Oh, I needed some dragons this morning. Luckily, I still had an unread installment of Brennan's Lady Trent books on my kindle. Just the thing.
What makes the series so good is that Brennan doesn't shirk away from using the interaction between people and dragons to ask serious questions, even if this means that it makes for difficult reading at times:
The youngest of the lot, however, was the one with whom I formed a special bond. My sentimental choice of words may raise your eyebrows—as well they should—but my interactions with this creature were more like those between an owner and a pet than a scientist and her subject.
Our relationship began when I visited the juvenile pens and said to Tom, “That must be the one you were referring to earlier—the lumpy one.”
He was thereafter known as Lumpy. His egg had been brought to the House of Dragons when it was quite new, and what hatched therefrom was obviously abnormal. Lord Tavenor had weighed the hatchling and confirmed his suspicions: the creature was much too heavy for his size, indicating that his bones had formed as solid masses, rather than acquiring the airy structure typical of the species.
My heart went out to him from the start. I knew from reading Lord Tavenor’s records that our predecessor had considered having Lumpy put down: the little creature was nothing more than a drain on resources, being of no use to our scientific inquiry. The order was never given before Lord Tavenor’s departure, though, and so Lumpy remained, crawling about his enclosure, occasionally flapping the undersized wings that could never hope to carry his adult weight.
I could not bear to have him put down, and told Tom as much. “I can make a scientific argument for it, if you like,” I said while we ate lunch in our shared office. “I’m sure I could come up with quite a splendid one, if you give me a moment to prepare. Something about understanding development by observing both successful and unsuccessful examples. If the abnormality is congenital, we might even have an advance in the captive breeding problem: after all, a dragon too heavy to fly need not have its tendons cut.”
“But none of those,” Tom said, “are your real reasons.”
“Of course not. The truth is that I do not feel the poor creature should die just because someone bungled his care.”
(Btw, Lumpy lived and was cared for properly.)