Dragon’s Winter

(Critical Survey of Contemporary Fiction)

When the princes Karadur and Tenjiro are born to the royal house of Ippa, Karadur the eldest has the rare gift to transform into a dragon at will. Tenjiro, born with no such gift, spends his youth studying magic. In time he becomes a powerful sorcerer. Jealous of Karadur’s gift, he tricks Karadur’s best friend Azil into stealing the talisman Karadur uses to transform. Tenjiro flees Ippa, forcing Azil to join him. From his stronghold, Tenjiro plunges the land into unending winter, tortures Azil, and sends his minions to destroy Karadur’s land and people.

Azil finally escapes and returns to Ippa. Although he is helpless without his talisman, Karadur marches against the wizard who ravages Ippa, without realizing it is Tenjiro. Azil, emotionally scarred by his experience, has terrible dreams and cannot speak. A shape-changer, Hawk, offers her services to Karadur before he departs, but as she flies ahead towards Tenjiro’s fortress, she is captured. Furthermore, Azil’s dreams let Tenjiro read his mind and keep track of Karadur’s progress. The sorcerer hinders Karadur’s army with darkness and hallucinations.

Tenjiro’s captain taunts Karadur when he arrives at the fortress, and the dragon lord realizes that his brother is the enemy. He challenges Tenjiro to single combat.

After a fierce battle, Tenjiro is dead, and his captives are freed. Spring returns to the land. Karadur finds his talisman and can at last protect his subjects with his special ability.

DRAGON’S WINTER benefits from Elizabeth A. Lynn’s concise narration and subtlety, which give the plot and characters depth without the weight of lengthy descriptions. The conclusion is satisfying but leaves room for sequels.