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Tooth and Claw Paperback – January 6, 2009
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From Publishers Weekly
Dragons ritually eat dragons in order to gain strength and power in Walton's enthralling new fantasy (after 2002's The Prize in the Game), set amid a hierarchical society that includes a noble ruling class, an established church, servants and retainers. On the death of the dragon Bon Agornin, his parson son Penn, one of five siblings (two male and three female), declares, "We must now partake of his remains, that we might grow strong with his strength, remembering him always." But Bon's greedy son-in-law, Illustrious Daverak, consumes more than his fair share of the departed dragon, setting off a chain of unexpected and, at times, calamitous events for each sibling. Avan, the younger son, decides to litigate for compensation. One unmarried daughter, on moving in with the married sister and Daverak, discovers a house filled with injustice, while the other unmarried daughter goes off with Penn and falls in love. Full of political intrigue and romance, this provocative read sets the stage for further adventures in a world that, as the author admits in her prefatory note, "owes a lot to Anthony Trollope's Framley Parsonage." FYI: In 2002, Walton received a John W. Campbell Award for Best New Writer.
Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
Walton says this book is "the result of wondering what a world would be like if the axioms of the sentimental Victorian novel were inescapable laws of biology." It is also something truly different in the line of the novel. After a father dies, his children must deal with the circumstances of his death. One son, a parson, agonizes over his sire's deathbed confession. Another starts a court case to gain the inheritance. One daughter must choose between her family of origin and her husband. Another falls in love, but her course does not run smoothly thereafter. So what's different about all that? Well, everyone in the story is a dragon, and in their society, children eat their deceased parents, and the stronger eat the weaker, for only by eating the flesh of its kind can a dragon achieve full strength and power. So therein lies the difference, and the distinction of a little masterpiece of originality. Frieda Murray
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
Top customer reviews
I had the feeling that Walton may have been pondering the rigid code of the English upper classes that Austen's world wears like a corset, and have had the sudden flash of inspiration that it would make more sense if the species living by it were not human.
Imagine a society where a young woman's "purity" was the prime requirement for respectability, and therefore young women are sheltered and cloistered and hedged about with restrictions -- and now imagine that a maiden's loss of purity is a matter of emotions, not physicality, a biochemical process that shows up in a dramatic change to the color of her skin.
Imagine a society where male aggression is carefully channeled into legal forms, but treated as inevitable -- and now imagine that males are actually carnivorous predators built for lethal combat. Imagine a society where the greatest desire of a man's life is to leave his children and estate well-provided for -- and now imagine a society where sleep and healing are dramatically improved by sleeping upon gold, where the only way for a member of society to grow into their full size and strength is by consuming the flesh of other members of society, and where droit de seigneur is not ravishing maidens, but culling and eating the weak of one's demesne. Inheritance and greed suddenly take on a whole new meaning!
Walton has produced such an impeccable dragon justification, such a perfect dragon fit, for the norms of Regency society, it's almost as if the human version of them had been blindly copied from dragons. If you enjoy Austen and the more substantial Regency novels, if you enjoy dragons, or steampunk, or just good SF world-building... you'll enjoy this unforgettable novel.
The writing is very formal, with a 19th century feeling to it. The society Walton writes about is the same: very formal and stilted. The story has a Pride and Prejudice or Sense and Sensibility feel to it, with dragons falling in love with those not of their class. There's some amusing bedroom humor to it. It rather reads like a farce or spoof, and it's so well done; it's really quite captivating to read, and I found myself struggling to stay awake because I didn't want to put it down.
I'm not sure who I would recommend this to because I think it would have a specialized audience, but it's definitely worth reading.
This novel is obviously derivative, but "counter books" are all the rage just now. And it's fun, funny, and thought-provoking. If dragons were sentient and had to co-exist with humans (Yarges), what would the world look like? What if a maiden had to marry as soon as she brushed up against a male dragon and turned pink? Yikes!
While Jo Walton's other novels don't suit my tastes, this one was more than enjoyable.
It is Pride and Prejudice in an England inhabited by Dragons. Fire breathing, gold hoarding, eat each other and perfectly civilized dragons. With Catholic and Episcopal churches for Dragons.
It is completely true to the style, the pacing, the plotting of Pride and Prejudice without cloning the book. I found myself admiring the book, even if I had to skip to the end in order to finish it.
As it usually happens with all the great authors, it seems to be done effortless, like she is mostly amusing herself with a little hobby, and by the time you finish the book something very close to magic has happened and it took you entirely by surprise.
In this books Walton takes over the Victorian novel and wonders what would happen if instead of tradition and lack of imagination what defined people's different situations in life was rooted in and explained by nature. And let's do it with dragons.
So women don't have claws and the lost of their virtue is easily seen by anybody by the change in the colour of their scales. Big dragons eat small dragons, quite literally, and we get Pride and Prejudice with dragons (I know Jean Austen is not victorian). I must say, considering that I have read Pride, Prejudice and Zombies, Tooth and Claw is by very far the more amusing and clever book.
I didn't particularly fell in love with any of the characters so it's not going to my all time favorites's shelve, but that is on me, not on the book.
Most recent customer reviews
But this was Pride and Prejudice with dragons and I never enjoyed Pride and Prejudice. Not even with zombies.Read more