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.
Quen was born cursed with a second, shadow soul and is a misfit in her nomadic herding culture. Quen yearns to belong and for a love to call her own. But she is detested by animals, and no herdclan will have her. On the cusp of her twentieth year, Quen is at risk of becoming pesha—no one. Quen’s only hope for an honorable life is to take vows at one of the Pillars, schools dedicated to the magical and martial arts.
On the day a mysterious stranger reveals a dark prophecy, a dragon kills Quen’s father. The murder turns her life upside down, and dashes hope for an honorable life. Anger fuels Quen’s quest for vengeance, and she joins a vigilante group hunting the murderous dragon. The new found family provides comfort amid her profound loss and holds the promise of new love. But to preserve the belonging and love she craves, Quen struggles to hide her true identity.
Quen’s journey spans the continent, from the nomadic herding lands of the Sulmére sands to the opulent largesse of the capital—and reveals terrible truths. That a power-hungry Dynasty can ruin a life with a quill stroke. That a shadowy dragon cult has laid claim to her. And that even the leader of a revered institution aims to control Quen's growing power.
Yet the question persists: Why?
The truth awaits at the end of her journey, but can love survive the truth? As Quen battles the beast within, time is running out. Will Quen finally overcome her curse and unite her warring souls? Or will her phantom soul consume her—and everyone she loves?
The fate of her homeland—and all she loves—hangs in the balance.
“[Wright’s] powers of description are first-class, and her worldbuilding impressive. She presents her world with great clarity… The scenes in Qülla are especially sumptuous and vivid, and it’s impossible to not believe in such a place: a fabulous work.” ~Dario Ciriello, Editor
“Wright’s Season of the Dragonworld is unique, sumptuous, and highly engaging. I want to feast at the Palace di Solis and witness the incredible Volenex! SotD is filled with dragons, new magical creatures, sorcerers and mages, and intriguing new mythology. But SotD is more than great worldbuilding. Wright deftly weaves worldbuilding into a story that about the power of love. The love of a father for his child and how that love survives even death. Of the complex love between siblings and the bonds of friendship. And of the blossoming love of two young people trying to find their place in the world and discovering that love can be a life raft in the darkest of times. I highly recommend Season of the Dragon, and look forward to the next book in the series.” ~Jim Farley, Beta Reader
Quen’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)
Inventing Food for Fantasy Worlds
“Cream Cake” in Season of the Dragon
By Natalie Wright
When writing fantasy, great world-building is a must. Building an entire world from the ground up is a lot of work, but one of the most enjoyable aspects of writing fantasy. And when world-building, pondering the culture’s food is one of my favorite aspects.
As a reader, I love reading about food in stories. Even years after reading The Hunger Games, I can still envision Katniss’s encounter with the sumptuous feast in the dining car of the train on the way to the capital. The banquet was such a stark contrast to her meager meals in the District. Through the food, we learned so much about Katniss and her world.
Any author that includes the characters eating food wins points from me!
When creating the world of Season of the Dragon, I gave considerable thought to food. After all, food is a major part of culture, socializing, and ritual.
Despite planning much about the story, there is one food item that just popped into the story. In an early scene, Quen thinks her father is angrier with her in that moment than he’d been when she and her brother had fought over the last piece of cream cake.
What the heck is that? And how could it possibly fit in the medieval desert nomad sort of world of Quen’s home?
I could have removed it and come up with something else, but I listen when my subconscious throws something into a story. Instead of losing the cream cake, I performed some tasty experiments. How could I make this delicacy work within the world I was building?
When you want to research food, there’s no better—or more fun—place than Pinterest!
There are modern bakery treats known as cream cake, but none felt authentic to the Quen’s desert culture. As I searched further, I found recipes for medieval cheesecakes. Eureka! I was onto something. I learned Romans invented cheesecake long ago. Before graham cracker crust and tons of white sugar, it had little sugar or was sweetened with honey.
Of course, I had to make one! To be more authentic to Quen’s culture, besides cream cheese, I added goat cheese (to simulate what a drey’s milk cheese would taste like), and cut back on the sugar. I used the Basque-style “burnt” cheesecake method (no crust).
The result was super yummy! Honey and pistachios add a touch that feels authentic to Quen’s world. Now this is a cake worth fighting over the last piece!
What are your favorite “food moments” from stories?