Read These 15 Books With Dragons For High-Flying Fantasy Adventure
From "House of the Dragon" to "Fourth Wing" and more, dragons are having a bit of a moment in pop culture. These fire-breathing mythological creatures have been a staple of fantasy storytelling for a long time, and it's no wonder — they're powerful, magical, and they have enough lore to fit neatly into any story that needs an extra-powerful twist.
Not all dragons are created equal, though, as the wide variety of books about dragons makes very clear. While most books featuring dragons are set in some kind of classic epic-fantasy world, others put more of a quirky twist on the legends. Our picks for the best books with dragons include rich, sweeping fantasies like "Fourth Wing" by Rebecca Yarros and "The Priory of the Orange Tree" by Samantha Shannon alongside more unconventional takes on dragon lore like "When Women Were Dragons" by Kelly Barnhill and "Tooth and Claw" by Jo Walton. Whether you like your dragons scary, silly, or somewhere in between, this roundup of recommendations has something for everyone. And if you want even more great books, check out the 2024 POPSUGAR Reading Challenge.
"Fire & Blood" by George R.R. Martin
In George R.R. Martin's A Song of Ice and Fire series, dragons are almost extinct, but in the prequel "Fire & Blood" ($10), they're at the peak of their power. Presented as an epic history of Westeros, the prequel traces the rise and eventual fall of the Targaryens, the powerful noble house who gained power on the backs of dragons. Their unique dragon-riding abilities give them a fierce hold over the kingdom, but those same abilities mean that the civil war, called the Dance of the Dragons, is even more devastating.
"His Majesty's Dragon" by Naomi Novik
"His Majesty's Dragon" ($13) is the first book in Naomi Novik's Temeraire series, an alternate history where the Napoleonic Wars are fought on dragonback. When the British capture a French ship and discover a dragon egg on board, Captain Will Laurence finds himself the new master of the dragon Temeraire. Together, they'll have to master the ins and outs of airborne fighting quickly — just in time for a battle that could turn the tide of the war.
"Seraphina" by Rachel Hartman
The title character of Rachel Hartman's "Seraphina" ($8) is somewhat unusual: she's half-dragon, with a dragon mother who took human form and a human father who despises dragons. They live in a world where dragons and humans live side by side in a tense peace. When a member of the royal family is killed, Seraphina, along with the Prince Lucian, must uncover a plot to restart old hostilities, all while she tries to keep her true self hidden.
"To Shape a Dragon's Breath" by Moniquill Blackgoose
"To Shape a Dragon's Breath" ($12) by Moniquill Blackgoose starts with a miracle on the remote island of Masquapaug: a dragon hatchling bonds with teenager Anequs, much to the delight of her people, who tell stories of when dragons lived among them. Then she and her dragon are taken away by the Anglish, who conquered the ancestral land — and they're forced to "learn" at a mainland dragon school under penalty of death. Anequs must learn what she needs to know — and then some — to save herself, her dragon, and her people.
"When Women Were Dragons" by Kelly Barnhill
Instead of a fantasy world, Kelly Barnhill uses a more familiar setting for "When Women Were Dragons" ($15). In the 1950s, a shocking event threw the world into upheaval: hundreds of thousands of seemingly ordinary women were transformed into dragons and took off into the skies. Alex's aunt was one of them, but her mother was not, and now she finds herself trapped in a society that refuses to ask questions or acknowledge the missing women, even as she herself pushes back against this imposed silence.
"The Priory of the Orange Tree" by Samantha Shannon
Samantha Shannon's "The Priory of the Orange Tree" ($14) weaves together several narrative threads in an epic fantasy tale. A queen struggles to produce a daughter to be her heir and hold the queendom together, all while being secretly protected by a lady-in-waiting who is more than she seems. Meanwhile, a dragon rider across the sea has to make a dangerous choice, and powerful forces threaten to plunge the entire land into chaos.
"Fireborne" by Rosaria Munda
"Fireborne" ($10) by Rosaria Munda traces the story of two very different friends (and rivals) in a world where anyone, regardless of their social station, can attempt to test into the ruling class of dragon riders. Annie, the daughter of a lowborn family killed by dragon fire, and Lee, an orphaned aristocrat, have risen to the top of their dragon-rider class. Now, as survivors from the defeated regime rise, they — and those around them — must decide who to protect and who to betray.
"A Natural History of Dragons" by Marie Brennan
Marie Brennan's Lady Trent Memoirs series kicks off with "A Natural History of Dragons" ($11). Presented as the memoirs of Isabella, Lady Trent, a dragon expert, the book follows a curious and bookish young woman who pushes back against the strictness of Victorian society to chart her own path. She embarks on a dangerous journey to uncover the truth about dragons, bringing them from figures of myth to beings of reality and science.
"Of Blood and Fire" by Ryan Cahill
If you like classic fantasy tropes and storytelling, then "Of Blood and Fire" ($18) by Ryan Cahill is a great choice. In a divided kingdom — with fighting factions and a mysterious Dragonguard — a young man prepares for a test that not everyone is able to survive. Then, a trio of strangers arrive in his village, turning his world on its head and plunging him into the depths of a war that he never even realized he was meant to be a part of.
"The Rage of Dragons" by Evan Winter
Evan Winter's "The Rage of Dragons" ($13) is set in a world of endless war and fated magical powers, where the Omehi people fight a futile, centuries-long war; where a handful of people have the power to call dragons or transform themselves; and where the rest are resigned to their fates. Tau has a plan to get himself out of the cycle, but when he suffers an unimaginable tragedy, he decides on a different path: becoming a great warrior in order to get revenge on his betrayers.
"Dragonflight" by Anne McCaffrey
"Dragonflight" ($14) by Anne McCaffrey is the first of more than 20 (yes, 20!) books in the long-running Dragonriders of Pern series. Lessa, an orphan and outcast, finds herself at the middle of an ancient battle. Even as she dreams of revenge for her losses, she bonds with a powerful dragon and rises up to defend Pern and reshape the world, one way or another.
"Tooth and Claw" by Jo Walton
Who says dragons can't have families and traditions, too? That's the premise of "Tooth and Claw" ($14) by Jo Walton. After the death of a family patriarch, the sons and daughters squabble over their inheritance, debate society's ills, and fall in and out of love. Oh, and they're all dragons, who also have a tradition of eating the dead and the weak.
"Fourth Wing" by Rebecca Yarros
If you've been anywhere on BookTok or Bookstagram in 2023, you've probably heard the buzz around "Fourth Wing" ($17) by Rebecca Yarros. Chronically ill Violet was prepared to join the studious, quiet Scribe Quadrant, but her military-commander mother has other plans. Instead, she's forced to join the ranks of those aspiring to be elite dragon riders. But if the training doesn't kill her, the rebels among her classmates just might.
"Guards! Guards!" by Terry Pratchett
Leave it to Terry Pratchett and his Discworld series to create a quirkier take on dragons in "Guards! Guards!" ($10). Though long believed extinct, a dragon has just appeared in a great city where it is quickly crowned king. Now, the kingdom is filled with chaos and conspiracies as they struggle to restore order and remove the dragon, who has no problem using its fire to take down any enemies.
"Sorcerer to the Crown" by Zen Cho
Proper British society collides with magical mayhem in "Sorcerer to the Crown" ($13) by Zen Cho. Zacharias Wythe, Sorcerer Royal, faces disdain from his fellow Unnatural Philosophers, along with a crisis, as England's magical reserves seem to be running dry. To solve the problem, he ventures to Fairyland; along the way, he runs into Prunella, a woman whose power seems to contradict the insistence of the Unnatural Society that magic is only a men's profession.