King Cullin may be known as "the Dragon Slayer," but he fears his son's legacy will be as "King Maurice Who Speaks with Proper Grammar." The boy keeps his nose buried in parchments, starry-eyed at the idea of noble knights and eager to hand royal gold to any con man hawking a unicorn horn. Tonight, though, Cullin will educate the prince in the truth behind minstrels' silly songs of glory.
Long ago, in a kingdom, well, not that far from here really, young Cullin traveled the countryside as squire to brave Sir Dalbry, along with Dalbry's trusted sidekick Reeger, selling dragon-protection services to every kingdom with a coffer. There were no dragons, of course, but with a collection of severed alligator heads and a willingness to play dirty, the trio of con men was crushing the competition. Then along came Princess Affonyl.
Tomboyish and with a head for alchemy, Affonyl faked a dragon of her own, escaped her arranged marriage, and threw in with Cullin and company. But with her father sending a crew of do-gooder knights to find her, the dragon business just got cutthroat.
Yes, I have a lot of books, and if this is your first visit to my amazon author page, it can be a little overwhelming. If you are new to my work, let me recommend a few titles as good places to start. I love my Dan Shamble, Zombie P.I. series, humorous horror/mysteries, which begin with DEATH WARMED OVER. My steampunk fantasy adventures, CLOCKWORK ANGELS and CLOCKWORK LIVES, written with Neil Peart, legendary drummer from Rush, are two of my very favorite novels ever. And my magnum opus, the science fiction epic The Saga of Seven Suns, begins with HIDDEN EMPIRE. After you've tried those, I hope you'll check out some of my other series.
I have written spin-off novels for Star Wars, StarCraft, Titan A.E., and The X-Files, and I'm the co-author of the Dune prequels. My original works include the Saga of Seven Suns series and the Nebula Award-nominated Assemblers of Infinity. I have also written several comic books including the Dark Horse Star Wars collection Tales of the Jedi written in collaboration with Tom Veitch, Predator titles (also for Dark Horse), and X-Files titles for Topps.
I serve as a judge in the Writers of the Future contest.
My wife is author Rebecca Moesta. We currently reside near Monument, Colorado.
Realising that his son, Prince Maurice has an unrealistic view of what it is to be a dragon slayer, he takes him out for a few ales and tells him how he came to be the most famous dragon slayer ever.
With his band of fellow con-men knights, they traveled the land offering their services to kingdoms in peril. Then after slaying the dragon they would present the cheaply stuffed crocodile's head dragon's head to the king, collect their reward and be off to the next kingdom.
But their plans go awry when Princess Affonyl cons the con-men and before too long they find themselves caught up with a real knight who much to their chagrin believes in the knight's code.
The Dragon Business is quite a hoot. It's a quick and easy read with more laugh out loud funny moments than is proper. The one drawback is probably the method of delivery. King Cullin sitting in a tavern telling the story to his son makes the story feel a little more detached than it would have if it was just a straight out narrative. That said, this book is a lot of fun. A lot.
What fun! I read the synopsis of this story, that it was about con artists slaying false dragons, and thought it such an unique twist on the usual adventure trope that I knew I had to give it a try, and I'm glad I did.
Anderson crafted this tale wonderfully, formatting it so that King Cullin is telling his sheltered son a grandiose tale of his past shenanigans in order to learn him up on the way the real world works. It follows a group of con men who prey upon the simple-minded, gullible, and superstitious peoples of the (many) kingdoms, in a world where con artists, swindlers, and money grubbers abound. It paints a fantastical rendition of the world we live in today.
And yet, even though our 'dragon-slayers' are making a living rather dishonestly, selling a service nobody needs, you can't help but like them. Reeger is rather crude ─ in his humor, behavior, and lifestyle ─ but he's also very good at what he does (the dirty work), a loyal friend, and in a way charming for his preferences of 'latrine refurbishing' to high courtly politics. Sir Dalbry is a victim of his own trade. Swindled out of his inheritance at a young age by a group of con men, he has vowed to avenge his honor for having run away. His current methods are questionable, but even so, he insists on retaining a sense of 'knightly honor and nobility' ─ to the point where it nearly costs him his life. Cullin is an apt and clever sidekick. Tempted by dreams of starting fresh in the new land across the sea, fantasizing about someday marrying a princess and gaining a kingdom and riches of his own, he serves as Sir Dalbry's squire. Affonyl, the newest member of their band, is a runaway princes who faked her own death by dragon attack in order to escape her fate as a princess. She would much rather study alchemy and gallivant across the country as a person than marry a silver-tongued and sticky-fingered duke as a princess, because as it happens, princesses aren't people.
The writing is witty, whimsical, and humorous from the first page to the last. Minstrels' songs go viral, one town's local Renaissance Faire is 'futuristic', newspapers (like the Olden Tymes) are transcribed by monks, purified guano and bone dust are thought the more active ingredients to pain killer than the milk of poppy. On and on, every page is filled with crafty and silly details about life in medieval times that those of us who are more accustomed to the more epic, hard-core fantasy don't usually think about ─ like hawking seagull guano as a miracle fertilizer.
Yet through the ridiculousness are strings of heart that do more than entertain us, they endear us to the characters, who they are and what they're searching for. Sir Dalbry wants to regain his honor, following a code of knightly nobility to a fault that nearly gets him killed. Reeger wants to raise enough money to establish his own tavern. Cullin wants a better life, but looks for it in the wrong places. He realizes, after he gets what he thinks he wants, that it's not what he wanted all along. The meaning of bravery and honor, friendship, and loyalty are all currents carrying this story and the character of its heroes forward.
I hope Maurice get's as much from his father's tales as we do.
The Dragon Business is a serialized eBook by Kevin J. Anderson. Like a comic, the story is broken down into chapters and released on a regular basis, in this case weekly and over the course of eight episodes. The Dragon Business, however, is not your typical fantasy novel. Instead, Kevin J. Anderson takes the fantasy setting of an ex-dragon slayer turned king retelling his old adventures to his son and turns into a comedy. You see, the king is a conman, and his good old days of dragon slaying was a matter of fooling towns into thinking he and his compatriots were killing dragons. On top of that, Kevin takes very loose liberties with the medieval period by adding in elements of modern day society. The result is a fun story that doesn’t take itself very seriously.
The central character of the book is King Cullin. For parts of the book, he’s the first person narrator as he sets his son aside to educate him on the harsh realities of the world. But most of the book is told from the third person as Cullin explores his good old days in the dragon business. He served as a squire to a knight called Sir Dalbry and their co-conspirator Reeger. Together, they roamed the countryside scamming towns of their coin with fake pieces of the true cross, the skulls of famous saints, and assurances that they would slay the dragons troubling the locals.
Within the first episode, the story is kind of interesting, but it really starts to heat up in the second episode. By the third one I was hooked pretty good, and by the fourth episode I was left eager to plunge onward. Remember, this is a serial, so each week a new episode comes out. Right now it’s only a $1.99 to get in on the action, but if this one follows the same structure as other serials, the price will jump up once the serial is completed and all the episodes become available. Thus you’ll probably need to get in now in order to get the low price. Regardless, it’s turning out to be a fun story, and if the second half can keep up with the first, it would be well worth the price tag of a full price book.
All in all, it’s a fun story, but different. The non-traditional take on fantasy with a comedy element and the integration of modern day aspects certainly sets it apart. Through the story, there are mentions of limited edition books signed by their fairy prince authors, brainteaser crossword puzzles, newspapers, microbreweries, appletinis, job security, trust-fund kids, the market value of dragon slaying, and even casual Friday. Sometimes the references will make you smile, others fall a little flat. Some of the jokes had me laughing out loud, though, and that’s always a high mark for a story when they can catch you off guard with some really good humor (the “Fart in the Park” requests had me rolling).
Yet comedy isn’t the only selling point for the story, as Kevin does a great job of making memorable characters. In Episode 2, Sir Daltry gets some nice character background. His role gets fleshed out and provided with some intriguing character motivations. Plus there’s lots of fun cons.
As is, I give this story a five out of five. It’s a strange type of story, so it might not be for everyone, but if you’re open to a fun fantasy story that’s packs in some humor and doesn’t take itself too seriously, then you just might find The Dragon Business as entertaining as I do.
This was amusing, as it was meant to be. It is almost wholly satire, after all. It's witty and well-written. I generally really enjoyed it. But there came a point when the joke just kind of got stale and all the anachronisms (which are purposeful) started to grate. But if you're looking for a laugh that pokes fun at fairy tales, pretty pretty princesses and knights in shining armor, look no further.
As an odd aside: I take issue with this sentence in the description: But with her father sending a crew of do-gooder knights to find her, the dragon business just got cutthroat. It simply doesn't happen in the book. Go figure.
Meh. The story took too long and the frame story was boring. And my biggest complaint was the unanswered question from the frame story. It indicates that, hey, there might be lots more stories! But, all I'm interested in is that one question. It was the most interesting and important to this reader and it was never answered. I did like the characters and the set up, I just felt that it shouldn't have meandered as much and should have had a bit more resolution in the end.
If there are more stories, I won't be reading them. Unless they only contain Reeger and Affanyl. They were the most interesting of the whole lot.
Reader thoughts: I kept expecting the book to be clever. Well, there were bits of clever writing (like the king mentioning "frame story" to his son before diving into the rest of the book or like the modern ideas about paperwork and employee rights).
However, the plot itself was not clever. Everything was predictable, from the "honorable" knight chasing dragons to the princess running away from an arranged marriage to fake dragon hunting turning into a real hunt to the king's choice about the dragon business at the end.
The characters were forgettable too. They weren't particularly honorable, particularly devious, or even particularly clever (despite being conmen for a living). They were just ordinary people who ran around and lied in order to make money and made fun of all the kings they swindled out of gold.
I think that was the other part I disliked. All the main characters were thieves through trickery and lying. They claimed that gullible kings deserved to have their treasuries depleted, but that's as bad as the phone callers who make money off of people like my grandparents and justify it just because old people are too trusting. Seriously. What's the difference? Phone call scammers are thieves. People who run between kingdoms and pretend they are defeating dragons just so kings pay them are no better.
Okay, my ranting moved my rating from two stars to one. I HATE when book characters (or real people) justify theft.
Writer thoughts: Books with frame stories are hard to pull off. You have several characters get together for the first chapter and then start into the real tale for the rest of the book. I'm, personally, not a fan of them and can see few ways they would work well. The hardest part is that your reader can't be as invested in the narrator's tale when the reader knows it is just a story. A framed story can't feel nearly as real to a reader simply because it is being told by a character. Even diary books are a half step up from books with frame stories.
I listened to this on audiobook with excellent narration by James Langton who really did a great job with the various voices and with the comedic timing. I don't think of Anderson as a fantasy writer but this was a rousing outing. It's set up in the form of a frame story and main tale. The bit about the king and his gullible, innocent, stuffy son is the frame for the story of his father's youthful dodgy exploits in the fake dragonslaying business. The characters, especially that of Reeger really tickled me and the humor overall was great. One thing that was a real hoot was the way that the narrative would insert nods to more modern sensibilities or inventions such as the group going to one of "those taverns that leave the candle on for you" (a reference to the Motel 6 chain's slogan) or the troupe's dismay at the fine print concealed in the contract at the horse stables and likewise the "unseen costs" of owning a horse. The only real let down is that the story doesn't take the tale to its logical completion. The frame story dictates the end, rather than the reader's preferences and it almost felt like it was leaving the way open for a sequel, even though I suspect that's not the case--just my wish. In spite of this the story sometimes felt a little long. This may have been a function of listening to it instead of reading it in print. All in all a very enjoyable read!
This is probably going to be my shortest review ever.
This is a comedy. It's sarcastic parody of all the "epic knight in shining armor" tales you have seen on tv or read in books. Thus, reviewers giving 2 stars just cause the book isn't "serious" fantasy should be ashamed.
1.The world-building is simple but well done. All those pop culture movies and fantasy books relevant to knights do flesh it out anyway XD.
2.The characters are memorable and have nothing to do with their (almost always) cardboard alter egos.
3.Their interaction is believable in it's comic context
Summing things up , "The Dragon Business " reminded me much of the diskworld series humor. While Terry Pratchett's work can't be fully appreciated by the uninitiated to the fantasy genre , Kevin J. Anderson created a book that pretty much anyone in contact with the modern pop culture can understand down to the last pun.
Seriously this is a book you can give to any friend not interested in the fantasy genre. Can't wait to read the next one...i didn't even check if this is part of a series before reviewing XD
Dislaimer: this review is being written quite a while after finishing the book...
I'm afraid that this was a three star book (trending towards two stars, though I have trouble rating it quite that low). I had a couple issues. First of all, though I enjoyed the concept of the book I can't help but feel that it would probably have been better as a short story than as a whole book. Secondly, I wasn't a fan of how the book was written in past/present tense, though I do understand that he wanted to distinguish between the stories being told and the framing narrative. Thirdly, though I like his sense of humour, I sometimes feel like many of his characters are the same (within a single book, and also across different books). And lastly, since it was written in an episodic fashion, I felt that the flow of the book was sometimes choppy. So three stars, with a possibility of being downgraded to two stars at a later date...
I wasn't a big fan of this book. It wasn't bad. In fact, I don't have many issues with it. The writing is competent. It's just not a very good story. The plot drags. It's just not a particularly interesting story. It's supposed to be funny and there are a few funny lines/scenes but as a comedic work it most falls flat.
Some of the humor is pretty annoying, in fact. Anderson goes out of his way to point out all of the clever literary tricks he's using: the framed plot, the foreshadowing, etc. It's suppose to be a wink-wink to the reader about his literary devices but it just comes off as pretentious.
Still, I could have given this book 2.5 or even 3 stars if he'd wrapped the story up with a decent ending but it was pretty anti-climactic. It felt like he was having such a good time being witty and clever that he chose not to end the story in a satisfying way so he could write a sequel--which I see that he did.
For those reasons and more, I just can't get behind this book and can't recommend it. Pass this one up. 2-stars.
This book had me giggling often, set in medieval with modern anecdotes. This is another book that I picked up at comic con asking for a heroin and dragons and it missed that mark but was kind of close. There was a strong female character with headstrong ideas and she contributed a great deal to the adventure but she was neither the main character or a main focal point of the story. I would say this book was more a 4.5 instead of a 4 star book because the female character was still pretty modern.
About 2.5. Slightly better than merely ok. Humorous, but not as funny as I had hoped. A little slow getting to the good parts. The framing story (recounting story to next-generation "Prince Maurice") was quite dull and mainly served to reduce any tension that the MC and his companion might not survive in the past tense story (because it's autobiographical). Quick read. Quirky. Nothing earth-shattering, but a reasonably pleasant diversion. Glad it was a library book. Will not re-read.
This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
A fast paced read, interesting and light, if not fairly predictable little book. I would definitely recommend it to someone interested in Fantasy reading. I'll look for other works by this author, and that says a bit.
Enjoyable read about the seemy underside of the dragon slaying business. Fairly predictable, but fun nevertheless with likeable characters. Enjoyed this MUCH more than the Terra Incognito series. A lot less preaching.
I intended not to enjoy this book. After all, most of the books I'd won in giveaways had disappointed. The Dragon Business turned out to be an adorable, clever, entertaining read. It isn't the sort of book that changes your life or brings you to tears, but it's a pleasurable story about a father revealing himself to his son for the first time and building their relationship, and it's the story of a boy growing up.
When King Cullen the dragonslayer and his son, Prince Maurice, disguise themselves and go into town for a quiet evening among the townspeople, Maurice is given a lesson in the common folk and his father tells the story of becoming a dragon slayer. Anderson captures a wonderful tone with this book, often making fantasy references to modern culture in a tongue in cheek manner, but telling a clever tale of a princess who does not want to marry a duke, an orphaned boy who hopes to be raised by a pack of wolves, A scoundrel of a knight who runs the same scam from kingdom to kingdom, a knight in shining armor who has gathered all of the knightly activities and tales into a guidebook for knighthood... and other wacky characters, The story switches back and forth between the present (Cullen and his son in the tavern) the past (Cullen running around with scoundrels) and even some clever discussion between the son and the father about story-telling (writing) style.
This is one funny book. Anderson manages to tell an ancient story in a fantasy setting and yet provide a modern humor that never gets in the way of the tale. I can pretty much guarantee readers a few wry smirks, a stifled giggle or two, possibly a guffaw, and if you are prone to them, a belly laugh. Probably not for your typical dark, fantasy readers, as there is no evil superpower destined to destroy the land, no rings to toss in a volcano, and no spirit beings to destroy. Just fun in an fantasy setting.
Finally, I want to say a not of appreciation for the vulgar language Anderson employs. For this novel, Anderson created a series of non-threatening, perfectly suitable, fantasy based curse-words that helped the novel stay very family friendly. The closest this one comes is a princess being tied to a tree and offered as a virgin sacrifice and she asks "How can you be sure I'm a virgin?" and the other guy says that he cannot be sure, but then neither can the creature she is being offered to. While I recognize that this family friendly style may not be everyone's cup of tea, Anderson not only made it work, but made it work for the period and setting he was writing for. Filthy words like "Rusting" and "Crotchrust" were amusing. The invented curses fit the style of the novel perfectly,. Thanks, Kevin....