I take no responsibility from this point onwards. Want to go back to go over your theory training? No? Then you have now entered the realm of the dragons. And you shall have no less than THIRTY Dragon books or series. A true Dragonrider doesn’t need their hand holding; there’ll only be a sentence or two of synopsis and you can decide what you like the sound of! Of course, we have a couple of interviews and blogger testimonials to give you a little more guidance!
Before we fly through the rest of the recommendations we have S Kaeth, author of Windward, an exciting new dragon book. I won’t waste any time in letting her introduce herself…
Hi S! First off, thanks for taking part in this mini interview for the blog post! You released your novel Windward recently. If you could sum up your book in one sentence what would it be?
Hi! Thanks for the invitation!
If I could sum up Windward in one sentence, it would be: The strong bond between woman and dragon keeps both sane during increasing chaos for their nest.
With your book being very dragon focused, rather than just a fantasy story that happens to have dragons in it, what is it about these mythical beasts that appeals to you? Are there any particular influences that really inspired you to write a dragon story of your own?
Dragons have always appealed to me. I love them in almost every form. I really wanted to explore that aspect of a partnership between reptile and mammal, between a long-lived creature and a shorter lived one, between something huge and powerful and something smaller and more nimble. What would that look like? How would that function? I mean, dragons are enormous flying reptiles and I absolutely adore reptiles. The chance to bring them out of the “beast of destruction” light and see them in a more positive way was intriguing.
I have been very much influenced by reading the Pern novels as a kid, as well as Earthsea and every other fantasy book I could get my hands on. I’ve worked with reptiles and studied reptiles and amphibians, and owned a few reptiles and amphibians of my own. Sometimes I’ll take a writing break to hang out with my kids’ leopard geckos.
Would you say your book sticks to a more tried and tested formula or is there something new that you really wanted to bring to the genre? If so, what sets Windward apart from other dragon books some readers might currently be more familiar with?
I think I took a step to the side from the typical formula. Windward begins with Palon and Windward’s bond already strong, formed, and a foundation for their relationship. I adored writing the way they tease each other, even when they start exploring some less desirable aspects of the bond, and I made the bond a two-way thing. The bonded and the dragons both influence each other with emotions and thoughts and personality, rather than it running downhill only. From the very beginning of the story we get to see that, and Palon and Windward come back to their bond repeatedly for solace as things heat up in their nest. I also was taking a break from my epic so I wanted to keep things small. The events in Windward mostly just impact their one nest, not the rest of dragon society (much), and not the rest of the world. It’s localized, but the emotions are high anyway because Palon cares so very fiercely for her home, and my bonded tend to be more emotional because of their bond with their dragons.
So would you say your story is more of a personal one than the sprawling Hollywood blockbuster tale that is often the case in the genre?
It is more of a personal story, yes. A theft, turning to framing, and all the while, a rebellious teen to deal with makes for a very cranky dragon nest!
Finally, what or who is your favourite dragon (excluding your own?)
Falcor. Luck dragons for the win! My favorite more traditional dragon? I have a lot of favorites, from Tintaglia, to Mnementh to Kazul.
Thankyou for your involvement and best of luck with your book!
A Natural History of Dragons – Marie Brennan
Kayla from Krakentoagoodbook YouTube Channel (Twitter): “I loved the premise of a lady scientist fighting against gender norms while also studying dragons, aswell as seeing the variety of dragons and cultures around the world. The books also have amazing illustrations.”
“As someone who studied biology, I love the idea of approaching dragons as a scientist (and through anthropology, as well).”Nikki, BreathesBooks.com (Twitter)
The Leland Dragon Series – Jackie Gamber
Jorie from Jorielovesbookishblogs and Twitter very kindly offered her thoughts on her favourite dragon series below, The Leland Dragon books! Thankyou Jorie!
“When I first read the Leland Dragons series by Jackie Gamber I was unsure what I’d find inside the trilogy – imagine my happiness in becoming introduced to a high functioning dragon society where there is a strong overlay of good vs evil in contrast to how some of the dragons have decided to try to go rogue and stray away from their own principled way of life. There is this beautiful race called the Murkens who live in the Forest who happen to be shifters and I truly felt attached to Bannon as a result of how pivotal his character became to the overall central thread of the series. The world-building is expansive and lovingly etched out to where you truly get to understand the past, present and peer into the future of this world.
I loved the exploration of Murkens within Murk Forest, because Gamber has such a gentle hand in giving you reason to draw a breath of pause whilst drinking in the more fantastical elements of her narrative! The Murkens by definition are shapeshifters, but it’s how they are presented that delighted me the most! They are as akin to the natural world as the dragons, living in a quandary of a balance that even they do not fully understand. There is always a hidden depth to the story, which I appreciate more than I may even let on! My mind is always rampant to explore the wholeness of the trilogy whilst caught up in one of the installments!
Gamber forces you to look internally and introspectively as you read her stories, especially in regards to prejudicial inclinations which can do the most harm if they are not seen for what they are. Jastin Armitage’s character goes through the most catalytic changes over the score of the saga. He is the classic hero whose soul was entrapped by rage and prejudice without the foundation of understanding what prompted his innermost hatred. She explores the depth of his character’s ability to emerge out of the darkness and back into a path towards the Light. For me, this is one of the quintessential elements she stitched into the fabric of the Leland Dragons series. To not only present war but to take the harder road as a writer to endeavour to uncover what provoked it from all sides, angles, and hearts. War doesn’t begin on the battlefield afterall, nor does war end in battle.
Peace is always obtainable through forgiveness and love, but it’s how we get to the bridge of acceptance that truly tests the measure of what we can evolve to embrace.
Visit Jorie @ Jorie Loves A Story to read her expanded thoughts on behalf of the #LelandDragons!
Dragonriders of Pern/ The Harper Hall Trilogy – Anne McCaffrey
Every two hundred years or so, on the planet colony of Pern, shimmering Threads fall from space, raining death. Yet the great dragons of Pern, mounted by the stalwart dragonriders, scour the skies with fire to destroy the deadly Thread and save the planet. Ask any seasoned fantasy or science fiction reader for a series on dragons and chances are you’ll get Dragonriders of Pern by Anne McCaffrey. Widely regarded as her best work, the Harper Hall Trilogy specifically is an inspiration for many authors today and continues to be read and loved.
Smoke Eaters – Sean Grigsby
A near-future fantasy in which firefighters are the last line of defence against rampaging dragons. Together they are known as the elite force, the Smoke Eaters.
Dragonsbane – Barbara Hambly
What if a dragon didn’t need slaying; it needed saving?
“A story of a hunt for a Dragon but a surprising one because he has to be saved – proof that Dragons are not always wicked and greedy but wise, noble and generous.”Peter (Twitter) from The Swordsmith
The Neverending Story – Michael Ende
“Falcor is hands down the best dragon ever! He was probably my first dragon. I remember dreaming about flying on him when I was younger.”
The Priory of the Orange Tree – Samantha Shannon
A huge book, both physically and in terms of its impact, Priory of the Orange Tree features both Eastern and Western type dragons and can be described as a feminist fantasy in which gender doesn’t play an important role in the heights one can rise to. Meticulously researched by Samantha Shannon to up the levels of immersion, the plaudits are passionate (and many).
“It has so much rep in it for different sexualities and races and different kinds of dragons. Also girl power basically. Not to mention the book weighs as much as a dragon, that’s a fact not an opinion.”
The Rage of Dragons – Evan Winter
Originally independently published in 2017, Orbit book’s acquisition of The Rage of Dragons catapulted it into fantasy readers consciousness in 2019 and it has been praised far and wide since. An African inspired fantasy with action aplenty and of course, dragons. A must read for all fans of fantasy.
Dragonlords Series – Jon Hollins
It’s not easy to live in a world ruled by dragons. The taxes are high and their control is complete. But for one group of bold misfits, it’s time to band together and steal back some of that wealth.
No one said they were smart. A book series described as Guardians of the Galaxy meets The Hobbit!
Dragonkeeper Chronicles – Donita K Paul
“It was one of the first empowered female protagonist Fantasy series I ever read and it made me fall in love with the genre.”
The Earthsea Cycle – Ursula K Le Guin
Legendary fantasy and science fiction author Ursula Le Guin’s Earthsea Cycle began in 1968 with A Wizard of Earthsea, featuring the young wizard Ged and his quest to destroy the evil he has unleashed on the land. Praised for its wonderful storytelling but also it’s progressive elements, such as a dark-skinned protagonist at a time when this wasn’t commonplace.
Dragonslayer – Duncan M Hamilton
Recently published trilogy from Duncan Hamilton and Tor Books with the title basically providing the synopsis. The first book begins in a faux-French medieval setting with an awoken dragon terrorising the countryside. Read for an exciting page turner in a more traditionally styled quest and sword adventure.
The Winnowing Flame Trilogy – Jen Williams
War beasts, giant bats, witches, vampire-elves, a tree god, mysterious alien-like antagonists, and starting from book 2 (the Bitter Twins) dragons!
Heartstrikers Series (Nice Dragons Finish Last) – Rachel Aaron
Action-packed urban fantasy series with a strong dose of comedy, post-apocalyptic SF themes and shapeshifting dragons.
Guards! Guards! – Terry Pratchett
This is where the dragons went. They lie … not dead, not asleep, but … dormant. The 8th book in the Discworld Series.
“It plays so well with the old ideas about noble dragons”– Caroline @asweetdevouring
“The cutest, dopiest dragon to have ever been written”Charlotte (Twitter) from The Sound of a Thousand Books on Errol the Dragon
The Hobbit – J.R.R. Tolkien
A classic you’ll no doubt have heard of and the precursor to The Lord of the Rings. The wizard Gandalf enlists the help of Bilbo Baggins as his ‘burglar’ to steal from the cunning and malevolent dragon, Smaug.
“The Hobbit is one of my favourite dragony books. Smaug is a terrifying, wily, gold-hoarding dragon and the scene where Bilbo talks to him gives me chills.”
The Rain Wild Chronicles – Robin Hobb
The fourth series from Hobb’s Realm of the Elderlings, encompassing four books, starting with The Dragon Keeper. To be a dragon keeper is a dangerous job: their charges are vicious and unpredictable, and there are many unknown perils on the journey to a city which may not even exist …
The Year of the Dragon – James Calbraith
“An alt history story about British and Chinese dragons in Japan, mixed with vampires, magic and political intrigue.”
Blood of an Exile – Brian Naslund
Blood of an Exile is a unique book in that the author has actually considered how dragons would fit into a realistic ecosystem. Rather than speak myself, Nils from fantasy-hive has kindly allowed me to share part of her interview with the author, Brian Naslund.
“I started Blood of an Exile with a tiny kernel of a story: A hungover guy has to go slay a dragon that day. As I was writing that initial scene, I wanted to make it as realistic as possible (just, you know, with a dragon in it). That perspective kept me focused on the gritty details of my action sequences, but it also got me thinking about the role dragons would play in the world, if they were real. This is what really sparked the idea for the larger world.I wasn’t super interested in mythical dragons who guard treasure and speak in riddles. I wanted them to be these massive and dangerous animals. Apex predators. That would mean they’d have a critical role in the ecosystems in which they live. And, keeping with the realism, most megafauna have been historically over-hunted by humans. So, I started exploring the implications of removing apex predators from environments, which is quite damaging.”Brian Naslund, interviewed by Nils Shukla for The Fantasy Hive
You can find the full interview and loads more content over at The Fantasy Hive!
The Court of Broken Knives – Anna Smith Spark
“I love the dragon from the opening of @queenofgrimdark THE COURT OF BROKEN KNIVES. It’s so savage.”
The Eyes of the Dragon – Stephen King
The King is dead, murdered by an unusual poison. Located in the same world as his Dark Tower series, King’s 1984 foray into epic fantasy gave us The Eyes of the Dragon. The casual input into the story by the narrator gives the book a different feel to most, but of course there are still dragons and heroic adventure.
“It was one of the very first fantasy books I read. As a kid, I remember being enveloped by that world. It set off a lifelong love of King.”
Flight of the Darkstar Dragon – Benedict Patrick
A skyship travelling between worlds becomes stranded in the Darkstar Dimension – home to a hungry dragon the size of a country…
How to Train Your Dragon – Cressida Cowell
The book series that sparked the massively popular DreamWorks film series. The series consists of 12 books for all ages featuring magic, dragons, Vikings and epic adventure.
The Draconis Memoria Trilogy – Anthony Ryan
‘A fascinating world packed with dragons, pirates, political machinations and an interesting magic system to boot’ Fantasy Faction
In the Vanisher’s Palace – Aliette De Bodard
This book has got to be pretty unique just for the fact it features a gay dragon! This is a dark retelling of Beauty and the Beast, featuring the dragon Vu Côn who has bought indebted failed scholar Yên and taken her back to her prison-palace. A shorter read at 145 pages.
A Song of Ice and Fire – George R. R. Martin
The books that started the Game of Thrones series – Daenerys Targaryen and her three growing dragons fight to take back her birthright, the Iron Throne of Westeros. Obstacles aplenty stand in the way for a young dragon queen.
The Dragonlance Chronicles – Margaret Weis & Tracy Hickman
“The dragons in the Dragonlance Chronicles are the perfect representation of everything I love about dragons: they’re fierce, but also cunning; strong and animalistic, but also smart and able to reason and even set traps. They might work with humans from time to time, but they’re no one’s pet. They’re majestic and terrifying, and each dragon encountered in the Dragonlance world (and there are many) has its own unique personality.”
The Obsidian Chronicles – Lawrence Watt-Evans
“The thing that separates this series for me from other fantasy tales involving dragons is that it uses the dragon mythos on a couple of different levels. Yes there are evil dragons that play a big part in the series, but there is also a human faction who form a cult that worship the dragons and carry out unspeakable crimes against the populace in their name. So there are in essence two antagonists – the dragons and the dragon cult. It’s a very original concept that makes this my favorite dragon-based fantasy series. Plus Lawrence Watt-Evans is such a favorite author of mine and tells the story in an absolutely masterful way.”
Temeraire (His Majesty’s Dragon) – Naomi Novik
Dragons during the Napoleonic Wars!
“His Majesty’s Dragons by Naomi Novik combines three of my most favorite things: Dragons, aerial combat and history. It is exciting and enthralling. I can never put down one of her books until it is done.”
Seraphina – Rachel Hartman
A YA murder investigation novel set in a world of dragons who can fold themselves into human form
“Next to the interesting world building, my favorite part of the novel Seraphina would have to be the unique portrayal of Dragons. Hartman’s dragons are cold and intellectual, not feral and animal-like and this adds considerable scope to a dragon story that can get otherwise overly clichéd.”
That rounds up your dragon training, you survived! Thanks for reading and I hope you were able to find something you’re excited to read! Any further suggestions, comments or discussion feel free to comment or tweet me @blogspells!
Title image with thanks from the brilliant @bajan_art, bajanoski.deviantart.com, FB.com/bajanart