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The Last Tsar’s Dragons

by Adam Stemple

The Last Tsar's Dragons - Jane Yolen and Adam Stempke
ISBN: 1616962879
Pages: 192

Called "cheeky, wry, gruesome, and sometimes shockingly dirty" by Shoreline of Infinity, Stemple and co-author, SFWA Grandmaster Jane Yolen, reimagine the Russian Revolution if there were dragons to be had as powerful, if often unpredictable, weapons. All the main villains (or heroes, depending on whose side you're on) are there: the Tsar, his wife, Rasputin, Trotsky, Lenin, and more, all vying for power and influence. And to have either, in this revolution, you need dragons.



This book is on:
  • 3 To Be Read lists

They came upon a brook running swift and shallow through snowy banks. Bronstein turned downstream and paralleled it, stopping finally at an old pine tree that had been split by lightning long ago. He paced off thirty steps south, away from the stream then turned sharply and took another thirty. Flinging himself to the ground, he began pawing through a pile of old leaves and pine needles.

“Grain and wood, Borutsch,” Bronstein said. “Two of the three things that give power in this land.” He'd cleared away the leaves and needles now and was digging through the cold dirt. The ground should have been frozen and resisting, but it broke easily beneath his fingers. “However, to get either one, you need the third.” Stopping his digging, he beckoned to Borutsch.

Borutsch shambled over and stared into the shallow hole Bronstein had dug. “Oh, Lev,” he said his voice somewhere between awe and terror.


Inside the shallow depression, red-shelled and glowing softly with internal heat, lay perhaps a dozen giant eggs. Dragon's eggs.

“There's more,” Bronstein said.

Borutsch tore his gaze from the eggs and looked around. Clumps of leaves and needles that had appeared part of the landscape before, now looked suspiciously handmade. Borutsch didn't bother to count the clumps, but guessed there were many.

“Oh, Lev,” he said again. “You're going to burn the whole world.”

Reviews:Publishers Weekly wrote:

History buffs and dragon fans will enjoy this mix of reality and fantasy.

Elitist Book Reviews wrote:

Everything’s better with dragons . . . We should be grateful for the whims of creative fate because The Last Tsar’s Dragons is a well-written, clever novella that’s worth your time.

The Book Smugglers wrote:

Vivid, gripping and actually riveting as the Red Danger takes a whole new meaning here. Loved it.

Grasping for the Wind wrote:

In essence, Yolen and Stemple create new origin or ending tales for key people of the Bolshevik Revolution in 1917. The dragons, though a real part of the story, are also a metaphor for power, and the story becomes as philosophical as entertaining.

Yoon Ha Lee, author of Ninefox Gambit wrote:

Spare and unflinching, with a dragon-red alternate version of Russian history.

Greenman Review on wrote:

…a delightful and multilayered example of the historical fantasy.

James A. Owen, author and illustrator of HERE, THERE BE DRAGONS wrote:

To include dragons in the Russian Revolution seems like the kind of inspired idea that, in lesser hands, could not possibly live up to a reader’s expectations; but Jane Yolen and Adam Stemple take that idea and soar with it, spinning a tale of alternate history that is both wondrous and sublime. The book is elegant, quotable, and at the end, I simply wished for more.

About the Author

Adam Stemple is an award-winning Minnesota author, poet, and musician.