Tooth and Claw by Jo Walton

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A tale of contention over love and money--among dragons

Tooth and Claw

Jo Walton burst onto the fantasy scene with The King's Peace, acclaimed by writers as diverse as Poul Anderson, Robin Hobb, and Ken MacLeod. In 2002, she was voted the John W. Campbell Award for Best New Writer.

Now Walton returns with a very different kind of fantasy story: the tale of a family dealing with the death of their father, of a son who goes to law for his inheritance, a son who agonizes over his father's deathbed confession, a daughter who falls in love, a daughter who becomes involved in the abolition movement, and a daughter sacrificing herself for her husband.

Except that everyone in the story is a dragon, red in tooth and claw.

Here is a world of politics and train stations, of churchmen and family retainers, of courtship and country which, on the death of an elder, family members gather to eat the body of the deceased. In which society's high-and-mighty members avail themselves of the privilege of killing and eating the weaker children, which they do with ceremony and relish, growing stronger thereby.

You have never read a novel like Tooth and Claw.


About Jo Walton

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JO WALTON’s novel Tooth and Claw won the World Fantasy Award, and the novels of her Small Change sequence—Farthing, Ha’penny, and Half a Crown—have won acclaim ranging from national newspapers to the Romantic Times Reviewer’s Choice Award. A native of Wales, she lives in Montreal.
Published November 1, 2003 by Tor Books. 321 pages
Genres: Science Fiction & Fantasy, Literature & Fiction. Fiction

Unrated Critic Reviews for Tooth and Claw

Kirkus Reviews

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After this shocker, which Walton plays as just a matter of course, no more stunning than dividing up a parent’s bank account among the children, the story descends into a dull maze of subplots involving the children, their in-laws, and the vagaries of dragon prejudice.

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Publishers Weekly

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Dragons ritually eat dragons in order to gain strength and power in Walton's enthralling new fantasy (after 2002's The Prize in the Game), set amid a hierarchical society that includes a noble ruling class, an established church, servants and retainers.

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SF Site

This quote, found at the beginning of Tooth and Claw, is from Anthony Trollope's novel Framley Parsonage, published monthly through 1860-1 in Cornhill Magazine, a new periodical aimed at the family market.

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Fantasy Literature

The twist here is that every character in Tooth and Claw is a dragon, and the wealth of the dying dragon doesn’t only include his hoard of gold but also the flesh of his body, which dragon children traditionally eat to grow in strength.

Dec 21 2016 | Read Full Review of Tooth and Claw

Strange Horizons

Naturally, this led me to the revelation that Trollope did understand dragons extremely well, and that in fact the rather peculiar nature of the women in Trollope can be explained by the facts of dragon biology.

Jun 21 2004 | Read Full Review of Tooth and Claw


From a strictly a fan point of view, my first reaction upon concluding Jo Walton’s novel Tooth and Claw is a simple “Wow”.

Dec 16 2004 | Read Full Review of Tooth and Claw

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