Jilly: Curling Up with a Good Dragon

Dragon chandelier in the banqueting room, Royal Pavilion, Brighton (via brightonmuseums.org.uk)

Dragon chandelier in the banqueting room, Royal Pavilion, Brighton
(via brightonmuseums.org.uk)

It’s been an exciting, inspiring, exhausting nine days. I collected Justine from Heathrow a week last Thursday, and we embarked on a Regency roller-coaster ride around London and southern England, from the spectacularly OTT pleasure palace otherwise known as the Royal Pavilion, Brighton, through the smugglers’ haunts of Rye and the Cinque Ports, via the Medieval churches of Romney Marsh and the splendors of Canterbury, to the Royal Maritime Museum at Greenwich and the beautiful Georgian mansions of Kenwood, the Wallace Collection and Osterley Park. We swooned over fabulous fans and priceless porcelain. We plotted plots and lusted after libraries.

Now we’re done. Justine’s on a plane home, and I’m back in North London with a bag full of laundry, a house full of builders and a head full of ideas. I thought this was going to be another post about historical romance (we heard so many great story starters that I’m sorely tempted to try my hand) but it seems my Girls are fixated on the other recurring theme of our trip – dragons! The picture at the top of this post shows the carved dragon that sits atop the one-ton chandelier that dominates the banqueting room at the Royal Pavilion. He was the first and the most spectacular example, but the Regency fashion for Chinoiserie meant that we encountered the scaly, winged beasts at every step of the way, and now I’ve got them on the brain.

I’m too fried to get any new words down, so I decided to treat myself to a book, and I’ve spent a pleasurable hour investigating dragon stories. I knew The Hobbit, of course, and Patricia Briggs’ Dragon Blood/Dragon Bones duology, but after that I drew a blank. I should have known Goodreads would have a list ready and waiting – click here for their list of popular dragon romance books.

I might try a few of those later, after I’ve read His Majesty’s Dragon by Naomi Novik, the first book in her Temeraire series. When I discovered that there’s an alternate history series which is a re-imagining of the epic events of the Napoleonic wars with an air force of dragons, manned by crews of aviators – well, it was game over. I love the premise, I love the excerpt on her website (read it here), and I’ll be settling down with the book just as soon as I upload this post.

I’ll let you know how I get on.

Have you read the Temeraire series? What did you think of it?

Have you read any other good dragon stories? Or if dragons don’t do it for you, what will you be reading this weekend?




14 thoughts on “Jilly: Curling Up with a Good Dragon

  1. I’ve just finished the first section of His Majesty’s Dragon, and can report that I’m enjoying it enormously. The story is engaging, the characters are great, and the writing is word-candy standard. If the rest of the book is like this, stand by for a Good Book Squee 😉

    And (bonus!) I discovered this morning that Jade Lee has a series of dragon books. She’s been on my ‘must-try’ radar for ages, and somebody recommended her in last week’s discussion about historical sites, so I’m definitely going to give Dragonborn a go.

  2. I love a good dragon story, too! Thanks for the recs😀. You might also try Shana Abe’s Drakon series. The first one, Smoke Thief, came out ten years ago! but is still one of my favorites.

    • Wow, Nancy, thanks – just looked at Shana Abe’s website. I never heard of her, but Smoke Thief sounds great, and the other Drakon books, too. I will definitely try them. Exciting!

  3. I enjoyed Katie McAlister’s Aisling Grey series, an earlier series. They were a more light-hearted dragon series; she’s also written darker stuff that I haven’t tried. I read the intro pages to His Majesty’s Dragon by Naomi Novik on Amazon and thought they were great, but I’m not buying books right now. Have to check out the library!

  4. I can’t recommend any good dragon books/series, but I do have a dragon-related anecdote. I heard Donald Maas talk at the Columbus RWA a couple of years ago and he spoke of a manuscript he’d received about a girl on a quest to steal a single penny from a billionaire. When she got into his lair, it turned out that at home he was a dragon. It was brilliant–completely explains why billionaires are so obsessed with every penny they own.

  5. I asked my dragon-obsessed daughter if she knew about the Temeraire series, and of course she did. She said she had read the first two books in the series and gave me almost word-for-word the same overview you posted above. When asked to evaluate their quality, she said that the character development was brilliant and that the first book was very well done. However, she thought that the second book felt too similar to the first in plot and didn’t deliver anything new, so she lost confidence that the author would be able to produce any further books in the series worth her time. She was also bothered by the fact that the timeline of historical events in this alternate world had not developed any differently from our world up to the point of the first book, despite the fact that this world included dragons which she felt should have changed the course of history at least a little somewhere along the way. Obviously, this wouldn’t bother most of us. 🙂

    She read these a few years back, at maybe 13 years of age, so some lack of maturity should be taken into account when considering her opinion. Perhaps the second book in the series was developing the characters and world in ways too subtle for her young teen mind.

    • Thanks, Jennifer, and there’s a lesson there for all of us who aspire to write series 🙂 .

      I’ll try the second book and let you know how it strikes this much-more-than-thirteen year-old reader. I definitely don’t mind that the timeline of major historical events is not changed by the presence of dragons, and there are some potentially fascinating story elements that are not (yet) developed. I bought the first three books as a package so I’ll read those and then decide whether to stick or move on. I’m not sure where the author is going with the story – could be the next books are the same but different (which many readers prefer) or the world and characters could grow and change in more challenging ways (which I am hoping for).

  6. (-: I wish I knew more good dragon stories. What’s not to like? Flying, hoarding treasure, longevity, sometimes magic power, and the power to roast people who are annoying you. I have to confess, I am inordinately fond of stories where the dragons are helpful ones, and do things like toast marshmallows. (Obviously, this is deep in the YA depths of my memory banks!)

    One dragon series that I really liked was YA that I read as an adult — Patricia Wrede’s “Dealing with Dragons” about a princess who doesn’t want to be princessy, and her dragon.

    I am sure I’ve read some hot romance about dragons who take human shape sometimes, and are fabulous lovers. I just can’t remember the names or titles )-:.

    One thing I do remember is descriptions of dragons — they can be such pretty creatures, with shining scales and fabulous wings. I think it’d be a lot of fun to write a dragon.

    • Terry Pratchett does good dragons, of course. Love Lady Sibyl’s home for rescue dragons, and Vimes lighting a cigarillo using a baby swamp-dragon.

      I keep meaning to try Patricia Wrede. Bumping her up my list right now 🙂 .

      • (-: How could I have forgotten the Pratchett dragons? Not enough of them, I guess, and not sentient. Cute little critters, though.

        I do like the Cimorene (Enchanted Forest/Dealing with Dragons is first) books, but I really, really like “Sorcery and Cecelia or: the Enchanted Chocolate Pot”. I have a weakness for books of letters . . . .

  7. Sorry, catching up late again. I love the dragon picture you found – really brings out the crazy majesty of that dragon in the Pavilion. I’ve never read any dragon books, but one I’ve always fancied is Nice Dragons Finish Last by Rachel Bach (she also writes as Rachel Aaron) – I read the writing book she wrote a couple of years ago (and enjoyed it), and have always meant to check out her fiction.

    • Thanks, Rachel! I read and enjoyed the writing book – though I have to say I’m still struggling to write 2k let alone 10. Nice Dragons Finish Last sounds fun. Must check it out.

      • Me too! But if I remember correctly, some of the books where she wrote 10K a day, Rachel Aaron/Bach had to go back and do a lot of editing (she says to cheer us both up). And now back to the writing…

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