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The Last Tsar's Dragons

2.84  ·  Rating details ·  221 ratings  ·  76 reviews
It is the waning days of the Russian monarchy. A reckless man rules the land and his dragons rule the sky. Though the Tsar aims his dragons at his enemies—Jews and Bolsheviks—his entire country is catching fire. Conspiracies suffuse the royal court: bureaucrats jostle one another for power, the mad monk Rasputin schemes for the Tsar’s ear, and the desperate queen takes dra ...more
Paperback, 192 pages
Published June 19th 2019 by Tachyon Publications
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Average rating 2.84  · 
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Feb 22, 2019 rated it it was ok
The Last Tsar's Dragons is a novella I was pretty excited for, but one that unfortunately really disappointed.

The book is set in the months leading up to the Russian Revolution. Tsar Nikolai's dragons are being sent to slaughter Jews in the Russian Empire. At court, Rasputin and his enemies plot around each other as they try to influence the Tsar, while Tsaritsa Alexandra frets about her sickly son. Out in the countryside, Lev Bronstein -- more famously known as Leon Trotsky -- does his own fret
Mar 03, 2019 rated it liked it
Shelves: net-galley
What an interesting book. I have recently read another book about the Romanov family, so it's easy to compare, I'll try not to. The Last Tsar's Dragons is a retelling of the Russian Tsar's family's imprisonment, but then with dragons. It starts a little slow, I almost gave up, and at the end it picks up the pace and I found myself actually want more at the end!

Rasputin is an interesting character. I found him a little too pervy in this retelling, but it worked for the story. The dragons are rea
The Captain
Jun 13, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: here-be-dragons
Ahoy there me mateys! I received this historical fantasy novella eARC from Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review. So here be me honest musings . . .

I have recently been reading and loving many of Jane Yolen’s short stories. So when I saw this novella involving dragons and Russian history, I said “Aye!, Arrrrr!” I was lucky to get an eArc of this historical fantasy retelling. And I loved it!

This tale involves the Romanovs and the Russian Revolution. Tsar Nicholas II is fighting wars and cont
Eva Müller
This review also appears on my blog.

I do have to point out, that I expected something very different from what I got. Sure, the blurb talks about revolution, Bolsheviks and Rasputin, all things we are familiar with, but I still expected a different Russia. After all, this world has dragons. One would think, that the existence of dragons would change the world in some way but the Russia in The Last Tsar’s Dragons is exactly the one you know from the history textbooks. Only that Tsar Nicholas has
Online Eccentric Librarian
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I am a fan of Yolen and Russian history but that's not really what this book is about. The dragons here are a Maguffin - really, this should have been named "The Last Tsar's Jews" because that is the only subject, thought, obsession, or interest of anyone in the book. And while there is nothing wrong with focusing on that topic, I was more interested in a book about the fall of the Russian Tzars and dragons, of course
Mel (Epic Reading)
Feb 25, 2019 marked it as to-read
Shelves: arc-netgalley
eARC approved! Jane Yolen has quickly become one of my fave current ‘old-style’ writers of late. If that makes sense. (lol)
Deborah Ross
Jun 06, 2019 rated it really liked it
This dramatic yet playful re-telling of the days leading up to the Russian Revolution (with dragons!) offers a variety of delights, from the courtly intrigues and madness of Rasputin, to the Jews huddling in the burrows to avoid the tsar’s dragons, to the machinations of the revolutionaries, to an entirely new meaning of the term “red death.” I believe the authors, seasoned professionals both, had way too much fun concocting this tale.

A little knowledge of the Russian Revolution is desirable for
Jun 03, 2019 marked it as did-not-finish
I couldn't get past the 25% mark once I realized this 'fantasy' was going to be 160 pages of Russian jew-bashing with a cameo by dragons. ...more
Dec 18, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Russian history has always been fascinating to me -- especially the Russian Revolution. Here Yolen and Stemple (her son) take on the "October Revolution" (dates are a bit fudged- read Yolen's notes at the end of the book), but in this tale, not only do the Cossacks harass the people (Jews), but the Tsar's dragons harass them as well. These are the last dragons known to exist and they follow the Tsar's instructions only.

But the Bolsheviks don't realize that one man--a Jew -- has discovered someth
Aug 02, 2019 rated it did not like it
I recieved an arc from the publisher via netgalley in exchange for an honest review.
Wish I could give it a better one.

I tried. I really did. I picked this book up 3 times and put it down within 30 minutes each time. Dnf the book at 45%
The story was boring and all over the place. I thought from the title dragons would be playing a larger part in the story but they seem to have been thrown in as a gimmick to grab people's attention rather than be a viable part of the story.
I couldn't find mysel
Fran (The Ramblebee)
Jun 01, 2019 marked it as did-not-finish
Shelves: arc
Thank you to Tachyon Publications and NetGalley for providing me with an eARC of this book in exchange for an honest review. Unfortunately, it was very different from the lush immersive story I was expecting, so I decided not to finish it. I saw another review describing the book as almost comical in its approach and I have to agree. Additionally, the rampant antisemitism, while period-appropriate, really put me off The Last Tsar's Dragons. ...more
Doctor Science
Aug 21, 2019 rated it liked it
Shelves: novellas
Great start & idea, well-written of course, but what's the point of having DRAGONS when (view spoiler)? Ends up being a failure of world-building, hence the low (for Yolen) rating. ...more
Mar 27, 2020 rated it liked it
Shelves: fantasy
Needed more dragons. If you're going to do the Russian Revolution with dragons, I want to see them in full action and majesty, not sidelined to cartoonish versions of historical characters.

The book was a fine escape and above a 2.5, but those flaws stopped me from engaging with it more.
Jun 21, 2019 rated it liked it
This was a very small and odd book.
Mar 06, 2019 rated it it was ok
Jane Yolen is an expert in dragons. She’s also a seasoned writer, having written children’s books (my youngest loves the “How Do Dinosaurs” book series), middle grade, and adult books. I was quite excited to read this mother-son team-up. Unfortunately, I didn’t love this one.

That’s not to say I didn’t like it: there were many things that I felt were well done. The book switched back and forth between a few different narrators, one of which was Rasputin. He was an interesting figure in history so
Jun 15, 2019 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: dnf
I received this E-ARC via Netgalley and the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

I was really excited for The Last Tsar's Dragons - who wouldn't be, with a premise like it has? But I quickly found myself confused and then disappointed once I started reading. In an attempt to moderate my expectations, I took a break to see if I'd missed something and this book was aimed at a YA or even MG audience - I didn't think so, but maybe I was wrong?

And maybe I'm still wrong, but as far as I can tel
Jun 11, 2019 rated it liked it
Growing up I was as much a history nerd as I was a bookworm. I was always particularly fascinated by the human cost of quests for power; how idealistic leaders could commit atrocities, and truly believe it was for the best. Unsurprisingly, therefore, I came into this novella with the history of the February Revolution and the Red Terror being not entirely foreign to me. This is part of why I was so interested to get my hands on this speculative fiction novella about the February Revolution... wi ...more
Feb 24, 2021 rated it it was ok
Recommends it for: deposed emperors
When I got The Last Tsar's Dragons from the library, I was surprised to see how thin it was. A book about the Russian Revolution, with or without dragons, needs enough room to do justice to the complexity of its subject. That is the most fundamental problem with this historical fantasy book, but sadly not the only one. The writing style is descriptive but very readable, and the premise is original and pretty darn cool. But for various reasons I found it disappointing.

First is the nameless(and
Liz (Quirky Cat)
Dec 07, 2019 rated it really liked it
3 1/2 stars

I received a copy of The Last Tsar’s Dragons through NetGalley in exchange for a fair and honest review.

The Last Tsar’s Dragons was a joint project between Jane Yolen and Adam Stemple. And being a massive fan of Yolen – and dragons – I knew right away that I wanted to check this novel out.
Set in a time when the Russian monarchy was still in control – but not for long – this novel envisions a world in which the royalty of the land had access to dragons. And all that they would have do
Margaret Carter
Jul 02, 2019 rated it really liked it
In this relatively short (180-page) novel, Yolen and her son offer a unique account of the Russian Revolution—with dragons. The tsar keeps a stable of black dragons, which he uses to exterminate Jewish communities when the whim strikes him. Unfortunately, the beasts don’t reliably discriminate among targets, perpetrating significant collateral damage, either unknown or unimportant to the tsar. The population’s only defense is to hide underground and wait for the devastation to pass; the few who ...more
Sadie Slater
Nov 13, 2019 rated it it was ok
The new novella from Jane Yolen and her son Adam Stemple, The Last Tsar's Dragons, is a retelling of the events leading up to the Russian Revolution, with added dragons: the tsar's black dragons, which he sends to destroy the Jews of Russia, and the red dragons raised in secret by revolutionary Lev Bronstein (aka Leon Trotsky). It's told from multiple points of view, principally Bronstein, the mad monk Rasputin and a nameless bureaucrat who is also the overall narrator; it begins sometime in 191 ...more
Jul 11, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I was considerably pleased, as I have not been able to think about this specific part of Russian history for years. It's a cute little rewrite of the story. (Honestly, I have been thinking more about Solzhenitsyn and his war writings lately so this has been a considerable lightening and relaxation)
This book is most likely aimed at a dramatically younger audience, but I did not catch any disparities with actual history.
The specific part of actual history is the end of the Russian empire. There w
Pamela Scott

copy from @TachyonPub and voluntarily reviewed

I’ve read a few of Yolen’s book and been very impressed and was looking forward to this even though it sounded very different from her usual books. I enjoyed some things about this novella but it felt very short at times. I’m not familiar with Russia at all, just vague things I’ve heard or seen on TV and I’ve never read any historical fiction set in Russia so I wasn’t sure what to expect or at all familiar with
Lindsay  pinkcowlandreads
Jul 31, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: arc
Do find the end of the Russian Tsar’s reign fascinating? Do you love dragons? Well, if you put your hand up for both of these questions, I have the book for you!

I was originally found and was drawn to this title while I was coming down form my Romanov (by Nadine Brandes) earlier this year. Another retelling of the mysterious ending to the infamous Romanov family… and now with dragons.

This story starts as the revolutionaries start to gain power and momentum, at this time in the Tsar’s power is ke
Stewart Baker
Jun 14, 2019 rated it it was ok
I received an uncorrected advanced reader copy of this book from netgalley in exchange for a review.

The concept for this book--plus the names attached--made me excited to read it. I mean, revolution with dragons! Sounds right up my alley.

Unfortunately, the execution didn't live up to my expectations.

There are a number of point of view characters, and while I'm fine with that generally, in this case the amount seemed to come at the expense of very much actually happening--at least in the first h
J. Else
Jul 28, 2019 rated it did not like it
"Spring would surely break in Russia like the smiles of women Bronstein had known: cautious, cold, and a long time coming."

Yep, that pretty well sums up how women are thought of and treated in this novella. Disregarded as little more than what they can do for men. So we can have dragons, but not one interesting and strong female character? Guess the authors don't want things to get too unbelievable, huh? Powerful dragons: yes. Powerful women: woah, let's not get crazy here.

The meandering plot i
Aug 12, 2019 rated it liked it
While not as long as I was hoping for it to be, this novella combined poetic language, real history, and fire-breathing dragons in a way that was interesting to read about. This novel is told from the perspectives of many actual historical figures, which I thought was fascinating, as well as a fictional unnamed bureaucrat, which was an interesting choice that worked very well for this book. The examination of anti-Semitism during the time period was relevant and extensive. However, I wish the bo ...more
Oct 13, 2019 rated it it was ok
Rather a disappointing book. None of the characters are likeable or even really sympathetic, though that is less of a problem than it might have been: it is the sort of story where everything goes bad in the end, so it is refreshing to not really care what happens in the end. The much bigger disappointment is how little the titular dragons (or the non-titular, but arguably more central red dragon brood) really matters. The afterward by the authors even points out how closely they hewed to actual ...more
Feb 05, 2020 rated it it was ok
This book starts and ends with a narrator that claims only he knows the truth and, of course, it is his to dispense as he pleases. It doesn’t add much to have this unnamed (self-proclaimed) protagonist book-end the other 6 point of views - the ending actually comes off as quite abrupt. Even though this is a work of historical fiction, it feels wrong to have someone claim that a single view of history can encompass the truth of something like an entire revolution - a truth maybe, but all of it? S ...more
The Idle Woman
Russia, 1917, under the autocratic rule of Tsar Nicholas II. The imperial will is enforced by the airborne terror of the Tsar’s dragons: great black beasts reared in the palace stables and then sent out across the country to ravage the lands of those the Tsar deems offensive – the Jews chief among them. But times are changing. In a quiet Jewish village, a group of ambitious men have long dreamed of bringing that change to Russia. Now they have the means. As their leader Lenin drums up support be ...more
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Jane Yolen is a novelist, poet, fantasist, journalist, songwriter, storyteller, folklorist, and children’s book author who has written more than three hundred books. Her accolades include the Caldecott Medal, two Nebula Awards, the World Fantasy Award, three Mythopoeic Awards, the Kerlan Award, two Christopher Awards, and six honorary doctorate degrees from colleges and universities in Massachuset ...more

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