Kim's Reviews > Firestorm of Dragons

Firestorm of Dragons by Michele Acker
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's review
Jan 15, 2008

(Review from the author)
it was amazing

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Werner Ever since I got my copy of this book, I've been meaning to read it, since my Goodreads friend Kim has a story in it. Since I've realized that at the rate things are going, it'll be quite a while before I read the whole book, I decided I should at least read her story, "Dragon Fruit." I'm delighted that I did!

Up to now, my only exposure to dragon-themed fantasy (unless you'd call the Dragons of Pern series fantasy --Anne McCaffrey doesn't) has been the movie Dragonslayer and its novelization, both of which I liked. (So far, I haven't listed the book on Goodreads because I can't find basic information on it; and unfortunately, I don't own a copy!) But I'd say that Richardson's story speaks well for the subgenre. Her vision has affinities to the premise in Dragonslayer; in both works, a medieval-type land lives under a covenant that requires the periodic sacrifice of a virgin to a dragon. But there are unguessed mysteries beneath the surface of things in this story that add dimension to it, and here too, as in the other work, there are ethical questions and concerns that give it some moral depth as well. The prose style is flawless, conjuring the blend of "beauty and terror" that one classic writer (I think Arthur Machen) thought of as the standard for imaginative literature. Richardson doesn't write exclusively in speculative fiction (see my review of her novel Death Masks ); but having read this story, I'm tempted to think fantasy may be her forte'!

For readers who might be concerned about violence, this story definitely has some, but it isn't dwelt on in detail; and there's no sex or bad language. My only quibble is that the masterful ending leaves the reader crying out for more. Hopefully Richardson will expand this tale into a novel, which will let us know what happens next, and answer some of the many questions evoked about draconic life and human-dragon interactions.

Werner My Goodreads friend Jim recently made a comment in one of his groups about the unrealistic quality of some fiction featuring dragons, in which they're made to act and think essentially like humans, even though the two species are very different, and presumably would have very different natures, needs, and perceptions. That's a legitimate point (and applies generally to a lot of fiction depicting animal characters, which are often portrayed in highly anthropomorphic fashion!). It did evoke a caveat, though; and since I don't belong to the group where he posted the comment, I thought I'd reply here.

Fictional dragons aren't all created equal, and the different conceptions writers have of them influence the degree of resemblance they have (and could be realistically expected to have) to us. Domesticated ones, like those in Anne McCaffrey's Pern series, relate differently to and are more influenced by humans than wild ones like those in Patricia C. Wrede's Enchanted Forest Chronicles (a series with draconic characters that I inexcusably forgot to cite in my comment above --three lashes with a wet noodle for me! :-)). It also makes a big difference whether dragons are thought of as simply big flying reptiles or as sentient, intelligent creatures that can communicate ideas to each other and to humans. If they're the latter, their thought processes will be more similar to ours than the average animal's.

Most importantly, though, some fictional dragons are shape-shifters, like those in Richards' "Dragon Fruit." They can and do adopt human form at times, and in doing so take on human perceptions, brain structure, and human needs and limitations. (And in that form, they can mate and reproduce with humans, and the cross-bred offspring are, obviously, even more a blend of the two --though that's another subject.) Even though their usual or primary form may be draconic, and their ability to adopt human form doesn't guarantee greater understanding of or sympathy with human thought forms and attitudes, it definitely creates the possibility of that.

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