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Tooth and Claw

3.81 of 5 stars 3.81  ·  rating details  ·  2,096 ratings  ·  408 reviews
A tale of love, money, and family conflict--among dragons. A family deals with the death of their father. A son goes to court for his inheritance. Another son agonises over his father's deathbed confession. One daughter becomes involved in the abolition movement, while another sacrifices herself for her husband.And everyone in the tale is a dragon, red in tooth and claw.He ...more
Mass Market Paperback, 304 pages
Published December 12th 2004 by Tor Fantasy (first published 2003)
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Community Reviews

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Feb 14, 2011 j rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Janites, Elizabeth
Jo Walton is my new favorite book nerd. She's a huge dork for science-fiction and fantasy, which you know if you read her wonderful retrospective reviews over at She's also clearly a geek for the written word in general, particularly 19th century Victorian-era social novels. And so, in grand "you-got-your-chocolate-in-my-peanut-butter" tradition, she wrote a book that combines them both, recasting a Victorian novel with anthropomorphic dragons.

It's a literary mash-up with the potential
Sherwood Smith
Apr 02, 2015 Sherwood Smith added it
Shelves: fantasy
"She'd like me to bring a dragon home, I suppose. It would serve her right if I did, some creature that would make the house intolerable to her."

This quote, found at the beginning of Tooth and Claw, is from Anthony Trollope's novel Framley Parsonage, published monthly through 1860-1 in Cornhill Magazine, a new periodical aimed at the family market.

Framley Parsonage, for those genre readers who haven't dipped much past the Freshman Lit toehold in the vast ocean of 19th century novels, comes more
Mar 06, 2012 Wealhtheow rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: fans of austen, victorian novels, or novak
Shelves: mannerpunk, fantasy
No longer will I sigh that the Victorians didn't write fantasy: Walton has done it for them! When an old dragon patriarch dies, his relatives gather round to split his treasure—-and devour his body. The plot concerns the ensuing law suit, several love affairs and a growing spirit of revolution, yet each of the characters are well drawn and believable. Walton does an excellent job of mixing a familiar romance plot with politics and the occasional alien aspects of dragon society. She says this nov ...more
I have no real issue with the characters in this book being dragons, but the fact that some of them were described as 60 feet long yet they still went about in carriages (more than one dragon per carriage!) and sat at dinner tables kept causing pretty significant difficulties for my imagination.

It wasn't really helped when they wore hats.

A different species would probably have improved the book. Less cannibalism would have been preferable, too.

I have yet to be disappointed by Jo Walton. In addition to this novel, I've loved the alternate reality of Farthing and its sequels, the pastoral fantasy of Lifelode and the coming of age story of Among Others. All of these novels are distinguished by Walton's intelligent prose, deft characterisation and ability to create strange, yet completely believable fictional worlds.

The premise of this particular work sounds silly: it's written in the style of a Victorian novel, but the characters are dr
People keep referring to this novel as "Jane Austen with dragons" which is misleading . . . it's not Jane Austen, it's Anthony Trollope, as Walton says in the acknowledgements. The difference? Well, for those of you who haven't read Trollope (myself included) this is a Victorian novel, not Regency. In fact, I thought the whole time that it had strong shades of Charles Dickens in it. Family strife, extreme stress on rank and duty, wives giving up their personal preferences in order to support the ...more
I had a vague recollection of not really liking this book as much as Jo Walton's other work. Then I reread it in approximately five seconds flat (well, a little more than that, maybe). As people have noted, my original review called this Austen-esque, whereas Jo makes it clear in the book itself that no, the influence is much more from Trollope. Not that I've read anything by Trollope, and there are aspects here reminiscent of Austen.

Before I write any more about this, let me just pause to be ve
Tooth and Claw is a Jane Austen-ish tale, of maidens with slightly compromised virtue, inheritances, betrothals, law suits... Except, all those involved? They're dragons. I really enjoyed how Jo Walton handled this aspect: she sets up a whole culture for the dragons, with plenty of history in the background -- not detailed so that it drags down the plot, which is very much about the present, but enough to feel real.

I have to confess, when I first started reading it, I didn't get into it very muc
Originally reviewed on The Book Smugglers


Ana's Take

When I first thought about how to I could describe Tooth and Claw in a way that truly conveyed its level of awesomeness, I could only think of: “it’s a Jane Austenesque novel with Dragons. Cannibal Dragons”. On second thought though, although that line does more or less captures the gist of it, it is not quite right. Tooth and Claw is, after all, more Victorian than Regency.

Eating each other is at the centre of this society – it’s wha
Lady Entropy
4.5 Stars

The only single reason why I can't give this a full 5 star is because I can't abide slice of life\comedy of manners books.

That being said, this one was exquisite. The fact that the main protagonists are dragons helps.

Seriously. Especially after the typical "Old battle axe protective mother" enters the book, and I couldn't but help myself from hearing her speak in Maggie Smith's voice. Suddenly, I had Downton Abbey with Dragons and I couldn't stop reading.

As all other reviewers had said
Jeff Miller
I picked this book up since it was on sale for $2.99 as an ebook and the plot of a Victorian age novel with all characters as Dragons intrigued me.

Often a great idea does not meet the execution of it. Not so in this case. A thoroughly enjoyable novel that takes the idea of a Victorian romance with Dragons and, ahem, flies with it. The added ideas of Dragons growing by eating their dead kin and a unique Bridal brush really sells the plot and gives it such dimension. The class consciousness of the
After having read a handful of reviews, I feel that I must shout, "IT'S NOT JANE AUSTEN. IT'S TROLLOPE. IT'S NOT REGENCY. IT'S VICTORIAN." Now that's out of the way . . .
I'm giving this book 4 stars because it is well-written (although the author does need to learn to use the word "whom" if she is going to be writing in the 19th century style) and does what it sets out to do, which is to write a sci-fi novel in the style of Trollope, with dragons as main characters.
I'd only give it 3 stars for
This would be a rather ordinary Victorian-era romantic novel, except that it features dragons instead of people. Dragons wearing hats and riding in carriages. Bachelor dragons worrying about their investments and being frustrated by their in-laws. Maiden dragons fending off improper proposals and worrying whether their dowry is sufficient to attract a good husband.

It was wonderfully weird. The author did a great job of paralleling human mores and yet making the story sufficiently dragoney.

I don’
Once you get past the utterly boring first 40 pages or so, this story takes flight. Like Sense and Sensibility but with dragons! I found myself far more interested than I initially thought I would be. Definitely different.
Pauline Ross
Fantasy Review Barn

So having read (and loved) the very weird 'Among Others', I went straight on to read another of Jo Walton's books, which is, if that's possible, even weirder. Imagine a Victorian melodrama, complete with disgraced virgins, wives who die in childbirth, a rigidly structured class system with hints of radical reform, and a focus on proper behaviour and keeping up appearances. And now imagine it populated with dragons, and there you have 'Tooth and Claw'.

This is one of those off-t
Althea Ann
Do you think that the concept of reading a Victorian novel where all the characters just happen to be dragons sounds like the most clever thing you've heard since last season? Well then, this book is for you.
I picked this up since Walton just won the Nebula, and I realized I'd never read anything by her. I thought I had, but realized that was Clayton, Jo, not Walton, Jo. (I do that a lot.) Very different authors. 'Tooth and Claw' won both the World Fantasy and the Campbell awards. It is a very w
I would like to time-travel and give this book to my nine-year-old self and see what she would have made of it. I was obsessed with the dragons in Patricia C. Wrede's Enchanted Forest Chronicles then -- I loved the idea of a dragon society where the dragons weren't monsters (even though they could eat humans) and had ordinary social interactions.

But I hadn't yet read any Victorian novels, so I would have taken everything quite simply. Maybe it's necessary to have a fondly-vexed relationship with
Tasha Robinson
This novel is ridiculous and amazing and delightful. It's essentially a Victorian romance, in Anthony Trollope mode, with characters disputing over inheritances and dowries, and falling in love and navigating betrothals, and dealing with social classes and snobbery, and attending balls and making polite conversation, and so forth and so on. It's just that all the characters… are dragons.

Jo Walton neatly lays out a dragon biology, then builds a fussy but functional Victorian society around it, th
Emma Deplores Goodreads Censorship
This novel has an unusual premise--a quasi-Victorian tale of love, money, and a lawsuit over an inheritance, in which all the characters are dragons--and if you like both fantasy and comedies of manners, and are entertained by the thought of combining the two, you will probably like Tooth and Claw. It’s a short book--only 253 pages in hardcover--but manages to contain an engaging and satisfying story of five dragon siblings trying to make their way in the world.

The best thing about this book is
When we read novels that are set in Victorian, or indeed Regency, times, one of the main tenets seems to be the social structure and the almost impossibility of climbing from one part of the structure to another. For those who do manage to work hard and become wealthy, they may marry someone of higher status but it will never really be forgotten that they are not really quality. There are strict rules relating to inheritance, the church can and does rule the lives of the people and to live outsi ...more
Harry Rutherford
This is a genuinely odd book. It's basically a C19th family drama: a wealthy country landowner dies, leaving his children to establish themselves, and particularly his two unmarried daughters needing to find husbands. He also has two sons, a parson and a civil servant, and a daughter who is already married to a wealthy but cruel nobleman. There's a bit of a dispute over his inheritance.

But they are all dragons. With weird dragon aspects to their society.

In the end I don't think it's 100% success
When I read the reviews for this novel, I couldn’t have been less excited. First of all, I try to avoid fantasy with dragons because I think they are the oldest cliché in the book, and secondly, it simply sounded too gimmicky.

However, I was pleasantly surprised.

Read the entire review on my site Far Beyond Reality!
What a delight!

I bought this book at the science fiction and fantasy bookshop, because I so loved the Jo Walton’s Farthingseries and Among Others, I wanted to read buy something else by her, and because it is autographed.

This is about the adult children of Bon Agornin, who is dying. His eldest Penn is a parson, Berend is well-married, Avan is working in an office in the capital, but Haner and Selendra are unmarried and must accompany one of their married siblings to their homes.

What’s terrific
Ruby Rose Scarlett
I don't know what I was expecting but it wasn't this. Walton has a true gift for creating unforgettable, utterly original worlds. Tooth and Claw is a fairly straightforward romance with dragons acting as the main characters - this leads to quite a bit of subtle humour and very sweet descriptions. At its heart, it's a family drama and I have to give it to the author that she managed to make every single member of the family interesting (especially Haner and Selendra, the two sisters orphaned at t ...more
James Steele
A review on the back cover calls this book “the Pride and Prejudice of the dragon world”. That scared me. I have read that book, and found it mostly boring but with a charming ending and message.

Tooth and Claw is a Victorian-style story about dragons living much the way Victorian Europe did. It’s complete with thick narration, characters saying a lot but never actually talking to each other (etiquette it’s called), marriage being the be all and end all of life, and lots and lots of family relati
K.C. Shaw
The author never describes the dragons, so I started with a mental image of a typical fantasy-type dragon. As the book progressed and little snippets of physical description appeared in the book, I tried to modify my mental image of the dragon to fit what I was reading. But it's not possible. The dragons don't make any sense. They're described as sometimes 70 feet long, but they appear to walk upright. They have ears. They wear hats. They have shoulders. They cry tears. The females don't have cl ...more
Unlike many of the reviewers below, I HAVE read Anthony Trollope, so I can confirm that this book is a hilarious send-up of Trollope's typical domestic and romantic plotlines--just with dragons instead of people. The dragons have a rigid class structure with rules of etiquette similar to that of Victorian England. The rich and powerful are distinguished not only by the size of their hoards, but by their ability to fly and their physical growth. Dragons who are rich and well born have more opport ...more
so... a comedy of manners with--umm-dragons.

dragons with really, really gross table manners. sometimes it's harder to say which is more gross, how they're eating or who they're eating.

i don't think Walton set out to write A Book Full of Deep Thoughts here, but she does get in some funny ones. her world-building is thorough, sometimes down the cliche level (by which i mean, she uses expressions that are clearly cliches, but written to be appropriate to her world).

it'a world of romance and wooing
You know that fizzy feeling of happiness and completion when you finish a really good book, one that you know you’ll read again and again? That. I have it. I’ve just read a smart, scathing comedy-of-manners, complete with status-obsessed mothers, impoverished young relatives, flighty males bent on spending their way through the family fortune… and DRAGONS. Yes, this book and I were made for each other. Jo Walton’s Tooth and Claw is freaking brilliant.

Family patriarch Bon Agornin is dying, and hi
Tooth and Claw is the Victorian comedy of manners... with dragons! (Oh, when will someone write the Victorian comedy of manners... in space!)

I started this a month ago or so--whenever I finished Trollope's Framley Parsonage, which is the foundation novel of this--but soon put it down as unsatisfying in some way. Was it because the plot seemed so similar to Trollope's? Yes, in part (more fool me for reading the Trollope first), though what actually sunk it at first for me was that the characters
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Jo Walton writes science fiction and fantasy novels and reads a lot and eats great food. It worries her slightly that this is so exactly what she always wanted to do when she grew up. She comes from Wales, but lives in Montreal.
More about Jo Walton...
Among Others Farthing (Small Change, #1) My Real Children Ha'penny (Small Change, #2) The Just City

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