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Tooth and Claw

3.83  ·  Rating Details ·  3,281 Ratings  ·  597 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. ...more
Mass Market Paperback, 304 pages
Published December 12th 2004 by Tor Fantasy (first published 2003)
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Feb 08, 2011 j rated it it was amazing  ·  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
May 07, 2009 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
Aug 05, 2014 Sanaa rated it really liked it
[4.5 Stars] This was really spectacular! It's a Victorian drama populated with dragons instead of people, definitely my kind of book. I think what I loved most about this was how dragon lore and mythology was transformed to work with Victorian societal customs. Seriously, it's eerie how well everything worked together even though it was definitely a bit weird. The victorian drama plot was also really splendid, and I could never figure out what was going to happen next! It definitely has a touch ...more

I can see why Tooth and Claw was described as the Pride and Prejudice of the dragon world. There were times where I felt like I was reading an Austen novel, a very bizarre Austen novel with church going, hat wearing, high society, cannibal dragons.

-Took a while to immerse into the story and get used to the world. The beginning was rather slow and not much seemed to happen apart from a lot of waiting and monologuing.

-The world building and setting was very impressive (for the most part).
Jun 28, 2007 Wealhtheow rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: fans of austen, victorian novels, or novak
Shelves: fantasy, mannerpunk
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
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
Megan Baxter
Mar 28, 2014 Megan Baxter rated it really liked it
When I first read the description of this book I was skeptical. And perhaps suspicious. Definitely intrigued. This attempts to rectify the main problem of Victorian novels, namely, the lack of dragons. Your reaction is probably fairly similar to mine. Victorian novel...with dragons? Well, I have to say that I was entirely won over, and came out of the book wondering why no one had ever put those obviously needed dragons into a Victorian novel before. (I was reading this at the same time as Sense ...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.
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
Sarah Anne
Aug 15, 2016 Sarah Anne rated it liked it
Recommends it for: McKenzie
This was a light and fun book that really made me laugh. A lot. The author's chapter titles were particularly funny. Part of the fun in the book was the very clear cut characters. You could loathe Frelt and Daverak unequivocally, you rooted for Avan and Sebeth, and you desperately wanted Selendra to just blush already! It was really a fun book.
Ben Babcock
Dec 12, 2009 Ben Babcock rated it really liked it
One reason I love the Victorian novel? It’s remarkably self-aware. Victorian authors tend to have an appreciation of irony and can wield characters-as-social-commentary like nobody’s business. Victorian England was a time of immense social and technological change, novelists of that era tended to be of a position and background that gave them something to say and the means to say it. While I’m not here to condemn the novels of any other time period, I will say that over the intervening years, th ...more
Aug 09, 2012 Kim rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: kindle

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
Nov 22, 2014 Nikki rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fantasy, dragons
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
Ivie ✩Born to Magic-Forced to Muggle✩
This book was weird....good weird, but weird nonetheless.

It took me by surprise even with a head's up. I struggled trough all that anthropomorphism honestly, the novel was too well detailed and the human mind just wanted to bend the dragons into a human form. It was like reading a Regency novel but only with dragons, and with much less romance but much more cannibalism.

Smaug: Well...thief, where are you!? There's something about you...something made of gold, but far more preciousss. There you are, thief in the shadows. Bilbo: I did not come to steal from you, I only came to gaze upon your magnificence and see if the old tales were true...I did not believe them. Smaug: well do you now!? Bilbo: truely...the tales and songs fall utterly short of your enormusly oh Smaug the stupendous. Smaug: you have nice manners for a thief and a liar!

It was good, but so very very slow to start, I got bored a few times and thought I wouldn't be able to either finish, or wait f
Oct 06, 2010 Nikki rated it really liked it
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
Lady Entropy
Jan 08, 2012 Lady Entropy rated it it was amazing
Shelves: ebooks
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
Althea Ann
Nov 24, 2011 Althea Ann rated it liked it
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
Jul 11, 2011 Suzanne rated it really liked it
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
Pauline Ross
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-the-wall ideas that
Jeff Miller
Jan 10, 2011 Jeff Miller rated it really liked it
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
Mar 02, 2015 wishforagiraffe rated it really liked it
The blurb describes this book as an Austenian story with dragons as protagonists, and it's very accurate. As such, the language is a little tough to get through when you're not used to reading in that style, but it's well worth it.

It's a book that works well on a couple levels. First as a pure fantasy story, where the characters, culture, and world are interesting and well established (even though it's a pretty short book). Second as what feels like commentary on human society and social mores.
Jamie Collins
Jan 05, 2009 Jamie Collins rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fantasy
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.
Liz Janet
Jan 01, 2015 Liz Janet rated it really liked it
Well, it was not what I expected, but if someone can pull off a Victorian drama, with dragons instead of people as main characters, that someone is Jo Walton.
Jul 16, 2013 Dorothea rated it liked it
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
John Wiswell
Jul 01, 2014 John Wiswell rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Tooth and Claw is a novel about dragons living in an uptight Victorian-like culture, where humans were largely vanquished and are now legend. Having told you the premise, let me tell you two things about myself: I find most stories about non-human animals to be unbearably cheesy, and it will take industrial strength emotional blackmail to get me to read another Jane Austen novel. That I liked Tooth and Claw so much is still a curiosity to me.

Its hook is classic Trollope: when the father of a fam
Jul 25, 2013 Cecelia rated it it was amazing
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
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
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
Mar 04, 2015 Contrarius rated it liked it
Shelves: fantasy
Aka "Jane Austen Does Dragons. (Walton's own comparison would be "Anthony Trollope Does Dragons", but I've never read any Trollope!)

This was fun in concept, and had a most excellent choice of narrators (John Lee, a very cultured, very proper, very well-known narrator who also does books like The Count of Monte Cristo and The Three Musketeers). But it was somewhat -- excuse the term -- ponderous in execution, and I was especially bothered by the pervasive problems of size. You see, first off, dra
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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...

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“We had already agreed that, Father,” Penn said. “And of course they will likewise take the greater shares when we eat you. Berend and I are established, while our brother and sisters are still in need.” 1 likes
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