It’s the final Tuesday of May, and that means it’s time for my most anticipated fantasy-themed top ten of the month. Today, I am all about dragons!
Big ones, little ones, good and evil ones, from clever swindlers to bookish companions – whether they’re well loved favourites or still waiting their turn on my TBR, they’ve all got a place on the treasure hoard!
First up, the personal favourites!
First out of the bag is one of my favourite films featuring dragons! Or at least, a dragon. Draco (ironically named, I know) is the last living dragon, and after meeting/befriending/scamming villagers with a disillusioned knight, he agrees to help him topple their power-mad tyrant of a king – but of course it’s not that simple…
I love this movie, and have loved it for a very long time, despite its questionable status as a live-action fantasy product of the 90s. It has a knight who isn’t interested in noble quests, and a dragon with questionable morals but a heart of gold (sort of…) beneath it all. It has a truly hiss-worthy royal bad guy, and to top it all off the big, scaly star of the show was voiced by Sean Connery. If you haven’t seen this film, trust me. Seek it out and watch it.
Marie Brennan’s five-part series, recounting the life, loves and adventures of Isabella Camherst, the eponymous Lady Trent, was a much more recent discovery, but nonetheless I adore it.
As a renowned dragon naturalist (who began as one struggling for recognition), Isabella is our narrator throughout these accounts of her life and career, and I fell in love with her personality as much as I became caught up in her adventures.
Naomi Novik’s eight-part series, set in an alternate history in which dragons exist and are trained in service to the British Empire in its war with Napoleon and France, is one which, in hindsight, I have mixed feelings about. But none of those mixed feelings are on account of its dragons. I have nothing but love for Temeraire and his unruly but fiercely loyal band of misfit dragon friends.
These Dungeons & Dragons classics are among some of my favourites, as I’ve mentioned here a few times already this month, but it bears repeating because I can hardly deny that a big part of the appeal is ALL THE BLOODY DRAGONS. So many dragons. Fire dragons, ice dragons, dragons who spit acid and lightning – so many reasons to love them! How could I not give them a place on the list?
There are two examples of a clever use of dragons in Sir Terry’s most famous works that prompted me to include it here. One is the premise of the novel Guards! Guards!, in which a group of inept (obliviously so) men are conned into summoning up a dragon for their own petty, selfish ends (or so they believe) and quickly find that the creature’s harder to control than they realised. Pratchett’s knack for incisive social/political commentary is as sharp as it ever was in this book about dragons, and the kind of heroes who stand and fight them.
The other example is Lady Sybil’s Sunshine Sanctuary for Sick Dragons. Generally speaking, when they’re not of the gigantic, havoc-wreaking variety, dragons on the Discworld are small, poorly, largely harmless creatures who are treated as pets – but when they’re treated more like puppies after Hogswatch has been and gone, at least there’s Lady Sybil to look after them. As if I didn’t have enough reasons to like her.
Aliette de Bodard’s nearly-complete trilogy, set in an alternate post-war Paris with feuding families of fallen angels and their descendants, is among the most beautifully written and intriguing books I’ve read in recent years – not least because of the presence of dragons. Steeped in Vietnamese mythology and given the author’s own darkly gorgeous twist, these are dragons unlike any I’ve read about before, and for that alone they’d deserve a nod here.
And now, let’s turn to what’s still on my T(reasure)BR pile!
The Priory of the Orange Tree
Samantha Shannon’s latest standalone epic fantasy novel is actually one that I’m currently reading, and though it’s going a bit slowly (this is not fantasy fluff, you guys), I am definitely committed to it. Besides dragons, this has courtly political intrigue, undercover sorcerers, and ancient prophecies to keep one’s mind busy.
Nice Dragons Finish Last
The first book in Rachel Aaron’s Heartstrikers series is more urban fantasy than epic, and it’s been on my Kindle for quite a while so I’m feeling like I might (sort of) cleanse my palate with this whenever I finish Priory. I’m intrigued by dragons as shapeshifters, and this book has been recommended to me more than once, so watch this space!
The Winnowing Flame Trilogy
Jen Williams has been at it again with her second epic fantasy-adventure trilogy, and though I still have two books to go before I’m all caught up, The Ninth Rain has definitely seen to it that I am hooked! And if you haven’t read them yet, you can check out my weekly read-along posts for The Ninth Rain here.
The Last Namsara
Getting some YA in on this, with this book from Kristen Ciccarelli. Featuring a dragon-slayer fighting to prove herself and atone for a past sin that has earned her nothing but hatred, I was intrigued enough to make this one of my many (many) Kindle impulse buys, but this list has reminded me that I should bump it up the list. Dragons!
The Dragon Keeper
I’ve had the first book of Robin Hobb’s Rain Wild Chronicles on my shelf for goodness knows how long. Probably since I finished reading the Farseer trilogy and decided I wanted more. But every so often I am reminded of its presence – such as now – and so now it’s sitting where I can actually see it. Hopefully its time will soon come!
And on that eternally optimistic note, that is the end of my list! What do you think of my choices? Got a recommendation you think I’d appreciate? Drop a note in the comments!