I’ve been annoyed at how many McKinley books still aren’t available in ebook format. I’ve had The Hero and the Crown on my wishlist forever and regularly check its status. (I finally broke down and read my paper copy of The Blue Sword. I can barely read “real” books now.)

    Based on the above, I’ve made some additions to my TBR pile by buying the 4 books in Fletcher’s Dragon Chronicles series, as well as the (first) four books in Kerr’s Deverry series. After I get thru this week’s must read books (Andrews, Thurman, Johnson, Hearne), I guess I know what I’ll be doing! 🙂

    Follow up on what you think of the books on your TBR list, too. Thx.

    • draconismoi August 1, 2012 at 8:40 pm

      Fletcher is a YA series. I still love it, but be prepared.

      And the dragons don’t make an appearance in the first Deverry books….but I cannot for the life of me imagine jumping into that series mid-epic. Too convoluted.

      Pretty much everything I’ve ever read by McKinley is amazing. I’m not surprised she didn’t jump on the ebook thing right away, she’s pretty contrary. ‘I will write what I want to write, when I want to write it, now GO AWAY’. (That’s my summary of her blog).

    • draconismoi August 1, 2012 at 8:42 pm

      Oh and Hambly makes my “meh” list. No mention anywhere.

      I read Patricia Briggs’ Steal the Dragon, and enjoyed it, but the dragon was not a key enough feature for me to consider it a Dragon Book.

  • Diane August 1, 2012 at 7:48 pm

    Deborah Cooke has a series: Dragonfire, it’s good!

  • Melissa (My World...in words and pages) August 1, 2012 at 8:19 pm

    I am a deprived dragon lover. Really! I have not read any of these books…hence deprived. I do love to read dragons, but I think I need more dragon in my diet. ;D LOL! Thank you!

    MyWorldinwordsandpages{at}gmai{dot}com

    • draconismoi August 1, 2012 at 8:56 pm

      None of them? NONE?! This is extremely concerning.

  • Teresa Warner August 1, 2012 at 8:41 pm

    Thanks for the opportunity, I enjoy a good dragon read! tWarner419 at aol dot com

  • Marlene August 1, 2012 at 10:20 pm

    I’ve read all but the Lindskold. And that must go on the TBR pile immediately. Thank you. I think.

  • draconismoi August 1, 2012 at 10:42 pm

    Trust me, it’s totally a thank you. As a librarian, you might have better luck identifying the source for all of Sarah’s dialogue than I did.

    It is one of those totally amazing books that I am seriously pressed to find flaws with….except, you know, the ending.

  • sienny August 2, 2012 at 7:15 am

    oh my.. the only book i’ve read from your list is the hobbit. i’m feeling a little dragon deprived now..

  • JenM August 2, 2012 at 11:08 am

    I love dragon shifter books and UF stories with dragons in them, but I rarely read straight fantasy these days so I haven’t read any of the books on your list other than The Hobbit. I’m thinking I need to catch up. You made all of them sound mighty tasty. Time to add more books to my wish list. Seraphina has been getting glowing reviews, so that one was already added.

  • aurian August 2, 2012 at 11:44 am

    I am also a huge dragon fan. But not as stern as you are 😉 I just finished the Dragon series by Allyson James, and of course, who does not read and love the Dragons of Pern by Anne McCaffrey? I think I like it best that those are not shifters, but just dragons.

    • draconismoi August 2, 2012 at 12:43 pm

      None of the best dragon books involve shifters! These are all full-time dragons.

  • Victoria Zumbrum August 2, 2012 at 12:36 pm

    I love dragons. Would you love to read book. I love Dragon Heart the movie.

  • draconismoi August 2, 2012 at 12:42 pm

    Brother to Dragons, Companion to Owls is scifi, not fantasy. So if you want some dragon deliciousness without any magic, that’s the place to start.

  • LisaC August 2, 2012 at 4:36 pm

    I really like the Temeraire books by Naomi Novik. Jo Walton’s Tooth and Claw was interesting. I have read the McKinley book on your list and loved it. The Jane Lindskold book sounds so intriguing, so I’ll have to check it out.

    • draconismoi August 2, 2012 at 4:53 pm

      I wanted to like Tooth and Claw, but UGH it was like reading a Jane Austen novel. Zzzzzzzzzz

      • LisaC August 3, 2012 at 3:48 pm

        I’m okay with Jane Austen, but didn’t think T&C pulled it off.

        Any thoughts on Dragon by Steven Brust? It came recommended, but I haven’t cracked it open.

  • Lexi August 3, 2012 at 4:38 pm

    Oh how I loved the book Dealing With Dragons! The whole series really. I would love to give my daughter a copy (if I don’t win one I really need to track down a copy), I feel the need to pass along my love of books and dragons. She does have a great imagination so I have hope.

  • bn100 August 4, 2012 at 3:43 am

    Dragons are interesting, but I haven’t seen or read a lot of books with dragons in them. These books sound good.

  • Lynn K August 4, 2012 at 5:48 am

    I’ve never read (or heard of most…) of those in the main list but I’ve read Eon and Eona. Really liked them.

    • draconismoi August 4, 2012 at 11:55 am

      I totally passed over Eon thinking it was more generic YA. But then Eoba was released with a very eye-catching subtitle…..so now they need to be read.

  • Tamsyn August 4, 2012 at 8:13 am

    I’ve read the Hobbit of course and Dragons of Pern series by Anne McCaffrey. I have to look up all the books that you have mentioned that I have not read. Didn’t know there were so many dragon books around! Thank you for sharing.

    • draconismoi August 4, 2012 at 11:53 am

      Oh there are way more than I’ve listed! My first draft was my favorite 11 drgon books, plus the half dozen I hated, and 5 that were so blah even dragons didn’t make them memorable.

  • […] not too late! You can purge this horrible dragon-abuse from your memory by exposing yourself to unparalleled dragon awesomeness. I’d like to refer you to my previous post on the BEST examples of literary dragons. Go there. […]

  • Adis August 11, 2012 at 12:56 pm

    Love dragons (though I prefer those in the movie – I love dragons movie as well)!! Also love The Hobbit, it was amazingly wonderful story.

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