Series: Jane Austen’s Dragons, Book 1
Author: Maria Grace
Narrator: Benjamin Fife
Publication Date: July 2, 2019
Genres: Historical Fantasy
From the author—
England is overrun by dragons of all shapes and sizes. Most people are blissfully unaware of them and the Pendragon Treaty that keeps the peace between human and dragon kind. Only those born with preternatural hearing, like Fitzwilliam Darcy and Elizabeth Bennet are able to hear and converse with dragonkind.
When the first firedrake egg laid in a century is stolen from Pemberley, the fragile dragon peace teeters on collapse. Darcy has no choice but to chase down the thief, a journey that leads him to quaint market town of Meryton and fellow Dragon Keeper, Elizabeth Bennet.
Elizabeth shares a unique bond with dragons, stronger than anything Darcy has ever experienced. More than that, her vast experience and knowledge of dragon lore may be the key to uncovering the lost egg. But Elizabeth can’t stand Darcy’s arrogance and doesn’t trust him to care properly for a precious baby firedrake. After all, he already lost the egg once. What’s to prevent it from happening again?
Can he win her trust and recover the stolen egg before it hatches and sends England spiraling back into the Dark Ages of Dragon War?
Reader Alert!! If you’re a Jane Austen purist, meaning you can’t bear to have someone mess with your favorite characters, having them do things Jane Austen didn’t intend, you need to walk away. Now, you’d think a purist would never dream of reading this book since it has a dragon right there on the cover but I’ve actually seen a few reviews by people who complained mightily about this retelling, particularly the dragons, even though they had to know what was coming. Why read them if you can’t stand the idea? Sheesh.
Normally, I’d save my comments regarding the narration till the end of my review but I have to bring it up now. Mr. Fife is purely amazing with the widest range of vocalizations I’ve heard in a long time and he truly breathes life into a story that’s already wonderful. His dragons are especially well done; when I first heard his interpretation of the tiny April, I was so taken with it—and her—that I had to pull off the side of the road and listen again without the distraction of driving. That wasn’t an anomaly as I soon discovered when other dragons spoke, each in a very distinctive voice. Even if I didn’t love this story, I would still have to listen to Mr. Fife’s rendition.
Ms. Grace’s worldbuilding is brilliant with much attention to detail. This is a sort of alternate universe but still with the trappings of Regency England, just with dragons, and we have the bones of Pride and Prejudice if not the exact story. For hundreds of years, dragons and humans have co-existed peaceably and each estate has its own landed dragon, named for the estate. In addition to the landed dragons, Ms. Grace has created a myriad of others of all types and sizes and they kept my attention psyched up.
Darcy and Lizzy are, of course, the main players on the human side and they sort of tiptoe around each other at first, much like in the original story. They have a mutual interest that takes precedence over any awkwardness and that’s the retrieval of the stolen dragon egg, legacy of the firedrake named Pemberley. If that egg hatches without a human present, the baby won’t imprint and the long-lasting treaty will be broken.
I can’t come up with sufficient praise for Pemberley other than to say I thoroughly enjoyed it and it’s the first book I’ll be putting on my list of best books read in 2020. Now, on to the second book, Longbourn 🐉
Reviewed by Lelia Taylor, February 2020.
About the Author
Five time BRAG Medallion Honoree and #1 best selling Historical Fantasy author, Maria Grace has her PhD in Educational Psychology and is a 16-year veteran of the university classroom where she taught courses in human growth and development, learning, test development and counseling. None of which have anything to do with her undergraduate studies in economics/sociology/managerial studies/behavior sciences. She pretends to be a mild-mannered writer/cat-lady, but most of her vacations require helmets and waivers or historical costumes, usually not at the same time.
She writes gaslamp fantasy, historical romance and non-fiction to help justify her research addiction.
About the Narrator
Benjamin Fife has always had a passion for learning. With a mind that remembers all sorts of numbers and useless trivia, he regularly wins local radio shows and enjoys confusing people with sci-fi quotes.
Fife grew up in Southeast Idaho. He attended college at Idaho State University, where he met his future wife in their music theory class. They have been married nearly 20 years and now have six children and a whole menagerie of animals. When their oldest daughter was three or four years old they started reading aloud from novels every night at bedtime, and have continued the tradition ever since. The family loves exploring various worlds and topics through Fife’s wonderful reading skills, which get better every year. They all have his Christmas Carol voices memorized (and the older kids are known to quote along with portions), since he has read it to them every December.
Benjamin enjoys all kinds of sci-fi and fantasy – both books and shows, is an extreme eclectic music lover, and prefers his chocolate to be of the 90% cocoa variety. Above all, he loves to be with his family. He loves recording audio books, and is delighted to tell people, “I’ve finally found what I want to be when I grow up!”
Play an excerpt here.
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Custom Statue of the Dragon, ‘Pemberley’