Title: Nice Dragons Finish Last
Author: Rachel Aaron
Nutshell: Julian is not a very good dragon. At 23, he has never burned down a town. He does not make mortals tremble when he approaches. He hasn’t even made a cutthroat business deal! He has mostly stayed in his room, flying under his mother’s radar and trying to get along with what few siblings she hasn’t eaten.
But his mother is a queen dragon and cannot tolerate a slacker dragon making her look bad. So she dumps him in the Detroit Free Zone (where dragons are illegal, of course) and tells him three things:
1. He gets no more magic.
2. He gets no more dragon form.
3. In his lowly human form, like a mere mortal, he must do something worthy of belonging to the largest dragon clan in the world within a month, or she will eat him.
And if that weren’t terrible enough, Julian’s getting messages from his brother Bob again.
Readalikes: The Dresden Files are rather like this.
Ramblings: (Note: I read this before The Mermaid and the Unicorn, even though I’m posting this after.)
At last. A self-published book worth reading.
I knew they were out there, of course. I’d read several webcomics that were self-pub and worth the time. But novels? Rare as jackalopes.
This is so fun, though. Julian is a snarky dragon, which is really foolish when he’s got so little power and is playing in a high-stakes world. Does he let that stop him? No! Does it get him into trouble? Yes! Does he learn? Of course not!
You’d think that choosing the course of action most likely to annoy persons who typically eat what annoys them would work out horribly. Surprisingly, he does not get eaten. (That’s not really a spoiler.) Julius starts by befriending a human (approximately the same as befriending a toad and licking it during a family party), and then defending her when it turns out she has the macguffin that a rival dragon clan wants. (Well, at least he’s stymieing the enemy.)
Marci isn’t a helpless damsel, but she is in way over her head, and inclined to let people do stupid things on her behalf because they offer to.
Bob, the very obscure seer dragon (and his pigeon) are so very random. Bob likes to send incomprehensible text messages, that Julian treats like law, because they are. Except when they aren’t.
Also featured in Nice Dragons are: hippy wizards, Russian refugees, complicated plans that go horribly awry, and honey badgers.