Another Vlad novel, and one I’m pretty happy with. I have a lot of sympathy with people who want to read the books in chronological order, so I wrote this one to help them out: it falls before and after Yendi. Heh heh heh. It also provided me with an excuse to read Clausewitz, which was actually fairly entertaining. The character of Napper is loosely based on the late Bruce Beesman, a guy I played a lot of poker with, and whom I miss.
23 thoughts on “Dragon”
This one is my favorite Vlad book. I like the plot and that we get to see Vlad in a situation that is so far outside his comfort zone, but still quintessentially Vlad. Plus it’s got Morrolan being all Morrolan-y and Sethra being inscrutable.
And of course, “How about you do the killing and I do the irony,” which may be my favorite Loiosh quote of all time.
Dragon has the distinction of being the only book I’ve ever read cover to cover on the floor of the bookstore. I was working for a floundering startup when this came out and it was either that or give up my ramen and peanuts for the month. It was still a tough decision, as reading it was the best thing that happened in Houston, and it called out plainly what was wrong with the startup’s strategy:
“Well, if I were the enemy commander and our assault had failed 3 times and I wanted to make a 4th, I don’t think I’d attack with fewer men. But that’s just me.”
Thank you for considering the plight of your poor readers. I had the pleasure of starting this series after the publication of Dragon, so by the time I’d gotten through all the books I was lucky enough to jump right into Issola. By the time Dzur came out, I got half way through it before I realized that my goldfish memory had no idea what was going on. Sobbing the entire time I quietly put the book back on my shelf and resolved not to read anymore of it until I had the entire series in hand. So I prowled bookstores daily around the release dates and through considerable self control, managed to keep my promise to myself. Until Tiassa. There was something about Tiassa. It’s matte cover, perhaps? The different format of the spine? The amazing illustration on the front, taunting me, seducing me from my shelf?! I’m a weak woman. So I read the entire series again and when I closed Tiassa for the final time I quietly turned on my computer, looked for the release date of Hawk, and cried a little inside. There’s nothing for it. I’ll have to re-read every single book when the next one comes out, and the next, and the next. And I’ll love every minute of it. Especially Dragon. It remains one of my favorites.
A. Thanks for the kind words.
2. Damn. My plan had been to write the books so each one stands on its own. Oh, well.
III. I’m hard at work on Hawk, and, with any luck, I’ll have a draft finished soon. Tor well, I believe, get it out fairly quickly after that.
d. Meanwhile, The Incrementalists, by me and Skyler White, will be out in September.
A. Thanks again.
I’ve been rereading every book as new ones come out for sometime now….it’s actually fun, and while I generally prefer to read them in publication order, occasionally I’ll switch it up and attempt to read them in order of the events…of course, that isn’t always possible. *cough cough Dragon cough*
Oh, and skzb…They *do* all stand on their own; I just enjoy them more when I remember all the various little subtleties that one forgets when it’s been a couple of years…..plus sometimes the rereading, especially when I switch up the order, gives me an “aha” moment when I notice something that I managed to miss before…..I get fewer of those now, have read the books, um, a lot, :) but still…
I agree, they do stand alone, but I like to have the full and complete picture of the story nevertheless. The hardest thing about re-reading them all over again and again though is that every time I come to the last one, it’s like saying goodbye to a friend. I have the hardest time actually finishing series that I like for this reason. :(
Yes….I get that too….it’s like a good bye again.
I am reading all of these to help get through the Covid19 lockdown. What a welcome distraction!
My favorite aspect of this book is the successful blending of elements from different timelines, all moving at a good pace to the same denoument.
Did skzb write the whole thing in order, then break of chunks and stick them here and there?
I have never been a soldier, but I have known quite a few. Being in the military on Dragaera has many similarities to the experience they have shared.
Thanks! Yeah, I wrote it in order. And spent a lot of time talking to soldiers and getting stories, especially barracks stories.
skzb: That’s really interesting that you wrote it in order first. Do you know, offhand as a matter of writing craft, do authors who write blended timelines tend to write them in order or is that one of those it just depends on the author things?
Suitably disorienting to open the first page and find Vlad in the middle of a pitched battle and you are thinking, what the heck? And you never had to use those symbols to show the reader that you were transitioning:
* * *
I especially loved to interactions between Vlad and Loiosh in this one. I am very much in favor of all your stuff from your whole career, but it seems that you were especially on fire in the 1990s.
Steve: Interesting question; I should ask a few. Maybe I’ll ask on Twitter.
Kragar: Tsk tsk. We like to believe we keep getting better. :-)
Well after I read the Baron of Magister Valley, I might change my tune!
One of my favorites of your books for the reasons other people have given, especially Vlad reluctantly getting to understand Dragons. I just reread it for the nth time.
But I still want to know how someone with a magic sword breaks up a fight, to the disgust of at least one participant, in such a way that the magic sword clashes with the other participant’s sword, leaving the disgusted participant fine, the other one mostly unconscious, and no blood on the carpet. Maybe Morrolan used a magical attack of Blackwand that affects ordinary Dragonlords more than daughters of goddesses? Or Aliera didn’t fight Morrolan (hard to imagine) but Sethra the Younger did and had to be knocked out, magically or with the flat of Blackwand?
I also want to know how Aliera unbuckles her sheath while holding a sword in each hand.
Lately I have been re-reading each book as questions like these are posed. Since Dragon is a special favorite of mine, this will be a pleasant task. Give me a day or two and I will give you the best answer I can. skzb usually leaves us to our own devices in situations like this, but who knows, maybe we will get really lucky and he will chime in. As for improving from the 90s until now, I am ready to say yeah.
Okay, re-read Dragon. Here’s what I have.
Vlad figured out that the entire campaign was simply a ruse to allow the hidden Pathfinder and Blackwand to clash, possibly breaking the concealing enchantment (created by one of Dragaeran History’s greatest wizards). Vlad thwarted this aim but never bothered to tell Morrolan what Vlad had figured out, and why. Why not? Bit of a Dragon thing to do.
Why didn’t Fornia simply challenge Morrolan to single combat, but start a fairly large war instead to accomplish the same thing? Bit of a Dragon thing to do.
Why didn’t Aliera simply agree to exchange Kieron’s greatsword for the hidden Pathfinder? Bit of a Dragon thing to do.
Why did Sethra the Younger jump right to combat instead of negotiating in the face of Aliera’s challenge? Bit of a Dragon thing to do.
So Vlad psychically summons Morrolan, he pops in and draws Blackwand, the swords clash breaking the enchantment and stunning Sethra the Younger senseless, as she was holding the hidden Pathfinder at the moment of impact, yet Morrolan does not bother to heal her, sorcerously or otherwise? Bit of a Dragon thing to do.
So you have a lot of Dragons acting like Dragons. And you have Vlad acting like a Dragon, too. To such an extent that he dreams about being in the Paths of the Dead and arguing that he should be admitted as a Dragon, to the uproarious laughter of the gods.
Best I can do on a Thursday.
Thanks, Kragar. I’m with you up to the point where Vlad summons Morrolan. What happens between then and the next scene, where Sethra the Younger is on the floor? Vlad tells us that Morrolan broke up the fight. How did that knock StY out, considering that there must have been a clash of swords, and swords aren’t good for knocking people out bloodlessly? Why isn’t Aliera hurt? Do we have clues that allow us to reconstruct the scene?
Um, did you read my answer? The hidden Pathfinder in Sethra the Younger’s hand came into contact with Blackwand during the fight. Kablooey. Concealment spell broken, major sorcerous energy released, Sethra the Younger knocked out cold, either because she was holding the thing when it popped, did not have time to sorcerously shield herself, or did not have a great weapon protecting her from the blast, or some combination of those three things.
Sorry to take so long. I did read your answer–thanks for providing the additional detail that I was looking for. I don’t see anything in the text that favors your version over my speculation, namely that whatever Morrolan did to break up the fight is what knocked Sethra the Younger out, although yours has an attractive simplicity. it also raises the amusing possibility that what Vlad did was for nothing, since Fornia would also have been knocked out and Morrolan could have just grabbed Pathfinder. On the other hand, Fornia might have been prepared for such a blast of sorcerous energy, which might have helped with one of your possible reasons.
That’s the thing about skzb’s books. They are so dang fun to speculate upon. Thanks for the exercise in textual analysis.
Just reread this excellent book again. The part where Sethra explains to Vlad that the defender is the one who wants the war, is ready for it, and goads the attacker into doing so strikes me as especially relevant given the current international situation.