The Book of Dragons Review

And here is the anthology that took me so long to finish and to write. I’ll see you another day, either Tuesday or Wednesday. With Tea and OC. See you then!

Customary warning: This is a reminder that these are my personal opinions. My thoughts and feelings are not your thoughts and feelings. I may not always be the target  audience for a book; sometimes I am. If I do not like a book, that doesn’t mean you’ll dislike it. If I love a book or simply like a book, you may hate it. Take everything I say with this knowledge. If it sounds interesting to you despite what I’ve said, then go ahead and read it. You’ll only know you like something if you read it yourself.

That being said… Spoilers ahead.




The Book of Dragons an Anthology by Jonathan Strahan

Synopsis From The Book

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, Amal El-Mohtar, Kate Elliott, Theodora Goss, Ellen Klages, Ken Liu, Seanan Maguire, 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.


Fantasy | A – PW |Abuse, Murder, Death, Manipulation | Growth, Love, Change, Identity

All of these change depending on the story.


Initial Thoughts Before Reading:

AHHH Dragonsss. This is one of the few stories that I am actually reading this December that has Dragons in it. Its all about dragons. All these short stories and I am soooooo aliveee.

Initial Thoughts After Reading:

Honestly, this took me a lot longer to finish than I anticipated. I’m not sure why that is. I have a hunch that it’s because there were so many short stories and I could not fall into the book like I usually do. I’d fall into a short story and my reading would become what it usually is, and then the story was done and I was left grasping at straws. 

I didn’t care much for the poems in the book, but that’s okay. We win some, we lose some. The plot synopsis is only going to go into the short stories, none of the poems. If you want the poems, I recommend reading this yourself.

I LOVE Habitat, The Long Walk, Cut Me Another Quill Mr. Fitz, and Horde

I liked (a lot): Matriculation, and The Whisper of Blue, The Nine Curves River, We Continue, Camouflage, and We Don’t Talk About the Dragon.

The only story I was Meh to was Yuli, and the others not mentioned I was good with but don’t care to mention as they weren’t my favorite stories and they were stories I disliked either. I say Yuli was Meh because I did not understand Yuli and I know that’s on me.

In all, I did like this anthology. There was a lot I learned about different cultures and the way they view dragons, as well as all the ways one might take the concept of dragons and turn it into their own. In the case of Camouflage, if I got more school, I think I would have liked it more to the love category. I NEED a full story for Cut Me Another Quill Mr. Fitz. 

This anthology took me on a rollercoaster of ups and downs, and I would not replace a moment for anything. After all its dragons. And I love dragons.

Plot Overview:

Matriculation:
Melee is hoping to go to University for Magetech. She arrives at Pawn Row, at a vampire named Carl’s shop for a book. After giving 300ml of her blood for a book, she is offered by him to buy her dragon (a sort of car like motorcycle) and she refuses. Upon arriving at home, Melee fixes up her dragon, before going to make food. She doesn’t have much, and the money is tight. She gets a letter from her school saying that they can not give her a scholarship and she is forced to sell her dragon, which is the last thing she has left of her father who is dead. She pawns it to Carl, hoping to get it back in the future.

Hikayat Sri Bujand, or, the Tale of The Naga Sage:
Sri Bujang is a naga sage living atop a mountain. One day his sister arrives telling them that their father is dying. He returns to the sea to find his father, ill and is told to start the process of taking the throne. May Lynn, a girl, travels to the mountain to see it, thinking of her friend Yasmine. For a bit, Sri Bujang travels back and forth from mountain to sea, causing havoc. One of his storms harms a girl named May Lynn. Realizing what he has done, he gives May Lynn his next life, to save her’s, and has to start the path towards enlightenment from scratch. He and his sister talk, she tell him that she will take care of the lawsuit sent against their family and that she will try to teach him how to control the water. 

Yuli:
The story is told in two parts, of an old man and his life. He was once a soldier who killed many people and as he gets older he realizes just how bad his life had been. The other half is told through D&D and a campaign as they try to kill a dragon. 

The Whisper of Blue:
This story is told from the way of a transcription of a movie or video. It tells the story of a girl named Zoe, who lives with her family and namely grandmother. She learns how to talk or interact with dragons, who she claims are there to help people with suffering. Additionally we learn through experts of how dragons run the energy of the world, and the invention of dragon energy to how their fire or mist breath works. Additionally, one conspiracy theorist questions on if dragon powers are converted from memory, and if this is the case, what are these small dragons going to bring?

Where the River Turns to Concrete:
Joe is a man who has no memories. The story is told in the part where he regains his memories and the part leading up to that. Joe was named and hired by a man who was a mob boss making buildings. Joe was a hitman for him. He learned to swim and found it the best thing in his life and did what Raymond, the mob boss, told him to do. He met a boy named Lucian and the boy’s mother, Rita. Slowly he started to love both of them. One day he went on a hit for a woman who claimed that he was something he couldn’t understand and when Rita accidentally saw it, he had to save her and her boy. He ended up becoming a dragon again and destroyed Raymond before disappearing. He was a river spirit.

Habitat:
The novel follows a man as he is sent to capture a dragon alive. He reminisces about the past when he was in the war and was taught to capture animals alive. He survived for five years fighting the war, where most people don’t last a few months. His whole family died, namely his older brother who was killed by a dragon when the MC was 19. The MC had killed the dragon at the time after his brother died, and was lauded as a hero. He became a mercenary after his time fighting until the Prince found him and told him to capture a dragon. He makes a trap and gets the dragon, who was his brother and realizes that he’s bleeding after. Dragons don’t mate; they grow their numbers by infecting others. The MC sees a cut on his leg after capturing the dragon and is unsure if he is going to turn or not. He gives the dragon over to the prince who later dies fighting it. The prince had gone to fight it to show off his glory, but failed to do so.

Pox:
The novel follows a girl who travels to California to visit family. When they are about to leave, her sister gets chicken pox and then later her brothers do. She is obsessed with dragons and very bored so her aunt takes her out to San Francisco. There she visits Chinatown and sees all of the dragon everything. She tries a bunch of food and then gets a pet from a shop which she swears is a dragon.

The Nine Curves River:
The story is told from the point of view of the older sister (‘Jiejie’ which means Older Sister) who is with “you” her meimei (little sister). The little sister was always perfect, beautiful and perfect. She was unlike all the others in the village by which she was born. And one day the older and younger sister are traveling through the Dragon festival. It is the day that everyone celebrates the dragon and a volunteer sacrifices themselves to the dragon so that the dragon may bring rain. The older sister comforts her younger sister saying that the myths and stories are wrong, that the dragon wants a companion not food. The younger sister goes willingly into the waves all while the older sister is suffering. She was a monster to her younger sister, convincing boys of their village that her sister was a monster in the flesh of a human. The boys had burned her, shortly before she was chosen as sacrifice. The older sister wishes she had been better.

Lucky’s Dragon:
One day in a science class, Lucky makes a dragon. She fails the project because of a fire and rushes home to tell her friend next door, a woman named Mrs. Hollins, about it. Mrs. Hollins warns her not to name the dragon and starts running experiments on it. Lucky goes home and returns the next morning feeling as if her whole world has been ignited, the moment she meets her dragon again. She goes to school and two other boys make dragons and she goes back to Mrs. Hollins. Mrs. Hollins has many friends who arrived and they run experiments but Lucky turns small and she realizes that her dragon is her soul. She saw Mr. Shaw hanging around her house, and goes back to school where he is going cray trying to take the souls from kids. Mrs. Hollins shows up and stops him. Lucky now has friends but she is way too small. She does not know what to do, not that she cares either. Mrs. Hollins then leaves.

The Exile:
Linear is an exile on a planet that is being terraformed. They are haunted by the voice of a dragon called Yare. Yare asks them many questions and Linear is led to think of the past. They had loved a woman who wrote beautiful poems. The two however were captured by the government as her poems sowed dissonance in the public, against the regime. She died instead of taking the path towards exile. Linear recanted and was sent to the planet to change it. Yare finds that there is life on the planet, this life is crystal not an animal. Yare becomes their god and reverses all that happened on the planet to terraform it and Linear decides to die.

Except on Saturdays:
The story follows a man who meets Melusine on the bus. He follows her home after realizing who she was, and ends up sleeping with her before she turns to a dragon and flies away.

La Vitesse:
Bea is a bus driver and one day while she is taking the kids on her bus to school she sees a dragon in the rearview mirror. She wakes up her daughter and asks her daughter to help her. Her daughter is an outcast at school, in a way that Bea wanted but didn’t want. He wanted her daughter safe, from men like the one who got Bea pregnant, but it made the girl a loner. As Bea tries to flee the dragon, she switches places with Rosie and the dragon attacks. Rosie drives them wildly, all the way across train tracks as a train slams into the dragon to kill it. 

The Long Walk:
Asvi wakes and finds her husband dead. She is an old woman who was sold by her father, so that her father may enter into the wool trade. She was a humble woman who was an amazing cook and knew not much else. With her husband’s death, she is to take the Long Walk to the mountain of dragons where she will be offered as sacrifice. Her son pays the exuberant tithe and Asvi talks with her son’s wife. After deciding that no one really cares if she was there or not (save her daughter-in-law) she leaves. She gives her tithe bracelet to another woman who has children to take care of, and travels. The priests on the travel giver her permission to cook, so she does. They try to persuade her to go back with them but she refuses. In the land beyond, where the demons and dragons roam, they find many villages of human women. She takes a dragon to the top of a mountain and learns that the dragons protect them because the human women can become dragons like them, should they so choose. 

Cut Me Another Quill, Mister Fitz:
Sir Hereward and Mr. Fitz are sitting in a dark tower making lists of names as they try to hunt down a dragon. Mr. Fitz is a sorcerer puppet, and Sir Hereward is a knight for the Council of the Treaty for the Safety of the World. Hereward is fed up with Mr. Fitz’ record keeping that will take another month to narrow down and leaves. He meets a guard who offers to take him to a wine bar. He follows her and gets drunk. However he is not truly drunk but acting, which is how he is taken to another location. He finds Mr. Fitz and they talk, and then he vomits pretending to be drunk, before he is strip searched. He is then taken to the dragon, who he attacks with Mr. Fitz. When the dragon tries to escape to its lair, he follows. The lair is cleared out already by the Archon who rules the city, and the Mr. Fitz comes to finish the dragon off. Unfortunately, the dragon turns small and gets away. Sir Hereward tells Mr. Fitz that the dragon claimed a different name than the one they are hunting, and they know that there are two they have to find.

Hoard:
Patricia Dracan is a dragon who has taken to hoarding children. She plucks kids out from the foster care system who are about to age out (16-17ish) and takes them in to give them a home when they think no one wants them. She loves them and cherishes them and gives them a family and when they are about to age out and have to be put on their own, she offers to adopt them. Some say no, many say yes. The morning of the story, Patricia has to drop off Jasmine’s sandwich at school. The girl is 12, and much younger than her normal age cut off, but Patricia decided to take her in. As she is about to leave, a social worker knocks on her door. He asks her a few questions and claims that she is a danger to the kids that she has helped and is going to report her to try to take them away. She eats him, knowing that no one will ever suspect her.

The Last Hunt:
Xuan Thao is running from The Hunt. The Hunt is a set of birds that the Masters control. The Masters destroyed the world after playing with it until it broke. Xuan Thao is a human, unlike the Masters. She runs to a door where she finds a dragon who is her ancestor. The woman helps her and Xuan Thao tries to get to the end but is captured by the Masters. Th dragon, Vo Con, is set to kill her, but Xuan Thao releases her and Vu Con sends all the Masters away. The humans and dragons will remake the earth.

We Continue:
Humans landed on a planet hundreds of years ago. It is a planet inhabited by Dragons. They made a city based on their ship, but the city decayed and was destroyed in hundreds of years. Jacq is fifteen, and Auntie is dying. Auntie is the dragon that found him and took care of him after he was kicked out of his family from the City, when they had no food. She cared for him for seven years. Auntie leads him to the food pits where he sees another human girl. He helps her and she tells him that he has to leave, that the Hive is dying and being replaced by the New Queen and her hive-mates. Auntie dies and Jacq gets back to her just in time. Jacq leaves the hive with Stel, the human girl. 

Small Bird’s Plea:
A girl on a distant planet goes to plead with the cave of miracles to save her people. Her people and the demons are at war. She meets a lion and elephant and an eagle who are remnants of the astronauts that brought them to the planet. She gets to the cave and talks with the last child of the demons who tells her that her people are destroying his people. The two of them combine and they make a dragon, and go to stop the warring between their people.

Dragon Slayer:
Olav left his home one day and never returned. He became a pirate and lost it all, married a woman for two years and then killed her when he saw her with a demon. He then found a girl named Nahala, who he thought a boy at first. She had lost her entire family and he taught her how to fight. The two came to a port city where they lived for a while. Nahala met a boy named Sliv and became friends with him. Sliv was the apprentice to a man named Ushted, a wizard. Olav worked for the man too. One day a dragon descends on the port city and the four are tasked with killing it. The dragon recognizes Olav, and Ushted poisons Olav to make a deal with the dragon. He gets a time amulet, which is given to Sliv and leaves Olav behind. Instead of being taken by the men, Nahala steals the amulet from Ushted, who has a different (older) one than Sliv. Her older self appears and kills Ushted and Sliv flees. The two go and kill the dragon and Nahala takes Olav off the mountain.

Camouflage:
Will Fletcher is in his seventh year, at a notorious school for flunking its students in its final year, taking a test in ancient sorcery history. He is sent to the past and meets a girl named Sydney who is traveling with a mage named Gauda. Gauda can sing and control what are known as camo-dragons. They are able to change themselves to blend into nature around them. The two are traveling with a war group, and Sydney is studying the dragon to learn to harness them for the War Department. While Sydney goes to get them things to drink, the war begins. Meanwhile Will rides a dragon and connects with it, learning the magic of the camo-dragons. He is sent back to the present, and passes his test. His professor tasks him with figuring out with what he has learned. 

We Don’t Talk About the Dragon:
The novel dictates the life of Cecily. For the majority of her life there is a dragon in the barn, and no one in her family is allowed to talk about it. If they do, their father will lecture them and their mother will ignore them. She and her brothers have supported each other, but they know not to talk. Her father is a horrible man, scary and Cecily grows up wanting to disappear, die, or run away. When she is thirteen, she begins talking to the dragon during her weekly run to drop iron into the barn for the dragon to eat. They get iron scraps from work and its her job, as it has been since she was eight, to feed the dragon. She talks to it about life and Nolan. Over the years she and Nolan fall in love, and one day Nolan asks her to marry him with a gold ring. When she talks to the dragon about this, the dragon keeps responding with its pressure of hunger. Her father finds her and she lands in the barn, falling from the loft where she fed the dragon. The dragon licks at her hand and she realizes the dragon was always meant to eat gold. Her father tells her, she could not for they had to tell the beast who was in charge. She gives the dragon the gold ring and finally the dragon leaves the barn with the strength it had been missing. 

Maybe Just Go Up There and Talk to It:
Emery Blackburn was fighting in WWII. he was discharged after being shot in the leg twice. Two years later in ‘46 the dragons came. They came and they never let. At first the countries of the world fought and killed the dragons, but in time the storms just did not stop. The dragons kept coming, people kept dying, and the humans were losing. Countries retreated to selected areas for support, and then to protecting specific cities. Emery, who had been hired as a deputy to kill the dragons, became a sheriff, and in time was left to completely fend for himself. When the only other deputy died in ‘71 from a dragon, a sharp shooter named Delia Sanchez, Emery took it upon himself to find the wisest and smartest dragon of all. In his time he had talked to a few dragons, including one that he had a riddle contest and lost to. When he found the wisest dragon, he talked to it (and oddly it knew of things that Emery had only said to the riddle dragon he had killed) and realized that the dragons were terraforming Earth to their new home. The humans may have won once, if they fought harder and more strategically than they did. Instead they fought each other and the dragons won. He invites the dragon back to the town, suggesting maybe they could coexist.

What I Liked:

Matriculation:
Pawn Row; the idea of vampire pawn brokers who deal in blood is both amazing and hilariously horrible. I love it.
Dragon; As a machine motorcycle thing, this is really cool and a different way of using dragons than I am used to.

Hikayat Sri Bujand, or, the Tale of The Naga Sage:
I don’t know much about nagas, to be honest. Not the lore, rather. I know what they look like and the powers they have over the sea, but not of the lore surrounding them. So this story was interesting to read in regards to that. 
Human/Naga elations; Man, the fact that the people of this world were ballsy enough to sue dragons had me laughing so bad. Because of course they are. Creatures who can’t control the fact that water falls where they move, humans want to sue that. Stupid humans. lol

Yuli:
The D&D; This got me. LOL at first I was lost but when I realized what it was I was fully invested.

The Whisper of Blue: 
Form; I really enjoyed that this was a transcription of a movie, told in screenplay form.
Dragons and Energy; Not gonna lie I was thrown off for a second until I situated and thought, LOL I love this. Dragons forming energy. I was there for all the explanations to the point where I started caring for that more than the story of Zoe. I love this idea.

Where the River Turns to Concrete: 
River spirits; Oh man they are so cool, but he def is going to die now that his river has been destroyed and I cry

Habitat:
No Names; This was pretty great. The main characters did not have names, although the other side characters did.
World Building; We have a holy war. There are dragon changes to the world and government politics. I love this so much.

Pox: 
It was a cute story. 
The FOOD; Oh my god. I can’t do this. Why was it so beautiful. I want it all please.

The Nine Curves River:
Second Person; Oh my lord, I was not prepared for this. It was so rich and terrifying because with it, it hit too close to home. 
Man, human sacrifice sucks.

Lucky’s Dragon:
This was a cute story about aliens and science, and I’m not entirely sure I care much more than that.

The Exile:
Science Fiction; Look I wasn’t expecting this but it was here and I love it. I really want to know more about all of it, even if the MC was cannon fodder in the grand scheme of the story that exists there.

Except on Saturdays:
It was short. It was a nice change of pace.

La Vitesse:
Now I want to know if this dragon was evil or if it was related to them in a different way. Only Bea had seen them before, after all.

The Long Walk:
Culture; It was so rich and fluid. I understood all of it so deeply. It was inherently similar to some cultures that I know, but it was so real.
Dragons; As women that become dragons. COUNT ME IN
Asvi; This poor woman. All she wanted to do was explore and she was stifled. I hope she can one day.
Dani; This head strong woman. In a way I do wonder if she’ll take the Long Walk. Somehow I think she’d be happier with the dragons.

Cut Me Another Quill, Mister Fitz:
Honestly this world; the world building, the council. I need moreeee.
Dragons are murderous. I love it.
This reminded me so much of Witch Hunter with Halloween and Tasha Godspell. Lol maybe that’s why I loved it so much.

Hoard:
A story that touches on the broken foster care system and a dragon who is helping one child at a time? I didn’t know I needed it, but now I do. 

The Last Hunt:
Concept is cool, although a bit confusing at first.

We Continue:
Hive Dragons; This is such an interesting idea for dragons, for them to be in a hive. I want to know more about how the hive functions and how they can have simple identifying traits. 
Language barrier; This! Jaqc and Auntie know the other is speaking something and is intelligent, but their words just do not coincide together at all. They did their best for seven years but even in the end they were not able to fully communicate with words, but their hearts. I cry.

Small Bird’s Plea:
The use of other species. Its cool to see two species combine to make something new.

Dragon Slayer: 
No comment.

Camouflage: 
The concept of Wizarding school always gets me. I want to know all about this one and its horrific testing schedule. 
Cam-dragons are super cool. Also the use of the war department wanting to capitalize on them? Seems pretty realistic.

We Don’t Talk About the Dragon: 
Second person. I really liked this, and the general way that the storytelling was done. The repetition, and limited focus to just the barn and what Cecily talked about or experienced because of it. 

Maybe Just Go Up There and Talk to It: 
There is a morbidity to this ending that suggests that the town may or may not survive, and that it does not matter considering that the dragons already won. I liked this. Its also a very somber note to end on for the whole story and I liked that it did.

What I Would Have Liked or Changed:

Matriculation:
None

Hikayat Sri Bujand, or, the Tale of The Naga Sage:
None

Yuli:
I won’t lie. I am extremely confused by what this short story was ultimately about. I think I will have to reread it in order to know, but for now, color me completely unsure.

The Whisper of Blue:
I want dragon energy, why don’t we?

Where the River Turns to Concrete:
None

Habitat:
I need this as a full story thanks.

Pox:
None

The Nine Curves River:
None

Lucky’s Dragon:
None

The Exile:
I wish I understood a bit more. I think I’m gonna have to reread it.

Except on Saturdays:
I know nothing about this legend, and think I need to learn more because there was so much I did not understand.

La Vitesse:
Longer. I need to know if they kill the second dragon or not.

The Long Walk:
None

Cut Me Another Quill, Mister Fitz:
I need this as a full series. Thanks. Like five books? Cool.

Hoard:
None

The Last Hunt:
None

We Continue:
I have a lot of questions about the city and radiation and the human settlements and this world. A full length book please.

Small Bird’s Plea:
I was a little confused at times, but it wasn’t a bad confusion in the end.

Dragon Slayer: 
It wasn’t that I disliked this story, but the time travel amulet I’m meh towards.
Also Olav and Nahala are implied to have a relationship later and IDK if I’m comfortable with that, since he did raise her and IDK how old Olav is.

Camouflage: 
I need a full book series about the seven years at this school and the testing, thanks. Like hard core school novels. No grand danger. I just want to live vicariously in this magic school and what they learn and how they test.

We Don’t Talk About the Dragon: 
I am curious about what her father wanted from the dragon. But screw him. He’s horrible.

Maybe Just Go Up There and Talk to It: 
I NEED ANSWERS TO THE RIDDLES. PLEASE:
What is thin as night and soft as sand, will break the teeth but not the hand?
The sun can never find me, the moon can never hide me, all men give half their lives to me?

Rating: 4/5

Notable Quotes:

“Lots of beings of Mind are lacking in Soul. Surely you’ve seen politicians on the news.” – pg 206 from “Lucky’s Dragons.”

“Sister, you have always had wings. They were stolen from you long ago. Now they wait here with us, when you are ready.” – pg 337 From “The Long Walk”


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