I'm been under the deadline hammer for far too long, and even missed the fact that the audiobook edition of my novella, The Dragon and the Dark Knight, had gone live in July! (The time it takes for audio platforms to approve projects various greatly.) The narrator is the ever wonderful Siobhan Waring.
Since time is in short supply, I decided to rerun the blog I did in 2020 when the e-book version was released. The Dragon and the Dark Knight!
I've written a number of novellas and shorter works because they're an enjoyable change of pace and give me the chance to go to new and different places. They can also be quirkier or more humorous than full length novels. In short–fun!
The Dragon and the Dark Knight was originally published as a longish novella in the Dragon Lovers anthology with Jo Beverley, Barbara Samuel, Karen Harbaugh, and me. The four of us were friends and enjoyed working together, and we did three different romantic fantasy anthologies: Faery Magic, Dragon Lovers, and Chalice of Roses. Most anthologies are started by an editor, then they look for authors, but for these three, we authors put together our ideas and sold publishers on them. Which has also fun.
None of those three anthologies are in print any more, but I do plan to release my novellas from Faery Magic and Chalice of Roses in the not too terribly distant future.
The four stories in the Dragon anthology were all very different. I loved twisting some of the traditional dragon tropes. <G> Here's the blurb for my story:
Base-born Sir Kenrick of Rathbourne has earned his living as an itinerant tournament knight. His skill supports him and his squire, but his dream of a manor and wife and family seems impossibly distant. Then he hears of a wealthy baron in Cornwall who is looking for a champion to slay the dragon that is terrorizing his lands. The reward will be a manor by the sea. Kenrick believes dragons are only a legend–but the prize makes the story worth investigating.
But there really is a dragon–and a dozen knights have failed to vanquish it. And when he finds a luminous lady in distress, the real challenge is protecting her and her dragon…
Here's an excerpt:
Kenrick has taken on the challenge of fighting the dragon, so he goes to scout Dragon Island, said to be the beast's lair. There he comes on bandits assaulting a young woman. A true knight, he immediately goes to her aid, successfully taking on four villains at once. And then…
Gurgling blood, the bandit fell forward, then pitched sideways over the cliff. There were dull thumps as he struck rocky outcroppings on the way down. Finally, a distant splash. He would ravish no more maidens.
Dizzy and acutely aware of every blow he’d suffered, Kenrick staggered to his feet
and crossed the meadow toward the unconscious girl. As he approached, her eyes opened and she pushed herself to a sitting position. Blessed be, she had survived the assault. Her plain, grass-stained gown was that of a village girl, but the wildly tangled red-gold hair that fell over her face would have won acclaim at the king’s court.
As she flinched away from him, he said, “Demoiselle, you are safe now. Were you injured?”
She looked up, and he gasped as their gazes met. The girl was stunning, her features exquisite despite the bruises on her face. Her eyes were an amazing shade shimmered between green and blue gray, as mysterious as the sea.
And her figure! The ripping of her gown showed more than a gentleman should see. Kenrick knew he should look away, and couldn’t.
The girl’s gaze moved to the bodies of the bandits. “I…I am not seriously harmed, Sir Knight.” She touched the bruise on her cheek, wincing. “I owe you great thanks.” Her speech was surprisingly genteel, and she used proper English, not Cornish.
She was about to say more when a shadow fell across them both. That hard, menacing shape was no cloud. Kenrick jerked his head up and saw a great silvery dragon swooping down toward him, claws extended.
The girl screamed, “No!” and scrambled to her feet frantically.
Summoning the last shreds of his strength, Kenrick raised his bloody sword. He had never imagined how huge, how powerful, a dragon might be. The wings filled the sky. Despite their vastness, it was hard to imagine how they supported that massive, silver scaled body. No wonder a dozen other knights had died here! No man could defeat such a creature.
The dragon breathed out a stream of fire. Though it wasn’t aimed directly at Kenrick, he was unable to control his instinctive jerk away from the blistering flames. With horror, he found himself teetering on the edge of the cliff. He scrambled to regain his balance, stabbing his sword into the turf to stabilize himself.
Then a blast of wind from the dragon’s wings struck and knocked him from his feet. Slowly, inexorably, he tumbled over the cliff. For an instant he was falling free, too stunned for fear. Better to die this way than burned alive!
He slammed into a stone ledge that broke bones before he ricocheted into space again. His last conscious thought was hope that the girl might survive….
And after that, things get really interesting! Anne McCaffrey, author of the Dragons of Pern books, agreed to read the original anthology, and here is the quote she gave us:
"What a marvelous presentation of romantical dragons, showing off for the ladies, or man of their choice, happenstance or traditional. Very, very good collection for all hungry draconaphiles, aka dragonlovers. Well written, stylish and above all inventive. Dragon Lovers is sure to please readers of all ages.”
"In Mary Jo Putney's exquisitely crafted and deliciously witty "The Dragon and the Dark Knight," freelance knight Kenrick of Rathbourne is hired to slay a dragon but changes his mind after meeting the mysterious Lady Ariane."
John Charles, Booklist
Apparently I'm a draconophile since there are several living in my house. The pictures scattered through the blog are of my dragons.
Do you find the idea of dragons entertaining? Or alarming? Or otherwise?