"Endlessly inventive. Knaak's ideas just keep on coming!" Glen Cook, author of Chronicles of the Black Company
Legends of the Dragonrealmby Richard A. Knaak
An omnibus of the first three novels in New York Times bestselling author Richard A. Knaak’s epic fantasy series Dragonrealm—collected for the first time in one incredible volume.
In addition to writing one of the bestselling Warcraft novels of all time, Day of the Dragon, Richard A. Knaak is the author of the/i>/i>/b>/i>/i>
An omnibus of the first three novels in New York Times bestselling author Richard A. Knaak’s epic fantasy series Dragonrealm—collected for the first time in one incredible volume.
In addition to writing one of the bestselling Warcraft novels of all time, Day of the Dragon, Richard A. Knaak is the author of the legendary fantasy series Dragonrealm. Now available for the first time in one fantastic collection, the first three novels from this riveting series include:
Firedrake• : In the ultimate war between humans and fiery shape-shifting beings, Duke Toma has unleashed every conceivable evil upon the world of the Dragon Kings. Only one dares to challenge him: Cabe Bedlam, a youth with a magical sword that promises its bearer total mastery over man and beast alike.
Icedragon• : Pitting his magic sword against the glittering scaled armor of the Dragon Kings, young Cabe Bedlam drove the shape-shifters back to their origins. But from the Northern Wastes, the merciless Ice Dragon implements a lethal scheme to sweep mankind into oblivion. Now Cabe must embark on a perilous journey toward an epic confrontation.
Wolfhelm• : The Death of the Dragon Emperor leaves both the Dragonrealms and human kingdom in ruins. Tomorrow’s hope—the Emperor’s hatchlings—live, protected by the human warrior Cabe Bedlam. But the future teeters on the brink of disaster, and only Cabe and his good friend, the Gryohon, can save the dragons from losing their magic forever.
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Read an Excerpt
Below, toward the great Tyber Mountains, they came. Some in pairs, some alone. Fierce dragonhelms hid all but the eyes; eyes that, in most cases, burned bloodred in the coming darkness. Each was armored in scaled leather, but anyone testing that protection would find it stronger than the best of mail. Flowing cloaks, like wild specters of the night, made the riders appear as if they were flying and, in truth, any onlooker would have believed such were possible for these men.
If men they were.
Eleven they numbered, gradually coming together in one group. There were no words of acknowledgment or, for that matter, the simple nod of a head. They were known to each other, and they had traveled this way countless times for countless years. Sometimes their numbers were different, but the path had always been the same. Though each counted the others as his brethren, feuding was common among them. They thus rode silently for the entire journey, ahead of them the Tyber Mountains, stretching to the heavens, beckoning.
At long last, they reached the first of the mountains. Here appeared to be an end to their travels. No path wound through the mountains; rather, the road ended abruptly at the base of one of the largest of the leviathans. Nevertheless, the riders made no attempt to slow. They seemed intent on charging into the very earth itself. The mounts did not question their masters, but merely pursued their course as they had always done.
As if bowing to their defiance, the mountain seemed to melt and shift. The impregnable barrier of nature disappeared, and a vast path now led through. The riders, ignoring this fantastic act, continued on at their hellish pace. The horses snorted smoke as they passed the barrier, but showed no sign of fatigue. This journey was nothing to their kind.
Through twisting and turning road they moved. Icy trails and treacherous ravines did not slow the group. Again, though things not of man's world hid and watched, the riders were not hindered. Few creatures would be so foolish as to confront them, especially knowing the travelers' nature.
Quickly looming up was the great sentinel of the Tyber Mountains, Kivan Grath. Few humans had ever seen it up close, and fewer still had ever attempted to climb it. None had ever returned. Here the path led. Here the riders came. They slowed their animals as they neared the great Seeker of Gods, as its name translated. At its base, they stopped and dismounted. They had reached their goal.
Buried in the mountain was a great gate of bronze that seemed as ageless as the land. It towered over the onlookers, and on the face were carvings ancient and undescribable. One of the riders walked up to it. Beneath his helm were eyes like frost. What little of his face that was visible was also white. Grimly, he raised his left arm, fist clenched, and pointed it at the gate. With a groan, the huge, bronze door slowly opened. The pale warrior returned to his companions. The riders led their mounts inside.
Torches provided the only light inside the cave. Much of the cavern was natural, but the work in expanding it would have left even the hill dwarves overwhelmed. It made little difference to the riders; they had long stopped paying attention to their surroundings. Even the sentries, only shadows, but ever present, were ignored.
Something dark and scaled and only barely humanoid crawled up to the riders, its clawed, misshaped hand outstretched. Each of the cloaked travelers turned his horse over to the servant.
The riders entered the main cavern.
Like some resplendent but ancient temple, the citadel of their host gave forth a feeling of tremendous power. Effigies of human and inhuman form stood here and there. All were long dead, and even history had forgotten their kind. Here, at last, did the riders show some measure of respect. Each knelt, one at a time, before the great figure seated before them. When all had done so, they formed a half circle, with their host before them.
The serpentine neck arced. Gleaming eyes surveyed the group. A bloodred tongue lashed out momentarily in satisfaction, the tremendous, membraned wings stretching out in full glory. Despite the dim light, the gold sheen of the dragon's scaled body completed a picture of pure majesty, befitting the king of his kind. Yet there was just the slightest note of something akin to insecurity. Whether the others noted it or not was hidden in their own thoughts.
In a voice that was a hiss, yet caused the very room itself to vibrate slightly, the Gold Dragon spoke.
"Welcome, brethren! Welcome and make this home yours!"
Far spread apart, each of the riders became blurred, as if they had become nothing more than illusion. Yet they did not disappear. Rather, they grew; their bodies became like quicksilver, their shapes twisting. Wings and tails sprouted, and arms and legs became clawed, leathery appendages. The helms melted into the faces of their wearers until they had, in actuality, become the faces. Mouths spread back into maws, rows of long, sharp teeth glistening in the dim light. All traces of humanity disappeared in the space of a minute.
The Council of the Dragon Kings came to order.
The Gold Dragon nodded. As emperor, King of Kings, he was pleased to see that the others had followed his command so readily. He spoke again, and this time smoke issued out as he did.
"I am pleased that you could make it. I feared that some of you might have let emotions overrule you." He stared momentarily at the Black Dragon, monarch of the sinister and deadly Gray Mists.
The Black Dragon did not speak, but his eyes blazed.
The Emperor of the Dragon Kings turned his attention to the nearest of his brethren. The Blue Dragon, more sea serpent than land creature, bowed his head in respect.
"The council has been called due to the request of the master of Irillian by the Sea. He notes strange happenings and wishes to discover if such events exist in the lands of his brothers. Speak."
Sleeker than most of his kind, the Blue Dragon resembled a race animal, his movements fluid, as was appropriate for a being who spent much of his life in the seas of the east. The smell of salt and fish filled the room as he spoke. A dusty, tan dragon, Brown, wrinkled his nose. He did not share his brother's fondness for the sea.
"My liege. Brethren." He studied all around him, especially the Black Dragon. "In the years gone by, my domain has been very placid. The humans have remained quiet and my clans have had good hatchings."
This time there was a grunt from the Brown Dragon, who was lord of the Barren Lands in the southwest. Since the end of the wars with the Dragon Masters, he had seen his clans decrease. Most claimed it was the work of the self-styled Masters themselves, but no one was sure what sorcery the warlocks had used in their attempt to defeat the Kings. They had caused the Barren Lands, but whether they had caused the loss of fertility in the Brown clans was open to speculation in private. Brown was still the fiercest of fighters.
The master of Irillian by the Sea ignored the slight outburst and continued. "Recently, however, things have changed. There is unrest no, that implies too much. There is...a feeling. That is all I can call it. Not just among the humans. It appears to affect others, even the wyverns and minor drakes."
The remark was followed by a wave of bone-numbing cold. A slight frost settled wherever the Ice Dragon's breath had reached. The Gold Dragon stared disapprovingly at him. Gaunt to the point of being cadaverous, the king of the Northern Wastes laughed again. Of all the dragons, he was one of the least seen and the least loved.
"You are becoming an old dame, brother! Subjects always become unsettled. One merely places a restraining claw on a few and crushes such thoughts."
"Speaks the monarch of a land more empty than that of Brown."
"Speaks the monarch who knows how to rule!" A blizzard threatened to erupt from within the Ice Dragon.
The thundering roar of the Gold Dragon overwhelmed all else. The Ice Dragon fell back, his snow-colored eyes averted from the brilliance of his emperor. When the King of Kings became angered, his body glowed.
"Such infighting nearly brought calamity on us once! Have you forgotten that so soon?"
All held their heads low, save for the Black Dragon. On his massive mouth was just the barest hint of pleasure. The Gold Dragon looked at him sharply but did not reprimand. In this instance, the king of the Gray Mists was justified.
Drawing himself to his full height, the Emperor of Dragons towered above the others. "For nearly five human years did we fight that war and nearly faced defeat! Our brother Brown still feels the aftereffects as he watches his clans dwindle! His problem is the most evident; yet we all have scars from the Dragon Masters!"
"The Dragon Masters are dead! Nathan Bedlam was the last, and he has long since perished!" bellowed the Red Dragon, who ruled the volcanic lands called the Hell Plains.
"Taking the Purple King with him!" Black could restrain himself no more. His eyes became like beacons in the night.
The emperor nodded. "Yes, taking our brother with him. Bedlam was the last and deadliest of the Masters. With his final act, he crippled us. Penacles is the city of knowledge, and Purple was its master, he who planned our strategy." The last was said almost reluctantly, for Gold did not care to remind his brothers who had really led in those days.
"And now his lands have been usurped by the Gryphon! How much longer must we wait before we strike? Generations of man have since come and gone!" Black shook his head in anger.
"There is no successor. You know the covenant. Thirteen Kingdoms, thirteen kings. Five and twenty dukedoms, five and twenty dukes. No one must break the covenant..." For now, the emperor added to himself.
"While we wait for a successor, Lord Gryphon plots. Remember, he was known to the Masters."
"His time will come. Perhaps soon."
Black eyed his lord warily. "What does that mean?"
"As custom, I've taken Purple's dams as mine. The first hatchings produced only minor drakes, most of whom were put to death, of course. This hatching, however, looks more promising."
The other kings leaned forward. Hatchings were of the utmost importance. A few bad hatchings could threaten any of their clans with extinction.
"Only a handful of the clutch turned out to be minor drake eggs. The majority were firedrakes. However, four eggs contain the speckled band!"
"Four!" The single word was like a cry of exultation. The speckled band, this was the sign of Kings. Such eggs were to be guarded, for successors of Dragon Kings were extremely rare.
"It will be weeks before hatching takes place. The dam guards against unruly minor drakes, not to mention scavengers of all forms. If luck holds, they will all break free."
Black smiled, and a dragon's smile was something sinister. "Then will we crush this Lord Gryphon!"
All turned to he who would dampen their rejoicing. Once again, the master of Irillian by the Sea stared at them, his eyes challenging each of them to speak. When none would protest, he shook his maned head sadly.
"None of you will listen! Must I speak again? Do not misunderstand me. This news brings great happiness to me. Perhaps my fears are unjustified. Nevertheless, I must speak, or I will always have regrets."
"Then speak and be done with it! I grow weary of this prattling on!"
Ignoring Black, the king of the Eastern Seas continued. "I have felt such a stirring of uneasiness only once before. That last time, it foreshadowed the coming of the Dragon Masters."
There was a hiss of anger and, perhaps, fear from more than one of the great lords.
Black was now smiling. "In truth, brother Blue, I must apologize for myself. You have brought up the very point that I wished to discuss."
The emperor shook his head. "This land is old. The Dragon Kings have ruled for ages, but our reign is young compared to that of some of the earlier races. Even now, traces of ancient powers turn up. This stirring of our subjects' feelings may very well be magical in nature. Still," he paused and studied the cavern, "we have tried to weed out those who might possess some sort of attunement to those ancient ways. I know of few humans now living who are a threat."
"There is one that may threaten us." The words were quiet but firm. Without looking, all knew that Black had spoken out again.
"And who may that be?"
The Dweller of the Gray Mists spread his wings in confidence. The audience was his. "We know his family well. Very well. He is young, untrained, but his name is Cabe Bedlam."
As one, the Dragon Kings, even Gold, backed slightly, as if just bitten. "Bedlam!" was whispered by more than one voice.
The emperor fairly shrieked. "Why have we not known of this human? Where is this hatchling of a demon-warlock?"
"In the lands now held by the Gryphon. Nathan Bedlam placed the child, who is his grandson, in Mito Pica. Since the region is known for the spawning of warlocks and their like, I have sometimes sent spies forth. It was one of them who discovered the human."
Red growled. "You crossed two borders at least, brother! I wonder how many spies you have."
"We all have our ears and eyes. Besides, this human had to be watched!"
"Why did you not have him killed?" the Green Dragon asked. "This is most unlike you, Black. When have you become hesitant in pursuing your goals?"
Bowing his head subserviently to the emperor, Black replied, "I would not do so without permission from my lord."
Gold snorted. "There is a first for everything, apparently."
"Do I have your permission?"
There was silence.
"With the hatchings only a short time away, I will not permit a conflict that may draw the Gryphon in against us. He is cunning; he knows the importance we place on the speckled-band eggs. His agents could cause us harm in that respect. As long as the Bedlam whelp remains where he is and knows not his danger, we will leave him alone."
"If we wait much longer, this youngling could take up the mantle of his accursed ancestor!"
"Nevertheless, we must wait. When the hatchlings are strong enough, this last of the Bedlams will die."
He settled back. "This council is over."
The emperor leaned back and closed his eyes as if to sleep, pointedly ignoring his brethren from this point on. Wordlessly, the Dragon Kings spread themselves apart. Their bodies quivered and shrank. The great reptilian faces pulled away until they were once again dragonhelms covering nearinhuman faces. Wings shriveled and tails ceased to exist. Forelegs became arms while the hind ones straightened.
When all was done, the riders saluted their lord and departed from the chamber. Gold did not watch them leave.
The dark thing that had taken the reins of each horse waited as the travelers took their mounts, and then shambled back into the vast, eternal night of the caves.
Out of the bronze gate the Dragon Kings rode. Some in pairs, others single, all following the one path through the mountains. A wyvern, just waking, accidentally stuck its head out in their path, and sighting the riders, pulled itself to one side and cowered. It did not move again until they were long by.
At the end of the Tyber Mountains, the group split apart, each one going his separate way, knowing that mortal men would pay little attention to a single rider. Those who dared impede them would only be leaping into death.
A single rider, heading to the south, slowed as his fellows disappeared from sight. Ahead of him was a small grove of trees, and it was here he finally halted. Staring into the darkness, he settled down to wait.
His wait was short. Within minutes, he was joined by another of the Dragon Kings. Wordlessly, they acknowledged one another's presence. There was no friendship in their actions; they merely had a common goal and sought to accomplish it through the easiest means possible.
The newcomer pulled a great sword from its sheath and held it out, point first, to the other. His companion reached forward and placed a gauntleted hand on the tip. His eyes glowed brightly as power emanated from him. It flowed through his arm, through his hand, and finally into the weapon itself.
When they were finished, the sword glowed and pulsated. Slowly, the light dimmed, as if the power were being absorbed by the object itself. After a moment, the sword had returned to its former state, save for a slight vibrating. The other rider replaced it into the sheath.
The two stared at each other, communication taking place on a level far different from those of men. They nodded. What was to be done was necessary. Then the newcomer kicked his mount and rode off. He was not headed in the direction of his kingdom; rather, his destination appeared to be south.
The remaining rider watched until his comrade was out of sight. His gaze turned momentarily to the overwhelming mountain range and to Kivan Grath in particular. Then, turning away, he rode off in silence.
The floodgates had been opened. Firedrake copyright © 1989 by Richard A. Knaak
Meet the Author
Richard A. Knaak is the New York Times bestselling fantasy author of numerous novels and more than a dozen short pieces, including "The Legend of Huma," "Empire of Blood," as well as numerous Warcraft and Diablo novels.
Richard A. Knaak is the New York Times bestselling author of some three dozen novels, including the The Sin War trilogy for Diablo and the Legend of Huma for Dragonlance. He has penned the War of the Ancients trilogy, Day of the Dragon and its upcoming followup, Night of the Dragon. His other works include his own Dragonrealm series, the Minotaur Wars for Dragonlance, the Aquilonia trilogy of the Age of Conan, and the Sunwell Trilogy -- the first Warcraft manga. In addition, his novels and short stories have been published worldwide in such diverse places as China, Iceland, the Czech Republic, and Brazil.
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I picked this book up last December while Christmas shopping, and I have finally gotten down to reading it after the many others that I needed to read before this one. The reason I ended up getting the book was that it had three books in one. Over all I am very pleased with this book. The over all story is very pleasurable to read, and flows smoothly. It doesn't have you going what when did this happen, or what happened between here, and here. You will end up getting to parts especially in the 3rd book going um what's the story behind this. I should be finishing this soon, and will update this review as soon as I finish the 3rd book. Over all I would recommend this book to those who love to read fantasy novels.
Not perfect by any definition, but still a relatively original look at classic fantasy situations. A good read, if a bit pedantic in the third narrative.
I love it.
I really enjoyed this book. I love when a book can take me out of my world and place me squarely in with the characters!! Read this book!!
Love the book and cannot wait to read the rest of the books
This was a weird book to read. When i originally bought this I wasn't sure if it was part of a series or not since it doesn't say "book 1" etc to it. So I got it and gave it a read and well lets just say if you pick up this book like I did you realize really quickly some things are referenced, but not in detailed meaning there were previous books. Now the story itself seemed like it could have been great and maybe one of the best books just based on setting, but Shade never really seems like the powerful mage it says he is, certain things that would be interesting is sorted through quickly, and just felt like there should have been more to it all. Overall it wasn't a bad read, but if you are interested get other books first.