The Red Wyvern (Dragon Mage Series #1) [NOOK Book]


Katharine Kerr's richly imagined cycle of novels set in Deverry and the Westlands has earned a devoted following--and a reputation as the finest Celtic fantasy being written today. Now she returns to Deverry's war-ravaged past....

In a kingdom torn by civil war, young Lillorigga seeks to shield her dawning powers from her cruel mother Merodda's manipulation. Mistress of a magic that, untamed, could kill her, Lilli brings her terrifying visions...
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The Red Wyvern (Dragon Mage Series #1)

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Katharine Kerr's richly imagined cycle of novels set in Deverry and the Westlands has earned a devoted following--and a reputation as the finest Celtic fantasy being written today. Now she returns to Deverry's war-ravaged past....

In a kingdom torn by civil war, young Lillorigga seeks to shield her dawning powers from her cruel mother Merodda's manipulation. Mistress of a magic that, untamed, could kill her, Lilli brings her terrifying visions under the kindlier tutelage of the mysterious dweomermaster, Nevyn. But soon she must choose between her own clan and the true king who fights to claim his rightful throne, between sanctuary and blood feud, loyalty and love. Little does she dream that the slaughter she invites, and the malevolence she defies, could stalk her across the ages...twisting and twining the strands of timeless destinies.

From the Paperback edition.
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Editorial Reviews

VOYA - Patricia Morrow
The next installment of the Deverry saga has arrived. Book One of the Dragon Mage continues the medieval-style Celtic world mixed with magic. But the book structure is perplexing to the new reader. In the short prologue, "In a Far Distant Land," we observe a human rescued from death by magic and promised the love of the woman he desires. Part One, in the North Country-again short-introduces new characters, another time and place, but the worker of magic, Evander, from the prologue is present. Part Two, at an earlier time in Deverry, is the bulk of the book and centers on a young girl, Lillorigga, caught up in the civil war between her Boar clan, which plays regent to the toddler king, and the Prince Maryn, who lays claim to the throne under an ancient emblem of the red wyvern, a dragon-like creature. The plot develops as a power struggle between good and evil with shifting alliances and mortal blows. In Part Three, we return to the North Country and a fast-paced ministory of evil destroying good, with Evander and his wicked, magical brother very present. The epilogue is, naturally, "In a Far and Distant Land" and continues the tale of characters from the prologue. A story that appeals to historical-style fantasy readers is at the center of this book, but the surrounding pieces are confusing to the new reader of Kerr's work. The "Table of Reincarnating Characters" at the very end of the book, after the pronunciation guide and glossary, gave some clues to these relationships. So, is there help? Web pages! At Kerr explains her structure for the Deverry novels and the "Twisted TimeLine" (a characteristic common to many of her books), in which past and present are inextricably intertwined, and the story comes clear. Deverry is a place worthy of a return visit, with convincing plot lines, a subtle use of magic, and an attention to detail that is fascinating. The characters, particularly the women, create interest and concern for the reader about their future. The book does not stand alone very well, and the vocabulary and Twisted TimeLine are disconcerting, so readers are likely to be Kerr fans or fantasy series fans who know how to put down and take up a story later. The next volume is scheduled for late 1998. The dragon on the cover is only a representation-no dragons here. VOYA Codes: 4Q 3P S (Better than most, marred only by occasional lapses, Will appeal with pushing, Senior High-defined as grades 10 to 12).
Library Journal
The latest in Kerr's best-selling "Deverry" series of Celtic fantasy features a young woman with magical powers.
Kirkus Reviews
First of a series within a series: Although set within Kerr's existing Celtic fantasy world of Deverry (A Time of Omens, 1992, etc.), this one kicks off a new set of characters and doings. Again, the struggles of the past reverberate down the ages, and the chief characters—such as the mysterious "dweomermaster," Nevyn—exist in multiple reincarnations. Long ago in the time of the Civil Wars, young, magically talented Lillorigga quarrels with her cruel and manipulative mother, Merodda; in the present, Merodda will be reincarnated as Raena, the Raven Woman, deadly foe of the half-elfin hero Rhodry Maelwaedd.

More of the usual.

From the Publisher
Praise for Katharine Kerr:

"Katharine Kerr is both a good writer and a thorough Celtic scholar. Indeed, her work is beginning to invite comparison with Katherine Kurtz's massive Deryni saga."
--Chicago Sun-Times

"Kerr fluently and gracefully limns her Celtic-based medieval world, depicting attractive and colorful men, women and elves."
--Publishers Weekly

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780307573872
  • Publisher: Random House Publishing Group
  • Publication date: 8/3/2011
  • Sold by: Random House
  • Format: eBook
  • Pages: 416
  • Sales rank: 144,325
  • File size: 3 MB

Read an Excerpt

Domnall Breich knew the hills around Loch Ness well enough to know himself lost.  The hunting accident that had killed his horse and separated him from his companions had happened some miles straight south, or at least, in that direction and at that distance as closely as he could reckon.  By now he should have reached the frozen dirt road that led back to the village and safety.  He stopped, peering through the rising mists at the snow-streaked valley, stippled here and there with pines.  The gathering dark of the winter's shortest day shrouded Ben Bulben, the one landmark that might guide him through the mists.  When he glanced at the sky, he realized that it was going to snow.

"Mother Mary, forgive my sins.  Tonight I'll be seeing your son in his glory."  

They always said that freezing was as pleasant a death as any, more like falling asleep to wake to fire and sleet and then the candlelight that would guide you to the gates of Heaven or Hell.  Domnall felt no fear, only surprise, that a man like him would die not in battle or bloodfeud but in the snow, lost like a lame sheep, but then the priests always said a man could never tell the end God had in store for him.

Ahead against the grey of clouds, the western sky gleamed dull red at the horizon.  When he faced the glow and looked round, he saw off to his right, at the edge of his vision, a tall tree.  He turned and sighted upon it.  His last hope lay in keeping a straight course toward the north, the general direction of the loch, which ran southwest to northeast.  If he reached the edge of that dark gash in the land, he could follow it and head for Old Malcolm's steading, which he just might, if Jesu favored him, live to reach.  Worth a try, and if he were doomed, he might as well die on his feet.  He wrapped his plaid tight around him, pulled his cloak closed around it, and walked north.

The first thing he noticed about the tree was that it grew straight and remarkably tall.  As the sunset faded into darkness, he noticed the second thing, that it was burning.  Here was a bit of luck!  If he could nourish a fire against the snow, it would keep him through the night.  As he drew close, he noticed the third thing, that although half of the tree blazed with fire, the other half grew green with new leaf.  For a moment he could neither speak nor breathe while all the blood in his veins seemed to freeze like water spilled into snow.  Was he already dead then?

"Jesus and the saints preserve," he whispered.  "May God guide my soul."  

"It's a waste of your breath to call upon the man from Galilee," the voice said.  "He doesn't do us any favors, and so we do none for him."  

Domnall spun around to find a young man standing nearby.  In the light of the blazing tree he could see that the fellow was blond and pale, with lips as red as sour cherries and eyes the color of the sea in summer.  He'd wrapped himself in a huge cloak of solid blue wool with a hood.

"And are you one of the Seelie Host, then?" Domnall said.

"The men of your country would call me so.  There's a great grammarie been woven at this spot, and it's not one of my doing, which vexes me.  What are you doing here?"

"I got lost.  I wish you no harm, nor would I rob you and yours."  

"Well spoken, and for that you may live.  Which you won't do if you stay out in this weather much longer.  I need a messenger for a plan I'm weaving, and it's a long one with many strands. Tell me, do you want to live, or do you want to die in the snow?"

"To live, of course, if God be willing."  

"Splendid!  Then tell me your name and the one thing you wish most in all the world."  

Domnall considered.  The Seelie Host were a tricky bunch, and some priests said them no better than devils.  Certainly you were never supposed to tell them your name.  Something touched his face, something cold and wet.  In the light from the blazing tree he could see snow falling in a scatter of first flakes.

"My name is Domnall Breich.  I most desire an honorable death in battle, serving my liege lord."  

The spirit rolled his eyes.

"Oh come now, surely you can think of a better boon than that!  Something that would please you and bring you joy."  

"Well, then, I love with all my heart the Lady Jehan, but I'm far beneath her notice."  

"That's a better wishing."  The fellow smiled in a lazy sort of way.  "Very well, Domnall Breich.  You shall have the Lady Jehan for your own true wife.  In return, I ask only this, that you tell no one of what you see here tonight except for your son, when he's reached thirteen winters of age."  The fellow suddenly frowned and drew his hands out from the folds of his cloak.  For a moment he made a show of counting on his fingers.  "Well, thirteen will do.  Numbers and time mean naught to the likes of me.  Whenever you think him grown to a man, anyway, tell him what you will see here tonight, but tell no one else."  

"Good sir, I can promise you that with all my heart.  No one but his own son would believe a man who told of things like this."  

"Done, then!" The fellow raised his hands and clapped them three times together.  "Turn your back on the tree, Domnall Breich, and tell me what you see."  

Domnall turned and peered through the thin fall of snow. Not far away stood a tangle of ordinary trees, dark against the greater dark of night, and beyond them a stretch of water, wrinkled and forbidding in the gleam of magical fire.

"The shore of the loch.  Has it been here all this while, and I never saw it?"

"It hasn't.  It's the shore of a loch, sure enough, but's not the one you were hoping to find.  Do you see the rocks piled up, and one bigger than all the rest?"

"I do."  

"On top of the largest rock you'll find chained a silver horn.  Take it and blow, and you'll have shelter against the night."  

"My thanks.  And since I can't ask God to bless you, I'll wish you luck instead."  

"My thanks to you, then.  Oh, wait.  Face me again."  

When he did so, the fellow reached out a ringed hand and laid one finger on Domnall's lips.

"Till sunset tomorrow you'll speak and be understood and hear and understand among the folk of the isle, but after that, their way of speaking will mean naught to you.  Now you'd best hurry.  The snow's coming down."  

The fellow disappeared as suddenly as a blown candle flame. With a brief prayer to all the saints at once, Domnall hurried over to the edge of the loch--not Ness, sure enough, but a narrow finger of water that came right up to his feet rather than lying below at the foot of a steep climb down.  By the light of the magical tree he found the scatter of boulders.  The silver horn lay waiting, chained with silver as well.  When he picked it up and blew, the sound seemed very small and thin to bring safety through the rising storm.


From the Paperback edition.
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Interviews & Essays

I really believe that one of the most important thing about fantasy writing is dealing with reality. Only by making your fantastic world seem real can you suspend the reader's disbelief. The American poet Marianne Moore was once asked, "Well, what is poetry?" Her answer: "Real toads in imaginary gardens."

That's the kind of fantasy I want to write. In the world of The Red Wyvern, magic works -- that is, it produces effects on the physical plane -- as well as being a spiritual discipline like zen. The setting of the book, the kingdom of Deverry, exists in a fantastic world far from our own. It's within that world I want those real toads hopping around -- believable characters, a believable ecology, and above all, a believable society that imbues its denizens with a different mindset than ours. I dislike fantasy that gives its very modern characters fancy clothes and pretends to be historical.

So what I've done is very carefully try to use every possible historical detail to make this a consistent Celtic world of the Dark Ages. Then I asked myself, "Well, if there's magic in this world then how will most people react to it?" The answer is, with fear and loathing.
—Katharine Kerr

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4.5
( 11 )
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Sort by: Showing all of 12 Customer Reviews
  • Posted January 6, 2011

    Red Wyvern

    I picked up this book many years ago, not realizing it was part of a trilogy inside a larger series. I've never read anything else about the Deverry characters, but I found this series very easy to get into. I could tell there was backstory that I wasn't learning about, and that the characters had a lot of past that I was unaware of, yet I never once felt lost or clueless.

    The main thread of this story follows Lilli, a young mage of sorts, through her trials with her clan. It also darts back and fourth in time to follow various characters, some of which are the reincarnated forms of characters from another time. At first it was a little hard for me to remember who was who (because it does affect the story), but I got used to it. I found the plot and characters to be very engaging and had a hard time putting the book down.

    This is the second time I've read this book (and I'll continue on to the other two again), but I don't remember much from when I first read it, except that I really enjoyed the series. I still really enjoy it, and I hope to someday start at the beginning of the Deverry series.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 19, 2012


    Grayish-yellowish she dragon with clear blue eyes. She is a little stubborn but usually flexible. She has sensitive feelings.. she had five dragon litters with her former mate Claw. He was a fiery red dragon with amber eyes.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 22, 2002


    It's as good as the other many books. A little shorter but fits in perfectly with all the others.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 10, 2001

    Once again, Kerr has wound a magnificent web..

    In 'The Red Wyvern' Kerr again transports us to another time. Kerr manages to shift the reader through different characters and times while keeping them totally enthralled. Characters come alive and causes become reality with each turn of the page. For all lovers of fantasy or of celtic tales, this book is definetally worth the read.

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    Posted March 29, 2011

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    Posted March 14, 2009

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    Posted November 19, 2011

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    Posted October 7, 2011

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    Posted November 23, 2010

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