Anyone who read the wonderful Astreya Trilogy probably hoped Seymour Hamilton had something else up his sleeve. He did! Although this book also displays the author's talent for description and love for the sea, everything else about it is different from Astreya. Actually, it's not much like any other book available today. The Laughing Princess is a collection of stories or fables, all concerning dragons and the powers they still wield in our jaded world. One dragon in particular tells all twelve stories to a pair of siblings on holiday in a seacoast town that is much more special than they realize.
The stories themselves range from meditative to epic, with melancholy musings on love and one's purpose in life as well as violent battles and the searing char of a dragon's breath. Some warn against bad behavior, and others merely advise that you be careful what you wish for. Most have an inimitable sense of humor sure to draw the reader in to sympathize with or revile at least one or two of the many rich characters presented. I was charmed by the unexpected outcomes of many of these little gems, and had a good chuckle even when the plot was more predictable. The important thing is that all together, these stories teach the reader to see the wonder in the world. This book is magical for that reason alone.
If you'd like to read something new that nonetheless feels like a half-remembered fireside chat, this is the book for you. Suitable for children and for adults who aren't too cynical.