Book Cover
Title The Dragon Quintet
Series ---
Editor Marvin Kaye
Cover Art Bob Eggleton
Publisher Science Fiction Book Club - 2003
First Printing Science Fiction Book Club - 2003
Category Anthology
Warnings None

Main Characters

See below

Main Elements Dragons

  • In the Dragon's House - Orson Scott Card
  • Judgement - Elizabeth Moon
  • Love in a Time of Dragons - Tanith Lee
  • Joust - Mercedes Lackey
  • King Dragon - Michael Swanwick

An abiding presence in myth and literature from around the world, the dragon has been reborn in 20th-century fantasy fiction. The classic winged fire-breathing reptile associated with evil (they do despoil villages, demand virgin sacrifices and hoard stolen treasure in cavernous lairs, after all) tends nowadays to be more disposed to humankind, sometimes aloofly offering magical wisdom, sometimes actively involved in human lives, whether as servants or friends. For this exclusive SFBC anthology - not available in stores - editor Marvin Kaye asked five top fantasy authors to contribute original novellas to this store of dragon lore.

Orson Scott Card - an expert at writing from a child's point of view, as evidenced in his bestselling Ender's War and Ender's Shadow - offers a gothic yarn set in contemporary suburbia. "In the Dragon House" tells about the mysterious dragon that lives in the wiring of an old house, palpable only to a young boy who in dreams shares its body and feels its true size and power. But what does it really want?

Tanith Lee is no stranger to dragons, which appear quite often in her award-winning fantasies. The fable "Love in a Time of Dragons" is imbued with her signature atmopshere - old world, moody, erotic - as a kitchen maid goes a-questing with a handsome champion to slay the local drakkor. But the tale takes a surprising twist...

Elizabeth Moon, author of the popular Esmay Suitza and Heris Serrano series, takes a break from military SF to give us the tale of a young man forced by lies to flee his village...into an adventure of dwarfs and dragonspawn, of trust and widsom, and, ultimately, "Judgement".

Mercedes Lackey, prolific author of the Valdemar saga, writes of a slave boy who is chosen to care for a warrior's dragon. Vetch (and we) will lean much about dragon behaviour...and this special dragon's secrets may be the key to his freedom. (Lackey was so taken by young Vetch that she expanded his adventures into a novel with the same name as this story - "Joust")

Rounding off the collection is Michael Swanwick's "King Dragon," a strange amalgam of 20th-century technology and faery magic, in which the award-winning author invokes a truly sinister and repellant creature - a being with the soul of a beast and the body of a machine - part metal, part devil...all-merciless.

In the Dragon's House - this was a very unusual take on the concept of the dragon, one I didn't quite understand in the end. It was more of a spirit that possessed a house and the people within it, than a physical beast. It wasn't a bad tale, but since I never really got the point it didn't quite work for me. There is a note associated with this story that Card was thinking of turning it into a novel, perhaps that would have helped flesh it out a bit better but I am unable to find any reference to such a book in the 15 years since this story was first published so I guess it never happened. But if you're looking for something rather different from your standard fire-breathing dragon (this one likes to ride lightning) you might enjoy it.

Judgement - Here we have a fantasy setting, where a young man and his father in-law stumble across some unusual stones with crystals inside them which turn out to be dragon eggs which possess most people who come in contact with them. The dragons are here again not your normal kind, being able to take both dragon and human for, as well as being a kind of spiritual creature. The dragons are truly alien in their personality, and yet are aware of the effect of their offspring on the weaker species. I wasn't a huge fan of this one either but again, definitely unique.

Love in a Time of Dragons - The intro made it clear the kind of story this was, and it was indeed on the verge of erotic though there wasn't any actual dragon-on-human sex, but it came prety close. It was a bit too disturbing and dark to be enjoyable, and in fact wasn't the first dragon/human sex I'd encountered (just this January I've been reading Pern, and a short story from a magazine) so it wasn't as unique as it might have otherwise been, but it should definitely be a new take for many other readers. However it had such an unexpected twist that I had to go back and read one section three times (I guess that scene actually got twisted in two different ways)

Joust - is my first foray into Valdemar. Again, because I was reading Pern it had a bit too much of an "Impression" vibe to be unique but it was much more a standard dragon story than the other three and it confirms my desire to one day get around to reading the Valdemar series. Just its massive size has daunted me up till now! And yes, this short story got expanded into the novel Joust.

King Dragon - I've already read The Iron Dragon's Daughter, so the feel of this dystopic fairy world was familiar. The dragons here are magical and mechanical, flown by half-elven pilots as machines of war and exude a dark malevolence. Other characters are equally quirky, with names like Jumping Joan or "The Scissors-Grinder" or Hag Appleseed. Some characters live in abandonned refrigerators, some can fly, most or all can use magic. Unexpectedly, while I found the novel to be so dark that it was too disturbing for comfort, I actually found myself enjoying this story the most out of the five in this collection, and was worth buying just to have this one. In fact the feel I got was a mix of the fairy beings from The Legend and the garbage scene in The Labyrinth, it was those kinds of fey folk.

"In the Dragon's House"
Main Characters: Michael Ringgold
First Published: First publishing
Main Characters: Ker, Tam
First Published: First publishing
"Love in a Time of Dragons"
Main Characters: Graynne
First Published: First publishing
Main Characters: Vetch, Ari
First Published: First publishing
"King Dragon"
Main Characters: Will
First Published: First publishing

Posted: January 2018


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