cover image The Last Tsar’s Dragons

The Last Tsar’s Dragons

Jane Yolen and Adam Stemple. Tachyon, $14.95 trade paper (192p) ISBN 978-1-61696-287-6

The monk Rasputin, Jewish revolutionary Bronstein, Tsarina Alexandra, and an unnamed bureaucrat share narrative responsibility in this fractured tale of a very alternate Russian Revolution. The Tsar owns black dragons, which he uses to terrorize the countryside. In an attempt to spark Lenin’s revolution, Bronstein raises his own brood of red dragons. As Alexandra and the bureaucrats become more disillusioned with Rasputin’s self-importance, the Red Terror takes to the skies, bringing death in its wake. This expansion of Yolen and Stemple’s short story (from The Dragon Book) relegates the dragons to an undercurrent. While they remain a powerful metaphor for the proletariat and serf classes, their physical presence is diluted across the larger human cast. However, the familiar events are still made more intense by their fantastic underpinnings. The weight of the historical events is eased by the anyman bureaucrat, a masterful encapsulation of the court into an individual. History buffs and dragon fans will enjoy this mix of reality and fantasy. (June)