Dragonfall

Dragonfall

by L. R. Lam
Dragonfall

Dragonfall

by L. R. Lam

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Overview

Notes From Your Bookseller

Packed with secrets, shapeshifting dragons, romantic tension and non-stop action — you'll be hooked.

The first book in a new romance epic fantasy duology, in which long-banished dragons, revered as gods, return to the mortal realm—now in paperback with a new glossary and timeline. A perfect read for your next bookclub!

Recommended by USA TODAY for readers of dragon-filled fantasy and Fourth Wing

"In Dragonfall, Lam has forged a fresh and intricate world, a smoldering romance, and a fire-new take on dragons." —Samantha Shannon, New York Times-bestselling author of The Priory of the Orange Tree
 
"What you will find here may be exactly what you love in fantasy: Dragonfall is an intriguing blend of magic, a thief, trickery, and an unexpected dragon." —Robin Hobb, New York Times-bestselling author of Fool’s Assassin

"Dragonfall is a romance fantasy like you've never read before. A queer-norm world with new ways of telling tales, L. R. Lam is breaking boundaries and binaries yet again with a brilliant fantasy book that you won't want to miss." —Hannah Kaner, #1 Sunday Times-bestselling author of Godkiller

Long ago, humans betrayed dragons, stealing their magic and banishing them to a dying world. Centuries later, their descendants worship dragons as gods. But the "gods" remember, and they do not forgive. 

Thief Arcady scrapes a living on the streets of Vatra. Desperate, Arcady steals a powerful artifact from the bones of the Plaguebringer, the most hated person in Lumet history. Only Arcady knows the artifact's magic holds the key to a new life among the nobles at court and a chance for revenge. 

The spell connects to Everen, the last male dragon foretold to save his kind, dragging him through the Veil. Disguised as a human, Everen soon learns that to regain his true power and form and fulfil his destiny, he only needs to convince one little thief to trust him enough to bond completely--body, mind, and soul—and then kill them.

Yet the closer the two become, the greater the risk both their worlds will shatter.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780756418427
Publisher: Astra Publishing House
Publication date: 05/02/2023
Series: Dragon Scales , #1
Sold by: Penguin Random House Publisher Services
Format: eBook
Pages: 352
Sales rank: 648
File size: 4 MB

About the Author

L.R. Lam was first Californian and now Scottish. Lam is the Sunday Times bestselling and award-winning author of Dragonfall (the Dragon Scales trilogy), the Seven Devils duology (co-written with Elizabeth May), Goldilocks, the Pacifica novels, and the award-winning Micah Grey trilogy, which begins with Pantomime.

Read an Excerpt

1. EVEREN: THE FALL

I will share how I fell. But first, I must tell you what it is like to fly. Let me try, though it is still another thing I should have shared before it was too late. Most humans will never experience flight. Though I pity the creatures for many things, it is perhaps that most of all.
 
Imagine running with all the speed your four legs can muster. Launch from the top of a cliff with a last push of talons into solid earth. There is nothing but the deep dip in the belly. The angling of your head toward gray-green water. The rocks grow close, impossibly fast. Wind whistles along your scales, ruffling the feathers at your wing and crest.
 
There is a trick to drawing the eddies of your magic tight, holding it close as you sense the thermals as sure as the currents of the waters below. You will know the perfect time to spread your wings with a—
 
Snap.
 
Your chest muscles strain, but have faith the thermal will catch you. With a stroke of your wings, you can draw yourself, steady and sure, up into the sky. From above, any world seems so much smaller and larger at the same time.
 
I remember other dragons circling the bone-pale cliffs, beginning their hunts. Their wings catching the fading glow of the sun. Purple, blue, green, gray. Some as red as my own scales. They all hoped to come back with full claws.
 
(As I write this, I can imagine flying back to the pryde of Vere Celene to share my cuts with my mother and sister before claiming my own portion. Fire and stars, but I did not know how much I would miss it. Gliding over those white cliffs, the scent of sea salt and sulfur on the air and in my lungs. I can almost taste the fatty, oily meat, the blubber against my tongue. For­give me; I have been so hungry for so long.)
 
On another cusp of evening, I would have joined them, flying over acidic seas in the hopes of a successful hunt. If I had plucked another thread of fate, perhaps that was what I did.
 
But that night, I did not seek anything made of blood and sinew. I searched for something far more elusive.
 
I hunted a prophecy.
 
I was the last male dragon, born to know the past, the future, the gossamer of fate that spread in all directions like a dew-caught spiderweb. Prophesied to be a great Seer who would save our kind from ruination. My whole life, the weight of that expectation had been so heavy, it was a wonder I could fly at all.
 
And yet, the prophecies passed without even a tugging of the web. Each scrying pool showed me only my reflection. I was a failure, and I could not bear it.
 
I was meant to be more than this.
 
I worked my wings harder, passing over the edge of the island’s penin­sula. A few centuries ago, an ancestor had used precious magic to carve the earth into the shape of a dragon—the effort killed her.
 
She was magnificent, the Lady of Vere Celene. Her earthen muzzle snarled at the setting sun, her sharp teeth blunted by centuries of harsh weather. Her eyes were the entrances to the inner caves. The gentle swell of her skull led to shoulders topped with scorched grass. Her wings were tucked tight against her body, the tips tall enough to provide protection from the worst of the sun. The main bathing pool rested between her shoulder blades, and dragons of flesh and bone would sprawl in the shade after bathing and scrubbing their scales with sand.
 
We are not meant to see the writings about ourselves, not since the last male dragon was driven mad by them. Prophecies are kept locked away. Only Miligrist, the old Seer and Archivist, has access to all. My sister helped her, and would one day be Archivist, Seer, and Queen.
 
So, earlier that evening, I had finally stolen the key and searched for secrets. It had been too tempting, knowing my whole life might be written within.
 
Prophecies can take many forms. Some are careful rhymes, their somber rhythm lending them an extra air of portent. Others are only strange frag­ments, cryptic even to the Seer who wrote them down. Still more are as ephemeral as the dreams and visions that birthed them. It is nowhere near an exact art. And yet, dragons still strive to untwist fate.
 
One of the first writings I found was almost delightfully straightforward and meant to come to pass that very night. Surely fate—that cruel, fickle mistress—had passed it right to me, like fat prey on an open plain.
 
And so I made the best and worst decision of my life. I had to know if it was another broken promise from the future.
 
I chanted the stolen prophecy in my mind as my wings brought me closer to the horizon.

On the Night of Locked Tombs,

when the last male dragon has come of age,
the Lady of Vere Celene points the way.
A Veiled storm and a golden chime
will guide him to the fading light of home.

I glanced behind me.
 
Red wings caught the flames of sunset.
 
—Everen, my sister called, her flying desperate. She must have followed as soon as she’d realized what I’d done.
 
—Leave me be, Cassia.
 
I flew faster, my eyes desperately searching the dimming horizon. But there was no Veiled storm, no golden chime, whatever that meant. Only the ever-present gray of volcanic smoke.
 
Everen! Cassia called again. You cannot do this.
 
If the prophecy is dead as the others, then you have nothing to fear, I chal­lenged.
 
I have everything to fear! You do not know what you risk.
 
—Do you?
 
—I know better than to meddle in this.
 
—Perhaps fate should have told you to keep a better eye on your key, then, sister mine. I was giddy with the potential spread before me.
 
She roared her indignation. I ignored her.
 
There.
 
I felt it before I saw it. A whisper of magic in the air, like the sharp scent of rain just before it breaks. A rushing hiss of the wind. A Veiled storm.
 
Rips in the Veil between worlds were common enough, but most were only small enough for magic and visions to sneak through, guided by the pools. This one was large.
 
Large enough for a dragon.
 
I chanced another glance behind me. My sister’s scales glinted as she glided onto a thermal, bringing her closer. Did no part of her want to see how this might pass?
 
—Your way has not worked, Cassia, so let us try mine. My shoulders burned with every movement of my wings.
 
—Everen, she pleaded. We might lose you.
 
—And you would be the only one to mourn.
 
—That is not true.
 
I had been the golden son. The hope of all dragons. But the opposite of hope is despair. For with every year that passed, this world became hotter, and dragons grew hungrier. I was meant to see how to save us. Every time they looked at me, they saw their own demise reflected. It all confined, like skin that would not shed.
 
Cassia keened in frustration, circling wide, wary of the storm’s pull. She would never be brave enough, fool enough, to try to follow me through.
 
—I love you, Cassia, I said. But if I am to be a master of fate, then I will take it.
 
And with that, I dove.
 
The rip in the Veil grew closer. A slice of darkest, starless night.
 
Something within me caughta thorn ripping at tender flesh.
 
I fell toward the schism with all the grace of a wounded bird. My body shifted and changed, wings flapping uselessly as magic rippled along my hide. The wind whipped over my melting flesh. My body shrank, curling into it­self, my bones shortening, my muscles weakening. Red, scaled hide smoothed to a pebbled near-white. My muzzle pulled back, teeth dulled but for my smaller fangs, talons shifted to blunted digits.
 
I had just enough thought left to deeply, deeply regret what I had done before the pain chased all away in agonizing waves. I opened my mouth to roar, but instead I screamed. A high, pitiful sound.
 
The darkness cupped me in its palm, clenching into a fist, taking my old world with it.
 
--
 
I was in a bruised, liminal space. Lightning moved in impossible directions, too bright against the deep purple and blue. Wind roared. Raindrops hung suspended, as if frozen in time.
 
For a moment, I worried I had died and was waiting for my mother and sister to sing my soul onto whatever came next.
 
(Would they, still? After what I have done?)
 
The keening of the tempest grew louder. Time broke. I could have been there for a span of seconds or a handful of days. Somewhere, in the black, I felt more than saw something move, sinuous and impossibly large. It paid me no mind, as if I were nothing but another raindrop. I had never felt so small, so insignificant. I almost swore I heard whispers, and far off, a deeper sound, like a dragon’s roar. Panicked, I tried to pull myself back from the darkness’s wake, to resist the current. The edges of myself began to blur.
 
In the darkness, I sensed a pinprick of gold. A ray of sun through storm clouds. A distorted echo of a scream turned into a high-pitched ringing, and the gold drifted away, like a feather on the wind. I needed it. That I knew. If I wanted to live, I needed to make my way to that little speck of gold.
A Veiled storm and a golden chime will guide him to the fading light of home.

With all my effort, I forced myself away from the pull. When I broke free, I swam or flew through the storm. Did I even have a body in that place? I imagined one, and it was so. My wings pulsed, displacing the floating drops of water. The wind had fallen. The ringing rose again to some high, haunt­ing cry. The tiniest part of my soul reached out and answered—
 
--
 
And I fell, hard, onto stone.
 
I gasped through new crests of pain, gaping like a fish out of water. For a moment, I could only try to fill my lungs.
 
Soon, the cold settled into my marrow. Vere Celene was always hot, the air thick and humid. Even in the depths of the caves, the coolness was never chilled.
 
I forced myself upright. I was unbalanced. With dawning horror, I real­ized I was still in my diminished preterit form. One of my wings had been wrenched by the fall. My left shoulder throbbed. My weakened body shivered.
 
It took time to settle into a preterit. We took this shape when we did work too delicate for talons. Many saw it as an abomination, a distorted echo of what we hated most. Several in Vere Celene had never transformed at all.
 
I’d helped my sister and Miligrist enough in the parts of the archives I was allowed in that some deep corner of my brain couldn’t help but cata­logue details. My nostrils flared with the scents of stagnant water and stale air, ancient stone, and back notes of decay. To my right was a faint pulsing of gold. I twisted my head and was hit, full force, with newer smells. The bitterness of a recently spent flame, the stink of magic, and something unde­niably alive.
 
My eyes adjusted to the near darkness, taking in the sprawled hump on stone. I crawled forward on all fours, not yet trusting myself on two. My lips drew back from barely pointed teeth, my hiss echoing through the darkness.
 
I knew what I would see. Some ancestral part of me recognized the scent. The creatures that had hollowed us out, nearly destroyed us, and banished us to a dying world. A flame of hatred sparked bright in my chest, my hands clenching to fists.
 
It was a human. The first I had ever seen in the flesh. I reached out, one fingertip hovering above its cheek. When I think back to that moment, it, too, seems suspended in time.
For that human was, of course, you. And this is our story, Arcady.

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