Dragons. Found in various cultures and histories around the globe, draconic creatures are a staple of our mythology. There’s the Hydra from Greece, Apep from Egypt, and Chinese dragons from, well, China. And those are just some of the examples of these magnificent beings manifesting in stories across the globe. There’s so much evidence that humans just kind of love dragons. These scaly mythical creatures are irresistible—along with the books that tell their stories. If you didn’t already go through a dragon phase when you were a child, don’t worry, your time has come. Have a look at some of the best adult dragon books around.
The Rage of Dragons by Evan Winter
Inspired by Zulu history and mythology, this novel follows the Omehi people, who have been in a seemingly unwinnable war for nearly two centuries. Some of the Omehi are gifted with the ability to command dragons or to transform into fantastic beings. But not Tau, a young boy with no gifts at all. That doesn’t matter, though, because what he does have is a single focus that will guide him on a perilous journey: revenge.
His Majesty’s Dragon by Naomi Novik
Naomi Novik is a fantasy writing powerhouse, and here she lends her top-notch character development and world-building to a world with some of the most fantastic depictions of dragons I’ve ever seen. This start to a series chronicles the adventures of Captain Will Laurence and the dragon egg (which hatches eventually, of course) that he finds while seizing a French ship. And the best news is, if you adore the first book, there are eight more entries in the series for you to devour.
Sorcerer to the Crown by Zen Cho
Zen Cho builds an alternate, whimsical history in this thrilling story of the British elite. Its main character is Zacharias Wythe, a previously enslaved Black man who is now one of the best sorcerers in England. Though facing intense prejudice from most around him, he still does his duty to his country, venturing to Fairyland to discover why the magic in England is slowly drying up. What he finds there is a much bigger mystery (and plot) than he ever expected.
Tooth and Claw by Jo Walton
Now this one is a bit different from the others on the list, in that all the characters in this book are the dragons themselves. After the death of a family member, it is dragon custom to eat the deceased, along with the weakest members of the family. So when a patriarch dies, his descendants scramble to make sense of the consequences of his passing, and to not die in the process.
A Natural History of Dragons by Marie Brennan
Set in the form of a memoir from one of the world’s best dragon experts, this rousing tale recounts the adventures of Lady Trent as she attempts to bring the study of dragons in communion with modern science. Overall, this book effortlessly captures the spirit of all the real-life lady scientists who often risked life and reputation to discover what they loved most. I know I would be one of those people obsessed with learning all I could if dragons did exist. (I’m still hoping for a revelatory discovery that proves me wrong, of course.)
Phoenix Extravagant by Yoon Ha Lee
First of all, let’s just bow down before this striking cover. It is genuinely breathtaking, and the pages inside still live up to its cover art’s hype. Though not coming out until October 20, 2020, this book is already making waves from early reviews. A big-time fan of Yoon Ha Lee’s world-building and clockwork-tight prose, I’m especially excited for this book to blow minds when it comes out. Sneak peek: a reluctant artist tasked with a morally grey assignment for the military and a philosophical, mechanical dragon unlike any other.
The Priory of the Orange Tree by Samantha Shannon
Sometimes you just feel in the mood to sink your teeth into an 800+ page epic fantasy. If that’s your inclination right now, I’d suggest The Priory of the Orange Tree. It’s a truly sweeping tale of political intrigue, dragonriders, and assassination plots that’ll truly have you forgetting it’s the size of two regular-sized books.
Songs of Insurrection by J.C. Kang
Another gorgeous cover alongside a gorgeous story. Part spy thriller, part epic fantasy, and part romance, this book really has something for everyone. In this world, songs have power. Princess Kaiya knows this, and has the potential for greatness, but somehow can’t get the court to see her as anything other than a figurehead (and a weak one at that). But, of course, Kaiya won’t let that be the case for long as her power— and her sense of self—grows stronger every day.