It’s not much of a secret around here that I absolutely love dragons. Any type of dragon! Big dragons, small dragons, tame dragons, wild dragons, evil dragons, dragons that fly, dragons that don’t, fire breathing dragons, gold hoarding dragons, intelligent dragons, non-talking dragons, I pretty much love them all. My favorite dragon books usually present dragons in a new or different way from the books I’m used to reading.
So without further ado, and in no particular order, here are some of my favorite books about or featuring dragons.
His Majesty’s Dragon
An alternate history of the Napoleonic Wars where in addition to the army and navy, each side has an aeronautical division.
“When HMS Reliant captures a French frigate and seizes the precious cargo, an unhatched dragon egg, fate sweeps Captain Will Laurence from his seafaring life into an uncertain future – and an unexpected kinship with a most extraordinary creature. Thrust into the rarified world of the Aerial Corps as master of the dragon Temeraire, he will face a crash course in the daring tactics of airborne battle. For as France’s own dragon-borne forces rally to breach British soil in Bonaparte’s boldest gambit, Laurence and Temeraire must soar into their own baptism of fire.”
If you enjoy historical fiction and fantasy, this mash-up is absolutely brilliant!
Bilbo Baggins, a comfort-loving hobbit, is swept away on an adventure with thirteen dwarves and the great wizard Gandalf to rescue treasure from the evil dragon Smaug. This is a classic dragon novel, and while Smaug is not featured for long in the book, he is a pretty excellent villain. Don’t let The Lord of the Rings scare you away, The Hobbit is a light-hearted and easy read.
Anne McCaffery is known in the fantasy community as “The Queen of Dragons”, and for good reason. Dragonflight is an outstanding beginning to a beloved series.
“To the nobles who live in Benden Weyr, Lessa is nothing but a ragged kitchen girl. For most of her life she has survived by serving those who betrayed her father and took over his lands. Now the time has come for Lessa to shed her disguise—and take back her stolen birthright. But everything changes when she meets a queen dragon. The bond they share will be deep and last forever. It will protect them when, for the first time in centuries, Lessa’s world is threatened by Thread, an evil substance that falls like rain and destroys everything it touches. Dragons and their Riders once protected the planet from Thread, but there are very few of them left these days. Now brave Lessa must risk her life, and the life of her beloved dragon, to save her beautiful world. . .”
“When Eragon finds a polished blue stone in the forest, he thinks it is the lucky discovery of a poor farm boy; perhaps it will buy his family meat for the winter. But when the stone brings a dragon hatchling, Eragon realizes he has stumbled upon a legacy nearly as old as the Empire itself. Overnight his simple life is shattered, and he is thrust into a perilous new world of destiny, magic, and power. With only an ancient sword and the advice of an old storyteller for guidance, Eragon and the fledgling dragon must navigate the dangerous terrain and dark enemies of an Empire ruled by a king whose evil knows no bounds. Can Eragon take up the mantle of the legendary Dragon Riders? The fate of the Empire may rest in his hands. . .”
A young-adult take on a dragon adventure, I enjoy Eragon every time I read it. Paolini borrows heavily from many other classic fantasy novels, but still manages to create his own interesting world. Full of fun and adventure, ya-adventure lovers are sure to love Eragon, but don’t get your hopes up for the rest of the series.
A Natural History of Dragons
“All the world, from Scirland to the farthest reaches of Eriga, know Isabella, Lady Trent, to be the world’s preeminent dragon naturalist. She is the remarkable woman who brought the study of dragons out of the misty shadows of myth and misunderstanding into the clear light of modern science. But before she became the illustrious figure we know today, there was a bookish young woman whose passion for learning, natural history, and, yes, dragons defied the stifling conventions of her day. Here at last, in her own words, is the true story of a pioneering spirit who risked her reputation, her prospects, and her fragile flesh and bone to satisfy her scientific curiosity; of how she sought true love and happiness despite her lamentable eccentricities; and of her thrilling expedition to the perilous mountains of Vystrana, where she made the first of many historic discoveries that would change the world forever.”
Written as a memoir, A Natural History of Dragons is partway a fantasy adventure, a partway a natural history. Lovers of the Victorian Era will find plenty to love about Lady Trent, while dragon lovers will enjoy learning about wild dragons that don’t talk, hoard treasure, or try to kill people past what any carnivore would.
The Two Princesses of Bamarre
“Twelve-year-old Addie admires her older sister Meryl, who aspires to rid the kingdom of Bamarre of gryphons, specters, and ogres. Addie, on the other hand, is fearful even of spiders and depends on Meryl for courage and protection. Waving her sword Bloodbiter, the older girl declaims in the garden from the heroic epic of Drualt to a thrilled audience of Addie, their governess, and the young sorcerer Rhys. But when Meryl falls ill with the dreaded Gray Death, Addie must gather her courage and set off alone on a quest to find the cure and save her beloved sister. Addie takes the seven-league boots and magic spyglass left to her by her mother and the enchanted tablecloth and cloak given to her by Rhys – along with a shy declaration of his love. She prevails in encounters with tricky specters (spiders too) and outwits a wickedly personable dragon in adventures touched with romance and a bittersweet ending.”
One of my all-time favorite middle-grade novels, The Two Princesses of Bamarre has a classic dragon sequence with a lovable twist: the damsel in distress must save herself in order to save her sister. As she cannot wield a sword, she must outsmart one of the most cunning creatures in her world. I love this book and cannot recommend it highly enough for young girls and boys.
Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone
I’m not giving a plot summary, because I’m assuming if you’re on the internet you know what Harry Potter is about. But I love the dragon chapter in this book. Norbert is a classic wild dragon, and Hagrid’s love for him and insistence on treating him like a baby is hilarious. I always get a couple of good laughs out of this chapter, and dragons make a strong comeback later in the series as well.
The Lost Hero
Automatonic dragons count, right?
In this sequel series to Percy Jackson and the Olympians, which can also stand alone, Roman and Greek demigods collide in the ultimate battle to save the world. In The Lost Hero Jason, Piper, and Leo travel the country on a bronze dragon on a quest to save Hera, Queen of the Gods. While still considered middle-grade fiction, The Heroes of Olympus series definitely reads more like young-adult. I love this series.