Title: Dracones Anthology
Author: Multi-Authored Anthology
Publisher: Storm Moon Press
Characters: Anthology—Many Characters
POV: 3rd and 1st
Sub-Genre: Fantasy, Erotic Romance
Almost every ancient civilization has stories of some form of dragon, from the winged serpents of Asian lore to the traditional Western image of the fire-breathing behemoth. Literature is filled with stories of valiant heroes riding into the jaws of danger to slay the beast and rescue the princess. But sometimes, the knight in shining armor is less interested in the maiden in distress than in the dragon he’s supposed to slay. Dracones brings together seven stories detailing the power and majesty of a dragon’s love.
Most of the humans in Fugue in Gold and Fire are unknowingly animals in human form, and when the Vesti Moon rises, the animal forms break free, with no memory of their human lives. Lovers Adri and Dru search for a way to recognize each other during the change, but when Dru’s true form turns out to be a dragon, he considers never changing back. Peter Harington aspires to be a Teller of Tales when he submits his fictional dragon manuscript for publication. Tom, the editor assigned to work with Peter, though, finds the worldbuilding a little too real and is determined to learn the truth. When the dragon Daire is wounded, only the Weird Magics of alchemist Cyras can heal him. But when one of the fae is found killed and her blood drained, Daire suspects his savior of illegal experimentation and murder.
Then, in Chanson Commencante de Guerre, the ancient dragon Rayvak finds himself strangely drawn to the young dragon shifter Stormy, despite the years of war between the dragons and the dragon shifters. The two must overcome centuries of animosity if they are to find any happiness together. Psychic David and his dragon lover Ferdie are literally Two in the Bush when their camping trip is interrupted by the magical guardians of their forest. They can sense the power of the dragon, but believe that David and Ferdie have it bound and demand that they release it or die! Finding the Rain is the task charged to Buwei, sent with offerings to the Dragon Lord Shenlong in hopes of ending his province’ drought, a journey none have ever returned from. But the dragon’s temple keeper, Tian, wants Buwei for himself and is willing to defy even the great dragon to keep him. Finally, in Lukos Heat, a mission of revenge sends the dragon Najlah into the mountains and into an unlikely partnership with the wolf shifter Barkus. And the closer they get to their quarry, the more they realize that nothing is as it appears.
Fugue in Gold and Fire by Averly Vanderlyle
Scholar Adri and his lover Dru, a tavernkeeper and an inventor, are preparing for an event that last happened a thousand years ago. When the purple moon Vesti rises, everyone except children and the elderly change shape into animals, real and mythical. This change is permanent unless the person remembers who they are within the beast form they take. Most never do, says the chronicles. When the day comes, what happens to the two men who love each other when one’s real shape is a mythical beast and the other’s is… a man?
We are shown an intricate world preparing to lose a major part of their population, and a city on the verge of almost steampunk discoveries of electricity and other technical inventions, and yet facing a magical, divine event. The culture is fascinating, and the bond between the two heroes is shown with warmth, friendship, and shared humor. Rebuilding a ravaged world and a bond with a dragon are matched in a very effective juxtaposition. We get details of a larger world expanding beyond the confines this story, and that made this a truly enjoyable read for me. Recommended.
Teller of Tales by D.K. Jernigan
Peter Harrington is a dragon who has lived as a human among them for centuries. He’s been banished from his own people because he’s gay. Now, once learning about a new modern dragon stories in the making, Peter starts his own story about dragons. Doing so, he attracts the attention of Thomas Dougherty, an editor. Once they meet, Peter realizes Tom is a virgin, therefore attracting Peter’s dragon instincts to mate. And Tom begins to sense there’s more to the story then he’s being led to believe. But knowing the bond is for life, Peter fights the urge—until Tom takes matters into his own hands.
This takes place in modern Las Vegas. There’s an instant attraction between Tom and Peter. Tom likes his job as an editor, always on the lookout for a new creative tale, but not having much of a personal life. Peter lives in an upscale apartment, a rich and cultured individual with some old-fashioned notions. In short, they are very different, distinct characters who come through clearly. Peter goes through a lot of introspection and Tom has doubts, but you know these two belong together. A good story which I quite liked, told in both 1st and 3rd person.
Weird Magics by E.E. Ottoman
Daire is a wyrm dragon, a powerful cold seas-preferring creature who has had his magic stolen from him by a blood curse from an unknown alchemist. Daire has come to New York to search for the alchemist, but without his powers he’s as weak as a human. To heal him comes Cyras, an alchemist who has been treating supernatural beings for a long time, and is just learning that these creatures are being killed and drained of their blood by mysterious foes. With Cyras’s help, Daire learns of a method to rekindle his magic—and the hunt is on.
The industrial revolution is well on its way here, and new technologies work alongside magic. The supernatural beings are a well-known secret. What we have here is a tight-spaced action adventure that ends in a magic-and-gun-fight. Cyras is a sweet positive characters, idealistic and smart, where Daire is cynical and always expecting the worst. Yet, these two bond together, though initially mostly hostile. I liked the way this story fused together different genres, from fantasy and paranormal to steampunk and action tales. I quite liked this.
Chanson Commencante de Guerre by Lor Rose
For hundreds of years, a war has raged between dragons and dragon shifters. At first glance this seems like the sillies thing to fight over, but there you have it. Rayvak is an ancient dragon, a hermit-like loner who no longer likes to reminisce his battle days and now lives far from his own kind in a cabin in the woods. One day he comes across a hunted, badly wounded young man, Stormy, who also happens to be a dragon shifter—and Rayvak’s mate. This is strictly forbidden, but the mating call is strong. But what happens when five dragons come in search of their quarry?
There’s a lot of ponderings and inner musings in this one. But the reasons for the war are not give, and the ending is abrupt, without much closure. Rayvak is protective and strong, while Stormy is smaller, shyer, and filled with resentment over dragons who have abused him through violence and rape. Having a dragon for a mate is not to his liking, and he tries to flee. But Rayvak is possessive too. They do find a rapport of sorts, but I never got to know these men very well, let alone the situation they find themselves in. Everything is only alluded to, nothing told or shown. Frustrating. And the present tense didn’t really help matters. Still, an okay story.
Two in the Bush by E.R. Karr
David, a PI, and his boyfriend of six months, Ferdie, a dragon without much magic as his heartstone is broken, are supposed to be having a fun camping trip in a national forest. But then they awake bruised and battered with little memory of what happened only to find their tent, their car, and all other campers and rangers around gone. And when giant flying beings land from the skies to punish the humans who are keeping a dragon prisoner everything goes from bad to worse. Ferdie cannot change to his true shape to convince no one is being held captive, so for David he makes a big sacrifice—without David’s approval.
Told in first person from David’s point of view, we’re shown a telepathic man who has come to know and love Ferdie, the dragon who due to youthful recklessness cannot shift to dragon form very often. This is written like a stream of consciousness. It’s funny. And the giant flying guardians are scary and very effective. One wing stroke, and it’s adios muchachos. The caring that these two men feel for each other is shown with little details and humor, and I liked their interaction. I liked this story.
Finding the Rain by Tam Ames
Buwei is a lonely farmer taking care of his mother and grandmother during a draught that’s lasted for years. He is tasked by the Governor of the province to find Lord Shenlong, the dragon who controls rain, and give him tribute to end the draught. Having no choice, Buwei leaves. At the temple high up in the mountains it rains all the time. Lord Shenlong is a no show, but a beautiful young man, Tian, bids him welcome and asks him to tell him stories. But their time together is limited. When Buwei returns home, the Governor has gone back on his word to take care of Buwei’s family while he’s gone, and they are dead. But a leader should know better than to defy the morals of highly ethical dragons.
This was by far my favorite story in this anthology. Reading like a fairytale, this story shows us a poor man who is by nature good and honest, and he knows many stories. Tian’s attraction baffles him, but through little touches, kisses and closeness they are drawn together. It was wonderful to read about another culture where dragons are seen as wise, benevolent, highly ethical, and in many ways more civilized than humans. Lord Shenlong is no beast, but a god in his own right. I loved the culture, the plot, the lessons we’re given, justice, love, and happiness all rolled into one. Highly recommended!
Lukos Heat by Megan Derr
Najlah has dragon features even when he is in human form, and due to his fangs and tongue he cannot speak. He is part of a royal shifter corps on the trail of an attempted assassin of the king. Najlah’s brother was injured in the attack. Now the corps have entered the Shide Mountain range, far too cold for Najlah. They are met with the inhabitants of the wilderness, the Lukos pack, or wolf shifters. Their leader, Barkus, takes an immediate interest in Najlah who hasn’t sough company of any kind because his dragon plays too rough for any potential lover. Barkus doesn’t seem to have a problem with that. Their adversary, however, seems to posses powerful magic, sending blizzards, golems, and wild mgic after them. But when they find the assassin, however, they’re left with more questions than answers.
This one was a great read. Irritating at the end when things cut off so darn abruptly, but a great story that reads like a prologue to a set of tales. Everything feels detailed and thought out, a fully fledged world. We get hints of this larger world, Najlah IS a dragon with dragon behavior and facets—more than any other dragon in this anthology—and he and Barkus find new and exciting ways to communicate since Najlah cannot speak. This is a wonderful conclusion to the anthology, but I do hope the writer gives us more of this world later on. I want to know what happens next!
Reviewed By: Susan