Born to the shape-shifting dragon king of Ippa, twin brothers Karadur and Tenjiro share an ancestry, but not a bloodline. Only Karadur carries dragon blood, destined to one day become a dragon and rule the kingdom. In an act of jealous betrayal, Tenjiro steals the talisman that would allow Karadur to take his true dragon form and flees to a distant, icy realm. Now, years later, Tenjiro has reappeared as the evil sorcerer Ankoku. His frozen stronghold threatens to destroy Dragon Keep, and Karadur must lead his shape-shifting warriors on a journey to defeat his brother and reclaim his destiny.
With Dragon’s Winter, World Fantasy Award–winning author Elizabeth A. Lynn returns with the kind of richly drawn characters and intricate worlds her fans, both old and new, will love.
About the Author
Read an Excerpt
By Elizabeth A. Lynn
OPEN ROAD INTEGRATED MEDIACopyright © 1998 Elizabeth A. Lynn
All rights reserved.
His name was Karadur Atani. His brother called him Kaji; the officers of his household and garrison called him, to his face, my lord, and privately, among and to themselves, Dragon.
His home, Atani Castle, in Ippa, was known as Dragon Keep. The black-walled castle was ancient and solid, strong as the northern hills against which it had been raised. Unlike most of its neighbor castles, Dragon Keep had never been stormed or besieged or taken by an enemy.
On a blue September morning, the man his soldiers named Dragon, accompanied by his best friend, his twin brother, and half the garrison, rode across the ridge of dry brown hillside below the Keep. He was hunting a wild boar. It had blundered out of the forest north of Chingura into a farmer"s cornfield, and, pursued by the enraged farmer and half a dozen of her neighbors, it had been brought inexpertly to bay at the river. Armed with rakes and hoes, the farmers had scored its sides, and taken its left eye. Pain-maddened, the boar had trampled one man, gored another, and charged north.
The twins rode side by side: Karadur on Smoke, his big black gelding, Tenjiro, to his right, on a bay mare. The brothers" faces were alike, except that the bones in Karadur"s face showed harder and more prominent, and Tenjiro bore a clot of white scars along the line of his left cheek. Karadur Atani wore unadorned black, and his sun- gilt hair gleamed like thick silk rope in the sunlight. Tenjiro"s hands and clothing sparkled with jewels, and his hair was sleek as a greyhound"s coat. He was an elegant and graceful man: pretty, some called him, who looked no deeper than the surface. He had been absent from the Keep for nearly a year, and returned barely a month ago. He had been studying, he said, though he had refused to name his teacher, or even to say what the subject of his study had been.
Azil Aumson rode on Karadur"s left hand. He was a reserved, dark-haired man, slender, of no notable comeliness, except for the grace and sensitivity of his long, musician"s fingers, and the resonant beauty of his voice.
"The dogs have the scent," said Tenjiro. "Do you want to follow further?" As he spoke, the clamor of the hounds and the sound of the pursuing horses grew close. The black boar burst up the hillside toward them. Murgain, the club-footed archery master, yelled orders, and the men divided, making a wide circle around the snorting, bleeding animal. Half the men dismounted, spears in their hands. The razor-sharp edges scattered rainbow light against the thick dry grass. The bowmen nocked the heavy steel-headed arrows to their bows. Winded and angry, the boar tossed its head at them, and turned in savage dancing rushes, trying to see them all with one good eye.
Tossing Smoke"s reins to his friend Azil Aumson, Karadur slid to the ground. The dragon-lord flexed his big fingers. The boar made a rush at the circle. The men shouted, waving their arms, and it retreated.
The dragon-lord glided into the circle. Recognizing an adversary, the boar snorted and pawed the ground like a bull.
"My lord?" said Murgain. He held out the heavy boar-spear.
Karadur waved it away. He strolled toward the enraged animal. Feigning a charge, it hooked its tusk toward his belly. He slipped easily away. The dogs, held fast, and furious about it, set up a frenzied barking.
Walking directly to the rank, sweating boar, the dragon- lord caught its tusk at the base with his left hand. Squealing in rage, it tried to swing its head. But Karadur Atani"s extraordinary strength held it motionless. He made a fist of his right hand, and brought it down like a hammer between the animal"s eyes.
The boar folded, and dropped. The soldiers shouted. Karadur caught the reins of his horse from Azil. Mounting, he wheeled his shaggy black horse, and rode on alone toward the castle.
The soldiers hung back, glancing at one another in unease. The dragon temper was famous throughout Ippa, and Karadur Atani had his share of it. Finally, talking softly, they moved in to disjoint and quarter the great beast. Tenjiro, holding his horse in place, was watching his brother ride along the edge of the hill.
Azil checked his own horse. Not looking at him, Tenjiro said, "Well, he is in a temper."
Azil said diffidently, "He was—not happy last night He would not say what was disturbing him. I thought you and he might have had a disagreement."
"He has not told you? I thought he kept no secrets from you."
The singer said quietly, "What is said between the two of you stays so, Tenjiro. It has always been so. You know that." The dogs, released, charged uphill, splitting to either side of them in a brindled river. The horses danced a little.
"How diplomatic of him," said the younger man. Then his ill-humor seemed to vanish. "Sorry. None of this is your fault. We did have a disagreement. He told me that he means to change. To take the form."
The singer said, "That I knew. He has been planning it all summer. He wanted only to wait until you came back, so that you could be here."
"So he told me, last night. I told him he should wait. He did not want to hear it."
Azil"s face grew thoughtful. "Why did you tell him that?" he asked.
Tenjiro said, "I thought it would be obvious. He has no children."
"I don"t understand."
Tenjiro frowned. "Azil, think! It is perilous to assume the dragon-nature. You know how our father died."
Azil had a child"s memory of Kojiro Atani: a huge man, bright as fire, before whom all other men seemed diminished. "Of course I know." Everyone in the Atani domains knew how, four years after the birth of his twin sons, Kojiro the Black Dragon had flown ungoverned and enraptured over Ippa, burning forests and villages with his fiery breath, until, wild beyond recalling, he threatened the city of Mako, and the sorcerer Senmet crippled his great wings with a spell, and sent him tumbling to his death. "You think Karadur is in danger—of that?" The singer drew a long breath. "I do not believe it. Forgive me, Tenjiro, but your father, may his soul find peace, was—" He hesitated.
"A savage and undisciplined man," said Tenjiro Atani. "But our father at least had a son. Kaji has no one."
"He has you."
Tenjiro Atani smiled. There was no kindness in that smile, for the man with whom he spoke, nor for himself. "He has me. But I am not Dragon, my blood carries none of it. He needs children, to protect the transmission."
"Whom would you have him marry?"
"Gods, I don"t care."
Azil said thoughtfully, "Reo Unamira offered Kaji his granddaughter last year."
Surprised, Tenjiro gave a shout of laughter. "Reo Unamira? I didn"t know the old pimp had a granddaughter. How old is the little sow—eight, ten?"
"Twelve, I believe. Her name"s Maia."
"What did Kaji say?"
"He said he wasn"t ready to marry."
"Well, of course. No, I would not have him wed that brigand"s spawn. Let him do as did our father: find some respectable family with empty coffers and an overabundance of girl-children. There must be a dozen of them between here and Nakase."
Azil said, "Truly he does not want to." He colored. "Not for the reason you might think."
"Oh, I know," Tenjiro said. "He explained it last night, most emphatically. He does not want some innocent girl to suffer our mother"s fate." Abruptly Tenjiro Urged his horse into motion. Azil followed him. They halted at the edge of the field. A gust of wind swept downhill at them, rustling the autumn grass. The banner over Dragon Keep snapped like a sail. It bore the Atani family sigil: the golden dragon, wings spread, on a white field.
Tenjiro said softly, "Imagine what it feels like, to be Dragon: to fly, to summon dragonfire, to be impervious to heat, cold, darkness ..." A painful longing twisted his taut mouth, and roughened his usually self-possessed voice. The scars on his face darkened. For a moment he looked very like Karadur. "A power beyond price. But there is only one Dragon. It was not always so, the records say. But over the centuries our blood has grown thin."
Azil said, "But you do have power. You are wizard."
Tenjiro"s glance was sharp as a boar-spear. "Is that what common talk is saying?"
The singer smiled. "It depends whom you talk to. Until you returned last month, half the domain believed that you and Kaji quarreled, and that you transformed yourself into a basilisk and flew into the mountains, or went looking for the treasure of Telmarniya in the center of the Crystal Lake. The other half believed you simply rode to Mako, and waited until his temper cooled before returning home."
"What do you believe?"
Azil said simply, "I know you are not afraid of Kaji"s temper."
"You think I found the treasure of Telmarniya?"
"I think you found a teacher."
"Now, why would you think that? I have no interest in the mumblings of some hedge-witch. And there are no wizards, no true wizards, in Ryoka. Not since the Mage Wars."
Azil said, "Senmet of Mako was a true wizard."
"Yes. But she is dead. She was the last of them."
"Then what are you? A warlock? A sorcerer?"
Tenjiro moved his long fingers. Suddenly a cold mist seemed to rise from the ground, thickening and thickening until it seemed the two men stood isolated and imprisoned in a chill grey-white cloud. Azil"s horse whinnied in fright. The cloud swept castle, hillside, even his companion from his sight. "Tenjiro?" An ominous, wordless gabble filled his ears. "Tenjiro?"
Slowly, grudgingly, the chill mist blew away. Tenjiro Atani"s eyes seemed darkened, and there was an expression in them that Azil had not seen before. "Sorcerer will do. You may call me that. Only say it softly."
"That was—unexpected," Azil said. He was thankful for the steady sunlight bathing his shoulders. "I was right, then. You did find a teacher."
"You could say that. I went south, and east, through Nakase and Kameni, and finally to Nalantira Island, to the ruins of a castle where a great wizard once lived. It is said he was of dragon-kin. Later another wizard came to live there, and he must be buried in that place: no one lives there now, save goats and little monkeys, and madmen hunting for buried treasure. But the castle still exists. And inside the castle, hidden by magic spells, is the old wizard"s library, which holds all the books of magic that ever were in the world. It"s a big room, with shelves from floor to ceiling, holding books and scrolls and scraps of vellum and paper ... It would take a lifetime to master them all. But I found what I needed."
"Does Kaji know of this?"
Tenjiro shrugged. "What is magic to Dragon? He does not require it His attention is on his own desire; a desire whose fulfillment will change him utterly, in ways that you and I cannot even imagine. He is your friend, and you think: I know him. He cannot change so much that I will not know him. But I tell you, Azil, he can. The changeling-folk are different from the rest of us, and none more so than Dragon. Kojiro Atani and Erin diMako were good friends, close friends; but the Black Dragon burned the city of Mako to ash. That is the dragon-kind"s true nature. Karadur will change, and you will not know him, nor he you." Tenjiro"s soft, elegant voice roughened. "We are a violent lineage, we Atani. You"re a singer: you know the stories."
Azil said evenly, "I know them." He felt cold all over again, as if the magic mist wrapped him invisibly round. "You cannot keep him from his destiny, Tenjiro."
"That is not my wish. I want only to safeguard the line. Before he takes form, let Kaji do as did our father, and marry, and sire children. Then it will matter less when he sloughs his human nature, and vanishes into air, as did our grandmother, the Crimson Dragon, or flies into the sun."
They were alone on the field below the castle. Azil"s brown horse, catching his rider"s disturbed mood, sidled and pulled against the reins. Stumbling a little over the words, the singer said, "I know that you and Kaji are not—not friends. It was always so. But you are all he has of family. If you think it dangerous for him to take the form, you must say so, and keep saying it until he hears you."
Tenjiro snorted. "I tried; he will not listen. He"s stubborn as a Nakase ox. What else would you have me do?"
"I don"t know. Can your magic help?"
"Ah," said Tenjiro. Something dark and smoky moved behind his pale blue eyes. He cocked his head. "Possibly."
His voice caressed the word. "What do you know of changeling magic?"
"I know what everyone knows," Azil said. "Tukalina made changelings at the same time She made beasts and men."
"Stories," Tenjiro said disdainfully. "That is not what I meant."
"What do you mean?"
"The power to change, like the gift of wizardry, cannot truly be taught. It is indwelling, in heart, bone, blood. Wizards use instruments to channel power. Language is an instrument, and even a village hedge-witch can scry in a mirror. Changelings direct power through a talisman. It is a device through which the changeling may concentrate his gift. Before he can assume the form, Karadur must make a talisman. He will need privacy, silence, a place where he can be alone, undisturbed, where no one, not even an animal, could blunder in to interrupt his work Where would he go?"
"The tower," Azil said. "The old signal tower. He had it rebuilt this summer. New floor, new roof, new chimney, new shutters. No one goes up there. He told Aum to tell the servants not to touch it, even to clean."
"And does he invite folk to visit it often?"
"Have you been there?"
"Does he go there often?"
"Occasionally. Not often. He never stays long."
"The next time he goes to the tower, if you know, tell me. Especially if it is late at night."
* * *
That evening, as was his custom three nights every week, Karadur ate in the guards" hall. Those who had been on the previous morning"s hunt recounted it, with some embroidery, to those who had not. The boar"s head appeared, on a plate, with a cooked duck egg neatly substituting for the missing eye, and was admired, and eaten.
After the meal, the tables were drawn back, and the young men challenged each other to wrestle. "Sing something," Karadur suggested lazily to Azil. The two men sat side by side, shoulders brushing, near the fire. A decanter of red wine stood near them, with one cup. A rosewood harp lay propped against Azil"s knee.
Azil brought his harp onto his lap. "What would you hear?"
"Whatever you like."
Azil plucked the melody of "The Red Boar of Aidu." "The red boar came from the forest; the red boar came to the hills; his tusks were iron and his breath was fire and his bellow toppled the castle spire; O the red boar, the red boar of Aidu." The firelight pulsed in time to his strokes. His low voice was clear and strong. The soldiers pounded on the tabletops, and sang the chorus.
Karadur did not sing, but when the song ended, he touched the musician"s shoulder a moment. "Sing another."
"Sing "The Ballad of Ewain and Mariela," called someone.
The others groaned derisively. "Don"t listen to him, he"s lovesick," yelled Devlin. "Give us "Dorian"s Ride!"
Azil said, "I need to retune for that." He bent over the pegs. A string snapped, lashing upward. "Damn. I"ll get another."
"No matter," Karadur said. "Let it go." His strong fingers caught the singer"s wrist. A torch flared as one of the doors opened.
Lorimir Ness, the garrison"s swordmaster and senior captain, stood framed momentarily in the doorway. Karadur beckoned to him. The captain crossed the hall to his side. "My lord."
"How serious were the injuries in Chingura today?"
"Nothing too bad, my lord. A shoulder gored, and a broken leg. Macallan rode to treat them." Macallan was the Keep"s physician.
"Good." Karadur"s face grew thoughtful. "Lorimir, set a guard at the foot of the tower stairs tonight. Someone unimaginative."
"Lennart," Lorimir said. "He has no imagination whatsoever."
Excerpted from Dragon's Winter by Elizabeth A. Lynn. Copyright © 1998 Elizabeth A. Lynn. Excerpted by permission of OPEN ROAD INTEGRATED MEDIA.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
Grisly, dark, sad, disjointed and not centered on dragons. I read half and don't plan to read the rest of this book.
This is my all time favorite book. I read this book when I was still in highschool and I still love it. The world she brings to life is amazing and it will capture you. A must have for your library.
I am a fan of Ms. Lynn's other books -- all of them. She is an excellent writer with well developed characters in a convincing world but it took me three attempts to read this book because the violence was so intense. This is not a book I will read over and over like her others. However, the sequel, Dragon's Treasure, is excellent and I would love to read a third book in the series.
Do you like dragons, castles, and sorcerers? If so, then this is definitely the book for you! Elizabeth A. Lynn¿s Dragon¿s Winter is full of dragons, sorcerers, magical creatures, and much, much more. It also has a very compassionate storyline, which anyone who¿s ever cared for someone could understand. In the beginning, a young mother gives birth to twin boys, one of which is a dragon child. As they get older, it is evident that the older dragon child, Karadur Atani, is very gifted in physical strength and leadership, while the younger, Tenjiro, shows great potential as a sorcerer. Unknown to anyone, however, is Tenjiro¿s immense bitterness and envy toward his older brother. On the night that Karadur prepares to create the talisman that would allow him to take his true dragon form, Tenjiro casts a sleeping spell across the castle grounds and sneaks into Karadur¿s tower where he steals the talisman and runs off to a secluded dark castle with Karadur¿s best friend following, under a spell. There, Tenjiro works his evil magic to create unimaginable horrors to surround his keep, while he, himself transforms into a monster beyond reckoning. Karadur, infuriated by his brother¿s treachery, charges forth into unknown territory with a band of warriors to take back what is his and deal hard justice onto his unrighteous brother. He has some reckoning of what he will be facing, but he could never be prepared for what his hateful brother has in store for him¿
This was a great book, I could barely put it down. The characters were interesting and well developed. It was a good quick read, it was short, with easy diction, so you can enjoy it without having to struggle with the language. I really thought that the use of changelings was a refreshing idea.
Anyone who is a fan of the fantasy genre should read this book. Holding all the essentials to make any novel an epic despite it's length is a true feat and Lynn has artfully managed to do so. From young adult to the old and wrinkly, there is some element for everyone within the bindings of Dragon's Winter. It is proudly part of my collection.
Dragon's Winter was the first book written by Lynn that I have read, and it certainly got me hooked. This is a book that you can read over and over- the character and events never get boring. Lynn's characters and world seem so realistic, as you read you suspect to turn around and be in her world, with her characters standing before you. This is definately a great read.
Dragon's Winter is one of THE best books i have ever read. There are great characters and there is never a boring part! If you love fantasy then read this book.
This was an amazing book, I loved it. it is perfect for those who love fantasy, like i do. I would really like to know when(and if!)the sequal is coming out.
Elizabeth A. Lynn has to be one of the best fiction writers of all time. I bought this book the first day it came to my local book store because i have heard several outstanding reviews on her. I may be a young fantasy reader but i know what is quality. This book will have you gripping the cover tight wondering what is going to happen next. Elizabeth A. Lynn creates a realistic world that entirely suits the story and her ability to make the characters vividly come to life is remarkable. She also allows the reader to recieve a full view of Ippa through the eyes of her expertly created characters. The story line will immediatly grab your attention and keep it there. This book is definately worth reading over several times(I myself have read it over 10 times). 'Dragon's Winter' is one of the best works of fantasy ever and hopefully we will not have to wait long for her sequel.
This is a great filled with fantasy for young and old. At first I was skeptic of this book but I ended up loving the book and reading it in 2 days. It has everything from love to treachory. It is GREAT!!!
I positively loved this book. Elizabeth Lynn has a wonderfull imagination and an EXCELLENT tallent for writing. I actually cried when Wolf died. I couldn't put Dragon's Winter down. I was happy and sad at the same time when the book ended. I was sad because I had to say good-bye to the characters. You develope a -for lack of a better word-bond with Elizabeth's characters. I would recomend this book to anyone who LOVES fantasies as much as I do(which is a LOT!!!).