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Reptilian Corp #1

Domesticating Dragons

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Build-A-Bear workshop meets Jurassic Park when a newly graduated genetic engineer goes to work for a company that aims to produce custom-made dragons.

Noah Parker, a newly minted Ph.D., is thrilled to land a dream job at Reptilian Corp., the hottest tech company in the American Southwest. He’s eager to put his genetic engineering expertise to use designing new lines of Reptilian’s feature product: living, breathing dragons.

Although highly specialized dragons have been used for industrial purposes for years, Reptilian is desperate to crack the general retail market. By creating a dragon that can be the perfect family pet, Reptilian hopes to put a dragon into every home.

While Noah’s research may help Reptilian create truly domesticated dragons, Noah has a secret goal. With his access to the company’s equipment and resources, Noah plans to slip changes into the dragons’ genetic code, bending the company’s products to another purpose entirely.

345 pages, Paperback

First published January 5, 2021

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About the author

Dan Koboldt

28 books356 followers
Dan Koboldt is a genetics researcher who has co-authored more than 90 publications in Nature, Science, the New England Journal of Medicine, and other journals. Every fall, he disappears into the woods to pursue whitetail deer with bow and arrow. He lives with his wife and three children in Ohio, where the deer take their revenge by eating all of the plants in his backyard.

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5 stars
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Displaying 1 - 30 of 72 reviews
Profile Image for The Captain.
1,073 reviews372 followers
March 23, 2021
Ahoy there me mateys!  I picked this one up because it deals with genetically engineering dragons.  The description is "Build-A-Bear workshop meets Jurassic Park."  Dragons as pets?  Sign me up.  This was a fun read in some parts and extremely annoying in others.  Here by me thoughts:


- Dragons: I loved the idea of build-a-dragon to yer specifications. Security dragon?  Children's pet with polka dot scales?  Delivery dragons?  The design program and the silly work competitions were why this book didn't walk the plank.  I also liked 3-D printing the eggs and how obsessive the egg handlers were.

- Customer Service: I liked reading the transcripts of customer service calls and the parts of owner's manuals.  Silly and cheesy but still fun.

- Octavius: Aye, a dragon.  I wanted so much more of Octavius and his forays and antics.  For being so cool, he wasn't used enough or explained enough.  I would love to have Ocatavius in my life.


- Characters: I kinda hated the main character.  I almost didn't want to read this book based on how he was describing women at the beginning.  He also mostly came across as social inept but full of himself.  I never liked him or his motivations.  But dragons!

- The Dog Subplot: I could buy why this was there for the set-up of the novel to work.  I did not however like the deus ex machina resolution of this subplot at the end of the book.  The motivation of the bad guy involving the dogs was lame.

- The Younger Brother Subplot:  This was there to make main character seem sympathetic and unselfish and give him reasons to work for the dragon company.  This subplot didn't work at all.  In fact, he seemed even more selfish because he never seemed to really care what his brother would want.  Also his younger brother never felt like a real character.  Plus how the dragons were used to solve this issue was evil.

- The Geocaching: Subplot This was made into a fierce competition between him and love interest. It was to help ramp up tension between the two and help them meet and fall in love.  It was boring.  Especially how the dragon and pig helped them win.  So unrealistic.

- The Ex-Girlfriend Backstory:   Love interest was ex-girlfriend's roommate.  Just there so love interest and dude can have a bad past and lead to an enemies to lovers trope.  Ex-girlfriend is said to be crazy and seems to have a mental illness that is never really explained.  Could have had one scene to explain the "enemy" situation and removed the ex-girlfriend details altogether.  It slowed down the story and the pacing.

- The Dragon Business:  The more the operations of the company were described the less sense the company structure and day-to-day management made sense.  The big "evil" reveal was lackluster.

- The Mystery:  The main character spends a lot of time running around and supposedly hiding things from others.  He sucked at this.  Security cameras should have caught him.  Random strangers should have asked questions and caught him.  His co-workers should have caught him.  He should  have failed.  But nooooo, he is just too smart and amazing.

- Jeep and Girl:  Aye, girlfriend has to be so "hot" and her jeep is "so sexy."  Blech.  It got old.
Dragons:  I know!  There were such cool dragons but lots of weird interactions with the main character seemed ridiculous.  It was like they could read his mind and understand human thinking.  Except that main character was not logical and made horrible choices,

- The End:  Bad, just bad.  Basically the climax to the very end was confusing and seemingly out of nowhere.

So while this one doesn't walk the plank because I loved the genetic engineering sections, I really didn't like the rest of the book.  But I am in the minority so what do I know?  Arrrr!
Profile Image for Oleksandr Zholud.
1,079 reviews108 followers
April 10, 2022
This is a SF novel about a company that decided to create dragons by using genetic engineering and sufficiently advanced technology, which, as it was said by Arthur C. Clarke, is indistinguishable from magic. I saw this book recommended in one of the SF magazines and finally got to it.

The protagonist is Noah Parker, who recently got his PhD with his thesis being guessing characteristics of a creature based on its DNA. Therefore, he is a great fit for Reptilian Corporation, which has already created dragons as night predators for hogs, which infested USA agricultural lands and now plans to shift to making pet dragons. There is a great demand for pets after a strange plague killed almost all dogs around the world. Noah also has a hidden motive of helping his younger brother, who has a genetic disorder.

The story is easy going and the protagonist is an old SF type of a competent man, even if his behavior sometimes is not very competent, but depending on pure chance and stupidity of others. It should be noted that this is a book published by Baen, the publisher that recently left from main SFF awards, chiefly because its share of the market is much smaller than Tor or Orbit. I mention it just because I am now also reading The Complete Debarkle: Saga of a Culture War, which noted a more conservative stand of Baen compared to other major SF players and I too noted the differences. The style, for better or worse, is closer to older SF, where readers know that a hero is a good guy, therefore his remarks are not sexist or racist (and other characters understand it). Therefore, he can think something like (from the very first page): I approached the security desk just inside, where a redhead in a sharp business suit greeted me… Damn, she was gorgeous. Probably twenty years old and so far out of my league it wasn’t even funny. or Friends meant Wong’s network of Chinese connections in the company. I liked to give him trouble that he seemed to know every Asian person in Phoenix, but sometimes I wondered if that really might be the case. Such statements aren’t malign per se but they are a rare sight in books by other SF publishers.
235 reviews
January 17, 2021
I bought this knowing from the sample that it was an iffy proposition, but I hoped that the charm of a genetics researcher writing SF about genetically engineering dragons would be worth it.

Indeed, that was the best part of the book -- the author clearly enjoyed imagining how you could tweak genomes to design different types of dragons, for different consumer and commercial purposes.

The rest of the book ... felt clumsy. Like there was a plot only to justify the dragons, and it was awkwardly executed. There were a lot of things that took me out of the story:
* The geocaching descriptions seemed overblown, making it sound like the characters thought they were more hard core than they were, or that the author hadn't ever actually gone hiking in the desert.
* I got sick of "hot girl with badass jeep" pretty quickly.
* The business aspects of the company were likewise distractingly thin. Selling your prototypes the day after they hatch? Really? (*Maybe* this negligence was meant to be consistent with how the company behaved later, but it was just too unbelievable. )
* The main character's motivations for wanting to work at the company in the first place were also kinda thin. The younger brother with SMA existed solely to give the main character a humanitarian reason to be interested in genetic engineering. But that whole plot bit also rang false, in terms of him needing to reproduce the genetic defect in a model organism to get the gene switched from being classified as "variant of unknown significance" to "confirmed" in order for the brother to be enrolled in magical clinical trials.
* Similarly the bad guy who needed to hate dogs, and so had a traumatic pit bull attack in his past.
* Imprinting the baby dragons was taken wholesale from McCaffrey.

So ... not just 2 stars, but a weak 2. I repeatedly thought about DNFing it, and really, I wouldn't have missed anything if I had.
Profile Image for Angel Leya.
Author 79 books79 followers
January 6, 2021
Another phenomenal story by Dan Koboldt. Making dragons to take care of the hog problem is one thing. Making dragons that are tame enough to replace the dog, which has been wiped out by a disease, is wholly another.

Noah Parker has had his gaze set on Reptilian Corp. for a while. Sure, building a state of the art genetically engineered dragon is high on the list of perks, but he has a much more personal reason. A reason that will take a bit more finessing when the institute tries to keep from tanking by converting to domesticated dragons.

A blast from the past, geocaching in the southwest deserts, and uncovering answers and secrets make this an entertaining read with an all-too-believable premise. If you've ever dreamed of owning your own pet dragon, or if you just like incredible stories, you should definitely pick this up.
Profile Image for Martha Steele .
548 reviews28 followers
May 3, 2021
This was an interesting approach to future genetic engineering with a bit of fun mixed in. Strange and a little silly at times, but my main issues were with suspension of disbelief when the intelligence and communication between humans and dragons was involved. Almost 4, but thats my sticking point.
Profile Image for Stanislas Sodonon.
421 reviews69 followers
July 27, 2021
If there ever was a book that deserved the expression : "because Dragons", it's this one.

To be fair, What I liked about this book was the sneaky way in which we get to the MC's motivations, and the geeky talk about how to tweak your dragon.

The rest was Meh to the extreme.

But Dragons!!!
So I finished it...

So yeah... Not a total ruin... I guess.
Profile Image for Marlene.
2,882 reviews196 followers
January 8, 2021
Originally published at Reading Reality

The blurb calls this “Build-A-Bear workshop meets Jurassic Park” and that does sum up the top level of this story – although in the end it turns out to be WAY MORE Jurassic Park than Build-A-Bear™.

After all, those bears aren’t real, but the dragons in Jurassic Park definitely are. Although the dragons that both do and don’t get domesticated don’t run quite that far amok. But they could. And they definitely do run a bit amok, but then, so do their designers – and their owners.

There are two situations at the beginning of this story, and they play into each other in ways that I didn’t expect at that beginning.

Noah Parker got into genetic engineering because his younger brother has a muscular atrophy-type disease that could be genetic. But nobody knows and with the source of the disease unidentified – and therefore medically “vague” – Connor Parker isn’t eligible for any of the experimental testing and treatment programs that are currently underway – or that ever will be.

Noah became a genetic engineer not so he could cure his brother – because that’s not possible – but so that he could identify the genetic component of his disease and get him into effective treatment.

It’s a noble goal – although the lengths that Noah goes to in order to achieve it are sometimes less than noble.

There’s also a secondary problem that most of the world considers more important than the progress of one man’s disease. A virus has killed off nearly the entire canine population the world over – and no cure has been found.

Strangely enough, that’s what leads to dragons. Because dogs fill a lot of roles in the human ecosystem, as well as making marvelous pets. There’s a huge niche that can be exploited by someone with the genetic engineering knowhow and the economic savvy to design and build a creature that can fill all those cages that used to be filled by barking dogs.

That’s where Reptilian Corporation comes in. And eventually, where it goes out. With more than a bit of help from newly minted Ph.D. Noah Parker and all of his little friends.

Escape Rating A-: Dragons may be the ultimate in charismatic fauna. They’re certainly right up there with the dinosaurs of Jurassic Park for just how much sheer “grabby hands syndrome” the idea of having one’s very own dragon would create in pretty much anyone.

Including a whole lot of people who are incapable of being responsible pet owners for one reason or another. The transcripts of the calls to the Build-A-Dragon help line and support department are hilarious and so very real. Tech support for computers and computer software sounds very much like that – without the possibilities of death and dismemberment for either the owner or the product. Usually. (If you’ve never read the probably apocryphal tale of nosmoke.exe, now might be the time. We all need a laugh or two this week!)

As much as I chuckled over the tech support bits, this is a story that began by giving me a terrible sad. Imagining a world where there were no dogs was depressing as hell. And I’m a cat person. But seriously, as many jokes as there are about asking the deity to make someone as good of a person as their dog thinks there are, the idea that the dogs were all gone was heartbreaking. Strangely even more heartbreaking than the situation at the beginning of Connie Willis’ quirky time-travel classic, To Say Nothing of the Dog, which begins in a world where it’s the cats who have been killed off.)

It also made me wonder, throughout the story, why no one seemed to have thought about engineering dog species who were immune to the virus. Discovering the reason at the end was kind of a relief.

But the story here is about one extremely nerdy guy who sets out to save his brother and ends up saving an entire species. Because as much as he wants to treat the dragons as if they are merely clusters of experimental cells, he can’t. They worm, or rather fly, their way into Noah’s heart every bit as much as they do the readers’.

So when Noah discovers the truth about what’s really going on with the company and the dragons, we’re right there with him in his horror, his disgust, his fear and his determination. We cheer him on as he does what’s right instead of what’s easy.

And it’s marvelous that in the end, rather like the way that dogs (and cats) save us as much as we save them, Noah’s dragons save him every bit as much as he saves them – if not just a bit more.

Lab-based science fiction, with its grounding in the real world, real situations and people who feel like friends rather than out-of-this-world superheroes is a lot of fun when it’s done right. It’s done right in Domesticating Dragons, with its geeky hero who saves the day, gets the girl and fulfills all of our dreams of dragons.
Profile Image for Anna Tan.
Author 26 books162 followers
December 8, 2020
Noah Parker needs to get into Reptilian Corporation - the genetic engineering firm headed by inventor Simon Redwood that has cracked the code to hatching real-life dragons. Or, well, synthetic reptilian predators designed from genetically-engineered reptilian genomes, but who wants to say all that?

So. Dragons.

And with his biological simulator plus an added behavioural module, Noah can help the company design family-friendly pet dragons to replace the dogs they lost in the canine epidemic. On the side, Noah's hard at work trying to find a way to secretly use Reptilian's resources and advances in genetic sequencing to help fix one problem that's close to his heart... besides dodging scrutiny for, uhm, Octavius.

Domesticating Dragons was an enjoyable read. Koboldt put his training as a geneticist to good work, but as he assured me, it's not SO hard-sciencey that you can't follow along. It's not all about the dragons, though - what drives Noah is his loved ones, especially the welfare of his brother Connor. And it's not just family. Noah comes across as a guy who just... cares for people in his own way, whether it's his team at work - working collaboratively and sharing credit - or that slightly annoying roommate of his ex who's fighting him for the top spot in their geocaching race.

Anyways, back to dragons, I went into this thinking, what, haven't we learnt from Jurassic Park yet? And it seems we have. Reptilian Corporation takes safety of their dragons veeerrryyyy seriously even if their owners don't (the customer service call logs are hilarious!) and if we were anywhere close to this in the real world (are we? I have no clue), we might actually have a chance to get our own little pet dragons. How fun!

Note: I received a complimentary digital ARC from the author. Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.
Profile Image for Keith Willis.
Author 6 books59 followers
December 11, 2020
I just finished an ARC of Dan Koboldt’s latest book, Domesticating Dragons, and “wow!!!” I’ve read Mr. Koboldt’s Gateways to Alissia trilogy, a lovely mashup of technology and sorcery. Domesticating Dragons is a bit different. This is straight, hard-core sci-fi, excellently done. Mr. Koboldt draws on his own extensive background as a geneticist to create a world in which dragons have been genetically engineered and sold as pets. I can practically hear Dr. Ian Malcom gnashing his teeth and muttering “They didn’t stop to think if they should…”

Domesticating Dragons does indeed read quite a bit like a Michael Crichton novel in terms of plot, pacing, and technology. Which, to me, is great—I think Crichton’s technothrillers are tremendous fun. But Domesticating Dragons actually reads much better, primarily because Dan Koboldt has a much defter hand at developing characters (apologies to Dr. Malcolm). His hero, Noah Parker, has flaws, moral dilemmas, and a bit of an obsession (can’t say too much without venturing into spoiler territory, so I’ll just leave it there…). But Noah also has purpose and drive and smarts, and even a romantic side. Even though he started off (to me) as a not-particularly-likeable character, I quickly came to find him engaging and believable, and was absolutely rooting for him before long. And that’s the mark of a master storyteller.

But enough about people. Let’s talk about the dragons. Big ones, small ones, clumsy ones, vicious ones, smart ones. Very smart ones. Reptilian Corp. makes them to order, and everyone wants a dragon. The descriptions of and science behind the engineering of the dragons are spot on, although I’ve come to expect no less from Mr. Koboldt, and he pulls out all the stops in this book.

Noah is hired as part of the dragon design team, but he’s not as interested in the dragons themselves as is he in the access this provides to their genetic code. For Noah has big, secret plans, and only the genetically engineered dragons can bring them to fruition. Along the way he’ll have some major choices to make, choices which will affect not just his own plans, but ultimately, dare I say it…the world…

Koboldt weaves a highly entertaining, fast-paced, and technically adroit tale in Domesticating Dragons, one which should whet the appetite of anyone who dreams of having their own dragon someday.

Highly recommended. Five Talons Up.
Author 10 books9 followers
January 11, 2021
A stand-alone science fiction books about genetically engineered dragons!

Noah Parker has a Ph.D. in genetic engineering. He wants to work for Reptilian Corp. for a very specific reason and the reason’s not because Reptilian is making dragons. Reptilian has genetically engineered (from reptiles) dragons to hunt the wild hogs which are a huge problem for the US farmers. However, now the dragons are making quick work of the hogs and the company needs to expand to more lucrative market: pets.

Four years ago, a virulent disease killed off almost all dogs and the few who are alive are kept in clean rooms. While some people are happy with other pets, Reptilian wants to make dragons for the former dog owners. Noah’s research could well help with that. But even if he gets a job in the company, he must try to do his own secret work and time is running out.

This was a fun and fast-paced scifi book. Noah is the first person narrator and he has a good sense of humor and he’s quite nerdy, too. But when he’s obsessed with something, everything else just falls away. He mostly works with computer models. As a conterpoint to sitting in front of the computer all day, he starts geocaching in the Arizona desert. I also enjoyed his snarky but caring relationship with his brother.

We get a couple of fun chapters from others’ POV, too. A couple of them are hilarious customer service calls.

Noah has programmed a behavioral simulater based on the dragons’ biological variables. Basically, he tries to designs dragons which will be genetically docile. The company puts a point cost to different things like intelligence and size, so he can’t change them willy-nilly, but must balance things out. The company uses a 3D printer to print the eggs and then hatches them.

I have no idea if any of this is even remotely plausible but it’s a lot of fun!
Profile Image for Daniel Shellenbarger.
403 reviews16 followers
August 13, 2021
It's more of a 7/10 for me: there's some good comedy in here and the story has some intriguing hooks, but between the rushed shoddy ending, the main character's insane plan, some poorly explained plot elements (regardless of their intelligence, why do the dragons understand English like... IMMEDIATELY after being hatched), glossed over issues (WHY IS NO ONE FREAKING OUT ABOUT HOW THE DRAGONS ARE KILLING PEOPLE?!!? HOW ARE THERE FERAL DRAGONS?!?), and the bizarrely sudden shift from hate to love in the relationship between the protagonist and his (eventual) love interest, I couldn't justify more than 3 of 5 stars.
Profile Image for Amelia.
281 reviews41 followers
May 26, 2021

This was quite a fun little romp!

I must say though that I *much* prefer the audiobook cover art...
June 14, 2022
Such a good mix of science fiction, character development/growth and plot. Highly recommend!
Profile Image for Eric.
172 reviews31 followers
December 8, 2020

Domesticating Dragons is a fun ride through the science of bringing dragons to life, not as monsters but as pets. This book is highly recommended to fans of the scientific process, dragons, and genetics.

Disclaimer: The author provided me an advanced review copy in exchange for an honest review. In addition, the author is a friend of mine, who I have worked with in the past on writing projects and will work with in the future.

Review: Domesticating Dragons by Dan Koboldt

Variety is the spice of life according to my seventh grade English teacher. Too much of the science fiction that I’ve read lately has people using the results of scientific discovery, but very few have placed the discovery process at the center of the story. It turns out that what I needed to read was Domesticating Dragons by Dan Koboldt. This story was a welcome change for me. It begins with the hero, Noah Parker, applying for a job. But this isn’t just any old job. Noah interviews for a high-end genetics position to create dragons. Real dragons, not online, not for a computer game, not for virtual reality, but as pets for real households. Noah gets the job – no, not a spoiler – and begins a career bringing dragons to life, but Noah has an ulterior motive for working at the Reptilian Corporation.

Domesticating Dragons takes place in two distinct locations. The first is the design lab of the Reptilian Corporation, and the second is the wilderness trails around Phoenix, Arizona. Noah Parker, a recent Ph.D. gradudate in genetic engineering, starts a job at Reptilian Corp to help the company expand market share. Dragons were originally designed to help cull the feral pig population, but they’ve done such a good job that the company will close if new markets can’t be found. The solution: Dragons as pets. Noah and his fellow engineers begin the process of trying to transform their hog hunting raptors into family friendly lizards. In Noah’s world, an epidemic has devastated the canine population of the world. Yes, you read that right, dogs are in danger of extinction in Domesticating Dragons. How should one replace the family’s best friend? Buy a dragon, of course. The problem is that in their current form, dragons are killing machines. Noah takes us through using genetic modifications to change characteristics of the dragons.

They succeed, of course. Soon, Noah creates custom dragons for the wealthier clients. They even go so far as to work on a flying model. The company expands and becomes ever more profitable. In the meantime, he pursues his ulterior research and takes up geocaching as a hobby. Along the way, he learns that Reptilian Corp has some dark secrets of its own. But are they secrets he can live with?
I enjoyed this novel. It resonated with me as an engineer and as a lowly cog in a corporation. Noah is a friendly but brilliant guy who is driven by a secret that only his family knows. The story moves along at a fairly brisk pace, and I wish Koboldt had sat more in a few scenes. The dragons range from scary to cuddly, but Dan doesn’t let the reader forget that they are carnivores. Noah has a life outside work, and about halfway through, he develops a love interest. I found this to be a well-rounded novel that had me turning the pages. I loved the science, and the scenes set in the lab drove home the cutting edge scientific work being done. I want one of the dragon design workstations.


The novel takes place mostly in Noah’s perspective. Therefore, the novel’s success or failure rides on him as a character. I liked Noah, and I think he acted like a scientist (not a big surprise because Dan, himself, is a scientist). Noah’s mom and brother appear off and on through the book, which make for telling character moments.

Noah balances between his work at Reptilian Corp and his hobby of geocaching. I knew nothing of geocaching prior to this book, but it sounds a lot of fun. I enjoyed that Noah had other hobbies than work. In the media, we don’t see characters having lives outside the narrative of the story. Now, granted, Noah’s hobby becomes useful later. Still, it was nice to see a scientist who has a life. In addition, Noah’s hobby isn’t the stereotypical one associated with scientists. It was a fresh depiction of scientists, and one that reflects my experiences in life.


Domesticating Dragons is science fiction, which you probably guessed. But it is SCIENCE fiction. Dan put a lot of science in the book, and I loved it. How much of it is accurate? Couldn’t tell you, and I don’t really care. The fact that it was a story in which the science played a big part was definitely something I needed. The scientific process is a lot like plotting a story; they are both made up of try-fail cycles. Though in science, we try to fail a little less with each cycle. Discovery and product creation are rarely a straight forward process. Instead, they are iterative with the need to balance many factors. Dan represents this in the novel with the ‘points’ system that restrict the dragon designers and the various rejected simulations.

Working in corporations requires adhering to corporate guidelines, even when you don’t necessarily agree with those guidelines. Noah runs into this in a couple of ways. The first is the points restrictions, and the second is a CEO who has his own standards for what dragons should be. This part was spot on. Engineers are often baffled by the hows and whys of executive decision making, and Dan represents that very well in this book.

Domesticating Dragons touches briefly on the ethics of biological experimentation and creation. The one way dragons are both fascinating and sad. I would have liked to see more discussion of the ethics of creating a being with a purposefully limited life span.


As a reader of fantasy, I’m used to dragons in my literature. Domesticating Dragons put a new spin on the creatures, though. I appreciated that Dan mixed it up. Because these are human created dragons, they don’t lie on piles of gold; they’re not gigantic animals. Instead, these are smaller, less intelligent, and less scary than the mythic dragons. To be clear, less scary doesn’t mean harmless. These dragons are carnivores, and for the customers who don’t follow Reptilian Corp’s care instructions, they can become dangerous.

Dan includes a variety of shapes and sizes in the novel. His dragon variations mirror how humans have bred dogs in a variety from teacup poodles to rottweilers. Some are large; some are small. Some fly; some don’t. Some are green lizards; others are pink polka dot exhibits of people having more money than taste.

Dragon Customer Service

At various interludes, the reader gets to see interactions with Reptilian Corp’s customers. These transcripts are funny and ring true for anyone who has worked in customer service. I enjoyed these little breaks in the novel, little moments of humor.


Dan Koboldt’s Domesticating Dragons is a fun science based novel. It gave a new spin on mythical dragons. The novel delivered on its premise of build-a-bear meets Jurassic Park. There’s much to like here for SF and Fantasy readers, and I highly recommend Domesticating Dragons.

Domesticating Dragons by Dan Koboldt is available from Baen Books on January 5th, 2021.

9 out of 10!
191 reviews5 followers
January 13, 2021
4.5 / 5 Stars

Domesticating Dragons caught my attention simply because the word 'dragons' was in the title and I was curious as to how a science-fiction book was going to handle a subject that you would typically find in the fantasy genre. I was definitely not disappointed as I found myself enjoying this book quite a bit, and was pleasantly surprised at how much I enjoyed the main characters and the dragons. It was just pure fun.

Noah is one of those characters that really grew on me as the story progressed. I wasn't a huge fan at the beginning as he was so consumed with his own agenda; I was sympathetic to the fact that he was trying to help his brother receive gene therapy, but was refused because they couldn't get an official diagnosis, and Noah was going to use the dragons to help, but it was more his attitude and his way of going about things that wasn't so endearing. However, he definitely grew on me as the story progressed and I came to like him more and more. I thought the author did a great job unveiling his personality and making him likeable, especially once the dragons came into the picture and he began to care for something other than his own agenda. Noah did have a pretty good sense of humour as a main character, and I definitely appreciated his self-deprecating attitude.

As a counterpoint to his days spent coding, Noah was a geocacher, and I really enjoyed those chapters devoted to his searches for those treasures. Here he runs into an old acquaintance, his ex-girlfriend's roommate, and together, they try to beat some of the more difficult geocache locations which are out in the Arizona desert. Summer was a really fun character to get to know, and if I have any criticism in this book, it's that I didn't get to learn as much as I wanted about her as she was a really interesting character. And she could kick butt too!! There is definitely a lot more that happens with this side of the story, but there are spoilers here and I don't want to give anything away.

I particularly enjoyed some of the added chapters from sales representatives or I guess they would be more like dragon help-lines. They were pretty funny and added a lot of comedy/hilarity to the story; I couldn't help laughing out loud at some of the them. Unfortunately, I could actually see some of these scenarios actually occurring.

The story itself moves rather quickly, especially in the second half of the book where most of the action really takes place. And although there is a lot of talk about the funny types of dragons, and the cuddly ones, the author never lets you forget how dangerous they can be through certain scenes and certain scenarios. It took everything in me not to check the last page of the book to make sure a certain dragon survived as I was more attached to it than to the main characters.

Noah has a PhD in genetic engineering, and the book spent a lot of time talking about coding and genetics, something I appreciated. The company for which he works, Reptilian, has created dragons to replace dogs which were wiped out several years ago due to a viral pestilence that has no cure. Noah's job was to help find the genetic markers that would turn the instinctual nature of a dragon to eat you into one that is domesticated, playful, and relatively tame. The whole coding process and the types of dragons they created was pretty cool, and I even started longing for one myself. Even one of Noah's previous programs was incorporated into the program at Reptilian and the coders all competed trying to create the perfect domesticated dragon, all within company parameters, of course, because the coders' agendas and the agendas of the CEO are not necessarily compatible. And this is where a secondary plot line comes into play. And this is where I will leave it as it's better not knowing what will happen.

Domesticating Dragons was a lot of fun and I devoured the book. I do have a science background as well as history background, but I have no experience with genetics and coding so, to be honest, I have no idea if any of this is even remotely feasible. I really enjoyed reading about the scientists' process as they discovered the domesticated dragons as too many science-fiction books tend to focus on the end result and not the process. The plot moved quickly, especially in the second half, and the characters were interesting. I highly recommend this book to anyone looking for something a little different. And it involves dragons!!

Profile Image for Raymond Thompson.
Author 11 books2 followers
November 11, 2020
Domesticating Dragons by Dan Cobaldt
For more than one reason, genetic engineer Noah Parker is delighted to land a job designing new lines of dragons at Reptilian Corp. in Phoenix. He relishes the challenges, but soon discovers there are dangers as well as rewards. Dragons can kill as well as help. And so can humans with dark secrets to conceal.
This is an absorbing science fiction novel that presents an intriguing scenario: what if developments in genetic engineering led to the creation of dragons? How would humans try to make use of their abilities, yet still ensure that they maintain control? What about ethical issues? Similar concerns have been raised about robots, artificial intelligence, the selective breeding of crops and animals, and the introduction/invasion of non-native species, and these provide a thought-provoking context to the story.
Noah’s trips into the Arizona desert, initially for his hobby of geocaching, take on a more serious purpose when he learns of the existence of a secret ‘Farm’ where the corporation sends ‘problematic’ dragons. Between the natural perils of a hot and inhospitable environment inhabited by cactus and rattlesnakes, and those imposed by a ruthless CEO with secrets to protect and armed guards at his disposal, the tension steadily increases. On top of that, Noah is desperately trying to identify the degenerative disease that is killing his brother, and time is running short.
The novel follows a traditional and highly popular plot pattern: the hero who makes use of his special talents (in this case, genetic engineering) to save others (dragons, his brother). Since he also wins the (equally talented) girl and learns how evil lurks behind an innocent façade, Cobaldt includes all three of basic science fiction plots identified long ago by Robert Heinlein.
What make this book so enjoyable, however, are three impressive features. The first is the relationships that Noah develops: with his co-workers in design; with his (eventual) girlfriend, Summer; with his brother; and with his dragon, Octavius. Initial suspicion and competitiveness evolve into co-operation and mutual support, and this teamwork provides the strength to overcome the challenges they face. The second is the point of view. This is a first-person narrative and Noah is a sympathetic narrator, possessed with a lively and self-deprecating sense of humor that keeps us involved as he grows beyond narrow personal preoccupations and learns to care for others and to accept wider responsibility. (In other words, grows up.)
And, oh yes, dragons. They are a fascinating crew, especially Octavius, though those condor models are intriguing. Details on training procedures and the relationship between the different models remain tantalizingly brief, but if you enjoyed Anne McCaffrey’s Dragonriders of Pern and Naomi Novik’s Temeraire series, this will delight. Though some dragons are designed to function as dangerous predators, others fall into the category of more benign animal helpers, who are not only highly intelligent but possess a quirky sense of humor. (Like some of Gordon Dickson’s aliens.)
Highly recommended, and I look forward to further novels that will explore the potential of these dragons.
Ray Thompson
Profile Image for Becky B.
7,492 reviews94 followers
March 24, 2021
When a new cancer similar to the Tasmanian Devil Facial Tumor starts to wipe out man's best friend, dog lovers around the world are bereft and in search of new companions. Just previous to this a genius with his hands in multiple fields figured out how to genetically engineer dragons to deal with the feral hog problem in the Southwest US. That company saw the dogs dying out, knew that the hogs were mostly dealt with, and changed their name to Build-a-Dragon to fit the new business opportunity. Build-a-Dragon is trying to design dragons to fill the gaps dogs left. Guard dogs, seeing eye dogs, lap dogs will now become guard dragons, seeing eye dragons, and lap dragons...if they can just tweek the genes enough so the dragons won't take your face off as soon as they hatch.
Noah Parker has just gotten his doctorate in genetic engineering, and he's landed himself a job at Build-a-Dragon thanks to a lovely little program related to genetic engineering he wrote. They hope it will help them break the domestication barrier. He hopes it will allow him to outsmart the higher ups, hijack the system and get his brother the genetic help he needs. But he also kind of likes the dragons. The longer he is at the company, though, the more he finds out...and Build-a-Dragon is hiding some major secrets.

This was super smart, very scientifically based scifi. Just the way I like it. But I don't think there are so many sciency details it would turn off the less sciency-inclined. It also scratches the Jurassic Park/World itch just enough with a dash of How to Train Your Dragon thrown in while being entirely its own thing. There are interlude chapters from the customer service department of Build-a-Dragon that are HILARIOUS. And Noah takes up geocaching with his little dragon to help destress, which takes them on hikes through the desert; I think I've only read one other book in which a character does geocaching so it was a nice different hobby for a character (and it got to show off his dragon's skills). If you love dragons, smart scifi, geocaching, or stories of the "little guys" trying to outwit big baddish companies, snatch this up.

Notes on content: There is a fair amount of swearing, mostly mild with some strong profanity every once in a while. There's some heavy kissing but nothing beyond that. There's two brief scenes and one slightly bigger scene in which dragons and humans don't mix well and it ends badly for the humans. Only one death a bit described with blood and details.
Profile Image for Erin Penn.
Author 3 books13 followers
June 16, 2021
Domesticating Dragons is a techno-medical pseudo-science near-future science fiction. A nice mix of romance, action, mild humor, and techno-babble gives a good-feel sci-fi read.

The main downside is while the main character can interact with female co-workers just fine and mentally puts them into the "no mix" category ... every other female is fair game to find attractive and to hit on. Eventually one of the "hits" sticks - and that one is constantly either being looked at as amazing for her go-get-'em attitude or is described as dirty and sweaty (for her go-get-'em actions), but still beautiful. Mind and emotional states aren't brought up much. (But there are women, ... I don't think any talk to each other ..., and a lot of them are doing things with their brains. So the book has THAT going for it.) This attitude of hitting on everything when you meet them for the first time reminds me a lot of where people are in their twenties; they are finding their lifemates so the questions for the appropriate gender of attraction in order are (1) can I pursue them, (2) do they respond positively to feelers, (3) do they say yes to a date, (4) do I find them attractive and can I hang out with them in a variety of circumstances. All these actions are appropriate to the age of the character. Just at my age, the mating dance is a bit tiresome.

I really enjoyed the dragons - the creating of dragons. Big dragons and little ones, flying ones and attack ones, hot pink birthday custom orders and 3-d printing mistakes. Claws, teeth, wings, and
scales all are considered in the build-a-dragon. Most importantly, can they be programmed as domesticated?

The ending comes a little quick, the pacing in some places is off for the build to a big crescendo and my editing brain was trying to figure what places need adjustment to fix the problem. My reader brain kept saying while I was reading "shut UP - this is really good as is, enjoy it!!!"

If you want some good sci-fi on plain-old-Earth, with DRAGONS and three-D printing, this is the ride you are looking for. Enjoy it!!


I received this at a Baen's Road Show at a book convention. These are wonderful panels showing what my favorite sci-fi/fantasy publisher has just released or is releasing this year. Always with the covers - Baen has AWESOME covers. Seeing the cover art without all the text is artistically satisfying.
Profile Image for Brandie.
230 reviews6 followers
April 5, 2021
Due to this book's really cheesy cover, I thought this was going to be an over-the-top (on purpose) goofy story about genetic engineering of dragons as pets gone comically and horrifically bad. And there is a touch of that that you get when you peek into the customer service calls and in Build-A-Dragon's instruction/owner's manual.

Mostly though, the story is not on the cheesy, comical, horrific side. The author, Dan Koboldt, is a genetics researcher by training and trade and his background in genetics shines through in the story. You get into the nitty-gritty of genetics without being bogged down by it. There's even a bit of humor. On the downside, many of the side characters seem to be have a similar voice (not all) and not well developed, there are a lot of overdone tropes, the main character was not really likeable (he could very easily become an incel) most of the time, and the overdone tropes. I know I said that last one twice.

It was a roller coaster for me. I was excited at first to read the book, then a little ways into it I didn't think it was going to be that good, but then it ended with me enjoying it (mostly because of the dragons, especially Octavius!).

Scientists writing science fiction! More please!
That can be a mixed bag as many are used to writing drier academic papers and books. Domesticating Dragons is not the best example of it being well down, but I can see that Koboldt has a great foundation and will get better with each story he writes! Just stay away from all those tropes!
145 reviews4 followers
April 15, 2021
A fusion of fantasy and science fiction. Noah Parker, a young PHD in genetic engineering, has been hired by Reptilian Corp. to help design customized dragons. The company originally designed dragons for industrial farmers to drive off the wild boars that were decimating crops. A epidemic has killed off most of the world's dogs and people are desperate for a pet. Some have chosen rodents, little pigs, etc.
But Reptilian has come up with the idea of a small to medium dragon as a pet for the home. They can be customized to the customer's taste as far as abilities and color, even polka dots for children.
They accomplish this by splicing together the best genes from a variety of animals. Noah is thrilled with the job; but he has his own agenda. His younger brother has an incurable genetic disease and cannot get into any clinical trials. So, Noah hopes to insert the gene that is causing his brother's disease into a dragon to prove that is pathogenic. The company sometimes has competitions among the genetic engineers and Noah becomes a real rival to the rest of them. Along the way Noah accidently gets his own little dragon egg which he smuggles out of the company. He takes it home and hatches. This little dragon is very smart and Noah names him Octavius and makes him his pet.
Noah also learns the company has some dark secrets of its own.
The descriptions of the company manual for the dragons and the interaction with customer service are funny.
204 reviews
January 8, 2023
Read some, skimmed some, read some...the narrative voice did not bring me into the story well, the protagonist, company, and players all struck me as caricatures, yet not extreme enough to be amusing or novel.

In the first few chapters Noah's clueless even entering a large company, lacking basic courteous (arriving late, trying to chat up the receptionist), by Chapter 49 he's at "a moment I'd been waiting for most of my adult life." Accelerated PhD, 6 years including undergrad, so he's supposed to be about ... 24? (sigh)

The receptionist is cool and dismissive at the first encounter, then inexplicably cooing over a trinket from this newbie at the second. Just horrible writing, insulting stereotypes... >shudder<

The Tech Support chapter starting p. 255 is cute enough but predictable, from "attack dragon" on. The author hasn't decided which point of view is being presented, with the iVR hold script included (which the help desk staff would not hear) but the call ending with the help desk staff hanging up.

**SPOILER ALERT** The whole 'plot' is woven around trite conspiracy theory rehash. The END of the book finally points out what we've thought from the get-go - if you can bio-engineer dragons, can't you create plague-resistant dogs? Added to the "follow the money" motivation - how old can you get without learning from TV and movies to START there? I had hopes for this piece based on the concept, but this effort is big 'skip it' for me.
Profile Image for Christopher Owens.
289 reviews3 followers
March 13, 2021
I received an advance reader copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

In the near future, a plague has wiped out almost all of the dogs on the planet. A genetic design corporation sees a potential market to serve – by creating a line of domesticated dragons to fill the void left by the disappearance of mans best friend. Domesticating Dragons is the story of Noah Palmer, a genetic engineer who joins the company to not only create the perfect dragon but also to carry out his own hidden agenda.

Noah Parker, the main character, has a lot in common with Quinn Bradley – the main character in Koboldt’s Gateways to Alissia series. Both are quick-witted, good at reading people, and generally less successful with women than they’d like to think. For me this book is along the lines of the Michael Crichton books that I’ve read, but without the info dumps explaining all of the scientific principles that drive the story.

I gave Domesticating Dragons five stars on Goodreads. It is targeted at adult readers, but suitable for young adults and even the older segment of middle grade readers. At this point in time, it’s in the lead for my favorite book of the year.
February 24, 2021
Dan Koboldt's Designing Dragons tells a near-future science-laced story exploring genetic engineering in the form of an entertaining "what if" light read. Dragons tend to find their home in fantasy novels with swords and sorcery more often than in this somewhat harder science approach. This novel goes a completely different way with the dragon idea. With a style that hovers between light-hearted and satiric, the novel tells a first-person story of genetic design and a scientist finding his way. The plot features the mix of the seemingly real and the seemingly completely improbable that helps science fiction stay fun. I liked the male and female protagonists, the way the dystopian elements of the novel are often cloaked in cheery corporate-speak, and the breezy, straightforward plot and style.

I read this novel over the course of a week, and found it a good read. I also appreciate the ebook was available in a non-DRM format, so that I could easily read it on my computer's ebook app.
If you're looking for a fun read with a feel similar to those novels written in the early 1960s, you
may, as I did, enjoy Domesticating Dragons.
180 reviews
March 12, 2022
This is Mr. Koboldt's first fiction book, and it's a great one!

He previously wrote a non-fiction book entitled "Putting the Science in Fiction: Expert Advice for Writing With Authenticity in Science Fiction, Fantasy, and Other Genres", and which I found extremely interesting and helpful as it dealt with exactly what the Science Fiction genre has been lacking in for many years - science. Yes, it's in the title, but that doesn't mean it in the vast number of stories.

Domesticating Dragons looks at genetic engineering and the premise is that dogs have essentially become extinct due to a disease that swept through their species. Because of this, and because human still wanted animal companions a company found a way to custom design and "build" dragons for various roles in society. Enter Noah Parker who has an ulterior motive for wanting to design dragons (a good one) and who gets a job at Build-A-Dragon which is run by Robert Greaves (who has some not-so-good ideas).

As I said in the beginning this is a great book, and I'm looking forward to whatever Mr. Koboldt writes next.

Highly recommended.
Profile Image for Patrick.
4 reviews
September 16, 2022
Based on the author's own description, "Build a bear workshop meets Jurassic Park" I expected this book to be entertaining and fun to read. Not only did Domesticating Dragons meet this expectation, but far exceeded it. I happened to listen to the unabridged audiobook version on my commute to/from work, and the narrator added yet another level of quality to this fine work.

As a longtime geocacher, I appreciated the author's unique twist on the hobby, although I don't see myself trying to find those extensive multi-caches in the Arizona heat.

I can tell the author is a fan of certain movies, but I'll leave that up to the reader to discover. No spoilers here.

The one thing that made reading this book better was discovering its sequel. Yes, I'm sure it will be as scrumptious as this one.
20 reviews1 follower
February 1, 2022
I couldn't finish this one. 340 pages and I give up. The main character, Noah, is just unlikable. I don't care about him or what he does. He is: smug; a liar; a cheater; a bad son who doesn't try to help his alcoholic mother who alone cares for his brother who has some type of MS and brother; He spends entire weekends playing a game, geocacheing, ignoring his brother who is wasting away, stuck at home with his overwhelmed mother. Oh yeah, he's sabotaging his work, stabbing the company that hired him and pays him a check. And despite having a wonderful dragon(illicitly), he creates defective dragons that will have to be euthanized.
The dragons for the most part are velociraptors
On the plus side there is Octavious, his dragon, the kind of dragon you're reading this book for.
Profile Image for William Bentrim.
Author 66 books62 followers
November 18, 2020
Domesticating Dragons by Dan Koboldt

Well crafted and engaging!

Being a dragon lover for as long as I can remember, I expected to love this book and I DID!

Kolboldt postulates a not too distant future where genetic engineering allows engineers to create dragons. The dragons have issues which is where Noah Parker finds his niche.

Anthropomorphism figures into my own writing and I always enjoy seeing it used. The dragons are a reflection of the designer. The customer support call logs were hysterical.

I recommend the book to anyone interested in genetic engineering to get a picture of a possible future. For dragon lovers, this is a must-read!

I highly recommend it.
Profile Image for Alex Shepherd.
Author 1 book5 followers
July 28, 2021
I really enjoyed the whole concept of this book, especially after having just finished re-reading Jurassic Park. I also love that this author is doing MY favorite thing, which is "write what you know but make it cooler by adding mythical creatures," so two thumbs way up for that!

The motivations of the main character were believable, I enjoyed the customer service transcripts and honestly, having WORKED in phone-customer-service, that utterly ridiculous claims/requests by customers to the company were so believable.

My only real complaint about this book was the frequency of typos that would pull me (briefly) out of the story. A little more editing and this book would REALLY shine.
Profile Image for Sylvia Spruck Wrigley.
Author 32 books45 followers
August 18, 2021
Domesticating Dragons is a fast-paced and fun novel by Dan Koboldt, the author of the Gateways to Alissia portal fantasy series and, full disclosure, creator and writer of The Triangle which I was lucky enough to be invited to as a co-writer. Koboldt's latest creation, described as "Build-A-Bear workshop meets Jurassic Park", is a fantastic tech thriller with genetic engineering, corporate intrigue, romance, and dragons! The near-future story is told through a variety of formats; the main narrative centers around Noah Parker but his story is interspersed with excerpts from news articles, customer service tickets at Reptilian and the Dragon Owner's manual.

The story opens in a high-tech near-future world of bio-luxuries on a backdrop of the harsh Arizona desert. Before you know it, you are immersed in a Michael Crichton style page-turner, caring more about bio-engineered dragon experiments than you might have ever thought possible.

Koboldt uses his background as a geneticist to take the fantasy genre's favorite creature and turn it into the star of a science fiction tech-thriller. He shares just enough about genetics research and next-generation DNA sequencing to enhance the story without dragging us down into complicated details.

A likeable protagonist, an intelligent and active love interest and a tiny dragon that will make you wish you could scritch his head form the center of this fast-paced and yet wholesome story about a young man who may talk a big talk but at his core, he really just wants to save the world. What follows is a fast-pace romp which comes together for an unabashedly happy ending.

This novel is a rare thing: a fun and fast-paced read that makes me feel smarter for having read it.
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