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Tooth and Claw Paperback – 6 Jan 2009

34 customer reviews

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Paperback, 6 Jan 2009
--This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

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Product details

  • Paperback: 332 pages
  • Publisher: Orb Books; 1 Reprint edition (6 Jan. 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0765319519
  • ISBN-13: 978-0765319517
  • Product Dimensions: 14 x 2.5 x 21.3 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (34 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,444,914 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Jo Walton writes science fiction and fantasy novels and reads a lot and eats great food. It worries her slightly that this is so exactly what she always wanted to do when she grew up. She comes from Wales, but lives in Montreal.


The King's Peace (Tor 2000)
The King's Name (Tor 2001)
The Prize in the Game (Tor 2002)
Tooth and Claw (Tor 2003, reprinted Orb 2009)
Farthing (Tor 2006)
Ha'Penny (Tor 2007)
Half a Crown (Tor 2008)
Lifelode (NESFA 2009)
Among Others (Tor 2011)

Poetry Collections

Muses and Lurkers (Rune Press 2001)
Sibyls and Spaceships (NESFA 2009)
The River and the Road (forthcoming from Aqueduct in 2013)


Copper Cylinder Award (Among Others 2012)

Hugo: (Among Others 2012)

John W. Campbell Award for Best New Writer, 2002

Mythopoeic Award (for Lifelode, 2010)

Nebula Award (for Among Others, 2012)

Prometheus Award (for Ha'Penny) 2008

Robert Holdstock Award (Among Others, 2012)

Romantic Times Reviewer's Choice Award (for Farthing) 2007
Romantic Times Reviewer's Choice Award (for Half a Crown) 2009
Romantic Times Reviewer's Choice Award (for Among Others 2012)

World Fantasy Award (for Tooth and Claw) 2004

Award Nominations

Indie Lit Awards: (Among Others 2012)
John W. Campbell Memorial (Farthing 2007)
Lambda (SF with gay/lesbian issues) (Ha'Penny 2008)
Locus (Farthing 2007, Among Others 2012)
Mythopoeic (Among Others 2012)
Nebula (Farthing 2007)
Prometheus (Libertarian) (Half a Crown 2009)
Quill (Farthing 2007)
Rhysling (SF poetry) (2007: "Candlemass Poem", in Lone Star Stories, Feb 2006)
Romantic Times Reviewer's Choice (Ha'Penny 2008)
Seiun (Best work translated into Japanese) (Farthing, Ha'Penny, Half a Crown 2011)
Sidewise (Alternate History) (Farthing 2007, Ha'Penny 2008, Half a Crown 2009)
Sunburst (Canadian Literature of the Fantastic) (Half a Crown 2009)
Tiptree Honor (Lifelode 2010)
World Fantasy Award (Among Others 2012)

Her livejournal, with wordcount, poetry, recipes and occasional actual journalling, is at: She also blogs about old books at

Product Description


The Pride and Prejudice of the dragon world... I love this sly, witty, fast-paced, brilliant little book. (Jane Yolen )

Walton writes with an authenticity that never loses heart. (Robin Hobb )

Utterly sui generis . . . It's rare a book that leaves me wishing it were twice as long, but Tooth and Claw is one such. (The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction ) --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

Book Description

A tale of love, money and family conflict - and everyone in the tale is a dragon, red in tooth and claw. --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

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First Sentence
Bon Agornin writhed on his deathbed, his wings beating as if he would fly to his new life in his old body. Read the first page
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Customer Reviews

4.2 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

17 of 17 people found the following review helpful By finalguy on 4 April 2013
Format: Kindle Edition
Tooth and Claw is a Jane Austen-ish tale, of maidens with slightly compromised virtue, inheritances, betrothals, law suits... Except, all those involved? They're dragons. I really enjoyed how Jo Walton handled this aspect: she sets up a whole culture for the dragons, with plenty of history in the background -- not detailed so that it drags down the plot, which is very much about the present, but enough to feel real.

I have to confess, when I first started reading it, I didn't get into it very much. I picked it back up tonight, though, and read the last two thirds of it all in one go, giggling in the appropriate places and squirming on the edge of my seat, wondering how things could possibly turn out alright.

It's fun. It's inventive. It has characters you can get to care about -- I think my favourite is Sher: he seems so basically good, despite his flightiness initially, and he comes to care so much about Selendra.

My only quibble is in that something, whatever it was, in the first third that failed to catch my attention. And, I suppose, how much Jo Walton crammed in here that she didn't really get to examine in the detail I would have been interested in: the issues of the enslaved dragons, the foreign dragons, and the True Believers.

On further thought, that is just like Jane Austen, though, e.g. the light mention of the slave trade in Mansfield Park.
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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful By David Roy on 15 Dec. 2003
Format: Hardcover
Some fantasy novels are epic, with rich plot lines, multiple characters on a quest to save the world from some hidden magic or powerful being. These books can be a lot of fun and very interesting, though often the plot overshadows the characters. Other fantasy novels are light and fluffy comedies where nothing much happens but they make you laugh your tail off.
Finally, there are those fantasy novels that really defy description. Tooth and Claw, by Jo Walton. As the dust jacket says, this is a novel that is based on the Victorian novels of Anthony Trollope. Walton takes the Victorian setting, and gives it huge twist: all of the characters are dragons. Yes, that's right. Fire-breathing (though not all of them do) lizards that can fly (though not all of them can). And, most importantly, proper fire-breathing dragons who have formed a society based on class structure, money (especially gold and treasure) and arranged marriage. Walton takes this concept and writes an intriguing story of family honour and love. It's a real treat to read.
The plot description doesn't sound very interesting. I think that's because this sort of plot usually does nothing for me. It does sound rather dull, doesn't it? I would not have read this book if I hadn't both received this as a review copy and been a big fan of Jo Walton. However, I'm glad I did, because I think it transcends the genre and becomes a nifty little (256 pages) novel in its own right. When I say "transcends the genre," I'm speaking as somebody who has not read any Victorian fiction, so Walton may be way off in her homage. However, Walton is good enough that I trust she hit it pretty good.
The conceit that dragons are living in a Victorian-style society is simply a wonderful concept that Walton does a lot with.
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14 of 15 people found the following review helpful By Jessie on 3 April 2013
Format: Paperback
As a big lover of, on the one hand, big Victorian novels about family and society (especial favourites: Trollope, Eliot, Gaskell) and, on the other, fantasy books, Tooth and Claw was really a wonderful find. It is, pretty much, Trollope with dragons. Trollope with dragons! And while Jo Walton has included all the love intrigues, and social climbing, and inheritance issues, and city/country animosity that any good 19th century novel should have, she also writes with the lighter touch of a modern author. Lovely stuff.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By B. Blackburn on 21 Mar. 2009
Format: Paperback
Definitely a keeper - this is going to have a permanent place on my bookshelves. I would not have thought that it was possible to convincingly imbue 30 or 40 foot long dragons with the sensibilities and attitudes of Austen or Trollope's characters. The infighting among the clergy and lawyers reminds me strongly of Trollope's Barsetshire novels
The idea of young maiden dragons blushing pink [permanently] if they get too closely acquainted to a male dragon is delicious. What would Georgette Heyer done with this plot device !

I bought this book having read Jo Waltons marvellous trilogy, Farthing, Ha'penny and Half a Crown. She is now most certainly on my watch list.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Morag O'donoghue on 2 May 2013
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
As another reviewer has said, this book is hard to categorise. As it is about another world and about dragons, I guess that makes it fantasy, but the story is about the characters and the society they live in rather than the more usual, epic themes - and it is all the more enjoyable for that. (Come to think of it - even in more epic fantasy novels, the things that usually hook me are characters and well-thought out details about their culture and history...) I particularly liked how some aspects of this world and its history only became clearer are the book progressed.

If you're into gritty battle scenes, convoluted storylines and/or elaborate systems of magic, this probably isn't for you, but if you like being immersed in another - often oddly familiar - reality, caring about the people (OK, dragons) you are reading about and seeing various strands of the storyline weaving nicely together, then this is a wee gem. My only complaint is that it is too short - I want to hear more about how the characters get on. I would particularly relish more focus on some of the themes - such as class, religion, or the Yarge - that are touched upon in this (hopefully, first) book.
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