RogerBW's Blog

Scales and Sensibility, Stephanie Burgis 17 June 2024

2021 fantasy romance. In Regency society, the essential accessory for every young lady is a dragon to sit on her shoulder. But Elinor Tregarth is still a poor relation…

After Good Neighbours, and considering the clear influence of Heyer, I was expecting something of a comfort read; but this isn't just that. There is a romance and a happy ending, but it's all profoundly fraught until then, with Elinor under pressure from multiple sides to do various mutually impossible things. The advent of magic does not make things even slightly less complicated.

As for the dragons, the ones we meet here are pretty much fantasy shoulder cats with very occasional magic. That works, and at least leaves them reasonably consistent.

There's not much depth to it but it's still an intriguing story, well told.

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Series: Regency Dragons | Next in series: Claws and Contrivances

  1. Posted by Jyrgen N at 10:45pm on 18 June 2024

    Read on some vacation I think last year. I liked it as fresh take on Heyer-style romance, but don't remember the details. I got what I expected and a bit more. Intriguing indeed.

  2. Posted by David Pulver at 05:37am on 20 June 2024

    I think there's at least four "regency, but with dragons" novels or series out now. It's becoming a subgenre!

  3. Posted by RogerBW at 10:04am on 20 June 2024

    The only one I know offhand is Naomi Novik's Temeraire series, which I think is more Napoleonic than Regency in emphasis; I'm afraid I don't get on with her writing style.

    One thing that works quite well here is that it doesn't fall into the classic steampunk error or "lots of things are different, but society is exactly the same". Yes, dragons are fashionable, but there aren't very many of them, they're a recent discovery in South America, and they don't do anything special (at least as far as anyone knows). So the otherwise Regency society feels far more plausible than it might, because there just hasn't been that much time or pressure for divergence.

  4. Posted by David Pulver at 11:06pm on 24 June 2024

    There's also The Natural History of Dragons by Marie Brennan, which seem to be a regency-inspired fantasy world, and Jane Austen’s Dragons series by Maria Grace. Jo Walton’s Tooth and Claw has been referred to as both Regency Romance and Victorian in reviews (I haven’t read it), though I think the latter is perhaps the author's intent.

    I enjoyed Naomi Novik's first couple of Temeraire books, but had trouble finishing the longer, later ones in the series, an issue shared with some of her other recent work like Scholomance.

  5. Posted by RogerBW at 09:02am on 25 June 2024

    Oh, good point on the Brennan. I read volume 3 because someone was suggesting it should be Hugo-nominated, but it didn't grab me. Probably I should start from the beginning; that usually suits me better.

    (Also she has good videos on how to fight in a dress.)

    I don't really get on with Jo Walton's fiction and (to a first approximation) everyone whose opinion I respect does. Probably this is a flaw in me.

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