Shy realizes that she is lucky to be taken in by her grandparents after her father dies–but life above an antique store in Slade’s Corners, Wisconsin is not exactly the place a teenage girl wants to be.
One day while going through boxes of her father’s boyhood stuff, she comes upon a rare old set of dragon puzzles … all of which are missing pieces. Her grandmother recalls the fantastic tales Shy's father would tell about his travels to lands of dragons and adventure. She always thought that these fantasies were inspired by the puzzles Shy has found.
Shy realizes that by mixing and matching the different sets she can complete a single dragon puzzle that combines all of the others. Upon doing so she is whisked away to ancient Babylon where she must continue the duties of her father’s legacy as a servant to the dragon and a savior of the world.
About the Author
Andre Norton is the grand dame of Science Fiction and Fantasy whose creations include the Witch World and Beastmaster series. She died in 2005.
Jean Rabe is the author of the Finest trilogy and numerous books for TSR/WOTC. She lives in Kenosha, WI.
Read an Excerpt
A Sequel to Dragon Magic
By Norton, Andre
Copyright © 2008 Norton, Andre
All right reserved.
“I’m in Hades,” Shilo said, staring out her bedroom window, gaze locked on Big Mick’s Pub across the street. Mick, a scrawny, elderly man with a bulbous nose, struggled to put out a large sign advertising tonight’s fish boil.
A wheezing fan teased Shilo’s short red hair, but it did little to cool her. Her bedroom was on the second floor of an antique store. The store was not air-conditioned, nor were any of the rooms on the floor above it—not a single window unit hummed in the entire building. (Initially, she hadn’t expected that to be a problem, as she’d envisioned Wisconsin a cold place . . . but in the heart of July it felt every degree as oppressive as her native Marietta, Georgia.)
No air-conditioning, no ceiling fan, and no swimming pool for . . . well . . . probably a light-year distant. She figured that by noon the heat would be enough to melt the rubber soles off her favorite pair of tennis shoes.
Still, it wasn’t the heat that made her say she was in Hades.
It was her big room with its creaking wooden floor and high tin ceiling painted eggshell white.
It was the antique store.
It was Slade’s Corners.
Maybe it was Wisconsin itself.
Her dadhad died one month ago, of a heart attack the death certificate-in-triplicate read—two days after his forty-ninth birthday and two days before her fifteenth. She hadn’t seen her mother in eight years, not since the Tuesday afternoon that the divorce papers were served.
Her mother lived in Portland now, in the company of a bass clarinetist she’d taken up with three Christmases past. She hadn’t bothered to come to the funeral, or to call with a word or two of sympathy. Shilo’s older brother lived in Atlanta and had a job in the Braves’ marketing department, which he’d landed after graduating from college last year. He said he’d love to have Shilo move in with him and his new wife, but there just wasn’t room in the condo, especially with a baby on the way.
After the funeral and all the paperwork from the hospital, funeral home, and attorney was finished, Shilo’s grandparents drove her and her three suitcases and four smallish boxes of belongings from Marietta to Slade’s Corners. She would have rather lived in a closet at her brother’s place than to have this big room atop a sprawling antique store in muggy, boring, don’t-blink-or-you’ll-surely-miss-it, No-wheres-ville, Wisconsin.
The antique store was the largest building in Slade’s Corners. Three stories tall, it stretched a hundred feet across and half again that deep on a patchy grass-dotted lot, and would have been considered good-sized in most any city.
The town, if it could be called such, was four blocks long and a few blocks off a state highway that stretched from the shores of Lake Michigan to Beloit. In addition to the antique store, it consisted of a dozen or so aging houses; a small and relatively new tire store that rarely had customers; a white clapboard church with peeling paint; and an Irish tavern aptly named Big Mick’s Pub.
The antique store was covered with shingles, like someone had bought far too many for the roof and didn’t have anything else to do with them. The shingles were speckled gray and worn on the edges, much like the couple who owned the store—Shilo’s grandparents.
Shilo had been living with them for three endless, unbearable weeks.
For excitement, she’d discovered she could hop on a rusty bike she’d found in the garage. She’d ride it a mile to the east to visit the dog kennel on the hill where a pleasant woman raised little white dogs that yapped incessantly. Or she could ride a few miles farther, past an orchard being plowed under to make way for new homes, and on to the bustling community of New Munster. (On a good day New Munster looked twice the size of Slade’s Corners. It had a tiny post office with a soda machine out front; a gas station with a soda machine out front that only sold Pepsi, when someone bothered to stock it; a small grocery store with irregular hours; a beautiful Catholic church with an adjacent cemetery; and way too many taverns.)
Riding her bike to the west wasn’t an option. Slade’s Corners dead-ended in a cornfield.
At night Shilo either listened to music on her iPod or read. Her grandparents didn’t have cable—cable didn’t exist in Slade’s Corners—and they didn’t want to spend their money on a satellite dish. They had recently bought a rabbit-ear antenna—for five dollars Grandfather was proud to say—which they’d set atop their too-small color TV (recently being ten years ago). Grandfather had wrapped aluminum foil around one ear, supposedly to improve the reception.
“I’m in Hades,” she repeated.
Shilo hated this place more than she’d hated anything, and she hated her mom for not caring and her dad for dying and relegating her to this second-floor room where it was so hot it was difficult to breathe.
Tears spilled down her freckled face and she buried her head in her hands.
She hadn’t cried at her dad’s funeral; she was too numb. Now it seemed like she cried every day, so hard that her shoulders shook and the bed jiggled from the force of her sobs.
“Three years,” she whispered when she finally came up for air. “Only three.”
In three years her “sentence” here would be served and she would be released. She would be eighteen and could go where she wanted and do what she wanted.
She had money in a trust—it was all clearly spelled out in the will. She’d get it on her eighteenth birthday, and then she’d pack her three suitcases and be on her way.
She’d pick a university somewhere out East, maybe North Carolina, and get a degree in history. Her father had been a history buff, passing his erudite obsession to her. She loved to peruse all of his books, which were at her brother’s now, dog-earring the pages of the ones on ancient Egypt and George Washington and the American Revolution, disparate topics that fiercely held her interest.
“Shy . . .”
“Shy . . . we’re opening!”
She slipped into the bathroom and splashed water on her face, deftly avoiding the mirror. She hoped her eyes weren’t red and wouldn’t give her away, but she didn’t want to look at her reflection to see for certain.
She put on four silver earrings, two for each ear, and followed that with a simple gold bracelet, a pewter cross on a thin chain, and three rings on her right hand—all given to her by her grandmother, and all antiques. Her favorite was a silver one set with a smooth piece of turquoise. Her dad had called her a magpie on more than one occasion because she wore so much jewelry.
She put four rings on her left hand, one a piece of clear red plastic that wrapped around her index finger like a snake. She’d won it at a carnival in the spring, while on her first date. Two were 14-karat gold bands from her grandmother on her mom’s side, one with two small sapphires. The last was a high school ring she wore on her thumb, the back of it wrapped with yarn to make the opening small enough so it wouldn’t fall off.
The ring belonged to the boy who took her on that first date, and who gave her his ring on their eighth . . . a few days before her dad died. Dad had been furious she was “going steady” at her age, but he let her wear the ring nonetheless. The boy had come to her father’s funeral, and she forgot to give the ring back to him that day. Well, she hadn’t forgotten, but now she wished she would have returned it—she’d probably never see him again.
“God, don’t let me cry anymore.”
“Shy . . .”
“Be right there, Meemaw.”
Her grandparents had asked her to work in the antique store until school started; she’d be a sophomore this year. She agreed, since there was nothing else to do in Slade’s Corners and she felt like she owed them something because they took her in.
Besides, the work wasn’t difficult. She dusted the antiques—some of which she found pretty, waited on the infrequent customer who accidentally found the exit off the highway, and watched her grandmother take inventory and check the books. Her grandfather was always inspecting this stamp collection or that baseball card collection, dozing at his big roll-top desk as he did so.
Surprisingly, the days, like this one, passed quickly.
“Coming to the fish boil with us? We want to get there early, Shy, before the crowd.”
Shilo pretended to study the figurines on an eye-level shelf. The past two Friday nights she’d managed to avoid the dinner ritual. The thought of boiled fish made her practically gag.
“Shy . . .”
“Uhm, I’d rather not, Meemaw. I’m not very hungry. I think I’ll just fix myself half a sandwich and read.”
Her grandmother smiled sadly and flipped the sign hanging in the front window to closed. “Maybe next Friday, then.”
Shilo nodded. “Next Friday, Meemaw.” She’d come up with another excuse then.
A half hour later her grandparents walked across the street for dinner.
A moment after that, Shilo slathered peanut butter and strawberry jelly on two pieces of bread, folded them over, and devoured them. She followed those with a handful of cheese puffs, four chocolate chip cookies, and a big glass of milk. Then she borrowed a leather-covered western off the “sale” rack and climbed the stairs to her room.
She sat on the bed and looked out the window and up at the dusky sky. It had started raining shortly after the store closed. Rivulets of water, colored blue and pink by Big Mick’s neon sign, shot through the screen and ran down to pool on the ledge; she worried that the wood might warp, but she had to keep the window open at least a little in this heat.
The pub had a good crowd, cars parked in front of it, and probably around back, and filling the nearby church lot. Shilo suspected there were more people in the tavern than in all of Slade’s Corners and perhaps New Munster put together. Big Mick’s drew nearby farmers who’d come in from their fields, and people on their way home to bigger towns along the state highway and who appreciated the pub’s low prices. Friday night was always busy, though for the life of her Shilo couldn’t figure out why anyone would want to eat boiled fish.
Fried? Sure. She’d been to lots of Friday night fish fries with her dad. Golden brown breaded pieces of cod or perch and tall glasses of sweet tea. Those were good memories.
Grilled or smoked halibut and swordfish. Yeah, she’d had fish fixed those ways before.
She felt bile rising in her throat and she spun around, putting her back to the window and closing her eyes. She listened to the rain hitting the screen and the shingles, and heard the persistent honking of a distant car horn. Faint music drifted across the street from the pub, a blues piece that might have been Wynton Marsalis. Yeah, it was Wynton, wailing away on “Thick in the South.” Her Meemaw had probably played it on the jukebox.
The rain suddenly came down harder, drowning out Wynton’s trumpet. It rat-a-tat-tatted out its own rhythm, which Shilo found oddly pleasant and soothing. For a moment she thought she heard something else . . . an unfamiliar voice.
Someone calling to her?
The light flickered in her room; that was nothing unusual. When it rained hard in Slade’s Corners, the power often went out.
There! Shilo heard it again. Someone was calling, but not to her. She heard the words “Sig . . . Sigmund.” That had been her father’s name. She crept to her bedroom door and peered out into the hall. The light was flickering there, too. She found a flashlight in the end closet, turned it on to make sure it worked. Then she turned it off and waited for the voice.
It came again moments later, so soft she wondered if she imagined it.
No, not her imagination.
“Sig . . . it is time.”
It wasn’t Meemaw’s or Grandfather’s voice. The tone was low and almost sultry, sounding whiskey-tinged like it could have belonged to a woman jazz singer. Shilo was intrigued and wanted to hear more. The voice might belong to someone from Slade’s Corners, someone who’d come in downstairs—her grandparents didn’t always lock the doors—someone who was looking for her father. But Slade’s Corners was so absolutely teeny that anyone in it would know that her father was resting in peace in Marietta. Too, they would know that the antique store was closed.
“Sigurd Clawhand . . .”
“Who’s Sigurd?” she whispered.
So the mysterious voice was not calling to her father after all, but to someone she’d never heard of. And it wasn’t coming from downstairs in the antique shop like she’d first thought. It was coming from above her.
The lights went out and a shiver passed down her spine.
Copyright © 2007 by the Estate of Andre Norton and by Jean Rabe. All rights reserved.
Excerpted from Dragon Mage by Norton, Andre Copyright © 2008 by Norton, Andre. Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
Following the heart attack death of her forty-nine year old father, Shilo¿s paternal grandparents take the teen from Marietta, Georgia into their home in Slade¿s Corner, Wisconsin. Shilo is grateful because she knows she has no place else to go except perhaps her older brother¿s Atlanta apartment but between him and his pregnant wife there is no corner for a fifteen year old. However, she is also bored as she feels she landed in Hades as life in a small town living above an antique store is not very exciting. --- Her kindhearted grandmother encourages Shilo to look at her late father¿s stuff that they stored in boxes as a means of learning more about his childhood. In all the cartons the most interesting items are very old puzzles with each different yet containing the picture of a dragon. Her grandmother explains that Shy¿s dad had quite an imagination as he would tell his parents about his adventures in another realm where a dragon ruled. Unable to put any puzzle totally together as pieces seemed missing, Sly finally realizes that this is one master puzzle not multiples. When she finishes assembling the giant puzzle, Shy finds herself in ancient Babylon serving an ancient dragon and studying to be a DRAGON MAGE just like her dad did as she must complete his work to simply save the world. --- In spite of a Forward explaining how the sequels to Andre Norton¿s classic DRAGON MAGIC came about, I am not sure how much the late Ms. Norton provided (beyond a needlework depicting the four dragons). My previous impression was her last work was A TASTE OF MAGIC in which Jean Rabe used Ms. Norton¿s writings notes to complete the fantasy. Regardless, DRAGON MAGE is an entertaining young adult fantasy that readers of all ages will enjoy as the modern day heroine goes back several millenniums in her father¿s footsteps to become an American in a dragon king¿s Babylonian court. --- Harriet Klausner