Here Be Dragons archive at Stray Talk
an archive of my forays into fact and fiction

Archive: Here Be Dragons


30th June, 2008
Here Be Dragons: Challenge wrap-up
— Love @ 20:24 Comments (3)
Filed under: Here Be Dragons

Here Be Dragons It’s the 30th of June and thus ends the Here Be Dragons challenge I’ve been hosting since January. I hope everyone who participated had fun and discovered new (and old!) dragon acquaintances.

Tell me, did you finish the challenge? Which was your favourite book?

My list:

  1. A Strong and Sudden Thaw; RW Day — finished 14th June, 2008
  2. His Majesty’s Dragon; Naomi Novik — finished on 3rd January, 2008
  3. A Game of Thrones; George RR Martin — finished 30th June, 2008
  4. Dragon’s Bait; Vivian Vande Velde — finished on 2nd March, 2008
  5. Throne of Jade; Naomi Novik — finished on 22nd June, 2008

My favourite was A Strong and Sudden Thaw by RW Day, followed closely by the two written by Naomi Novik. I’m definitely going to have to get my hands on the rest of that series (as well as the sequel to ASaST, which I hear is in the works).

I’m going to be visiting all the participants in the next few days to see how you all did. ‘Cause I’m nosy like that. ;D

I’ve already got some half-formed plans for a follow-up challenge, or a repeat challenge.


30th June, 2008
A Game of Thrones; George RR Martin
— Love @ 20:10 Comments (1)
Filed under: C, English, Fantasy, First in a Series, Here Be Dragons

A Game of Thrones; George RR Martin A Game of Thrones
by George RR Martin
American

For the Here Be Dragons and First in a Series reading challenges.

English
837 pages
Bantam Books
ISBN: 987-0-553-57340-4

First line: “We should start back,” Gared urged them as the woods began to grow dark around them.

Back cover blurb:
In a land where summer can last decades and winters a lifetime, trouble is brewing. The cold is returning, and in the frozen wastes to the north of Winterfell, sinister and supernatural forces are massing beyond the kingdom’s protective Wall. At the center of the conflict lie the Starks of Winterfell, a family born as harsh and unyielding as the land they were born to. Sweeping from a land of brutal cold to a distant summertime kingdom of epicurean plenty, here is a tale of lords and ladies, soldiers and sorcerers, assassins and bastards, who come together in a time of grim omens. Amid plots and counterplots, tragedy and betrayal, victory and terror, the fate of the Starks, their allies, and their enemies hangs periously in the balance, as each endeavor to win that deadliest of conflicts: the game of thrones.

Thoughts: I kept pushing back reading this forever, as it’s such a big book. I didn’t use to mind big books—quite the opposite, in fact—but then I got a job and I don’t have as much time for reading as I used to, so I’ve rarely got time to finish big books in one sitting, which is what I prefer to do (example: I read A Suitable Boy by Vikram Seth, which was 1239 pages in the translation I read, in less than two days).

Anyway, I went to London and I needed to have some reading material with me, or I’d go spare, but I also didn’t want to take too much, on account of weight issues and such, so this book got to come along with me. I didn’t finish it there, but I did get about half-way through. And then I finished it today.

For the first couple of hundred pages or so, it was pretty much just confusing. It’s written in third person. However it’s not one person we follow, but at least eight (I probably forgot someone now. It wouldn’t surprise me) and they never have two chapters in a row, which means that it took a while to get to know them.

Once I did, though, things did pick up a little and the story ends up being quite good. I even had a couple of favourite characters (Dany, Eddard, Jon and Tyrion). However, I don’t feel that it was good enough that I’ll likely want to read the rest in the series. Probably not, anyway. I am itching a little to know what happens next, so maybe one day I will end up reading the other books, but right now I doubt it.

It’s a C grade, which means it was a decent read, but not awe-inspiring.


22nd June, 2008
A Strong and Sudden Thaw; RW Day
— Love @ 16:30 Comments (2)
Filed under: A, English, GLBT interest, Here Be Dragons, Romance, Science Fiction

A Strong and Sudden Thaw; RW Day A Strong and Sudden Thaw
by RW Day
American

For the Here Be Dragons reading challenge.

English
333 pages
Iris Print
ISBN: 978-0-9787531-1-5

First line: There’s an old scenic view about halfway up the mountain, alongside where the old highway runs.

Back cover blurb:
Dragons in Virginia?

Nearly a hundred years after the Ice changed the face of our world, the people of Moline work to reclaim the frozen land, both from the cold and from the dragons that now live in the hills outside of town—dragons that the government won’t believe exist.

David Anderson knows very little of the world outside of his family’s farm, until Callan, an assistant healer from the south, arrives in Moline and begins to teach him of a world he never knew, full of books and ideas, and history long forgotten. When Callan is found in the arms of another man—a crime in this post-Ice world—David learns a frightening truth about himself, and the difference between what is legal… and what is right.

After trouble hits the nearby town of Crawford, David and Callan discover the seeds of a plot that affects not only their home, but towns just like Moline across the world. Now they must fight to save their home, not only from the dragons, but from a government that wants them dead!

Thoughts: I loved this novel to tiny little pieces. I was a bit sceptic, because a person, whose taste in books I usually do not agree with at all, liked this a lot, and so I thought that I probably wouldn’t. For this reason, I kept pushing back reading it until I couldn’t really push it back any longer, as the end of the Here Be Dragons challenge came nearer and nearer.

I picked it up one night, read until I couldn’t keep my eyes open a second longer, slept, woke up and read the rest of it. It was that good. I will say that it took me a little while to get used to the language used. David, the main character, might by some be considered a hillbilly/redneck, and he usually doesn’t bother too much about proper grammar when speaking. Don’t let that put you off, however, because once you get used to that, the story is so worth it.

David and Callan’s relationship is absolutely beautiful and heartbreaking at the same time and I simply can’t find proper words to describe why this book is awesome. Just trust me on that.

It’s an A grade. I can’t give it anything else. This is the first book in quite a while where the characters stayed with me for at least a couple of days after I turned the last page, and I immediately wanted to go back and read it again.

The one biggest thing I wasn’t super thrilled about (yeah, there were a few things like that) was the ending. It doesn’t feel at all finished and lots of things are left unresolved. Still, it doesn’t feel like a bad thing, exactly, but more like an opening for a sequel (which I understand is being written/has been written and is waiting for publication).

Edit: It appears that Iris Print, the publisher of this book, has closed down without telling its authors, and that a couple of them has had trouble getting in touch with the publisher and RW Day had a royalty cheque bounce. While I do want a lot of people to read it, I don’t exactly feel comfortable recommending anyone buying it, with things being what they are at present. You can read more about it here, at the author’s website.


22nd June, 2008
Throne of Jade; Naomi Novik
— Love @ 15:52 Comments (0)
Filed under: Adventure, B, English, Fantasy, Here Be Dragons, Historical

Throne of Jade; Naomi NovikThrone of Jade
by Naomi Novik
American

For the Here Be Dragons reading challenge.

English
399 pages
Del Rey
ISBN: 978-0-345-48129-0

First line: The day was unseasonably warm for November, but in some misguided deference to the Chinese embassy, the fire in the Admirality boardroom had been heaped excessively high, and Laurence was standing directly before it.

Back cover blurb:
When Britain intercepted a French ship and its precious cargo—an unhatched dragon’s egg—Capt. Will Laurence of HMS Reliant unexpectedly became master and commander of the noble dragon he named Temeraire. As new recruits in Britain’s Aerial Corps, man and dragon soon proved their mettle in daring combat against Bonaparte’s invading forces.
Now China has discovered that its rare gift, intended for Napoleon, has fallen into British hands—and an angry Chinese delegation vows to reclaim the remarkable beast. But Laurence refuses to cooperate. Facing the gallows for his defiance, the captain has no choice but to accompany Temeraire back to the Far East—a long voyage fraught with peril, intrigue, and the untold terrors of the deep. Yet once the pair reaches the court of the Chinese emperor, even more shocking discoveries and darker dangers await.

Thoughts: I read the first book in this series back in January, then bought the second book in mid-February, but I haven’t got ’round to reading it until know. Don’t ask me why, as I have absolutely no idea.

It’s a really good story. There is adventure and swashbuckling and excitement, and I could hardly put the book down. I adore the main characters (Laurence and Temeraire) and their relationship with each other, as well as the plot that takes them to China. I was a little worried that I’d find the voyage there a little dull, but Novik manages to make eight months at sea quite interesting, by skipping over the parts where nothing much happens. Good on her!

I will definitely get the rest of the books as soon as I can, because this is a series I want to follow to its conclusion. There are already two more books out (possibly three by now, as I do not know the exact publication date for the fifth in the series, except that it was supposed to be sometime in June, which is almost all gone now), which is nice. The only thing is that the two books I own so far are the ones published by Del Rey, and the ones published by Voyager really have so much prettier covers. However, I refuse to mix covers.

As for the rating, it’s a B.


2nd March, 2008
Dragon’s Bait; Vivian Vande Velde
— Love @ 19:36 Comments (3)
Filed under: A-Z Reading Challenge, C, English, Fantasy, Here Be Dragons, Young Adult

Dragon's Bait; Vivian Vande Velde Dragon’s Bait
by Vivian Vande Velde
American

For the Here Be Dragons and A-Z challenges.

English
196 pages
Magic Carpet Books
ISBN: 0-15-216663-7

First line: The day Alys was accused of being a witch started out like any other.

Back cover blurb:
It is going to eat her… All because the villagers in her town think she is a witch and have staked her out on a hillside as a sacrifice.
It’s late, it’s cold, and it’s raining, and Alys can think of only one thing—revenge. But first she’s got to escape, and even if she does, how can one girl possibly take on an entire town alone?
Then the dragon arrives—a dragon that could quite possibly be the perfect ally…

Thoughts: This book was by no means brilliant, but it was good enough to pass an hour or two with. My favourite thing about it is that Alys finds out that maybe revenge isn’t really the best solution to things. A grade of a C seems reasonable enough.1

1. Can you tell I’m really tired? I mean, I know I don’t usually write a lot, and never anything profound, but this quite possibly takes the cake even for me.


3rd January, 2008
His Majesty’s Dragon; Naomi Novik
— Love @ 15:30 Comments (7)
Filed under: A-Z Reading Challenge, B, English, Fantasy, First in a Series, Here Be Dragons, Historical, Seafaring Challenge

His Majesty's Dragon; Naomi Novik His Majesty’s Dragon
by Naomi Novik
American

For the Here Be Dragons, First in a Series, Seafaring and A-Z reading challenges.

English
356 pages
Del Rey
ISBN: 978-0-345-48128-3

First line: The deck of the French ship was slippery with blood, heaving in the choppy sea; a stroke might as easily bring down the man making it as the intended target.

Back cover blurb:
Aerial combat brings a thrilling new dimension to the Napoleonic Wars as valiant warriors rise to Britain’s defense by taking to the skies… not aboard aircraft but atop the mighty backs of fighting dragons.
When HMS Reliant captures a French frigate and seizes its precious cargo, an unhatched dragon egg, fate sweeps Capt. Will Laurence from his seafaring life into the uncertain future—and an unexpected kinship with a most extraordinary creature. Thrust into the rarefied world of the Aerial Corps as master of the dragon Temeraire, he will face a crash course in the daring tactics of airborne battle. For as France’s own dragon-borne forces rally to breach British soil in Bonaparte’s boldest gambit, Laurence and Temeraire must soar into their own baptism of fire.

Thoughts: I really, really liked this book. I’d suspected I might, and thankfully I was not disappointed, as has sometimes been the case (The Eyre Affair springs readily to mind as an example of this). Naomi Novik’s take on the Napoleonic Wars is quite exciting to read and her characters are ones you quickly become exceedingly fond of. The only beef I have with the story is that it’s sometimes a little too fantastic, perhaps. That, and the reactions of the main character to certain things (though, granted, they are perfectly understandable reactions for him to have, as a product of the Regency era. Still, they grated on me a little).

All in all, though, I can say with certainty that I will try to get my paws on the next three books in the series as soon as possible, and that I will also wait with bated breath for June to come around and with it the publishing of the fifth book.

A B rating is nothing if not extremely well-deserved in this case.


3rd January, 2008
Here Be Dragons: Reviews
— Love @ 15:08 Comments (8)
Filed under: Here Be Dragons

Here Be Dragons: A 2008 Reading Challenge Now that 2008 is here, the Here Be Dragons challenge has officially started. I hope you’re all going to enjoy your chosen reading material.

The challenge actually has a few participants other than just myself. Including me, this is the list of readers taking part in the challenge:

(You can still join, should you want to. Sign up post is here.)

Post links to your reviews of challenge books to Mr Linky (this post will be linked to in the sidebar, so always easy to find).

Please post the following in the name box:
name (title of book by author)

An example:
Love (His Majesty’s Dragon by Naomi Novik)

In the URL field, simply insert a direct link to your review.

I know it says Thursday Thirteen, but let’s just ignore that, shall we?


25th December, 2007
Here Be Dragons
— Love @ 17:12 Comments (32)
Filed under: Here Be Dragons

Here Be Dragons What? Read 3-5 books featuring dragons.

When? 1st of January to 30th of June, 2008

Why? I realised that I had a few dragon-related books on my to read-list, decided to challenge myself to read them and figured maybe others would like to join in.

How? Comment on this post with your name and a link to your list and you’re in! Once the challenge has officially begun, I will make a post for reviews and add a link to it in this post. Comment there with links to your challenge book reviews.

Here are a couple of buttons for the challenge (please upload to your own server if using):
Here Be Dragons Here Be Dragons

Book suggestions:

A Wikipedia list of fictional dragons.

A Strong and Sudden Thaw; RW Day The Hobbit; JRR Tolkien Guards! Guards!; Terry Pratchett
Dragonhaven; Robin McKinley Dragonflight; Anne McCaffrey Eragon; Christopher Paolini
Eldest; Christopher Paolini Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone; JK Rowling Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire; JK Rowling
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows

The Pit Dragon trilogy:
Dragon's Blood; Jane Yolen Heart's Blood; Jane Yolen A Sending of Dragons; Jane Yolen

The Farseer trilogy:
Assassin's Apprentice; Robin Hobb Royal Assassin; Robin Hobb Assassin's Quest; Robin Hobb

The Liveship Traders trilogy:
Ship of Magic; Robin Hobb The Mad Ship; Robin Hobb Ship of Destiny; Robin Hobb

The Tawny Man trilogy:
Fool's Errand; Robin Hobb Golden Fool; Robin Hobb Fool's Fate; Robin Hobb

A Song of Ice and Fire:
A Game of Thrones; George RR Martin A Clash of Kings; George RR Martin A Storm of Swords: Steel and Snow; George RR Martin
A Storm of Swords: Blood and Gold; George RR Martin A Feast for Crows; George RR Martin

Temeraire:
Temeraire, or His Majesty's Dragon; Naomi Novik Throne of Jade; Naomi Novik Black Powder War; Naomi Novik
Empire of Ivory; Naomi Novik