December 5th, 2006


Book Review: Tooth and Claw by Jo Walton

I finished reading Jo Walton's Tooth and Claw this morning. I quite liked it, and you should all go read it now so you can talk about it with me.

I'll wait.

1. This is the first book I've read in a really long time that I wished had illustrations. In particular, the difference between male dragons' claws and female dragons' hands left me unsure what either was supposed to look like, especially when it was mentioned that females sometimes walked on their hands but didn't need to, while males almost always walked on their claws (where is the dragon's body weight? how long are the legs here?). I was also unsure what to visualize when "whirling eyes" were mentioned. Some floorplans or diagrams or something to get the relative sizes of the various individual dragons in the book down would also have been helpful, but since I think all the relevant lengths were given at some point, I could go back and do this myself. (My trouble visualizing sizes is due to numbers not sticking in my head very well; comparative terms like "towered over" or "less than half the size of" would have been easier for me to visualize, but this is in no way a fault of the book.)

2. I have absolutely no idea what the dragons' dances were supposed to look like, especially given that unmarried female dragons can't safely touch males, but can apparently dance with them. I would have envisioned something like complicated flight patterns, but they can dance indoors.

3. I am really glad I didn't know how the book ended, in even vague and general terms, before I started reading it. Therefore, I have ROT-13ed the following comment about the end, and recommend that if you have not yet read the book, you do not decode it: V gubhtug gur jnl nyy gur ybbfr raqf tbg gvrq bss fb irel arngyl jnf rkpryyrag. Rkgerzryl pbairavrag, va n jnl gung jnf abgvpnoyl yrff ernyvfgvp guna gur erfg bs gur abiry, ohg irel gvql naq fngvfslvat.

4. Ever so often I got to really wondering about the narrator, and about what the story was from his or her perspective: a novel? a record of actual events? something in between? If one of the latter two, could the narrator have been one of the principals?
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