Dragons: Worlds Afire (Written by R.A. Salvatore, Margaret Weis, et al)

Half my July was spent nursing a dying cat, and the only thing I could bring myself to play, watch, or read for those two weeks was this collection four short stories themed around dragons, and famous tabletop RPGs and card games.

"If Ever They Happened Upon My Lair", set in Forgotten Realms, opens with a dragon melting a bunch of dwarves with acid breath which is a hell of a way to start a short story collection, I suppose. Unfortunately it's less a short story and more a teaser for a future story between a necromancer and a hero who gets name dropped but doesn't actually appear in the story.

"Here be Dragons," set in Dragonlance, is the most light-hearted of the bunch. The main character is something called a Kender which I had to look up, having only a surface level understanding of Dungeons & Dragons. Think a kleptomanic hobbit. It's a silly sorry about the kender convincing a dragon with amnesia they're partners in crime.

"Principles of Fire," set in Ebberon (which is the only one of these four I hadn't heard of before, but it's another D&D setting like Forgotten Realms and Planescape) is about a werewolf and her mage mentor investigating an airship accident in which a dragon disguised as a human got her head blown off. Something interesting with this story is it opens in medias res with a dragon having killed the mage and turning its attention to the werewolf, then jumping back in time to the accident. When the main story gets back to this scene, the words are identical but you realize something completely different is going on.

"Unnatural Predator," set in Magic: The Gathering, concerns a poisoner's apprentice fighting a robot dragon with a band of soldiers, an Amazon warrior, and the dragon's pixie slave, and would have been a hundred times more satisfying if it had stopped a page sooner. Instead it keeps going just to devalue the climax and drop a final "fuck you" on the reader.