Wednesday, August 18, 2010

The Dragon Book: Edited By Jack Dann



Whether portrayed as fire-breathing reptilian beasts at war with humanity or as noble creatures capable of speech and mystically bonded to the warriors who ride them, dragons have been found in nearly every culture's mythology. In modern times, they can be found far from their medieval settings in locales as mundane as suburbia or as barren as post-apocalyptic landscapes-and in The Dragon Book, today's greatest fantasists reignite the fire with legendary tales that will consume readers' imaginations.

With original stories by
New York Times bestselling authors Jonathan Stroud, Gregory Maguire, Garth Nix, Diana Gabaldon, Tamora Pierce, Harry Turtledove, Sean Williams, and Tad Williams as well as tales by Naomi Novik, Peter Beagle, Jane Yolen, Adam Stemple, Cecelia Holland, Kage Baker, Samuel Sykes, Diana Wynne Jones, Mary Rosenblum, Tanith Lee, Andy Duncan, and Bruce Coville.


What I love about anthologies like The Dragon Book is that they really introduce you to new authors that you might not have noticed before.

The Dragon Book does this wonderfully well, as it has a number of excellent authors in it, such as Tamora Pierce, Jonathan Stroud, and Diana Wynne Jones, that I love but it also introduced me to a number of new authors that I hadn’t read as well, such as; Peter Beagle, Garth Nix, and Tad Williams.

Peter Beagle’s story, “Oakland Dragon Blues” is incredibly imaginative. It follows a dragon that comes out from an unfinished story and attempts to find its author to in act revenge. Besides its creativity Beagle really offers up dragons in a different light, as the dragon just wants to get home or die and isn’t vicious or bloodthirsty, just someone looking for a way back home. Beagle does a great job with the humor of the piece as well. The story is short, to the point, and no previous info is needed to understand it, making it a hilarious and great short story.

I’ve never read anything by Garth Nix, but I’ve heard his name come up in countless conversations about young adult fantasy books. He’s the author of The Old Kingdom series, The Seventh Tower series, and the Keys To The Kingdom series. And while you might assume he would turn to the traditional sense of dragons, his series dealing so much in traditional kingdom settings, his newest short story “Stop!” is anything but. In “Stop!” the dragon is an alien like creature that tries to turn a man into a creature like himself but dies before completing the task, leaving the man half human half dragon. A dragon is nothing what we would expect, and instead this man is near indestructible, but just looking for a way to die. The dragon leaks radiation and this is one of the reasons why anyone who touches him dies instantly. The story is short and tense the whole way through, and reminded me a little bit of Simon Green’s Just Another Judgment Day. A very unique take on dragons and interesting story.

Tad Williams is another author I’ve heard a lot about but never read. He’s incredibly famous for a number of books but he’s currently writing his Shadowmarch series. His short story “A Stark and Wormy Knight” is an interesting reversal of the traditional dragon tale. The story tells the tale of a traditional knight coming to save a princess but from the dragon’s point of view. The story is interesting and humorous and really a surprisingly good read, certainly a keeper in The Dragon Book.

All in all The Dragon Book, like it’s predecessor The Wizard Book, is a great read. It offers up a number of short stories ranging in length from short 12 page or less stories, to novella size stories. I was excited and happy with the level of writing in the stories and really feel the authors included in this anthology are top of the line. The Dragon Book is a great place to learn about other great authors and really is a fun book to read between books, making it a must buy for those times you don’t have time to start a book but feel like something quick and good.

8 out of 10


Publisher: Ace

Published: November 3, 2009

Price: $16.00

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