The Book of Dragons by Jonathan Strahan

lenahe's review

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adventurous emotional inspiring reflective


This is a high quality anthology of shorts stories, where only two or three weren't really to my taste.
The dragons and stories on it are diverse and compelling, made me laugh and also gave me grief. 

nicolemhill's review against another edition

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As with most anthologies for me, I loved some stories here, liked others and was ambivalent toward the rest. But together, they show the breadth of dragon stories and mythos.

The absolute standout for me was Kate Elliott's "The Long Walk," which was so good I feel compelled to pick up all of her books immediately. Other favorites were from Sarah Gailey, Zen Cho, Elle Katharine White, Seanan McGuire and Brooke Bolander.

If you like fantasy and you're interested by dragons, there's surely something for you here. The author lineup is impressive, and style and form run the gamut.

bookswithbets's review against another edition

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adventurous fast-paced
  • Plot- or character-driven? A mix
  • Strong character development? Yes
  • Loveable characters? Yes
  • Diverse cast of characters? Yes
  • Flaws of characters a main focus? It's complicated


cardcaptorkat's review against another edition

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adventurous dark emotional mysterious tense medium-paced
  • Plot- or character-driven? A mix
  • Strong character development? N/A
  • Loveable characters? N/A
  • Diverse cast of characters? Yes
  • Flaws of characters a main focus? N/A


flaminggecko's review against another edition

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Library queue 

emiann2023's review against another edition

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I think the thing I hate most about anthologies is that I often wish the stories in them were not actually short stories, but full-fledged tales of their own

I am only really familiar with the work of R. F. Kuang and Garth Nix, but I was impressed with the range and depth of stories overall.

aidnoah's review against another edition

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Some of it was enjoyable. Some of it was not. Writing styles were all wildly varied and different, just like the ideas. But I guess that’s why it took me half a year to finish it.

chibs86's review against another edition

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adventurous funny lighthearted relaxing tense fast-paced
  • Plot- or character-driven? N/A
  • Strong character development? N/A
  • Loveable characters? It's complicated
  • Diverse cast of characters? Yes
  • Flaws of characters a main focus? N/A


soumwise's review against another edition

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I enjoyed the vast majority of stories in this anthology. It’s a delightful mix of science fiction and fantasy in the form of both prose and poems.

What prompted me to read this collection - aside from the obvious appeal of dragons- is that there were a lot of contributing authors that I haven’t read yet and these stories gave me a quick peek in what I could expect from them. The most outstanding stories in this collection to me were:
- ‘The Nine Curves River’ by R.F. Kuang,
- ‘Habitat’ by K. J. Parker,
- ‘Lucky’s Dragon’ by Kelly Barnhill,
- ‘The Long Walk’ by Kate Elliott
- ‘We Continue’ by Ann Leckie and Rachel Swirsky

That doesn’t mean there weren’t other 5-star gems in here. The quality of the stories varies a fair bit so I’ll post a short review of each individual story (minor spoilers only).

What Heroism Tells Us us - Janet Yolen ★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆

A short, crisp poem to start off the book. The presence of a dragon is only implied, which I think was quite well done.

Matriculation - Elle Katharine White ★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆

The worldbuilding really stood out to me in this story; the lively commerce street and the way blood is a tradeable resource were very interesting. It was also nice to see a dragon in the form of a robotic vehicle rather than a live one.
However I felt that the plot was quite basic. Though the premise of the story is touching, there isn’t much that really happens, no twist or big reveal despite quite a bit of buildup in the first few scenes. There is one little reveal towards the end which however felt like a direct copy from Hitchcock’s Psycho to me.
But I’m still kind of in love with this world.

Hikayat Sri Bujang, or, The Tale of the Naga Sage - Zen Cho ★ ★ ★ ★ ☆

I was happy to see a nāga represented in the wide array of dragons included in this book! The family dynamics in this story felt very tangible and real and overall the story draws you in quite a bit. The journey and arc of the main character is an interesting one. I just have one gripe and that’s that the story could also have been about humans entirely; instead, it was about a group of nāgas. The role of the speculative elements were therefore a bit unclear to me.

Yuli - Daniel Abraham ★ ★ ☆ ☆ ☆

Though the backstory of Yuli was quite promising and enticingly written, I had no idea what the conclusion of the story meant or what the parallel story about the dragon had to do with it.

A Whisper of Blue - Ken Liu ★ ★ ★ ★ ☆

I loved the extensive economic system built on dragons that this story alluded to; i’d love to read a bigger story within it! I picked up book 1 of the Dandelion Dynasty because of this story.

Nidhog - Jo Walton ★ ★ ☆ ☆ ☆

An easy to read poem about a dragon from Norse mythology.

Where The River Turns to Concrete - Brooke Bolander ★ ★ ★ ★ ★

A touching story of a man trying to protect two people he loves. Beautifully written, had me on the edge of my seat.

Habitat - K.J. Parker ★ ★ ★ ★ ★

The voice is so strong in this one! It really feels like the narrating character is talking to the reader. His digressing talk is cleverly incorporated in order for us to learn more about him and the backstory to the plot. The twist at the end is marvelous. I’ll definitely be checking out more from KJ Parker.

Pox - Ellen Klages ★ ★ ☆ ☆ ☆

I couldn’t bring myself to enjoy this one although it’s not badly written. It’s just that the whole ‘Chinatown experience’ rang rather hollow for me because it was rather full of exoticism. I can understand that this was how Chinatown was perceived by some in the sixties but it still felt a little uncomfortable reading it in the present time. The link with the dragon in this story is also very minimal which makes me wonder why it was included in this anthology.

The Nine Curves River - R. F. Kuang ★ ★ ★ ★ ★

Well, this one just straight up had me in tears. Beautifully and sensitively weaves together a theme known in mythology and folklore (=regularly sacrificing a number of humans to a monster in order to keep its belly filled and preventing it from destroying everything) with a complicated relationship between two sisters. Has plenty of twists too to keep the reader interested.

Lucky’s Dragon - Kelly Barnhill ★ ★ ★ ★ ★

I really liked the playful imagination in this story which ended up running deeper than I thought towards the end. What the dragon in this story represents and how that was explained near the end was beautiful and full of wisdom.

I Make Myself A Dragon - Beth Cato ★ ★ ★ ★ ☆

Beautiful poem, equating dragons with the human soul.

The Exile - JY Yang ★ ★ ★ ★ ☆

I was pretty amazed by the ‘soft scifi’ world this story presented which makes for a beautiful but futuristic world. The story is touching and melancholic. I feel like if there would have been a bit more foreshadowing of what happens in this end I’d have given it a full 5 stars.

Except on Saturdays - Peter S. Beagle ★ ★ ☆ ☆ ☆

A modern day take on the medieval myth of Melusine. There wasn’t too much to the plot or story, imo, apart from having Melusine exist in a North American setting.

La Vitesse - Kelly Robson ★ ★ ☆ ☆ ☆

The whole story felt like a remake of the movie Speed. Though a fairly enjoyable read, I couldn’t help but think there wasn’t much originality to it.

A Final Knight To Her Love And Foe - Amal El-Mohtar ★ ★ ★ ★ ☆

A beautiful ode from a knight who, despite having to kill a dragon, has deep respect and love for her.

The Long Walk - Kate Elliott ★ ★ ★ ★ ★

Absolutely loved this story of a strong-headed, enterprising old lady who holds her own on a path where she faces horrible oppression and sexism.
This story is furthermore a fantastic example of how suspension of disbelief works. The worldbuilding is stunning, but moreover just feels very real because it’s interwoven so well with the story and the main character’s experiences. The world itself is fantasy but it takes a serious problem from our real world and reimagines it for the parameters of this fantasy world, which makes everything so believable and relatable. Minor gripe; the ending felt a bit sudden.

Cut Me Another Quill, Mister Fitz - Garth Nix

I couldn’t really keep my attention going for this one.

Hoard - Seanan McGuire ★ ★ ☆ ☆ ☆

I felt like the fact that the main character is actually a dragon was so clear from almost the very beginning that there wasn’t really any reveal to this story. The idea of what its hoard really consists of was quite original though.

The Wyrm of Lirr - C.S.E. Cooney ★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆

An interesting poem that cleverly uses the makeup of sentence length to create the image of dragons.

The Last Hunt - Aliette de Bodard

I couldn’t really understand this one - but it’s probably on me for not having read more work beforehand in the world this story is set in.

We Continue - Ann Leckie and Rachel Swirsky ★ ★ ★ ★ ★

This world and the function of dragons within it is very original and gripping. The rise-and-fall theme driving it was very moving.

Small Bird’s Plea - Todd McCaffrey ★ ★ ☆ ☆ ☆

I couldn’t really get into this one because of the child-like tone of the story - even though I understand that’s probably because the protagonist is a child.

The Dragons - Theodora Goss ★ ★ ★ ★ ☆

This poem paints a beautiful picture indeed - I immediately itched to get my paints out!

Dragon Slayer - Michael Swanwick ★ ★ ★ ★ ☆

I really liked the fable-like tone of this story and Olav is one of those rugged, flawed character archetypes that grow on you very quickly. Loved the time travel aspect in it too.

Camouflage- Patricia A. McKillip ★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆

An interesting world with a cool timetravel/teleporting element to it, but I feel like not too much really happened in it apart from the main character discovering the other realm and the dragons in it.

We Don’t Talk About the Dragon - Sarah Gailey ★ ★ ★ ★ ★

This story was equal parts scary and beautiful, about a girl overcoming her abusive parents. I feel like maybe the dragon in the barn that no one is supposed to talk about may be a symbol for abuse itself, which I think is a great example of how symbolism can be used in fantasy.

Maybe Just Go Up There And Talk To It - Scott Lynch ★ ★ ★ ★ ★

This was such an exciting read with such vivid descriptions, I could literally picture all the giant dragons in it. And I gotaa love alternative history with dragons in it, of course.

A Nice Cuppa - Janet Yolen ★ ★ ★ ★ ☆

A closing poem about dragons with a nice twist at the end of it.

fbarros's review against another edition

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adventurous hopeful inspiring mysterious medium-paced
  • Plot- or character-driven? Plot
  • Strong character development? No
  • Loveable characters? It's complicated
  • Diverse cast of characters? Yes
  • Flaws of characters a main focus? It's complicated


The Book of Dragons is a collection that masterfully transported me into the captivating realm of dragons through its compelling short story format. With each tale, the book skillfully weaves intricate narratives that not only entertain but also kindle the imagination, making me yearn for these majestic creatures that have long fascinated human minds.

While reading, I found myself confronted with a realization: my predilection for high fantasy and classic fantasy settings, as opposed to modern ones. 

Among the array of captivating stories, several left an indelible mark on my imagination. "Matriculation" ;"Habitat" ; "The Nine Curves River"; "The Long Walk" ; "Cut Me Another Quill, Mister Fitz" and "Dragon Slayer" harked back to the classic tales of heroism, adventure and resilience.

Adding to the enchantment are the mystical illustrations that accompany the stories. These art pieces breathe life into the word capturing the essence of these mythical tales, enhancing the overall reading experience and making the book a treasure trove of both literary and visual delight.