Andrea's Reviews > Dragonsbane

Dragonsbane by Barbara Hambly
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bookshelves: audiobook, fantasy

Occasionally, in discussions of SFF, you'll see readers bemoaning the lack of books that feature (1) older women (2) non-pretty women (3) mothers who get to do things. Dragonsbane has all of these things, in interesting ways and, while it begins by seeming to be a deconstruction of romantic stories of noble knights slaying evil dragons, it is primarily a story of (the limits of) female ambition.

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So, an enjoyable book, though I have some thoughts about how reading about an established romance rather than the first steps of romance is a little like reading book two of a series.

And more thoughts about the framing of this world, where women can be mages, but even when planning to become an ultimate power, that gaining of power can only be framed as bedding a king, and bearing a son as a puppet - and everything female seems to be called a whore several times over.

And, as ever, there is a vexed question of beauty for women, from the contrast between Jenny and Zyerne to the only time Jenny is called beautiful in the story. Although far from the intention of the story, I did end this reading thinking that it told me that women do best in a family setting, and I wished, as I always do, for more worlds that find it entirely unremarkable to put a woman on the throne, or make it possible to be ambitious and female and happy.
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Reading Progress

June 11, 2015 – Shelved
June 11, 2015 – Shelved as: audiobook
June 11, 2015 – Shelved as: fantasy
Started Reading
June 12, 2015 – Finished Reading

Comments Showing 1-5 of 5 (5 new)

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message 1: by Linda (last edited Jun 16, 2015 11:38PM) (new)

Linda Ooof, you made the premise sound really interesting, but I don't think I would be down with a whole woman vs. woman plot, there are so many more things I could be doing with my time.

I don't know if it characterizes this book at large but I think... sometimes there's a tendency for some authors to write female characters who are awesome, but then throw in this totally unnecessary "oh but other women are totally power hungry shallow bitches while I have a ~heart~" aspect to their stories. It's always kind of upsetting to me.


message 2: by Andrea (new) - added it

Andrea There are a couple of other positive female characters in relatively minor roles - Jenny definitely isn't intended to be portrayed as the only 'good' woman. But I do find evilbeautifulwoman vs goodplainwoman a little boring.


Stefanie Howell I'm torn on this one. I liked it because of the non-traditional character, but am deeply disheartened by the stereotypical career vs. family dilemma. I felt really let down by the ending.


message 4: by Andrea (new) - added it

Andrea Stefanie wrote: "I'm torn on this one. I liked it because of the non-traditional character, but am deeply disheartened by the stereotypical career vs. family dilemma. I felt really let down by the ending."

Yes. It seems unnecessary to make it impossible to grow as a mage and have a family life.


message 5: by Estara (new)

Estara When I originally read it in the 80s it seemed groundbreaking, but I think I've only reread it once? So I must have felt something is off. I haven't heard a lot of positive things from my trusted sources about the sequels that came about in the 2000s I think... never bothered to get them.


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