Thursday, April 21, 2011

The Dragon Book

ed. by Jack Dann and Gardner Dozois

Grade: Good

"Dragon's Deep": I didn't really like it. People who I liked and thought were good turned out to be quite wicked. And there was a weird part that disturbed me.
"Vici": Naomi Novik is a good writer, I think. Her novels which I didn't finish were not left unfinished because they weren't good. I think they just weren't my type of book, and I didn't really like any of the characters. This was the same, except that I liked it much more because it was so short. I didn't have time to get tired of not liking the characters.
"Bob Choi's Last Job": Wow, I love Jonathan Stroud. This story could so easily be a splendid and wholly original novel, or series of novels. That is one great problem with short stories--they are so short. Sometimes it works perfectly, and you get something which is just clever and contained and awesome. But then you get stories like this. I really wished there was more of this. He is so good at creepy and strange and original.
"Are You Afflicted with Dragons?": Awesome, funny, and I loved the ending.
"The Tsar's Dragons": Meh. Not my favourite. Partly because none of the characters were at all likable.
"The Dragon of Direfell": I liked the twist on this one, even thought it wasn't totally unforeseeable. And I liked all the characters too. I would quite like a novel set in this world, hopefully with the return of Lord Cygne. Or the new Lady Porthlois. She was great.
"Oakland Dragon Blues": Really good, and somewhat meta, which I love. I have to check out Peter S. Beagle now.
"Humane Killer": I skipped this one. It seemed like most of the bad guys were Christians, and I didn't feel like having to go through that. Maybe I was wrong, but it didn't grab me right away anyway, so I thought I wouldn't bother.
"Stop!": Great and original, as Garth Nix always is.
"Ungentle Fire": I really liked this one, especially the imagery of the dragon made of web spanning the canyon.
"A Stark and Wormy Knight": I didn't love this one. It was supposed to be funny, I think, but I didn't find it so. Mostly just annoying.
"None So Blind": Good. I don't really have anything else to say.
"JoBoy": DWJ is always one of the most original and enjoyable story tellers in any collection, and this story was no exception. She always has such clever ways of tying her magic into the real world.
"Puz_le": I loved this one. It was strange and clever. Gregory Maguire's other books are like this too, from what I remember. But there were things that made me dislike his novels which couldn't really be present in a short story. (Somewhat similarly to the Naomi Novik story.) I wished it were a bit longer, though. I'm afraid I didn't quite understand completely what was going on. Who exactly was the bad guy here? Was it her mother or the dragon? Maybe there wasn't supposed to be a bad guy at all. I think I probably didn't understand it because I'm tired and was trying to finish this far too quickly.
"After the Third Kiss": There was a part on page 305 which says this:

                          'I think often on a passage the fat priest in the little chapel used to cite to us: "The sins of the fathers shall be visited upon the sons."
                          'I always hated those lines, thinking it deeply unfair that God would punish children for the actions of their parents. But now, finally, I think I understand. The verse does not speak of what God will do, but rather of how the world works. For when you do evil, when you create pain, at the same time you create an enemy. And not just one enemy; you make an enemy of all those who loved the one to whom you gave the pain.'

It reminds me of how M. H. described this concept to C. S. one Thursday evening. C. seemed to understand all of a sudden when M. described it this way. It still doesn't quite make sense to me, but that's ok.
This wasn't my favourite, but it turned out well in the end, and I liked that.
"The War That Winter Is": I didn't like the ending of this one. What about all the people being killed all the time? They're just left to die forever more?
"The Dragon's Tale": Well, it's Tamora Pierce. It's going to be well written and easy to read and amusing. I don't know how much being familiar with the world would have helped, but I certainly enjoyed it without being familiar with the characters like Daine and Numair.
"Dragon Storm": Good enough. I don't have much to say about this one either.
"The Dragaman's Bride": It was probably very good, but it didn't do much for me. It was too strange.

Well, all in all a good set. "Bob Choi's Last Job" was my favourite, but "Are You Afflicted with Dragons?", "The Dragon of Direfell", "Oakland Dragon Blues", "Ungentle Fire", "JoBoy", and "Puz_le" were also really great. And even the ones I didn't like so much were still pretty enjoyable and easy to read.

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