I’m having to do this review in a different way to usual because it was a collection of short stories by various authors, so my usual structure won’t work. Overall, it was an interesting read and some of the stories and their imagination impressed me. I think there were a few too many murdered dragons in it for my liking though – I like them being the good guys! It also created a heavy atmosphere for a lot of the stories because there was so much death. That being said, it was definitely intriguing to see different takes on the legends.
The opening story was very gripping, with the right amount of humour and characterisation of both dragon and man that I look for in fantasy books. It certainly got my hopes up about what the book would bring and I hoped it set the tone. Other than that, Transparency by Alex Albrinck was my favourite. When examining my reasons why, I think it was because of the lack of humans. There were more intricacies to dragon culture than found in the previous stories, plus there was a definite feel of optimism for the future, an element that was lacking in the rest of the book.
Although it feels rude and wrong saying this, my least favourite was probably The Book of Safkhet, Chronicler of the Journey, Mistress of the House of Books. To start with, the title doesn’t make much sense with the rest of the book. But although this story had potential and imagination and even dragons and humans working together, it felt like too much was happening, especially with the time jumps. The random passages from the Bible were also distracting – it didn’t feel there was space for them considering this is only a short story. This one has the potential to be something much longer and it didn’t work shrinking it to something shorter.
I am still new to reading short stories, so there is a strong possibility that I missed the point to some of these stories. Ones such as The Storymaster by Vincent Trigili worked; it was the passing of an era with a dragon story to illustrate it. Everything was concluded by the end and there were no details left out. Quite a few of the others felt like ideas that were too big for the short story form had been condensed and squashed down to a smaller word count rather than the idea working to fit the form.
The amount of negativity in the stories surprised me. Concluding with a death is an effective way of closing a story (even if it felt like a cheat’s way in more than one instance), but there was an extreme amount of death and destruction in a collection of stories about magical creatures. It felt like there should be a more varied collection, with a little positivity introduced.
Overall though, I enjoyed the concept and it opened my eyes to new ways of writing about dragons.