Review – Tooth and Claw

Tooth and Claw is my second foray into Jo Walton’s books; my first being Among Others. Now watch how I go all silly over this one.

A dying father calls his family to his side. One son, a parson, hears his father’s final confession, a practice no longer held by the church he belongs to but something he feels he must do for his father to ease his soul before he passes. The remaining son and three daughters await news of his final breath. When the father’s death is finally announced, a brother-in-law interprets the will very broadly, a second son protests taking his brother-in-law and sister to court over what he believes is rightly his family’s due. The case, and the family politics, turns everyone against each other and the claws come out, as the family we are speaking of is a family of dragons.

Can I just tell you how much I loved this book? I loved this book. I’ve said it and can’t, and won’t, take it back. Really, you must read this. It might seem like a simple story of families and inheritance but it’s filled with so much more. Class prejudices, elements of slavery and an abolitionist movement, loss, love, treasure (we’re talking dragons here), and manners. There’s a slight Austen feel to the manners — hats, hearts, dowries, and titles — and it’s all lovely. Then you get to throw in scales, claws, tails, and wings and you have something so very wonderful in the end.

I keep thinking that I’m hung up on the fact that this story is about dragons. It’s more than just the dragons though and at times I forgot I was reading about a family of dragons until a claw came out to remind me. I love the feel of the story — somewhat Victorian — the family politics, brothers, sisters, in-laws, and the intertwining and unraveling of their lives after the death of a beloved father. The addition of the cannibalistic nature of dragons (gently-born dragons eat their parents) and the social aspects that play into all of that bring so much to a story that is simple on its face but has so much depth. I adored the morals of the society. It was fascinating and I wish there had been so much more of it. There are hints of treasure and old religions but nothing is explained in detail but I wanted it to be because I wanted every single bit of the story I could have and more. It was a very rich story for all that it was about dragons fighting over gold and dragon flesh.

This review was difficult to write as you might have gathered from the rambling gushiness of it. What I wanted to write over and over again was, “Just read this. It’s great,” but that seems inadequate. If you’re looking for something different, something that will keep you entranced, then read Tooth and Claw. Oh hell, I’ll say it. Read it. It’s great.

Tooth and Claw

By Jo Walton

A Tom Doherty Associates Book

ISBN: 9780765319517

4.75 stars

Today’s Book — A Game of Thrones

I’m reading A Game of Thrones by George RR Martin and let me say right here — it’s wonderful.  You should read it too.  If you love fantasy, it’s for you.  If you love great characters, it’s for you.  If you love a good story, it’s for you.

Of course, I’m only on page 252 of 787 so it’s possible that my thoughts will change but I doubt it.  A cold has made it nearly impossible to read the last few days as my addled brain hasn’t been able to focus (so please ignore my rambling this morning and any subsequent typos which I’m sure will occur) but each time I pick up the book, I don’t want to put it down.   The fact that I’m taking cold medicine and keep falling asleep is what makes me put it down.

The world created by Martin is fantastic.  Winter and darkness loom over everything and while summer is still warming the world at this point in the book, you know it’s coming and it seems few, especially the king, are prepared for it.  Did I mention there are dragons too? What good fantasy wouldn’t have dragons?  So far, they’re only legend, but I have a feeling some may find a place in the story.  All right, so I googled the book to find out.  🙂  I like spoilers.

There was one thing that worried me about this book early on — the sheer number of characters.  Each chapter is told from the perspective of one person and a few chapters in I regretted the fact that I wasn’t taking notes.  Thankfully, that worry has passed.  Yes, there are a lot of characters in this book but you soon become able to distinguish each one as they’re drawn so carefully.  It’s an interesting way of telling this story, and while I wasn’t sure about it in the beginning, I have to say it’s grown on me.

I had more I wanted to talk about but the brain is craving a rest.  Enjoy Thursday.