Tooth and Claw

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the Pride and Prejudice of the dragon world. --quote from the back cover.


Tooth and Claw (ISBN 0765349094) is a Victorian-style novel by Jo Walton about dragons living in a society very much like that of Victorian Europe.

The story is about what happens to Bon Agornin’s family after his death. At the funeral, Agornin’s son-in-law takes more than his fair share of the inheritance (which is the privilege of eating part of the deceased). Avan, Agornin’s younger son, files a lawsuit for the inheritance denied him and his sisters.

Meanwhile, his other son, in the clergy, agonizes over his father’s deathbed confession. One of his daughters becomes involved in the abolition movement. His oldest daughter (married to the aforementioned son-in-law) sacrifices her life for her husband. His third daughter was touched by a man before she was properly courted, turning her scales pink, so that now the likelihood of marriage for her is in jeopardy.


It is not a typical fantasy novel, even by furry standards. It is Victorian, which means that the story revolves around social etiquette and marriage instead of action and adventure. This book simply uses dragons instead of humans to tell a Victorian story, while adding some new elements for a different flavor on these themes.

According to the author’s introduction, she wrote the book with these thoughts in mind:

"It has to be admitted that a number of the core axioms of the Victorian novel are just wrong. People aren’t like that. Women, especially, aren’t like that. This novel is the result of wondering what a world would be like if they were, if the axioms of the sentimental Victorian novel were inescapable laws of biology."


In 2002, Jo Walton received a John W. Campbell Award for Best New Writer for Tooth and Claw.


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