Bones of the Dragon

Bones of the Dragon

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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780792754749
Publisher: AudioGO
Publication date: 01/28/2009
Product dimensions: 6.00(w) x 1.50(h) x 5.00(d)

About the Author

Margaret Weis is the co-author (with Tracy Hickman) of the bestselling Dragonlace Chronicles & Dragonlace Legends series, as well as the co-author (with Robert Krammes) of the Dragon Brigade trilogy of novels. She also publishes role-playing games, including major franchises such as Firefly and Smallville.

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Bones of the Dragon

By Margaret Weis, Tracy Hickman

Tom Doherty Associates

Copyright © 2008 Margaret Weis and Tracy Hickman
All rights reserved.
ISBN: 978-0-7653-2346-0


The hunt had not gone well. The four young men had left their village six days ago, hoping to bring down game for their people. They had caught only a few thin and undernourished rabbits, which went to feed the hungry hunters. Discouraged, the young men had headed back home.

The Torgun were not generally hunters, except for sport. The clan raised cattle and sheep, ducks and geese, housing them in byres during the winter, feeding them grain grown during the summer months. But due to excessive rain, the grain harvest had been poor last fall. The winter, the dark months of Svanses, had been unusually long and bitterly cold, killing animals and people. Spring had brought hope to the Torgun, but the time of spring, Desiria, proved a mockery. The goddess Akaria's rains came early and then ceased. Now, in late spring, the young crops withered in the dry ground.

Even under ideal conditions, raising crops was always difficult in this land of cold and snow. The growing season was short, the ground rocky and difficult to farm. Despite the hardships, or perhaps because of them, the Vindrasi people had lived here and thrived for centuries. Not even the eldest among them could remember a time as bad as this.

On their return, the group of four friends split up, hoping to cover more ground in their efforts to find game. The brothers, Bjorn and Erdmun, took a different road to the village, using the northern route. Skylan and Garn took the south. These two young men walked in silence. Skylan did not react well to failure, and he was sullen and brooding. Garn was silent because he never spoke unless he had something to say that was worth saying.

The time was morning, near dawn. The young men had risen early, intending to find deer stirring in the gloaming and eating tender green grass or coming to the stream to drink. There were no deer, however, because there was no tender grass. As for the stream, lack of rain had caused it to dwindle to almost nothing. A small child could toddle through the water without wetting her knees.

Skylan watched the sun rise up over the hills, and he grew even glummer. Aylis, the Sun Goddess, was an angry goddess, burning away the clouds that might have brought much-needed rain.

The day would be clear and hot. Again.

"I am beginning to think Aylis hates us," Skylan said bitterly. "We prayed for the goddess's light during the harsh season of Svansol, and she was nowhere to be seen, leaving us to the mercy of Svanses and her snow and ice and bitter cold. Now, in the time of Desiria, we cannot rid ourselves of Aylis. We pray to the Goddess of the Waters for rain, but Aylis drives Akaria away, burns our crops, and dries up our water."

"One would think," Garn commented with a half smile, "that Torval could exert better control over his women."

"Perhaps Torval's women are like ours and do whatever they damn well please," Skylan muttered, thinking of one woman in particular.

He spoke lightly, but he touched the amulet — a small silver axe — he wore around his neck on a leather thong to appease the God of War in case he should take offense.

"But we should not jest about such matters," Skylan added hastily. "Torval might be insulted and take out his rage on us."

"I do not see how the god can cause us to suffer more than we already have," Garn returned dryly. "We endure the worst winter in memory and wait hopefully for spring. A time of new life, it brings drought and death."

Frowning, Skylan said nothing. He revered the gods, and he wished Garn would stop talking about them in such a disrespectful, almost mocking tone. Skylan might have said something, but he and Garn had been friends — more like brothers, for they had been raised together — since they were infants, and Skylan knew from experience that arguing with Garn would only encourage him in his irreverence. And so Skylan kept quiet.

Skylan's faith in the gods of the Vindrasi was simple and unquestioning, perhaps because — as Garn might have said — his faith had not been tried. At the time of his birth, Skylan Ivorson had been blessed by Torval, Chief of the Gods of the Vindras. A spark struck from Torval's war axe as he fought his enemies in heaven had flashed across the heavens at the very moment Skylan let out his first cry. When Norgaard, Skylan's father and Chief of the Torgun Clan, told Aldrif, the former Kai Priestess, about the spark and how all in the clan had witnessed it, she affirmed that the God Torval had indeed blessed the child, who would grow up to be a valiant warrior, a savior of his people. The sad fact that his mother had died giving him life made the sign more significant.

Everyone in the Torgun Clan believed in that blessing, especially Skylan. He was the strongest young man in the clan, the boldest warrior, the most skillful with sword and spear and axe. He was handsome, with eyes the color of the waves upon which the Vindrasi sailed their dragonships and hair the color of the golden rays of Aylis. His skin was bronze, his body well formed and well muscled. He carried himself with pride and confidence.

Skylan had taken his place in the shield-wall and killed his first man in battle at the age of fourteen. He had taken his first woman at about that same age, going on to lie with girls who were careless of their virtue or with low-born girls whose parents hoped that by coupling with the chief's son, their daughters would be provided for. As a result, there were several children about the camp who had sea-blue eyes and sun-gold hair.

Skylan cheerfully acknowledged his bastard children and gifted their mothers with presents from time to time, as was expected of him. He had no intention of wedding any of the women, however, and he had ceased his "tomcatting," as Garn had put it. Two years ago, when he was sixteen, Skylan decided he was in love. Her name was Aylaen Adalbrand, stepdaughter of his father's friend, Sigurd Adalbrand. She had been fifteen then. She was now seventeen years old.

The three of them — Aylaen, Garn, and Skylan — had been friends from the time their caretakers had laid them on blankets together. The three played together, which was unusual, for girls were generally kept at home to assist with household duties. Aylaen's father was dead, her mother could not control her, and Aylaen "ran wild," escaping from her chores to join Skylan and Garn in their play and in their fights. Skylan did not remember what he had done to anger Aylaen — perhaps he had roughly pulled her long red braids. Aylaen had rounded on him like a catamount, punching him in the face, splitting open his lip, bloodying his nose — and knocking him on his rump.

No boy in camp had ever bested Skylan in battle. He'd been so lost in admiration at Aylaen's spirited attack that he forgot to fight back, and she walked triumphantly off the field, sucking her small bruised knuckles, mantled with the honors of the day.

Two years ago Skylan had told Aylaen that he meant to marry her. True, she had stuck out her tongue and jeered at him, but he was not discouraged. Since that time, he had not slept with another woman. He had made an offer of marriage to her stepfather and Sigurd, after some bargaining, had accepted. Skylan was waiting now only to obtain enough silver to pay Sigurd the bride-price in order to marry her. Marriages were always arranged among the Vindrasi. A woman had the right to refuse a suitor, however, and Aylaen was forever swearing she would never wed him, but she said it in a teasing manner. Skylan was confident she didn't really mean it. He was the Chief's son, after all, a valuable catch for any family, as her stepfather well knew.

He should have earned the silver with wealth captured in raids, but things had not gone as planned.

Skylan still considered himself blessed — he was, after all, handsome, strong, healthy, and the most skilled and honored warrior in the clan. But it seemed nothing was going right for him or for the Torgun Clan these days, and Skylan couldn't understand it. The Torgun had been among the most feared clans of the Vindrasi. In years past, the Torgun's dragonship, the Venjekar, meaning the Forging, had come back laden with cattle, silver, grain, and the precious jewels demanded by the Dragon Kahg in payment for his services.

Now it seemed the Torgun were cursed.

First there had been the poor harvest, then the unusually cold winter, and now this terrible drought. Raids on their neighbors had not remedied the situation. The Torgun's neighbors had inexplicably been warned of the coming of the dreaded dragonship, and they'd fled into the hills, taking their treasure and their flocks with them, leaving behind nothing but stray cats and empty iron cooking pots.

Skylan and his warriors were forced to venture into unknown territory, and it seemed their luck had finally turned when they discovered a fat village of fat people and fat cattle. But when Treia, their Bone Priestess, prayed to the Dragon Kahg to join them in battle, the dragon did not answer. Skylan and his fierce band of warriors had not been concerned. They could take this village of blubbery cowards by themselves.

Unfortunately, another group of warriors had also spotted the village. The Venjekar's lookout had spotted sails numerous as gulls squabbling over a dead fish on the horizon, driving toward them. Skylan had been amazed to recognize the triangular-sailed ships of an ancient foe, the ogres. Considerably outnumbered, Skylan had reluctantly ordered his single dragonship to take to the seas.

He had hated running from a fight, but without their dragon ally, the Torgun could not hope to battle both villagers and the brutish ogres. The faster, lighter Venjekar had skimmed the waves, and they were able to escape before the ogres caught them. Still, no one had celebrated. They had returned home, their ship empty, their warrior souls filled with shame.

"If only the Dragon Kahg had fought for us," Skylan complained. "We would now be rolling in silver and swimming in cattle. I wonder why the dragon refused to answer Treia's summons."

Garn was startled at this sudden change in subject, but he knew how his friend's mind worked, and thus he managed to make the bounding leap from talking of the gods to discussing the Torgun's last disastrous raid. He was about to comment, but Skylan didn't give him a chance.

"I want to go raiding again, but my father will not permit it. Norgaard says that until we know why the gods have turned against us, we will not take to the seas. I hate this!" Skylan exclaimed suddenly, slamming his fist into the trunk of a tree. "I hate sitting about like an old granny, wailing and doing nothing!"

"Norgaard speaks sense, though," Garn replied. "And no one can call your father an old granny. His warrior days may be behind him, but he has a warrior's heart still. And his valor lives in his son."

Garn clapped Skylan on the shoulder. Garn was Skylan's age, eighteen, his best friend, his cousin, his blood brother. The two had grown up in the same house together, for Garn had been orphaned at birth, his father having died in a raid, his mother dying of a fever. Because his mother had been Norgaard's half sister, Norgaard and his pregnant wife Edda took Garn to raise as their own.

He and Skylan had been inseparable. Many considered their friendship odd, for the young men were vastly different. Garn was the quiet one, people said. He was taller than Skylan, slender, not so muscular. Garn was an adequate warrior, not a great one like his cousin. He was fair-complected with brownish-blond hair and somber, thoughtful brown eyes.

As to their unusual friendship, Garn had given it thought, coming to the conclusion that it was their differences that drew them together, as iron to the lodestone. Skylan, by contrast, never questioned their bond. He knew that Garn was his friend as he knew the sun would rise in the morning.

Skylan was thinking about what Garn had said about his father not being an old granny. Skylan was not certain he agreed, though it made him sad and ashamed to have to admit it. The warrior exploits of Norgaard Ivorson, Chief of the Torgun, were legendary. Then, five years ago, during the heat of battle, Norgaard had leaped off a high stone fortification in pursuit of his enemy. He had landed wrong and broke his leg. The break did not heal properly, forcing him to walk with the assistance of a forked stick under one shoulder. Since then, he had lived in constant pain, though one could never tell by looking at his stoic face. The only indication of what he suffered came from the terrible moans that escaped him in his restless sleep at night.

Norgaard remained a strong Chief, however, with his son acting as War Chief. Skylan did not consider his father weak or cowardly, but he did secretly think that his father, an old man who had seen almost forty-five winters, had grown overly cautious. Skylan would never criticize his father aloud, but Garn knew what his friend was thinking.

"Norgaard is responsible for the welfare of the entire clan," Garn said, "and he dares not risk creating widows and orphans without knowing he will be able to feed them if their men do not come back."

"So rather than dying like warriors, we starve to death and will go to Torval with beggars' bowls in our hands instead of swords," Skylan returned.

"Perhaps if Norgaard asked for a meeting with the Kai Priestess of the Vektia, Draya could tell us if the gods —"

"He did so a month ago," Skylan interrupted tersely. "The priestess has not answered."

Garn looked startled. "I did not know that."

"No one does," said Skylan. "My father says Draya's silence is a bad sign, and he does not want to further discourage our people."

Garn did not know what to say after that. Matters were worse than he had supposed, and even he had no words of comfort now. The two young men continued along the trail that led back to their village. They walked across vast plains of burnt, brown grass that should have been green and lush this time of year. A few surviving cattle — thin and bony creatures — stood in the hot sun, looking miserable. The thin and bony boys who tended them languished in the heat, swatting at flies. They perked up at the sight of Garn and Skylan and ran to ask eagerly if their hunt had been successful. Their faces fell at the sight of the young men carrying nothing but their spears. Scuffing their feet in the dust, the boys went back to keeping watch on the cattle.

The young men left the plains and entered the thickly forested hill country. Though they could not see it from this vantage point, their village lay far below them, rows of houses scattered along the coastline. The location was ideal. The Torgun's swift-sailing dragonship could ply the waters in search of food and wealth, and when danger threatened, the women and children could seek the safety of the hills.

Garn breathed a sigh of relief as they entered the cool shade of the forest. Skylan scowled and increased his pace. He disliked forests. He felt smothered, surrounded by trees, unable to breathe the clean sea air. Then, too, fae creatures dwelt in the woods — faeries and dryads, wood fauns, fetches, and suchlike. The gods had no control over the fae folk, for the fae had been living in this world long before the gods found it.

The worst time of Skylan's life had been during his passage to manhood, when, at the age of twelve, he was sent out with other boys to survive a week in the forest, armed with only a knife. He'd had to avoid the Torgun hunters, who searched for him and the others, gleefully dragging back those they caught. These unfortunates would have to spend another year as "children" before being allowed to take the test again. In addition to those trials, Skylan had to avoid being seduced by a dryad or lured off to unhallowed revels by a faun, never to be seen again.

Skylan had prayed constantly to Torval to protect him, and Torval had done so. Skylan had not encountered any of the fae folk, though he had been convinced he could hear their revels in the night. Skylan had given Torval a fine gift for having protected him from the wicked fae.

Trudging along the dusty forest trail now, dry twigs and leaves snapping underfoot, Skylan remembered vividly how he had lain awake at night, gripping his knife in his hand as he listened to the squawks and squeaks, the screams and groans and snarls, picturing the fae folk gathering around him, eager to drag him down below the earth to their dark kingdom forever.

Hearing something — not a faery — Skylan came to a sudden halt. He raised his free hand, a gesture that brought Garn to a stop, as well. The sound was an odd one — a rumbling grunting and snorting. They listened intently. Something incredibly large was crashing about in the dry brush.


Excerpted from Bones of the Dragon by Margaret Weis, Tracy Hickman. Copyright © 2008 Margaret Weis and Tracy Hickman. Excerpted by permission of Tom Doherty Associates.
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.

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Bones of the Dragon (Dragonships of Vindras Series #1) 3.9 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 65 reviews.
vkl More than 1 year ago
This book begins a new saga by Weis & Hickman that is probably the darkest of their tales yet. The story and the protagonist starts out simple, and less patient readers might be initially surprised by the simplicity, but it rapidly spins into an intricate tale, twisted plots, and a very complex development for the main 'hero'. It is surprising how an intricate story came out from what seems at first like inconsequential choices the characters made, how each action spirals out to an unexpected but likely turn of events. Similarly, the uncomplicated, an initially too single-minded young protagonist too undergoes a transformation that he weaved for himself. It is a masterful orchestration showing how a complex storyline is forged from a collection of seemingly simple actions as well as an insightful look into the human psyche and nature of people.

Those readers familiar with Weis & Hickman's stories should note that this book is much darker, and will not convey the usual warm and fuzzy feelings that one comes to expect from their work. Despite this venture off the beaten path, with truly strong complex characters that one cannot help but come to sympathize, and an intriguing story unfolding it remains a masterfully written Weis and Hickman story.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I liked the book even though it was a bit hard for me to read sometimes. It took me some time to really get into the story but as it went on I really enjoyed how they presented Skylan as this arrogant little kid. Most of us can relate to that in some way shape or form. I will look forward to reading the next book that comes out in this series as soon as possible :)
Katdancin More than 1 year ago
I have read many books by Weis & Hickman and I found this book to be a little disappointing and very tedious reading. I kept skipping entire paragraphs and half pages just to get to the story. The story itself was very interesting, although a little disjointed in places; but for some reason it seemed like they just kept straying from the heart of the story and going off on these tangents which made reading it, as I said, very tedious and somewhat boring. I have to admit, I will probably read the next book out of curiousity and loyalty, which is why I gave it a 3 star raiting. This book was not a bad book, it was just...tedious.
sharmama More than 1 year ago
I bought this audio book as a birthday gift for my adult son. He and his family loved it! It turned out he and his wife had read books by Weis & Hickman in the 90's and were tickled to get a new book! They can't wait to get volume 2 by these authors.
phoenixcomet on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Skylan Ivorson is an arrogant ass, chieftain's son of a Vindrasi tribe, the Torgun, blessed by Torval, god of War, and extremely foolish. Skylan, Aylaen, and Garn, his closest friends are thrust together in an adventure to retrieve the Vektan Torque which was given to the ogres, by Horg, Chief of the Vindrasi Nation. The ogres bring news that the Vindrasi gods are dead and that the gods of Raj are the wave of the future. Skylan and company know that their gods are besieged, but the battle isn't over yet. This is book one of their adventures.
RRLevering on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I started this novel not expecting terribly much. I like Weis and Hickman's other stuff, but honestly they aren't the best writers and rely on interesting plot and a decent world to carry their books along, rather than good characters or writing style. This book surprised me in a couple of ways. First of all, the first half of the book is very bad - worse than I expected. I believe it was supposed to be the character development part of the book and this is not their forte. I very, very rarely don't finish a book and I seriously considered putting it down several times. The point of view is irritating in that it switches from being omniscient to being stupid in the exact same paragraph. The plot is stagnant and the characters are really not likeable. There are cold ones, stupid ones, lazy ones, evil ones, and any character that shows a glimpse of true likability is given backseat. But this point leads me to the only really good thing about the novel. I believe they are setting it up for a character redemption arc. As the novel progressed, I eventually found the main character tolerable and if he continues to change, I could actually grow to like him. This is a neat device and if it works usually gives the reader a stronger overall bond, since they can very noticeably see the character growth. Furthermore, the novel did get better in the second half by actually moving the character throughout the world and having some interesting, magical Odyssey-esque interactions. However, overall, I think this book will irritate more people than it will impress.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Liked it.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
PainFrame More than 1 year ago
Sent by fire, water and oil. Margaret Weis & Tracy Hickman hold a special place in my heart, their Dragonlance novels were my introduction to fantasy at a young age and I have always enjoyed every book of theirs (alone or together) that I have read. This time, they bravely forge a new world to play in by mixing fantasy and nordic mythology. That’s unique enough to grab my attention, but they also roll up some main characters that are not only interesting and complex, but also manage to defy my expectations at almost every turn. I couldn’t read this book fast enough, it’s compelling as all get out, not slow and plodding like some fantasy I’ve waded through. This story really moves and I was constantly engaged in the quickly turning narrative. I’m not sure how many books in the series there’ll end up being, but I know that I am in it for the duration. A fantastic start.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
In spite of some critical reviews, I am enjoying this book. One thing I agree with is trying to use language of the time and reverting back to 'modern' speeh. I rate it with three stars because I'm not finished with it yet.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Simplistic and shallow. Weis and Hickman both write better than this.
Skylan100 More than 1 year ago
This book was awsome!!!! Im only 12 and I can understand this book!!! If you like fantasy, gods, and dragons, you should totally get this book.
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