Dragon Spear

By Jessica Day George [LibraryThing]

Just when Creel thinks her troubles with dragons are over and it’s finally time to get married, Velika, queen of the dragons, is kidnapped. Creel and her friends must travel to a distant land to rescue her, but when they get there, they discover that it’s not just Velika’s life at stake – it’s the future of the entire dragon kingdom. Will Creel ever finish her wedding dress?

I’ve already talked at length about my general take on these books: I love dragons, and Creel is likable enough, but they’re otherwise pretty much just okay. All that basically stands for Dragon Spear as well, so I won’t go into it again. And none of it is why this book enraged me so much.

The problem with Dragon Spear is…well, okay, there are two. Basically, Velika is kidnapped by a sort of cult of dragons, who split from the main dragon society generations ago (dragon generations, which are much longer than people generations). I mentioned in my review of Dragon Flight that I was irritated by the way that Velika, the supposed ruler of the dragons, was forced into a passive, damsel-in-distress-y role, but folks, I hadn’t seen anything yet. See, Velika is about to lay her eggs when she’s kidnapped, and for some inexplicable reason, it’s handled like a human pregnancy – she’s almost completely incapacitated by it, and the actual act of laying the eggs is difficult and painful. Um, no. Human pregnancies and labor are difficult because we walk upright and our pelvises are totally wrong for shooting out babies (which, btw, are proportionally larger than egg-laying animals’ eggs are). It’s possible that magical lizards have difficult reproductive processes, but it’s biologically highly unlikely. So the only reason to do this is to take Velika out of the action, yet again, so that she can be kidnapped and lie in a hole while Creel and a bunch of male dragons argue about her fate. Pass.

But much more problematic are Velika’s kidnappers. See, this other society of dragons lives on a volcanic island. Things to know about these dragons:

1. They live in the jungle. The scary, scary jungle.

2. All the sulfur or whatever has made them little and brown. This is specifically linked to the birth defects that make it hard for them to lay eggs that survive to hatch.

3. They follow, essentially, a corrupted version of the “true” faith. Heretics! Savage heretics!

4. They keep human slaves. The humans are dark-skinned and wear skins and loincloths and large piercings – George seems to be chucking some Native American culture in there, some African, Aboriginal, South American…whatever sounds “savage-y” and National Geographic-y, I guess. Creel finds them terrifying and ugly, and is horrified by the idea of darkening her own hair and skin to pass among them (YES SHE WEARS BLACKFACE). The natives, for their part, are fascinated by Creel’s blonde hair and blue eyes.

5. They also are really into the Happy Slave thing, all gung-ho about being the bestest slaves they can be, until Creel and her white friends (and brightly-colored, “normal” dragons) show them that they don’t have to be slaves anymore. Yay, White Man’s Burden!

6. They don’t really know anything about medicine, but they’ve got a wise woman who can kind of half-ass it.

7. DID I MENTION THE PART WHERE THE NATIVE DRAGONS ARE CONSIDERED FREAKISH AND GENETICALLY DEFECTIVE FOR BEING BROWN???

Seriously, I could not stop gasping at the awful, awful implications of this book. There was so much going on there that was not okay, and I couldn’t believe that no one at any stage of the editorial process had stopped and gone “Huh, maybe we don’t want to say that being brown and from the jungle is freakish? And maybe the constant harping on how awful it would be if Creel couldn’t change back to being white is, you know, terrible?” I will say that it all seems more quaintly ignorant than malicious, but it’s still not okay.

I gave the earlier books in this series moderate grades because they were George’s first and second novels and they had elements of fun to them, and I thought perhaps her writing would improve with experience. So far it hasn’t, and the completely dreadful subtext of this book takes away any points George got for having dragons and a spunky heroine. I’m only grateful I took this out of the library and so didn’t waste any money on it. Zero cupcakes.

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