Season of the Dragon
Dragos Primeri Book 1
by Natalie Wright
Genre: Epic Fantasy
“This dazzling epic fantasy series kickoff rewards and upends reader expectations.”—BOOKLIFE REVIEWS, Editor’s Pick
“[Readers] looking for fantasy series titles that open with a bang of psychological and political allure will find that few can equal the force of Season of the Dragon.”—D. Donovan, Senior Reviewer, MIDWEST BOOK REVIEW
“A real epic in the making!” ~Dario Ciriello, Editor
When dragons rise from a thousand-year slumber, to save her loved ones, a young changeling woman must unite her warring souls.
Quen Santu wasn’t born to save the world. She was created to destroy it.
** Releases March 1st!!**
uen’s two hearts drummed an uneven rhythm, matching the thunder of the approaching herd. The people of Solia crowded the wide dirt boulevard, whooping and ringing bells to welcome the first returning herdclan of the season. Quen wanted to join the excitement, but she dared get no closer than Fano’s smithing tent set a row back from the main road. I don’t want a repeat of last year. The galloping herd entered Solia’s gates, and the ground quaked. Quen’s shadow heartbeat, normally a phantom quiver, thrummed.
A head taller than most people from Sulmére Province, Quen easily peered over others and spotted the first riders through the gate. To her surprise, her brother, Rhoji, led Pijwar herdclan into town. I wondered where he’d gotten off to this morning. Rhoji’s kopek, Gambol, trotted proudly, his freshly oiled, leathery skin glistening in the mid-day light of the two suns. Rising winds fluttered Rhoji’s blue feather earring and rippled Pijwar Clan’s orange banners.
Despite his morning ride into the Sulmére’s shifting sands, Rhoji’s bone-white linen tunic and riding pants remained pristine. How does he manage that? Ubiquitous Sulmére dust caked Quen’s sand-colored linen tunic and wide-legged pants.
“Hika, Rhoji!” Quen called.
The crowd’s cheers swelled, welcoming their favorite local son as if he’d been gone on a year-long quest. Rhoji was merely the second son of a clanless Solia merchant, but neither Rhoji nor his adoring fans seemed to know that.
“He’d look like a Sulmére prince if he wasn’t riding a damned kopek.” Fano, Quen’s friend and a traveling blacksmith originally from the capital province, thrust a wheel loop into the quench, steam rising and quickly dissipating in the dry air. “Kopeks look like something dead, buried, and brought back to life.” Fano wiped copious sweat from his broad forehead with a dusty, oil-stained cloth.
He’s not wrong. Gambol’s hairless skin, taut across his keg-shaped skeletal ribcage, gleamed like aged leather, his long legs spindly but agile. Quen called again and waved to Rhoji. He gave her a head bob and veered toward her just as the lead riders of Pijwar clan galloped, their thukna herd now barreling into the gates behind them.
Gambol got within a few feet of Fano’s smithing tent and jerked away, his eyes showing the whites. Rhoji pulled at the lead, trying to get close enough to talk without shouting. Like all animals Quen encountered, Gambol didn’t want to get near Quen. My damned curse. Not even Dini, the town Bruxia—healer and wise woman—could explain Quen’s curse with animals. But whatever the reason, Quen’s oddity meant she was unfit for binding with a herdclan. In the Sulmére, a person without a herdclan or honorable profession was pesha—no one.
Quen sighed and wrapped a strand of her keffla around her nose and mouth to keep out the dust. She tried to console herself. At nearly twenty, Quen was the last of her peers without a herdclan. I probably wouldn’t enjoy being a herdwife, anyway. Studying at a Pillar was her only hope for an honorable future. Or at least one her father, Pahpi, considered proper. They impatiently awaited an emissary from the Pillar of the Way of Water, Val’Enara, to advise whether the Archon would admit Quen. She had no magical ability—no innate understanding of Menaris. But they train in the Orrokan arts of war. Maybe that will be my path.
The pungent odor of thukna musk filled the air, and Quen wrinkled her nose. The ground rumbled as the herd sprinted through Solia, intent on the life-giving waters of the Lakmi River at the eastern edge of town. I didn’t scare them this time. It was reason enough for celebration after the debacle the prior spring. Quen twirled, the ends of her keffla catching the breeze, her tunic’s billowy sleeves like wings.
Rhoji stared down at her and said, “You look like a lopsided cart without a driver.”
Her rare moment of joy repelled his brotherly barb the way her presence repelled even the most docile, woolly drey. Allow me some peace, Rhoji.
The bony protrusion on the back of her neck tingled, and she rubbed it and then chastised herself. You can’t will it away. Stop, or you’ll only draw attention. Quen removed her hand from the prominence that had grown under her skin a few weeks ago. It was a sign that she was losing her lifelong battle to suppress the shadow soul within—the soul of a changeling known as a Nixan. Quen was determined not to let the Nixan have its first Promena—metamorphosis. Though most Nixan morphed from human to beast form and back again with ease, some Nixan remained in animal form after their first Promena. I’ll be keeping my skin, Nixan.
But even Still Waters, the relaxation technique Pahpi had taught her, barely worked any longer to calm the wild second spirit within. Quen breathed deeply and repeated her Still Waters mantra. I won’t let you win, Nixan. The pounding of the shadow heart calmed, and Quen sighed with gratitude that she’d regained control. For now.
Epic Fantasy & Sci-Fi Author and Podcaster. Mother, wife, and cat-wrangler. World traveler and lifelong nerd. Insatiably curious.
A member of SFWA, Natalie is the author of six published Sci-Fi & Fantasy novels and co-host of the Tipsy Nerds Book Club podcast. When not writing or podcasting, you can find Natalie participating on panels at SFF cons, book festivals, and comic-cons throughout the western U.S. She’s also a short story judge in the NYC Midnight international writing challenge, and a freelance content development editor. Her debut teen novel, Emily’s House, has been read over 2.2 million times on Wattpad. Now focusing on epic fantasy for adults, stay in touch via social media to learn more about her forthcoming epic fantasy series, tentatively titled Season of the Dragon.
Favorite book quote — “One more dance along the razor’s edge finished. Almost dead yesterday, maybe dead tomorrow, but alive, gloriously alive, today.” - Robert Jordan, Lord of Chaos (Wheel of Time #6)
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