Dragons in fantasy literature
The dragon first appeared in literature thousands of years ago, with the Book of Job being one of the earliest recorded instances. As the 19th century drew to a close Lewis Carroll's Jabberwocky in Through the Looking-Glass (1871) and Kenneth Grahame The Reluctant Dragon (1898) brought the scaled, reptilian back into favour. And then, in 1937, one JRR Tolkien wrote a children’s book called The Hobbit, which featured an especially greedy and cunning dragon called Smaug and the professor’s great friend CS Lewis featured an elderly, unnamed dragon in The Voyage of the Dawn Treader (Narnia Chronicles, 1952). Among the best-known books to feature dragons in the last fifty to sixty years have been Ursula Le Guin’s Earthsea Saga (1964-), Anne McCaffrey’s Dragonriders of Pern series (1966), Michael Ende’s The Neverending Story (1979), RA Salvatore’s Forgotten Realms novels (1988–present), Robin Hobb’s Realm of the Elderlings series (1995), George RR Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire series (1996–present), JK Rowling’s Harry Potter series (1997–2007), Christopher Golden’s Strangewood (1999), Christopher Paolini The Inheritance Cycle (2002-) and Naomi Novik’s Temeraire series (2006-).
- The Liveship Traders by Robin Hobb
Wizardwood, a sentient wood. The most precious commodity in the world. Like many other legendary wares, it comes only from the Rain River Wilds. But how can one trade with the Rain River Traders when only a liveship, fashioned from wizardwood, can negotiate the perilous waters of the Rain River? A liveship is a difficult ship to come by. Rare and valuable, it will quicken only when three family members, from succesive generations, have died on board. The liveship Vivacia is about to undergo her quickening, as Althea Vestrit's father is carried to her deck in his death-throes. Althea waits with awe and anticipation for the ship that she loves more than anything in the world to awaken. Only to find that her family has other plans for her... And dark, charming Kennit, aspiring pirate king, also lusts after such a ship: he well knows the power of wizardwood, and has plans of his own...
"Hobb is one of the great modern fantasy writers! what makes her novels as addictive as morphine is not just their imaginative brilliance but the way her characters are compromised and manipulated by politics." The Times
"The Liveship Traders trilogy has it all - intricate plot, realistic characters and a sense of magic." Fantasy Book Review
Our reviews of the books that make up the The Liveship Traders trilogy:
- The Farseer Trilogy by Robin Hobb
A glorious classic fantasy combining the magic of Ursula Le Guin's The Wizard of Earthsea with the epic Mastery of Tolkien's The Lord of the Rings. Now reissued in gorgeous new livery. Fitz is a royal bastard, cast out into the world with only his magical link with animals for solace and companionship. But When Fitz is adopted into the royal household, he must give up his old ways and learn a new life; weaponry, scribing, courtly manners; and how to kill a man secretly. Meanwhile, raiders ravage the coasts, leaving people soulless. As Fitz grows towards manhood, he will have to face his first terrifying mission, a task that poses as much risk to himself as it does to his target: for Fitz is a threat to the throne ! but he may also be the key to the future of the kingdom.
"Hobb is one of the great modern fantasy writers ! what makes her novels as addictive as morphine is not just their imaginative brilliance but the way her characters are compromised and manipulated by politics." The Times
"The Farseer Trilogy weighs in at over 2,000 pages and is a rewarding and immensely enjoyable read. Not only fans of the fantasy genre could enjoy these books as there is such a large human element to them that they appeal to all. The three books improve upon each other and Assassin's Quest is a perfect conclusion to an absorbing tale." Fantasy Book Review
The Farseer Trilogy consists of:
- The Tawny Man by Robin Hobb
The triumphant conclusion to the tale of the Farseers, in which kingdoms must stand or fall on the beat of a dragons wings, or a Fools heart. A small and sadly untried coterie the old assassin Chade, the serving-boy Thick, Prince Dutiful, and his reluctant Skillmaster, Fitz sail towards the distant island of Aslevjal. There they must fulfil the Narcheskas challenge: to lay the head of the dragon Icefyre, whom legends tell is buried there deep beneath the ice, upon her hearth. Only then can their marriage proceed, and put an end to war between the two kingdoms. Having abandoned the Fool in Buckkeep, Fitz is guilt-stricken; but determined to keep the fate of his beloved friend at bay, since prophecy foretells the Fools death if he ever sets foot on the isle of the black dragon. But as their ship draws in towards Aslevjal a lone figure awaits them .
"Robin Hobb writes achingly well" SFX
"Three wonderful books, three wonderful series, three cheers for Robin Hobb!" Fantasy Book Review
- Eona series by Alison Goodman
Under the harsh regime of an ambitious master, Eon is training to become a Dragoneye - a powerful Lord able to command wind and water to nurture and protect the land. But Eon also harbors a desperate secret - he is in fact a young woman living a dangerous masquerade that, if discovered, will mean certain death. Brought to the attention of the Emperor himself and summoned to the opulent court, Eon is thrust into the heart of a lethal struggle for the Imperial throne. In this new, treacherous world of hidden identities and uneasy alliances, Eon comes face-to-face with a vicious enemy who covets the young Dragoneye's astounding power, and will stop at nothing to make it his own.
"Addictive reading... the climax is gloriously tantalising. Exotic and delightfully compelling." SFX
"Well-written, well-structured and steadily paced, with Goodman deftly balancing the intimate character scenes with the heavier, action-laden ones." Fantasy Book Review
- Sela by Jackie Gamber
Once again Gamber has constructed a novel with care and executed it with precision. With themes as far ranging as deception, prejudice, misunderstanding, redemption and forgiveness this is certain to appeal to children and adults of all ages. Magic!
- The Dragonsdome Chronicles by Lucinda Hare
Quenelda has always had a magical bond with dragons, and her greatest wish is to fly one and fight alongside her father in the war against the hobgoblins. Root, on the other hand, wishes only to avoid the fearsome creatures, so the role of Quenelda's esquire is the last thing he needs.
"Regardless of gender, readers will root for the underdog (a young gnome named Root) and wish they had their very own dragon. Verdict? A battle-dragon of a book!" Fantasy Book Review
- Age of Misrule by Mark Chadbourn
When Jack Churchill and Ruth Gallagher encounter a terrifying, misshapen giant beneath a London bridge they are plunged into a mystery which portends the end of the world as we know it. All over the country, the ancient gods of Celtic myth are returning to the land from which they were banished millennia ago. Following in their footsteps are creatures of folklore: fabulous bests, wonders and dark terrors As technology starts to fail, Jack and Ruth are forced to embark on a desperate quest for four magical items - the last chance for humanity in the face of powers barely comprehended.
"One of the most accomplished new authors to have been published in recent years" Starburst
"The details that Mark Chadbourn puts into the Celtic mythology are fantastic. Ive never really been that keen on Celtic mythology in books in the past, this is the first book where Ive enjoyed going into the details of the old myths. Generally the small details in the book are amazing. You feel as if hes walked every path, and driven every road that the characters have travelled upon. It all helps to make the book feel that bit more authentic than the average story." Fantasy Book Review
- Wyrmeweald by Paul Stewart and Chris Riddell
Young pioneer, Micah, enters Wrymeweald full of hope to return home having made his fortune. But this is a land where wyrmes, fabulous dragon-like beasts, roam wild and reign supreme. In Wyrmeweald man is both hunter and hunted - and seventeen-year-old Micah may never return alive, let alone a hero...After a near-brush with death on the edge of a canyon, Micah soon finds a chance to prove his worth when he meets with Eli, a veteran tracker of Wrymeweald. They choose to defend a rare whitewyrme egg and its precious hatchling before it falls into the hands of a band of evil Kith. But the fledgling wyrme has its own guardian in the shape of the beautiful, brave and dangerous Thrace. Thrace, a Kin and a highly-skilled wyrme rider-assassin; and Micah, a would-be Kith, should never mix - but the magnetism between them is strong. Together they join forces on a mission to rescue the hatchling and seek vengeance for loved-ones lost at the hand of Kith bandits. Meanwhile the glorious whitewyrme colony of Wyrmeweald looks on as its land is encroached by gold-diggers and ravaged by bounty hunters. Is Exodus the only option? And if so, when - and where - will they flee too?
"Wyrmeweald is fantastic: absorbing, stirring and intelligently written... everything you could possibly want from a fantasy book." Fantasy Book Review
- The Written by Ben Galley
His name is Farden. They whisper that hes dangerous. Dangerous is only the half of it. Something has gone missing from the libraries of Arfell. Something very old, and something very powerful. Five scholars are now dead, a country is once again on the brink of war, and the magick council is running out of time and options. Entangled in a web of lies and politics and dragged halfway across icy Emaneska and back, Farden must unearth a secret even he doesnt want to know, a secret that will shake the foundations of his world. Dragons, drugs, magick, death, and the deepest of betrayals await.
"I immediately liked this book. I think the word that best describes my initial reading experience would be comfortable. When you read a good fantasy book or a good book from any genre to be honest you are able to relax as soon as you pick it up, safe in the knowledge that you are in capable hands and about to follow a story that is sure to allow an enjoyable escape from the real world whilst you are lost within its pages. Every David Gemmell book did and still does this for me, so did The Written. Ben Galley is not yet as good an author as Gemmell but the thing that I find exciting is that I honestly think that he could be." Fantasy Book Review
- Big Dragons Don’t Cry by CM Barrett
Big Dragons Dont Cry is a tale about a young kitten, Tara, who is conceived to become the Chosen, she who will start The Quest. No-one knows exactly what the Quest entails, but all cats are sure that it is of the upmost importance. The only thing that they know is that humanity has gone too far, and the only thing that can restore the world to balance is this Quest. Humanity has shed the bonds of the physical; they revere Mind and disdain anything emotional. Their purely reasoning minds are denied both love and hate. Because of their lack of compassion they have no qualms about destroying nature. While growing up, Tara is trained to become the Chosen. Shes told to trust her instincts and to remain open to the whispers of the Long-Whiskered One. Along her journey she will meet many species and learn many lessons. Its now up to her to find a way to get through to the clouded minds of the humans...
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