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The Dragon Waiting: A Masque of History Hardcover – Nov 1983


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 365 pages
  • Publisher: Simon & Schuster (November 1983)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0671475525
  • ISBN-13: 978-0671475529
  • Product Dimensions: 21.1 x 14 x 2.8 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 431 g
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #2,276,167 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

About the Author

John M. Ford is a writer of science fiction and fantasy and, under a pseudonym, children's fiction. He is winner of the Philip K. Dick Award and two World Fantasy Awards, including one for THE DRAGON WAITING, a Gollancz Fantasy Masterwork. --This text refers to the Paperback edition.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: 13 reviews
18 of 18 people found the following review helpful
Rough magic Aug. 23 1998
By A Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
A dark and gritty fantasy/alternate-history/vampire novel of remarkable psychological and political complexity (even unravelling the web of betrayal, intrigue and back-stabbing that forms the background to the main plot requires considerable thought), giving a panoramic sweep of a 15th-century Europe soaked in blood and magic.
Ford makes a few elegant changes in the course of history (which are never spelled out, the reader being flung in at the deep end and left to work it out for themselves), and then develops the logical consequences of these changes with uncompromising realism (and considerable wit - merely as a matter of incidental detail, for example, we discover that Christianity never took root and is now a minor and largely-forgotten heresy). Life is as nasty, brutal and short as it presumably was in the real 15th-century, and the protagonists are complicated, messed-up, and thoroughly believable human beings (the book even includes that rarity, a female leading character who isn't terminally bland), despite or because of which the book is hugely enjoyable and great fun.
Definitely not for those looking for another slice of pseudo-Tolkien questing, but highly recommended for anyone interested in something a little more challenging. It demands more thought than the average fantasy, but richly rewards the effort. A real treat.
13 of 14 people found the following review helpful
Excellent Dec 28 2001
By A Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
I read this book, more or less by accident, not particularly famous and was dazzled. Wow. Can't think of what to say, but will try.
The novel is set in an alternate history Europe, where either Constantine never converted to Christianity or Julian established the equality of all faiths, and the Byzantine Empire never declined, but in fact by the middle of the XVth century controls most of Eastern Europe and is trying to get as much of the West as possible. And magic works, and vampires exist also. I don't usually like alternate history, the real historical characters usually look unlikely next to the alternate bits, but this novel handled it perfectly, and the real historical characters of the XVth century (Richard III of England, his mother, and brothers, the Earl Rivers, Louis XI of France, the Medicci, the Duke of Urbino) are a joy to read about if you have met them before.
Great novel, deserving of a far better review than this one.
11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
This book is to fantasy what Dune is to SF. Sept. 21 1998
By simon.carter5@virgin.net - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
One of my favourite books,The Dragon Waiting, is a superb blend of history and fantasy. Mixing historical characters from the 15th century and captivating fictional heroes, this is a book that is both engrossing and enjoyable. John M Ford, a much underated author, succeeds in combining in-depth research with a vivid imagination and tweaks history to create a vision of europe where conspiracies lurk behind shady motives and dark characters, vampirism is a spreadable disease and magic a burden to the magician. A truly marvellous book, that deserves reprinting.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
Strangers in a Strange Europe March 30 2010
By P. G. Wickberg - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Imagine Europe in the 1480s, in a world very much like our own but also with some big differences. Christianity remains a minor Jewish heresy and Islam never happened. Most people still worship the formalized Roman gods, with those who want emotion in their religion turning to the mysteries of Mithraism. Constantine XI, instead of dying on the ramparts of his falling capital in 1453, rules a Byzantine Empire that totally controls the eastern Mediterranean, North Africa and the southern half of France (the northern half belongs to the English Plantagenets, with a mad Capet "king" occupying a buffer state of a few miles around Paris), and Byzantium is working its way up the Italian peninsula nipping off the Italian Renaissance states one by one. Oh, and magic works and vampires exist - as the result of a contagious blood disease, not as suave Eastern Europeans in black tie and tails.

This is the stage John Ford created for one of the greatest alternate history novels of the century (and I say this as an admirer of Harry Turtledove and other writers in this genre). Over a half century, his characters weave the threads of their own lives across the continent until they all come together in what seems a hopeless effort to keep England's good King Richard III from being toppled by the Byzantine-backed black magician Henry Tudor. This is a book that once I got well into it (and its one fault is that it does start slowly), I was unable to put it down until I finished. Alternate history is harder to write than it looks, since once you change one thing in history, it changes others in a widening cascade. But Ford paid attention to these consequences, and as a result produced an engrossing work of fiction.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
In any genre, John M. Ford does not disappoint. Feb. 27 2014
By Jack E. Holt, III - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
The Dragon Waiting is a 'genre novel.' That classification allows some people to pretend it's not literature. To pretend it's not the well-crafted little masterpiece it is. Give this book and Ford's other 'genre novels' -- they're all DIFFERENT genres -- a try. They are unforgivably inexpensive compared to their merit.

This tale is my favorite though.

As some of the other reviews note, it is very well-written and yet you have to bring yourself into this work. Motives are not laid out for you as they would be in typical fantasy or alternative history. Your knowledge of the time period is never assumed. Nor is it taken into account. The author does not connect all the dots. . . he leaves you the reader to engage with it.

For those of your who love history, this is a little like Umberto Eco's Name of the Rose or Foucault's Pendulum in this one aspect -- your own research or curiosity is rewarded if YOU take the extra step of reading more.

Who is Richard Duke of Gloucester?

What was the 'real' state of Byzantium like in the Medieval World that all of us accept as 'history'?

Would a vampire really marry a mortal, like in your favorite 'tween potboiler of the 21st century? :-)

The Dragon in Waiting is a Masque that masks the author's love of language, of libraries, of the wonderful, of the wondrous, and of the obscure. Spend the time with it. First, let it draw you IN because it's a fine book on its own -- but, please, then let it lead you OUT into your OWN exploration of alternate history and into realities that we barely understand even though they occurred just 600 years ago.


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