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It is the waning days of the Russian monarchy. A reckless man rules the land and his dragons rule the sky. Though the Tsar aims his dragons at his enemies—Jews and Bolsheviks—his entire country is catching fire. Conspiracies suffuse the royal court: bureaucrats jostle one another for power, the mad monk Rasputin schemes for the Tsar’s ear, and the desperate queen takes dra It is the waning days of the Russian monarchy. A reckless man rules the land and his dragons rule the sky. Though the Tsar aims his dragons at his enemies—Jews and Bolsheviks—his entire country is catching fire. Conspiracies suffuse the royal court: bureaucrats jostle one another for power, the mad monk Rasputin schemes for the Tsar’s ear, and the desperate queen takes drastic measures to protect her family. Revolution is in the air—and the Red Army is hatching its own weapons. Discover Russia’s October Revolution reimagined in flight, brought to life by the acclaimed mother-and-son writing team of the Locus Award-winning novel, Pay the Piper, and the Seelie Wars series.


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It is the waning days of the Russian monarchy. A reckless man rules the land and his dragons rule the sky. Though the Tsar aims his dragons at his enemies—Jews and Bolsheviks—his entire country is catching fire. Conspiracies suffuse the royal court: bureaucrats jostle one another for power, the mad monk Rasputin schemes for the Tsar’s ear, and the desperate queen takes dra It is the waning days of the Russian monarchy. A reckless man rules the land and his dragons rule the sky. Though the Tsar aims his dragons at his enemies—Jews and Bolsheviks—his entire country is catching fire. Conspiracies suffuse the royal court: bureaucrats jostle one another for power, the mad monk Rasputin schemes for the Tsar’s ear, and the desperate queen takes drastic measures to protect her family. Revolution is in the air—and the Red Army is hatching its own weapons. Discover Russia’s October Revolution reimagined in flight, brought to life by the acclaimed mother-and-son writing team of the Locus Award-winning novel, Pay the Piper, and the Seelie Wars series.

30 review for The Last Tsar's Dragons

  1. 5 out of 5

    Jenia

    The Last Tsar's Dragons is a novella I was pretty excited for, but one that unfortunately really disappointed. The book is set in the months leading up to the Russian Revolution. Tsar Nikolai's dragons are being sent to slaughter Jews in the Russian Empire. At court, Rasputin and his enemies plot around each other as they try to influence the Tsar, while Tsaritsa Alexandra frets about her sickly son. Out in the countryside, Lev Bronstein -- more famously known as Leon Trotsky -- does his own fret The Last Tsar's Dragons is a novella I was pretty excited for, but one that unfortunately really disappointed. The book is set in the months leading up to the Russian Revolution. Tsar Nikolai's dragons are being sent to slaughter Jews in the Russian Empire. At court, Rasputin and his enemies plot around each other as they try to influence the Tsar, while Tsaritsa Alexandra frets about her sickly son. Out in the countryside, Lev Bronstein -- more famously known as Leon Trotsky -- does his own fretting and plotting as he hatches a secret weapon to overthrow the Russian monarchy. So. This is a book about the Russian Revolution written for Americans. I'm a Ukrainian emigrant. This book was really not written for me. Unfortunately, I can't get out of my own shoes enough to say how it reads to others. For me, it was a straight-up comedy. There's the usual stuff common in American portrayals of Russia. Surnames aren't always gendered properly; a person is referred to by their patronymic as if it was their last name; random Russian words are peppered in, not always correctly. The only two Russian folktales Americans know are Koschei the Deathless and Baba Yaga so naturally they get a shout-out. Anastasia is the only one of the princesses to get a speaking role. I've come to expect all that in American books set in Russia, though it does become especially funny when half the characters are high nobility or courtiers. His Imperial Majesty Tsar Nikolai II ponders that he must be "full of batiushka and grozny" -- that is, "full of priest/dad and fearsome". Tsaritsa Alexandra worries whether the barbarian Russians will accept one of her daughters as their ruler if her sickly son dies, forgetting both Russian royal succession laws (the throne would pass to a male relative) and basic Russian history (Russia had five female rulers in the 18th century, e.g. Catherine the Great). Something made me laugh every other page, to the point that I started wondering if the book was a parody. On a more serious note, I have issues with how the topic of Jewishness, and in particular how one of the main characters, Leon Trotsky, is portrayed. As in the book, the real-life Trotsky was born Lev Bronstein and was ethnically Jewish. However, he repeatedly chose to distance himself from Jewishness. One likely apocryphal but telling story is that a Moscow Rabbi asked him for help when Jews were being targeted by counterrevolutionaries during the Russian Civil War, and Trotsky turned him away with a pointed reminder that he considered himself a communist, not a Jew. In The Last Tsar's Dragons, the atheist Trotsky swears by "my God and Marx", considers Lenin being a quarter Jewish to be a great point in his favour, refers to himself by his original (Jewish) name and disparages the moniker 'Trotsky', briefly wants to set dragons to genocide all Russians as revenge for pogroms (to be fair, while possibly delirious), understands that Russian peasants suffer too but dismisses their plight as secondary to that of Jews, and in general thinks "we Jews". His main interest in overthrowing the Tsar is to help Jewish people. In fact, in the whole book the main conflict is Jews vs Tsar. So... all this is intensely ahistorical, but I think it's supposed to make Trotsky sympathetic to Americans? Oh, Trotsky isn't like them other commie monsters, he's just fighting anti-Semitism! Thing is, you can't simply plonk American race relations onto another country. In the (post-)Soviet space, there's a disgusting, long-held anti-Semitic theory that "Jewish Bolsheviks" -- and in particular Trotsky -- toppled the Russian Empire specifically to advance the Jewish cause. It's been around since the revolution itself: the Jews that Moscow's Rabbi wanted to protect were killed with shouts of, "You're getting this for Trotsky!" And it was still around by the collapse of the USSR, when the monarchist, ultranational organisation Pamyat blamed Jews for destroying the Russian Empire and threatened pogroms as revenge. So a book where the Jewishness of people who didn't particularly identify as Jewish in real life is emphasised above all else, a book where Trotsky's character can be summed up as "the Jew Trotsky who wants to overthrow the Tsar for the Jews and hang the rest" is, to be honest, exceedingly uncomfortable. To be clear, I absolutely don't think the authors are anti-Semitic -- in the afterword, Yolen mentions that her grandparents were Ukrainian Jews who emigrated to escape Tsarist pogroms at the turn of the 20th century. I do, however, think it's important to point out the issues that can arise when people set a book in a foreign culture and twist historical facts without thinking it through all the way. Anyway, if you put aside both the accidentally hilarious and accidentally horrible cultural aspects, the book that's left is a bit boring. The Last Tsar's Dragons bills itself as revolution + dragons. My expectations were thus either long, heated debates about how best to carry out revolution, coupled with backstabbing and political maneuvering, or bloody and desperate battles between dragons and outmatched peasants. The book doesn't deliver either. It's pretty short and there's six POVs: the Tsar, the Tsaritsa, Rasputin, an unnamed official, Trotsky, and Borukh/Axelrod (a Jewish Menshevik). Rasputin probably gets the most focus as he fulfills his shtick as "Russia's greatest love machine" and others plot to assassinate him. Altogether though, once the dragons, politics, and anti-Semitism of Imperial Russia are set up between all the POVs, there's just not enough space to do much with it. The dragons don't appear much on-screen and the politics are all simplified to the point that it's hard to say what really motivated Lenin. Except for being one-quarter Jewish I guess, as anti-Semitism seems to be the only spectre haunting Imperial Russia. Altogether, I don't know. I can't say that I didn't enjoy reading this book: I actually had a ton of fun. I just feel like the fun I was having wasn't with the authors, but at their expense. P.S. I immigrated to Austria. The one German sentence in this novella is grammatically incorrect too.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Max

    What an interesting book. I have recently read another book about the Romanov family, so it's easy to compare, I'll try not to. The Last Tsar's Dragons is a retelling of the Russian Tsar's family's imprisonment, but then with dragons. It starts a little slow, I almost gave up, and at the end it picks up the pace and I found myself actually want more at the end! Rasputin is an interesting character. I found him a little too pervy in this retelling, but it worked for the story. The dragons are rea What an interesting book. I have recently read another book about the Romanov family, so it's easy to compare, I'll try not to. The Last Tsar's Dragons is a retelling of the Russian Tsar's family's imprisonment, but then with dragons. It starts a little slow, I almost gave up, and at the end it picks up the pace and I found myself actually want more at the end! Rasputin is an interesting character. I found him a little too pervy in this retelling, but it worked for the story. The dragons are really cool and I wish there was more about them! In short: fun book, quick read. Had some humour and was entertaining. Thank you publisher and NetGalley for the Advanced Reader's copy. :-)

  3. 4 out of 5

    The Captain

    Ahoy there me mateys! I received this historical fantasy novella eARC from Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review. So here be me honest musings . . . I have recently been reading and loving many of Jane Yolen’s short stories. So when I saw this novella involving dragons and Russian history, I said “Aye!, Arrrrr!” I was lucky to get an eArc of this historical fantasy retelling. And I loved it! This tale involves the Romanovs and the Russian Revolution. Tsar Nicholas II is fighting wars and cont Ahoy there me mateys! I received this historical fantasy novella eARC from Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review. So here be me honest musings . . . I have recently been reading and loving many of Jane Yolen’s short stories. So when I saw this novella involving dragons and Russian history, I said “Aye!, Arrrrr!” I was lucky to get an eArc of this historical fantasy retelling. And I loved it! This tale involves the Romanovs and the Russian Revolution. Tsar Nicholas II is fighting wars and continuing to lose. One of his weapons to fight his enemies, the Bolsheviks and the Jews, are his stable of fighting dragons. The problem is that these dragons are equally likely to destroy non-enemy property and persons. This story tells of the days leading up to the Revolution and what really happened to the Romanov family. In this ye get perspectives from the tsar himself, Rasputin, the tsarina Alexandra, Leon Trotsky, and a nameless bureaucrat. Other folk like Lenin and the tsar’s children appear as side characters. The dragons are not shown as characters and really are treated as tactical weapons. But having dragons is cool regardless. As always I found the writing to be superb and was captivated by this version of the Romanov family history. Like other offerings by this publisher there is also a very nice authors’ note at the end discussing the writing process and evolution of this particular story. There also brief but lovely historical notes as well. I very much enjoyed this historical fiction with dragons and feel that every Jane Yolen fan should too. So lastly . . . Thank you Tachyon Publications! PS Did ye know that in 1981 the Romanovs were made saints by the Russian Orthodox Church? In 2000 they were canonized as passion bearers by the Church. Learning new things every day. Arrrr!

  4. 5 out of 5

    Eva Müller

    This review also appears on my blog. I do have to point out, that I expected something very different from what I got. Sure, the blurb talks about revolution, Bolsheviks and Rasputin, all things we are familiar with, but I still expected a different Russia. After all, this world has dragons. One would think, that the existence of dragons would change the world in some way but the Russia in The Last Tsar’s Dragons is exactly the one you know from the history textbooks. Only that Tsar Nicholas has This review also appears on my blog. I do have to point out, that I expected something very different from what I got. Sure, the blurb talks about revolution, Bolsheviks and Rasputin, all things we are familiar with, but I still expected a different Russia. After all, this world has dragons. One would think, that the existence of dragons would change the world in some way but the Russia in The Last Tsar’s Dragons is exactly the one you know from the history textbooks. Only that Tsar Nicholas has dragons. Well, that’s not 100% true. While the real Nicholas had five children – Tatiana, Olga, Maria, Anastasia and Alexei – who all died with him Yekaterinburg, the Nicholas from the book has a son called Alexei, a daughter called Anastasia and two unnamed daughters who are still alive, and a daughter called Sonia who died of an illness before the book started. But considering none of that is in any way relevant to the plot and the afterword just tells us that the Romanovs were among the characters in the book that were real, without any caveat about how they didn’t actually have a daughter named Sonia, my guess is that the authors couldn’t be bothered to look up basic facts. This makes sense, since they also didn’t consider it necessary to run their German by an actual German speaker. And so the Tsarina says “Ein Fluch auf ihrem schmutzigen Drachens!” at one point. Fun fact: I spent a lot of time yelling about Google Translate not being a reliable source but in this case it actually gives you the correct translation of “A curse on their dirty dragons” which would be Ein Fluch auf ihre schmutzigen Drachen. Bing Translate does worse with Fluch an ihren schmutzigen Drachen, but even they know that Drachens isn’t a German word, so I really have no clue how they managed to get it that wrong. Perhaps one of them once did learn German, just like they once learned Russian history and then were so convinced of themselves that they saw no need to check their vague memories. Anyway, after this short diversion, back to the actual book. Which, as mentioned is The Russian Revolution with dragons. That means, that while the Tsar is busy being stupid and evil and antisemitic, his wife being German, stupid, evil and antisemitic, Alexei being sick, spoilt and evil and Rasputin being evil, creepy and antisemitic, somewhere else Lev Bronstein, a Jewish peasant, has found some dragon eggs and is trying to hatch them himself – a dangerous feat, since only the Tsar is allowed to own dragons. Bronstein is supported in this endeavour by his old friend Wladimir Ulyanov who has also brought a questionable Georgian character called Koba along who acts as a bodyguard for the eggs – and later the hatched dragons. You probably know all those gentlemen under different names. Bronstein is more well known as Leon Trotsky, Ulyanov changed his name to Lenin and Koba is an early nickname of Joseph Stalin. Yeah. I definitely did not expect that. And granted, I knew I was reading a fantasy book based on the Russian Revolution, an event that was very bloody and violent and which lead to decades of more death and violence. It’s not that this is the only book that ever did this. The Waning Moon books are set in a pseudo-Russia on the eve of a Revolution (including a character that seems to have been inspired by Rasputin and Stalin). The Poppy War is the Sino-Japanese war with magic. There are certainly many other examples and I think you can take a horrible atrocity, add dragons, mermaids or whatever and be tasteful about it. I don’t think it works when you make the actual architect of some of these atrocities – not even some thinly disguised version, not some conglomerate of several people – in a character in the book. Admittedly, while Trotsky is a POV-character in the book, Lenin plays a much smaller role and Stalin says only two or three sentences. But still: There’s a Wikipedia page Excess Mortality under Josef Stalin. In this book he plays bodyguard for some dragon eggs. I am uncomfortable with this. But, YMMV and all that and neither Stalin nor Lenin are portrayed as likeable characters, so perhaps some people are OK with that. If you are: I’m not judging you (I do read a lot of other judgeworthy stuff myself after all). But I will inform you that it’s still a very boring book. Because, when I say “this is the Russian Revolution with dragons”, I’m speaking very literally. Do you have the most basic knowledge of the Russian Revolution (as in “the Bolsheviks took over, the Tsar and his family are imprisoned and later executed”)? Do you know the Boney M song Rasputin? Great! Then you know what happens in this book*. I mean it’s the Bolsheviks take over with the help of dragons, but since that happens off-screen, you won’t get much out of reading it. No, I’m not kidding. With the exception of Rasputin’s murder, all the action happens off-page and is then summed up in a few sentences. That is…not great. Of course, it’s a novella, and in the afterword the authors explain that they originally planned a full novel but couldn’t find a publisher, only one who would take a novella. But then you can’t just take the novel and leave enough stuff out to make it fit the novella length. Especially if the stuff is essentially the climax and you’re left with what’s more or less a retelling of historical facts. *though not even the Rasputin here is the lover of the Russian Queen, but apart from that the lyrics are fairly accurate ARC provided by NetGalley

  5. 4 out of 5

    Online Eccentric Librarian

    More reviews (and no fluff) on the blog http://surrealtalvi.wordpress.com/ I am a fan of Yolen and Russian history but that's not really what this book is about. The dragons here are a Maguffin - really, this should have been named "The Last Tsar's Jews" because that is the only subject, thought, obsession, or interest of anyone in the book. And while there is nothing wrong with focusing on that topic, I was more interested in a book about the fall of the Russian Tzars and dragons, of course More reviews (and no fluff) on the blog http://surrealtalvi.wordpress.com/ I am a fan of Yolen and Russian history but that's not really what this book is about. The dragons here are a Maguffin - really, this should have been named "The Last Tsar's Jews" because that is the only subject, thought, obsession, or interest of anyone in the book. And while there is nothing wrong with focusing on that topic, I was more interested in a book about the fall of the Russian Tzars and dragons, of course. The book is short - 200 pages. In the first 50%, the only time there are dragons are when someone is watching them fly away (to eat Jews, of course) or randomly thinking about them (along with pondering how to deal with the 'Jewish" problem). It was rather a one note and the thoughts of how much the Russians hate the Jews began to feel like the authors had an agenda to push here. E.g., the Tzarina ponders her sickly son, how fine her gown is, and how much she hates the Jews. The Tzar is considering his dragons as they fly away and thinking how useful they are to kill Jews. Rasputin is thinking how to use the Tzarina and the court women as his sexual conquests - and yeah, how it's good he doesn't do things like the 'hateful Jews'. Random peasants cheer on the dragons because they are trained to eat Jews. And so on. The Russian aristocracy are stupid and without exception all simpletons. Rasputin is a mustache twirling bad guy with no nuance whatsoever. The first half the book is just random people doing nothing but walking and monologuing either a) how Jews are terrible or b) how they need to be killed off. So yeah, I wasn't invested in any of the poorly drawn and unnuanced characters and it took way too long before we even got a dragon. The agenda of "the Russians hated the Jews" was a blunt instrument upon which the reader's head is beaten repeated. Ok, I get it Yolen - but I find it hard to believe that all waking thoughts of everyone in Russia was to hate Jews or kill them. Perhaps the message could have been delivered much more subtly and efficaciously that there was a pervasive anti-semitism in Tsarist Russia? Oh, and since the only purpose the dragons have is to either kill Jews or be destroyed by Jews, why bother? Reviewed from an advance reader copy provided by the publisher

  6. 4 out of 5

    Mel (Epic Reading)

    eARC approved! Jane Yolen has quickly become one of my fave current ‘old-style’ writers of late. If that makes sense. (lol)

  7. 4 out of 5

    Deborah Ross

    This dramatic yet playful re-telling of the days leading up to the Russian Revolution (with dragons!) offers a variety of delights, from the courtly intrigues and madness of Rasputin, to the Jews huddling in the burrows to avoid the tsar’s dragons, to the machinations of the revolutionaries, to an entirely new meaning of the term “red death.” I believe the authors, seasoned professionals both, had way too much fun concocting this tale. A little knowledge of the Russian Revolution is desirable for This dramatic yet playful re-telling of the days leading up to the Russian Revolution (with dragons!) offers a variety of delights, from the courtly intrigues and madness of Rasputin, to the Jews huddling in the burrows to avoid the tsar’s dragons, to the machinations of the revolutionaries, to an entirely new meaning of the term “red death.” I believe the authors, seasoned professionals both, had way too much fun concocting this tale. A little knowledge of the Russian Revolution is desirable for enjoying this book, and I fear that younger readers, who think “Putin” when they hear “Russia,” had little understanding of the tumultuous events leading to the formation of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, and the principle movers and shakers of those days. On the other hand, The Last Tsar’s Dragons would make a great addition to a serious class about the early part of the 20th century. By shifting the narrative of power to metaphor, while preserving actual historical and occasionally fictional characters, this could and should provoke lively discussion. The usual disclaimer: I received a review copy of this book, but no one bribed me to say anything in particular about it. Although chocolates and fine imported tea are always welcome.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Kristin

    I couldn't get past the 25% mark once I realized this 'fantasy' was going to be 160 pages of Russian jew-bashing with a cameo by dragons. I couldn't get past the 25% mark once I realized this 'fantasy' was going to be 160 pages of Russian jew-bashing with a cameo by dragons.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Jimbo

    Russian history has always been fascinating to me -- especially the Russian Revolution. Here Yolen and Stemple (her son) take on the "October Revolution" (dates are a bit fudged- read Yolen's notes at the end of the book), but in this tale, not only do the Cossacks harass the people (Jews), but the Tsar's dragons harass them as well. These are the last dragons known to exist and they follow the Tsar's instructions only. But the Bolsheviks don't realize that one man--a Jew -- has discovered someth Russian history has always been fascinating to me -- especially the Russian Revolution. Here Yolen and Stemple (her son) take on the "October Revolution" (dates are a bit fudged- read Yolen's notes at the end of the book), but in this tale, not only do the Cossacks harass the people (Jews), but the Tsar's dragons harass them as well. These are the last dragons known to exist and they follow the Tsar's instructions only. But the Bolsheviks don't realize that one man--a Jew -- has discovered something that may be able to even the battlefield or possibly win their fight against the Tsar. Here is a tale that fractures history, then turns slightly left by the addition of dragons.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Hoid

    I recieved an arc from the publisher via netgalley in exchange for an honest review. Wish I could give it a better one. I tried. I really did. I picked this book up 3 times and put it down within 30 minutes each time. Dnf the book at 45% The story was boring and all over the place. I thought from the title dragons would be playing a larger part in the story but they seem to have been thrown in as a gimmick to grab people's attention rather than be a viable part of the story. I couldn't find mysel I recieved an arc from the publisher via netgalley in exchange for an honest review. Wish I could give it a better one. I tried. I really did. I picked this book up 3 times and put it down within 30 minutes each time. Dnf the book at 45% The story was boring and all over the place. I thought from the title dragons would be playing a larger part in the story but they seem to have been thrown in as a gimmick to grab people's attention rather than be a viable part of the story. I couldn't find myself caring about any of the characters and with all the different perspectives it made everything confusing. Maybe if the book only had one point of view it would be better.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Fran (The Ramblebee)

    Thank you to Tachyon Publications and NetGalley for providing me with an eARC of this book in exchange for an honest review. Unfortunately, it was very different from the lush immersive story I was expecting, so I decided not to finish it. I saw another review describing the book as almost comical in its approach and I have to agree. Additionally, the rampant antisemitism, while period-appropriate, really put me off The Last Tsar's Dragons. Thank you to Tachyon Publications and NetGalley for providing me with an eARC of this book in exchange for an honest review. Unfortunately, it was very different from the lush immersive story I was expecting, so I decided not to finish it. I saw another review describing the book as almost comical in its approach and I have to agree. Additionally, the rampant antisemitism, while period-appropriate, really put me off The Last Tsar's Dragons.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Doctor Science

    Great start & idea, well-written of course, but what's the point of having DRAGONS when (view spoiler)[nothing major changes about history (hide spoiler)] ? Ends up being a failure of world-building, hence the low (for Yolen) rating. Great start & idea, well-written of course, but what's the point of having DRAGONS when (view spoiler)[nothing major changes about history (hide spoiler)] ? Ends up being a failure of world-building, hence the low (for Yolen) rating.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Sara

    Needed more dragons. If you're going to do the Russian Revolution with dragons, I want to see them in full action and majesty, not sidelined to cartoonish versions of historical characters. The book was a fine escape and above a 2.5, but those flaws stopped me from engaging with it more. Needed more dragons. If you're going to do the Russian Revolution with dragons, I want to see them in full action and majesty, not sidelined to cartoonish versions of historical characters. The book was a fine escape and above a 2.5, but those flaws stopped me from engaging with it more.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Naomi

    This was a very small and odd book.

  15. 4 out of 5

    WS_BOOKCLUB

    Jane Yolen is an expert in dragons. She’s also a seasoned writer, having written children’s books (my youngest loves the “How Do Dinosaurs” book series), middle grade, and adult books. I was quite excited to read this mother-son team-up. Unfortunately, I didn’t love this one. That’s not to say I didn’t like it: there were many things that I felt were well done. The book switched back and forth between a few different narrators, one of which was Rasputin. He was an interesting figure in history so Jane Yolen is an expert in dragons. She’s also a seasoned writer, having written children’s books (my youngest loves the “How Do Dinosaurs” book series), middle grade, and adult books. I was quite excited to read this mother-son team-up. Unfortunately, I didn’t love this one. That’s not to say I didn’t like it: there were many things that I felt were well done. The book switched back and forth between a few different narrators, one of which was Rasputin. He was an interesting figure in history so it was cool to read chapters written from that character’s point of view. The religious zeal, combined with an enormous amount of narcissism, made him an intriguing character to explore. I’m not sure why dragons were even included in the book: they actually detracted from the story, although my dragon-loving self hates to admit it. The rest of it is basically a historical fiction, and the dragons just didn’t fit. I might have liked it better without the dragons, and I hate having to say that. There were parts that really dragged for me. I felt that certain characters, such as the tsarina, weren’t utilized to the best of their potential. She could have been written in a way that contributed much more to the feel of the time. Instead, she was just kind of annoying. Eventually, it did fall into a sort of storytelling rhythm, and it moved along well after that. It ended up being an enjoyable story, but nothing to write home about. I liked it, but it’s not one that I’ll pick up again.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Siavahda

    I received this E-ARC via Netgalley and the publisher in exchange for an honest review. I was really excited for The Last Tsar's Dragons - who wouldn't be, with a premise like it has? But I quickly found myself confused and then disappointed once I started reading. In an attempt to moderate my expectations, I took a break to see if I'd missed something and this book was aimed at a YA or even MG audience - I didn't think so, but maybe I was wrong? And maybe I'm still wrong, but as far as I can tel I received this E-ARC via Netgalley and the publisher in exchange for an honest review. I was really excited for The Last Tsar's Dragons - who wouldn't be, with a premise like it has? But I quickly found myself confused and then disappointed once I started reading. In an attempt to moderate my expectations, I took a break to see if I'd missed something and this book was aimed at a YA or even MG audience - I didn't think so, but maybe I was wrong? And maybe I'm still wrong, but as far as I can tell from Goodreads and various bookseller sites, this seems to have been aimed at adult readers, which means there's really no excuse for how bizarrely simplistic the writing style and storytelling are here. Take my opinion with a pinch of salt - I DNF-ed this book at the 20% mark on my e-reader, 20% being my cut-off point for giving a book a chance to change a poor first impression - but... I read a fifth of this and couldn't stand the idea of giving it any more of my time. The content itself is horrifying, but in fairness, it's absolutely meant to be - the story opens with the eponymous Tsar releasing his personal stable of dragons to go hunt and kill Jews; there's no way we're supposed to approve or find this light-hearted. That being said - while it can often be hard to read, good writers convey the horror of horrifying things. A reader's difficulty in getting through a story can be - maybe even should be, in some ways - directly proportional to the writer's skill, when the subjects include antisemitism, chillingly callous and unsubtle class-warfare, and the like. But I didn't feel that that was the case here; these things were horrifying because they are objectively horrifying, and because I arrived at this book already feeling horror towards these topics, not because the writers conveyed that horror well or made me feel it. Honestly, the only thing this book made me feel was rapidly-mounting confusion - even with only an A-Level in History, which hardly makes me an expert, I know the conditions that led to the Russian Revolution were more complex than the simplistic and childish tone taken by The Last Tsar's Dragons had any hope of conveying - which turned into frustration when the problems only worsened instead of getting better. Bluntly, the writing here seems like a bland mess. I've read Middle-Grade novels that portrayed their characters with more complexity than the two-dimensional depictions here, and for some inexplicable reason, the writers can't seem to decide when their characters are thinking to themselves in first or third-person - info-dumping introspection randomly switched from first to third person as if the writers couldn't manage the transition between their characters' direct, personal thoughts and the de-individualised, generalised 'overview' thoughts that are typically conveyed via third-person. And while most of the characters were written in third-person, one was written in first-person, which wouldn't have bothered me except that there was no special significance to this character and no apparent reason for making him stand out in this way. The writers also utilised, for this same character, one of the tropes I absolutely despise, which is having a character think their (politically sensitive and dangerous) inner monologue out loud. That the character in this case openly acknowledged that this was basically suicide given the time and place he lives and works in only made me even more annoyed. I'm honestly unclear on whether I was supposed to be questioning his mental stability, given his grating, rambling, zig-zagging train of thought; on the one hand, I hope not, because if so it's truly awful mental illness representation - but on the other hand, if I wasn't supposed to be questioning the character's mental health, then it's extremely poor writing that led me directly to the conclusion that this was a man in desperate need of good mental health care. There's so. Much. Info-dumping. So much telling-instead-of-showing. The Last Tsar's Dragons was always going to have an uphill battle - after the success of Naomi Novik's Temeraire series, which also utilised the idea of historical fiction + dragons, Tsar's was going to have to do more than just be set in a different historical time period to stand against the inevitable comparisons between the two. Based on what I could bring myself to read, it doesn't come close to succeeding. Novik did it better, and even if it didn't have the Temeraire series to compete with, Tsar's wouldn't be a good book. Tl;dr - a great concept taken out back and shot by terrible execution. (Pun unintended, but cherished as the one bit of entertainment provided by this book.)

  17. 5 out of 5

    Ali

    Growing up I was as much a history nerd as I was a bookworm. I was always particularly fascinated by the human cost of quests for power; how idealistic leaders could commit atrocities, and truly believe it was for the best. Unsurprisingly, therefore, I came into this novella with the history of the February Revolution and the Red Terror being not entirely foreign to me. This is part of why I was so interested to get my hands on this speculative fiction novella about the February Revolution... wi Growing up I was as much a history nerd as I was a bookworm. I was always particularly fascinated by the human cost of quests for power; how idealistic leaders could commit atrocities, and truly believe it was for the best. Unsurprisingly, therefore, I came into this novella with the history of the February Revolution and the Red Terror being not entirely foreign to me. This is part of why I was so interested to get my hands on this speculative fiction novella about the February Revolution... with dragons. Dragons as metaphor for power and as agents for change in a historical setting? I love it! I was not disappointed by this novella, which - granted - is a weird place to start a review, but I feel I need to preface everything I'm about to say. The Last Tsar's Dragons was not exactly what I was anticipating it to be, but it was still very engaging and I blasted through it in one sitting in the course of an evening. Each chapter changed point of view, rotating through a cast of well known historical figures - Tsar Nicholas II, Rasputin, Leon Trotsky, and Tsarina Alexandra. Additionally, and at first somewhat oddly, we also have the first person voice of a seemingly nameless functionary who is always on the periphery of the main action. We are watching the events leading up to the October Revolution - and the end of Tsar Nicholas II's reign - play out from these varied stand points. I found it to be a fairly interesting take on the historical events however, I really wanted more dragons! I was somewhat surprised to find that the addition of the dragons had very little substantial impact on how everything played out. In hindsight I can see the value of this. The concept that a dragon is just like any other weapon and therefore wouldn't change the story is an exciting rabbit hole to fall down! However, they feel a bit like Chekhov's gun, and like the gun - they're mostly used off stage. Obviously, the dragons (and lack thereof) factored heavily into my rating of the novella. Additionally, I found the chapters from Rasputin's point of view slightly challenging - his blatant disregard of women in any capacity other than as sex objects is difficult to swallow when it is brought up so frequently. To counter that, I found the inclusion of the tsarina to be a fascinating point of view. She is probably the most historically interesting of the group, and the most overlooked. I understand all of the characterizations, and despite my qualms about Rasputin, I believe that Yolan and Stemple created characters that were appropriate to the situtation and stylized Russia we were entering. Overall, I enjoyed The Last Tsar's Dragons. I think a lot of my qualms with the novella could be sorted if this had been expanded into a full novel - and the finale allowed more space to grow and be explored! I certainly would pick this up in novel form! However, as it stands, I give the novella a solid 3.5 stars! Thank you to Tachyon Publications and Netgalley for the review copy! For more information visit Tachyon Publications website! And, don't forget to pick up your copy when it comes out on June 26th!

  18. 5 out of 5

    LobsterQuadrille

    When I got The Last Tsar's Dragons from the library, I was surprised to see how thin it was. A book about the Russian Revolution, with or without dragons, needs enough room to do justice to the complexity of its subject. That is the most fundamental problem with this historical fantasy book, but sadly not the only one. The writing style is descriptive but very readable, and the premise is original and pretty darn cool. But for various reasons I found it disappointing. First is the nameless(and When I got The Last Tsar's Dragons from the library, I was surprised to see how thin it was. A book about the Russian Revolution, with or without dragons, needs enough room to do justice to the complexity of its subject. That is the most fundamental problem with this historical fantasy book, but sadly not the only one. The writing style is descriptive but very readable, and the premise is original and pretty darn cool. But for various reasons I found it disappointing. First is the nameless(and presumably fictional) narrator. I never saw the purpose of having him narrate, because there are multiple character POVs anyways and those are just fine. And Nameless Narrator's life takes up way too much page time. I wanted to read about the dragons, the imperial family, and the revolutionaries, not N.N.'s latest mistress! Next, the characters. Meaningful development is lacking, except maybe in Father Grigori. No one is very likable, which I don't quite mind because it shows that none of the major players in this conflict were especially saintly. But no one is interesting enough to make up for this either. And as a big fan of Fall-of-the-Romanovs books, it bothered me so much that the authors changed the grand duchesses around for no reason! The real Tsar Nicholas had one son(Alexei) and four daughters before him(Olga, Tatiana, Marie, Anastasia). All of them lived along with their parents until their mass execution. But in this book, there are only three living daughters, and only two of them are named: Anastasia and Sonia(the dead one who never even existed in real life). Anastasia is the only daughter who gets even a tiny amount of page time, and otherwise they have no effect at all on the story. So why not keep the actual amount of grand duchesses and their real names? There was no reason to change anything about them; they were just background props anyways! The too-short format of The Last Tsar's Dragons really hindered its potential. It was fine as a quick diversion, but it didn't appeal to me as either a history or fantasy reader. The dragons sounded so interesting, but were completely sidelined and didn't change much in the plot. And the tensions leading to the revolution and the personalities on both sides weren't explored enough either. I have the advantage of having read a lot about these events, so I was probably unconsciously filling in the gaps in the plot. But reading this book without any previous knowledge of this topic would probably be confusing. There isn't enough context to the politics, and I imagine that this would quickly alienate many readers. If it were given enough pages to spread its proverbial wings, this story could have been great! But too much was left out, leaving it with too little fantasy for fantasy readers, and too little history for historical fiction readers.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Liz (Quirky Cat)

    3 1/2 stars I received a copy of The Last Tsar’s Dragons through NetGalley in exchange for a fair and honest review. The Last Tsar’s Dragons was a joint project between Jane Yolen and Adam Stemple. And being a massive fan of Yolen – and dragons – I knew right away that I wanted to check this novel out. Set in a time when the Russian monarchy was still in control – but not for long – this novel envisions a world in which the royalty of the land had access to dragons. And all that they would have do 3 1/2 stars I received a copy of The Last Tsar’s Dragons through NetGalley in exchange for a fair and honest review. The Last Tsar’s Dragons was a joint project between Jane Yolen and Adam Stemple. And being a massive fan of Yolen – and dragons – I knew right away that I wanted to check this novel out. Set in a time when the Russian monarchy was still in control – but not for long – this novel envisions a world in which the royalty of the land had access to dragons. And all that they would have done with them. The Last Tsar’s Dragons is a retelling of the Russian Revolution in many ways, but with one major and obvious change; dragons. This fantastical telling is exactly that; fantasy being infused into the real world. “So the dragons took off, galloping out the door, filling the barn behind them with gold dust that left the dragon boys coughing madly.” Warnings: So anytime you hear about dragons being used to control a population, you should probably expect to hear some graphic depictions of death and burning. What happens here in The Last Tsar’s Dragons. If you’re a fan of fantasy and of reading about the Romanovs, then you’re going to absolutely adore The Last Tsar’s Dragons. It’s a fantasy version of the revolution and their forced hiding. And you can quite naturally guess what was added to these pages to make it a fantasy telling. This was honestly an extremely interesting read. I’m not a historical expect (and I would love to hear an expert’s opinion on this book), but I was fascinated by what I read here. Jane Yolen and Adem Stemple had such a way of writing this tale. It felt organic and rich with history and lore, even taking into account all of the alternations that had to be made. I do want to stress one point (which I think I’ve made an okay point of doing already, but better safe than sorry): there honestly is really only one major change in this retelling. In many ways, this is still the Russia of history, as are the characters that fill the pages. Dragons have been added to the plot, but the story itself hasn’t been completely altered. Some people may love that, but others may not. It really depends on what you’re looking for. And what you’re expecting, I think. I’m a huge fan of seeing authors working together on projects like these. So I honestly can’t help but hope that we’ll see more novels from this duo. Or any other new pairing, I’m not picky. I just want to see Jane Yolen work with more authors. Her work would lend well to it. For more reviews check out Quirky Cat's Fat Stacks

  20. 4 out of 5

    Margaret Carter

    In this relatively short (180-page) novel, Yolen and her son offer a unique account of the Russian Revolution—with dragons. The tsar keeps a stable of black dragons, which he uses to exterminate Jewish communities when the whim strikes him. Unfortunately, the beasts don’t reliably discriminate among targets, perpetrating significant collateral damage, either unknown or unimportant to the tsar. The population’s only defense is to hide underground and wait for the devastation to pass; the few who In this relatively short (180-page) novel, Yolen and her son offer a unique account of the Russian Revolution—with dragons. The tsar keeps a stable of black dragons, which he uses to exterminate Jewish communities when the whim strikes him. Unfortunately, the beasts don’t reliably discriminate among targets, perpetrating significant collateral damage, either unknown or unimportant to the tsar. The population’s only defense is to hide underground and wait for the devastation to pass; the few who possess a detection device called a drachometer have a better chance of taking refuge in time to survive. The dragons are often compared to Cossacks, the former being essentially a deadlier variation on the latter. The social and institutional contempt for Jews forms a constant background theme, so it’s not surprising that the heavy Jewish participation in revolutionary movements is also emphasized. One Jewish Marxist conspirator secretly acquires a supply of dragon eggs and hatches a swarm of red dragons to support Lenin’s uprising. Meanwhile, other major viewpoint characters include the mad monk Rasputin and the tsar’s wife. Not fully accepted by the Russian court (courtiers nickname her “German Alix”) even after years in her position and the birth of several children, the tsarina struggles to fulfill her duty as empress despite her distaste for many features of her adopted country. The only first-person narrator as well as the only invented major figure in the book, a nameless bureaucrat whose overriding goal is his own professional and personal survival, pulls the story together with his behind-the-scenes observations. His opening and closing monologues, thirty years later when he’s been condemned to death for corruption and treason, frame the narrative. Intelligent and cynical, he’d had no compunctions about switching sides when it became clear that the revolution would triumph. To me, no characters come across as terribly likable except maybe the royal princesses and the well-meaning but not too bright tsarina. Knowing the ultimate destiny of the nation and the combatants on both sides, I felt pity for the characters rather than deep emotional engagement. The authors conclude the book with an absorbing overview of the history behind the fiction.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Sadie Slater

    The new novella from Jane Yolen and her son Adam Stemple, The Last Tsar's Dragons, is a retelling of the events leading up to the Russian Revolution, with added dragons: the tsar's black dragons, which he sends to destroy the Jews of Russia, and the red dragons raised in secret by revolutionary Lev Bronstein (aka Leon Trotsky). It's told from multiple points of view, principally Bronstein, the mad monk Rasputin and a nameless bureaucrat who is also the overall narrator; it begins sometime in 191 The new novella from Jane Yolen and her son Adam Stemple, The Last Tsar's Dragons, is a retelling of the events leading up to the Russian Revolution, with added dragons: the tsar's black dragons, which he sends to destroy the Jews of Russia, and the red dragons raised in secret by revolutionary Lev Bronstein (aka Leon Trotsky). It's told from multiple points of view, principally Bronstein, the mad monk Rasputin and a nameless bureaucrat who is also the overall narrator; it begins sometime in 1916 and focuses particularly on the growing resentment at Rasputin's influence over the Tsarina Alexandra, leading to his murder, and then the deposition and eventual murder of the Tsar and his family. I've enjoyed Jane Yolen's books in the past, but unfortunately I really didn't get on with this one. I found it a rather strange book. The narrative has a fairy-tale quality, and while it is possible to write about the Russian Revolution in a fairy-tale style (Marcus Sedgwick's Blood Red, Snow White does this rather well), in this case I felt that the style of the narrative jarred uncomfortably with the subject-matter. The point of view characters were all unpleasant and self-interested and utterly unsympathetic; in particular, Rasputin and the bureaucrat came across as so nasty, especially in their attitudes to women, that I actually found their sections quite hard to read. In addition, the dragons didn't really seem to add very much to the plot; history followed almost exactly the same course as normal dragon-free history, except that dragons as a weapon of mass destruction perhaps made some of the deaths (particularly the deaths of the Tsar and his family) quicker and less painful than they were in reality. Obviously, it would be hard to write a cheerful novel about the Russian Revolution, but this was utterly bleak in a way that I would not have expected from a fairy-tale style narrative with dragons. (Thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for a free e-ARC for review.)

  22. 5 out of 5

    Claire

    I was considerably pleased, as I have not been able to think about this specific part of Russian history for years. It's a cute little rewrite of the story. (Honestly, I have been thinking more about Solzhenitsyn and his war writings lately so this has been a considerable lightening and relaxation) This book is most likely aimed at a dramatically younger audience, but I did not catch any disparities with actual history. The specific part of actual history is the end of the Russian empire. There w I was considerably pleased, as I have not been able to think about this specific part of Russian history for years. It's a cute little rewrite of the story. (Honestly, I have been thinking more about Solzhenitsyn and his war writings lately so this has been a considerable lightening and relaxation) This book is most likely aimed at a dramatically younger audience, but I did not catch any disparities with actual history. The specific part of actual history is the end of the Russian empire. There were some Georgian murderers to spice up the plot which I found interesting as well and perhaps enjoyable to imagine... I mean, I certainly don't like misogyny, but that I think is just a part of the historical culture in this part of the world which can't be avoided. What I liked most was that I wasn't confused about what was fantasy and what was real in this story. Every scene change, a little graphic of Saint Basil's Cathedral pops up which I thought was so adorable. Also, there were a couple dragon silhouettes before and after the story as well. Who can say no to that? It was also pleasing to note their discussion of the cold and the moujiks. What a cool idea these two people had! For only being in English, I couldn't find anything dramatically amiss, after having spent perhaps three-ish semesters in the stacks poring through Russian history manuscripts. Maybe slightly longer. N.B.: I have not fine-combed through the story. This is just my first impression. So! Are you going to say no to The Last Tsar's Dragons?

  23. 5 out of 5

    Pamela Scott

    https://thebookloversboudoir.wordpres... copy from @TachyonPub and voluntarily reviewed I’ve read a few of Yolen’s book and been very impressed and was looking forward to this even though it sounded very different from her usual books. I enjoyed some things about this novella but it felt very short at times. I’m not familiar with Russia at all, just vague things I’ve heard or seen on TV and I’ve never read any historical fiction set in Russia so I wasn’t sure what to expect or at all familiar with https://thebookloversboudoir.wordpres... copy from @TachyonPub and voluntarily reviewed I’ve read a few of Yolen’s book and been very impressed and was looking forward to this even though it sounded very different from her usual books. I enjoyed some things about this novella but it felt very short at times. I’m not familiar with Russia at all, just vague things I’ve heard or seen on TV and I’ve never read any historical fiction set in Russia so I wasn’t sure what to expect or at all familiar with the actual events. I felt the historical characters in the novella, such as Rasputin were little more than stereotypes. I’ve never really read historical fiction with a bit of fantasy thrown in but felt this didn’t always work here. Stalin plays a bodyguard to some dragon eggs. Something felt very wrong about this. There are a lot of explanations in this book. Many of the important events take place off screen and are summoned up in a few sentences. This didn’t work as much is lost. I loved the idea of the novella – the Russian revolution with dragons. Unfortunately, this does not pan out in the book. In additional, this is marketed as an adult book but it written more like a middle grade book. There is too much here that just doesn’t work.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Lindsay pinkcowlandreads

    Do find the end of the Russian Tsar’s reign fascinating? Do you love dragons? Well, if you put your hand up for both of these questions, I have the book for you! I was originally found and was drawn to this title while I was coming down form my Romanov (by Nadine Brandes) earlier this year. Another retelling of the mysterious ending to the infamous Romanov family… and now with dragons. This story starts as the revolutionaries start to gain power and momentum, at this time in the Tsar’s power is ke Do find the end of the Russian Tsar’s reign fascinating? Do you love dragons? Well, if you put your hand up for both of these questions, I have the book for you! I was originally found and was drawn to this title while I was coming down form my Romanov (by Nadine Brandes) earlier this year. Another retelling of the mysterious ending to the infamous Romanov family… and now with dragons. This story starts as the revolutionaries start to gain power and momentum, at this time in the Tsar’s power is kept secure by his trusty fleet of dragons that keep all the empires’ enemies at bay. There is change in the wind prophesied by the Mad Monk and trusted advisor to the Tsarina, Rasputin. This was a fast paced story, told by all of the players involved from the Tsar and Tsarina to Rasputin and the a Jewish revolutionary. I really enjoyed seeing the varied posts of view. This was an interesting read, and I would recommend it to creative historical fiction fans… now if you excuse me, I’ll be over here googling the Romanovs and Rasputin! The Last Tsar's Dragons by Jane Yolen; Adam Stemple was release June 6, 2019. I received a complimentary copy of this book from Tachyon Publications through NetGalley. Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own. #TheLastTsarsDragons #NetGalley

  25. 4 out of 5

    Stewart Baker

    I received an uncorrected advanced reader copy of this book from netgalley in exchange for a review. The concept for this book--plus the names attached--made me excited to read it. I mean, revolution with dragons! Sounds right up my alley. Unfortunately, the execution didn't live up to my expectations. There are a number of point of view characters, and while I'm fine with that generally, in this case the amount seemed to come at the expense of very much actually happening--at least in the first h I received an uncorrected advanced reader copy of this book from netgalley in exchange for a review. The concept for this book--plus the names attached--made me excited to read it. I mean, revolution with dragons! Sounds right up my alley. Unfortunately, the execution didn't live up to my expectations. There are a number of point of view characters, and while I'm fine with that generally, in this case the amount seemed to come at the expense of very much actually happening--at least in the first half of the novella. A lot of each section was taken up with characters thinking about things at great length, which made for slow reading. More importantly, I didn't actually like any of the characters. At all. For me, it's difficult to read something where I don't like any of the characters at least a little. I'm not very familiar with Russian history or historical aspects of Russian culture beyond vague details, but felt like this book had a very surface approach that wasn't convincing. I wondered if that was just me, but see grin other reviews that it's not, so that's a bit disappointing as well.

  26. 4 out of 5

    J. Else

    "Spring would surely break in Russia like the smiles of women Bronstein had known: cautious, cold, and a long time coming." Yep, that pretty well sums up how women are thought of and treated in this novella. Disregarded as little more than what they can do for men. So we can have dragons, but not one interesting and strong female character? Guess the authors don't want things to get too unbelievable, huh? Powerful dragons: yes. Powerful women: woah, let's not get crazy here. The meandering plot i "Spring would surely break in Russia like the smiles of women Bronstein had known: cautious, cold, and a long time coming." Yep, that pretty well sums up how women are thought of and treated in this novella. Disregarded as little more than what they can do for men. So we can have dragons, but not one interesting and strong female character? Guess the authors don't want things to get too unbelievable, huh? Powerful dragons: yes. Powerful women: woah, let's not get crazy here. The meandering plot involving lots of plans and ideas, but not a lot of action. When I finished reading, I was left wondering (a) what happened to the dragons? (b) will there be another novella following this novella's events? (c) what happened to the dragons? There were too many loose ends not tied up making the story feel incomplete. Character relationships were never fully developed, and the story as a whole lacked emotional depth. And the first-person narrative didn't work. It kept switching from present tense to past tense. In the end, I couldn't help but wonder what the point of it all was. Why explore this avenue if things are left hanging and nothing is significantly altered? Again, this seems to go into that "let's not get too crazy here" thing I mentioned above. Either go big or don't. What makes having dragons so different to the history I know (other than having dragons?)? Adding dragons because they're dragons does a disservice to the story and the dragons. They're never explored and given generic qualities that can be found in any dragon story in which the dragons are monsters. Why should I pick up this book when the dragons are little more than mindless creatures? And more importantly, why should I pick up this book when I can pick up an actual history book and get the same outcome?

  27. 5 out of 5

    Kiara

    While not as long as I was hoping for it to be, this novella combined poetic language, real history, and fire-breathing dragons in a way that was interesting to read about. This novel is told from the perspectives of many actual historical figures, which I thought was fascinating, as well as a fictional unnamed bureaucrat, which was an interesting choice that worked very well for this book. The examination of anti-Semitism during the time period was relevant and extensive. However, I wish the bo While not as long as I was hoping for it to be, this novella combined poetic language, real history, and fire-breathing dragons in a way that was interesting to read about. This novel is told from the perspectives of many actual historical figures, which I thought was fascinating, as well as a fictional unnamed bureaucrat, which was an interesting choice that worked very well for this book. The examination of anti-Semitism during the time period was relevant and extensive. However, I wish the book had dealt more with the implications of the Romanovs having dragons, instead of just using them as an interesting occasional plot device. How would that have changed Russian history, politics, and culture? None of these deeper worldbuilding concerns were addressed, which I felt was a missed opportunity. There were also lots of plot holes in this novella, created either by sloppy construction or a lack of explanation, which were slightly frustrating. However, overall "The Last Tsar's Dragons" was a quick and very enjoyable read that I would recommend to anybody interested in fantasy or Russian history.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Travis

    Rather a disappointing book. None of the characters are likeable or even really sympathetic, though that is less of a problem than it might have been: it is the sort of story where everything goes bad in the end, so it is refreshing to not really care what happens in the end. The much bigger disappointment is how little the titular dragons (or the non-titular, but arguably more central red dragon brood) really matters. The afterward by the authors even points out how closely they hewed to actual Rather a disappointing book. None of the characters are likeable or even really sympathetic, though that is less of a problem than it might have been: it is the sort of story where everything goes bad in the end, so it is refreshing to not really care what happens in the end. The much bigger disappointment is how little the titular dragons (or the non-titular, but arguably more central red dragon brood) really matters. The afterward by the authors even points out how closely they hewed to actual history, which just raises the question of why even add dragons? The afterward also reveals that the novella originated as a short story; I don't really want to read it, but I'm curious how it compares. I suspect it is better than the novella. They also apparently tried to convert it to a full novel, but couldn't find a buyer for it. I don't know if it would have been any better, but I think it is obvious in some of the writing that they were trying to build for something grander and more detailed than the really had space for in this format.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Grace

    This book starts and ends with a narrator that claims only he knows the truth and, of course, it is his to dispense as he pleases. It doesn’t add much to have this unnamed (self-proclaimed) protagonist book-end the other 6 point of views - the ending actually comes off as quite abrupt. Even though this is a work of historical fiction, it feels wrong to have someone claim that a single view of history can encompass the truth of something like an entire revolution - a truth maybe, but all of it? S This book starts and ends with a narrator that claims only he knows the truth and, of course, it is his to dispense as he pleases. It doesn’t add much to have this unnamed (self-proclaimed) protagonist book-end the other 6 point of views - the ending actually comes off as quite abrupt. Even though this is a work of historical fiction, it feels wrong to have someone claim that a single view of history can encompass the truth of something like an entire revolution - a truth maybe, but all of it? Sure, the authors were making a point, but no need to hit us over the head with it. Once in while your readers might even come to the correct conclusions on their own. The variety of POVs was interesting even except they favor the last days of the Tsar and his court rather than the planning of the revolution so the action is almost nil. The revolution is almost an afterthought and people seem to spend a great deal more of their internal monologue on casual racism than you’d think ingrained/unthinking prejudice would warrant. But the biggest disappointment? I was the promised dragons and they turned out to just be another tool in the Tasr’s arsenal. Any weapon could have replaced them; they also didn’t seem to have altered Russian history in any way.

  30. 5 out of 5

    The Idle Woman

    Russia, 1917, under the autocratic rule of Tsar Nicholas II. The imperial will is enforced by the airborne terror of the Tsar’s dragons: great black beasts reared in the palace stables and then sent out across the country to ravage the lands of those the Tsar deems offensive – the Jews chief among them. But times are changing. In a quiet Jewish village, a group of ambitious men have long dreamed of bringing that change to Russia. Now they have the means. As their leader Lenin drums up support be Russia, 1917, under the autocratic rule of Tsar Nicholas II. The imperial will is enforced by the airborne terror of the Tsar’s dragons: great black beasts reared in the palace stables and then sent out across the country to ravage the lands of those the Tsar deems offensive – the Jews chief among them. But times are changing. In a quiet Jewish village, a group of ambitious men have long dreamed of bringing that change to Russia. Now they have the means. As their leader Lenin drums up support beyond the Russian borders, Bronstein and Borustch carefully work on a secret weapon that will bring down the forces of tyranny once and for all. Meanwhile, mutiny also simmers within the palace walls as a cabal of courtiers plot to rid themselves of the charismatic monk Rasputin. Set in the final days of the Romanov dynasty, this is a strange little novella: historical fiction skewed by the addition of dragons, which somehow never quite takes flight... For the full review, please see my blog: https://theidlewoman.net/2020/03/21/t...

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