HOOKED ON BOOKS: Imagination takes wing in dragon fiction
Somewhere among the many books featuring dragons, there is sure to be one that will ignite your excitement for reading.
Who doesn’t love dragons? When they’re friendly, they can take you on a thrilling ride. When they’re evil, they create exciting danger. Often as smart as humans, they’re ever so different.
Whether you’re protecting them or protecting yourself from them, a tale (tail?) hangs thereby. Whatever kind of dragon interests you, scratch the surface of dragon fiction and you’ll hit a gusher.
Space only permits a brief mention of some of my favorite dragon books. Keep this list handy to search library catalogs and booksellers’ websites. You can’t be too prepared when a winged fire-breather visits your neighborhood.
- Ann Downer’s “Hatching Magic” introduces a wyvern – a cat-sized dragon – who time-travels from the Middle Ages to the present day to lay an egg, leading to all kinds of magical complications (not to mention violating an apartment building’s no-pets policy).
- In Jasper Fforde’s “The Last Dragonslayer,” Britain’s “ununited kingdoms” are waiting for the last dragon to die so they can claim his territory. Jennifer Strange, a wizard’s apprentice, is tasked with slaying it, but she believes the creature is being framed.
- In Cornelia Funke’s “Dragon Rider,” a dragon flees his valley in Scotland when humans turn it into a reservoir, traveling with a brownie and a homeless boy named Ben. Together, they overcome great dangers through the power of love.
- Rachel Hartman’s “Seraphina” features a girl whose shameful secret is that she’s half dragon. Now the fate of a kingdom depends on her ability to bridge the gap between dragons and humans.
- Sherryl Jordan’s “The Hunting of the Last Dragon” is a love story between a 14th century English swineherd and a Chinese woman, who teaches him courage to face the monster that destroyed his village.
- In Wesley King’s “Dragons vs. Drones,” 12-year-old Marcus pedals his bicycle into a storm and gets sucked into a dimension where dragons and humans have long lived in peace. But now an evil new leader has decided to modernize, waging war against dragons using (you guessed it) drones.
- In George R.R. Martin’s “The Ice Dragon,” a cold little girl named Adara befriends a rare breed of reptile. Together, they join the men and fire-dragons of her country in a desperate stand against an invading army.
- In Obert Skye’s “Pillage,” a troubled kid named Beck learns his newfound family uses dragons to rob their community. His trouble deepens when he realizes he must break a magician’s curse to save his family.
- Jonathan Stroud’s “Buried Fire” depicts an ancient evil awakening beneath a modern-day English village. As 13-year-old Michael falls under its influence, only the love and courage of a few decent people can save him.
- In Vivian Vande Velde’s “Dragon’s Bait,” Alys is condemned by her neighbors and staked out for a dragon to devour. But when the dragon comes, it takes the form of a handsome boy and offers the girl a chance at revenge.
- Patricia C. Wrede’s “Dealing with Dragons” introduces the unconventional Cimorene, who volunteers to be a dragon’s princess and turns fairy-tale conventions upside down.
- In Linda Zinnen’s “The Dragons of Spratt, Ohio,” a misfit boy named Salt and a popular girl named Candi become unlikely allies, protecting a dragon sanctuary against an evil cosmetics researcher obsessed with eternal youth.
- Honorable mentions: See also Kenneth Grahame’s “The Reluctant Dragon,” Jason Hightman’s “The Saint of Dragons,” Anne McCaffrey’s Dragonriders of Pern series, Robin McKinley’s “Dragonhaven,” Brandon Mull’s “Fablehaven: Secrets of the Dragon Sanctuary,” E. Nesbit’s “The Book of Dragons,” Naomi Novik’s Temeraire series and “Uprooted,” Christopher Paolini’s Inheritance series, James Riley’s “The Last Dragon,” Tui T. Sutherland’s Wings of Fire series, Jane Yolen’s Pit Dragon trilogy and Timothy Zahn’s Dragonback series – some of which this column has already reviewed.
Basically, if you like dragons, you’ll never run out of fantastic books to enjoy.