Harrowing the Dragon by Patricia A. McKillip

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Harrowing the Dragon è una raccolta di racconti principalmente sul genere fantasy, ma con presenze di retelling e racconti di altri generi.

Della stessa autrice avevo già letto The forgotten beasts of Eld in cui avevo apprezzato sia ambientazione che stile narrativo. Anche questi racconti sono un buon esempio dell’abilità dell’autrice nel descrivere sia ambientazioni (come l’inverno nel primo racconto, The Harrowing of the Dragon of Hoarsbreath) che concetti astratti (la musica di A Matter of Music), e nel creare in generale storie evocative (la malinconica ambientazione di Lady of the Skulls).

Tra i racconti più godibili i tre già citati, i divertenti A Troll and Two Roses e Baba Yaga and the Sorcerer’s Son, eleganti e ironiche fiabe moderne e The Fellowship of the Dragon, più classico ma sempre con un tocco particolare.

In tema di retelling risultano molto ben riusciti The Snow Queen (dall’omonimo racconto) e The Lion and the Lark, bellissimo racconto che riprende la fiaba classica La bella e la bestia. Toad riprende la storia del principe ranocchio (versione dei Grimm) dal punto di vista del principe: bello ma sicuramente meno riuscito dei due precedenti.

Star-Crossed prende il via direttamente da Shakespeare, e segue le indagini per comprendere la morte di Romeo e Giulietta, un compito effettivamente complesso se non si è il lettore onnisciente.

Non tutti i racconti sono allo stesso livello a mio parere, ma è una pecca condivisa da ogni raccolta: Ash, Wood, Fire; The Stranger; Transmutations; The Witches of Junket; Voyage into the Heart non mi hanno lasciato un particolare ricordo.

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Harrowing the Dragon is a collection of tales that belong mainly to the fantasy genre, with hint of retellings and a few other themes.

By the same author I read also The forgotten beasts of Eld of which I liked both the setting and the narrative style.  This collection is also an example of Patricia A. McKillip’s skill in describing settings (like the winter in the first tale, The Harrowing of the Dragon of Hoarsbreath) and abstract ideas (the music in A Matter of Music), and in general in creating evocative stories (the melancholic setting of Lady of the Skulls).

Among the best tales there are the three already referenced, then the funny A Troll and Two Roses and Baba Yaga and the Sorcerer’s Son, refined and ironical modern fairy tales, and The Fellowship of the Dragon, that follows some rules of the classic fairy tale but with a hint of modern.

Concerning retellings I liked The Snow Queen and The Lion and the Lark, beautiful tale from the classic tale The beauty and the beast. Toad takes form from The frog prince (Grimm version), and shows the story from the prince point of view, it is overall nice, but the former are better.

Star-Crossed tells the story of the investigation about Romeo and Giulietta murders, quite a puzzle except for the omniscient reader.

The other tales are in my opinion not good as these I talked about, but it’s hard to find a collection and like all the tales. Here Ash, Wood, Fire; The Stranger; Transmutations; The Witches of Junket; Voyage into the Heart did not leave me a particular emotion – memory.

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Harrowing the Dragon by Patricia A. McKillip ★★★★☆

Guards! Guards! by Terry Pratchett

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A me le guardie! è uno dei lampanti esempi dell’umorismo e della fantasia di Terry Pratchett.

Ambientato nel Mondo Disco, a Ankh-Morpork, ha come protagonisti le improbabili guardie del corpo di guardie notturno: il capitano Vimes, sulla via dell’alcolismo a causa della depressione per la mancanza di lavoro, il Sergente Colon grasso e pigro, il caporale Nobbs, al limite della definizione di essere umano. A chiudere il gruppo la nuova recluta Carrots, un ragazzo cresciuto dai nani e dotato di un integerrimo senso del dovere e della giustizia.

Le guardie si troveranno ad affrontare una situazione decisamente inconsueta quando un drago minaccerà la città, a dar loro supporto pochissimi, tra cui spicca Lady Sybil Ramkin, allevatrice di piccoli draghi da palude, e Errol, un delizioso e alternativo draghetto.

Il romanzo offre un divertimento umoristico e una storia avvincente e particolare, soprattutto nella parte iniziale, in cui tutto è nuovo e originale.

Terry Pratchett ci ha lasciato da poco, ma per fortuna restano a ricordarlo i suoi romanzi.

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Guards! Guards! is an example of the humor and the imagination of Terry Pratchett.

Set in the Discworld, in Ankh-Morpork, its main characters are the unlikely guards of the night watch: captain Vimes, almost an alcoholic for his depression due to lack of work, fat and lazy Sargent Colon, Corporal Nobbs, on the boundary of the definition of human. To close the team there is Carrot, a young man grown up among the dwarfs and a man of the utmost integrity with a marked sense of duty.

They will end up facing a most unexpected situation when a dragon will threat the city, without any help except from a few people, like Lady Sybil Ramkin, swamp dragons breeder, and Errol, a funny and original little swamp dragon.

The novel is funny and the story is quite engaging, in particular in the beginning part, where everything is new.

Terry Pratchett died some weeks ago, but luckily his novels are still here to help remembering him.

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Guards! Guards! by Terry Pratchett ★★★★☆

Dragonskin Slippers by Jessica Day George

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Creel’s family is poor, and the only solution for the girl is – up to her aunt – to be captured by a dragon and then saved by a knight and then marriage and money etc.Creel is then taken to the nearest dragon’s cave and left there; she will however discover that dragons are not quite as expected (and they are compulsive collectors), so Creel walks away from the cave alive, with a pair of blue slippers and the idea to look for work in the king’s town.

Her talent in embroidery brings her a work, while her blue slippers get her the envy of the to be princess, who will try everything to obtain the shoes. In the meanwhile Creel meets a wonderful gold dragon and an unconventional prince.

Dragonskin Slippers is a modern fairy tale with a resourceful main characters (who reminded me about Dealing with Dragons), and unforgettable dragons with their manias.

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* Dragonskin Slippers by Jessica Day George ★★★★☆

*I read this book in English

[ARC] In Search of Lost Dragons by Élian Black’mor & Carine M.

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In search of lost Dragons è la storia illustrata di un finto viaggio nel nord Europa e fino al medio oriente volto a documentare l’esistenza dei draghi.

Il libro è costituito da un insieme di appunti di viaggio che danno un contesto alle diverse tavole e un filo logico ai diversi incontri con i draghi.

Obiettivamente però il punto forte di questo libro – e che gli fa perdonare eventuali debolezze narrative – sono proprio le immagini (soprattutto dei draghi). Questi esseri mitici sono rappresentati utilizzando diverse tecniche, intere pagine dedicate alla rappresentazione di ogni singolo drago e dell’ambiente in cui si trova, veramente impressionanti e molto belle.

E’ un libro da avere nella versione cartacea che rende anche più semplice la lettura degli appunti dell’esploratore.

Ringrazio l’editore per avermi fornito la copia necessaria per stendere questa recensione.

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In search of lost Dragons is the illustrated story of a fake journey from north Europe to the middle East with the purpose to document the existence of dragons.

The book consists of voyage notes taken by the narrator; the notes are useful to create a context for the images and the encounters with dragons.

The strong point of the book – that help overlooking any narrative fault – are the images (mainly of dragons). These mythical beings are represented in their environment by using numerous techniques; the images are full-page and are truly wonderful and beautiful.

It’s a book to own in hardcover – that also helps in reading the exploration notes.

Thanks to the publisher for providing me the copy necessary to write this review.

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In Search of Lost Dragons by Élian Black’mor & Carine M. ★★★★★

[ARC] The Orphan and the Thief by M.L. LeGette

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Toad is a young clumsy thief who, to come back to his former thief guild, decide to steal something from the most rich man in town, this resulting in Toad’s capture and his promise to collect potion’s ingredients to avoid death.

Melena is an orphan taken by a couple of managing a potion shop and forcing her to work as a servant, Melena only purpose is to find Milo, her brother lost after the fire that killed their parents.

They meet by chance and begin an adventure to find some magic ingredients, on their side they have the help of a small dragon and of a talking mug.

I think that the ingredient search takes too much time (a fewer ingredients could have sufficed); the character are quite “static”: I expected some psychological / emotional evolution in their own behaviour and in their relation, considering the fact they spend together some months.

Lots of issues are solved thanks to the protagonists luck or the intervention of a deus ex machina, personally I do not quite like this kind of solutions.

Thanks to the publisher for providing me the copy necessary to write this review.

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* The Orphan and the Thief by M.L. LeGette ★★★☆☆½

*I read this book in English

Dealing with Dragons by Patricia C. Wrede

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This first book of the Enchanted Forest Chronicles series introduces Cimorene, a tough and unconventional princess.
In the castle she should learn to embroidery, dance and how to be saved by fearless princes; in fact she prefers learning how to fence, latin, how to cook and to do magic. This behaviour is always displeased by her parents, because “it’s not do” for a princess.

The straw that broke the camel’s back is the set up marriage with a traditional and dull prince: Cimorene will prefer to leave the castle and her parents to volunteer being a dragon princess.
Her new life is full of change and allow her not being a standard princess: Cimorene wisdom and pragmatism will help in finding solutions to various issues without her crying like her peers.

The novel is very nice and provides an ironic view of some typical fairy tales themes, like showing us what is expected from prince and princess and what is inappropriate for them and at the same time how it’s possible to avoid being like all the others by following our own talents.
The main character in this sense it’s a very positive element: a girl who knows what she wants and extremely practical, determined but at the same time able to help her friend in need.

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* Dealing with Dragons by Patricia C. Wrede ★★★★☆

*I read this book in English

[ARC] Dragon and Dreams: Bedtime stories by Becca Price

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Delicious collection of modern fairy tales with a classic setup. The first and the second one – the ones I liked the most – have among the characters two adorable dragons; the other tales are nevertheless beautiful; I suggest to read this book, particularly to the people who like this genre.

Thanks to the editor for providing me the copy necessary to write this review.

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* Dragon and Dreams: Bedtime stories by Becca Price ★★★★★

*I read this book in English