Jo Walton's Tooth and Claw is an intimate and domestic story about one family's struggles to find happiness and security, featuring job troubles, disputes between in-laws, and a few sweet romances. It has been compared to the Victorian novels of Anthony Trollope.
It is, at the same time, a story about cannibalistic dragons.
Tooth and Claw takes place in Tiamath, a country ruled by dragons whose status is determined by their size, strength, and firepower. That's for male dragons, of course: female dragons, in addition to being without fire and fighting claws, must take care not to come close enough to a male to "blush," which will of course ruin a female's prospects for marriage to any other dragon. Nonetheless the dragon heroines of Tooth and Claw, from motherly Berend to the ruined, mysterious Sebeth find a way to make their mark in the midst of the males' battles for power--whether fought with teeth or in courts of law. The main dispute throughout the story arises when the elderly noble dragon Bon dies, leaving his gold to his children, along with his body for them to eat, for it is in eating dragon-flesh that dragons can attain great size and power. Of course a dispute arises about just how much of their father's body each child was entitled to, and disputes ensue which force all five siblings to take sides, despite the very real danger of being eaten by an irate brother-in-law if the case goes against them!
This story of one family's troubles gives the reader a glimpse at a fascinating alien world full of dragons, treasure, frilly hats, and the little-seen monsters known as the Yarge.
Mary Lou @ Central