Good Afternoon everyone,
After reviewing Pemberley: Mr. Darcy’s Dragon last Monday, I’m pleased to receive Maria Grace with a guest post explaining how it is possible to have Dragons in Jane Austens world! It may seem a very different premise, but I promise you, once you start reading these books you are immediately involved in that reality, and it will feel as normal as having tea in the parlour with your neighbours. Still not convinced? Well…you better read Maria Grace’s post then 🙂
Inspiring Jane Austen’s Dragons: Dragon of Mordiford
How is it even remotely possible that the world of Pride and Prejudice could make any sense with dragons? Ah, my skeptical friends, stay with me a moment, and I’ll show you how.
You’re rolling your eyes at me now. I know just it, but give me a chance and hear me out. I promise, Jane Austen would approve.
Why, you say, rolling your eyes again. Because, if you take a glance at English mythology, it is full of dragons. Seriously, they are everywhere. Don’t believe me, here’s just a partial list: the Lambton Worm, the Dragon of Mordiford, the Dragon of Unsworth, the Dragon of Wantly, the Dragon of Longwitton, the Dragon of Loschy Hill, the Bisterne Dragon, the Worm of Linton, the Stoor Worm, the Sockburn Worm (or Wyvern), Blue Ben, and the Lyminster Knucker.
Even the father of fabled King Arthur has a dragon connection. King Uther Pendragon was said to have seen a dragon shaped comet that inspired the dragons that graced the standards he carried. With dragons just about everywhere in English myth, it seems likely that Jane Austen herself was familiar with many of these dragon legends.
One of the fascinating—and crazy making—aspects of mythology is the number of different accounts of the same story. Since, until the early modern era, tales relied on oral tradition for transmission, each teller would craft a slightly different version of the story, making finding the ‘real’ story nearly impossible. While there were moments in the research that made me want to beat my head against the wall, it did lead to an interesting line of thinking: What if… (A word of caution, when a writer says “what if”, it might be a good time to politely excuse yourself…)
So, that being said, what if Uther Pendragon saw a real dragon, not a comet? Would not others have seen it, too? Well, no, not if the dragons had a way of hiding in plain sight that only a select few people could see through and Uther was one of those…
Sudden I saw a world, hundreds of years removed from medieval England, where mankind and dragonkind could coexist, governed by the Blue Order, an organization founded by Uther Pendragon himself, on human and dragon partnership, dedicated to protecting the safety and interests of both species while keeping the dragons secret from the very large segment of the human population with hearing insufficient to detect dragon voices.
Moreover, another myth, that of the Mordiford Dragon, began to inform my heroine, Miss Elizabeth Bennet, a woman whose sympathy for and understanding of dragonkind goes far and away beyond anything England has ever known.
The story of Maud and the Mordiford dragon (a wyvern actually, not the more typical ‘worm’) is set in the Herefordshire village of Mordiford. Maud finds a green baby wyvern while out walking one morning. Maud takes the baby back to her home as a pet and feeds it milk, comforting it by stoking its claws and cuddling it.
As the creature grows older, it starts dining on the Mordiford villagers, but refuses to injure his friend Maud. Not surprisingly, the villagers insist this is intolerable and find a nobleman (or condemned convict, depending on the version of the tale) to dispatch the beast. Maud was described as ‘insane with rage’ over the death of her wyvern. A painting of the creature hung in the village church until 1811 when the vicar ordered it destroyed as a ‘sign of the devil’.
So many inspirations in this tale! A girl who loved a baby dragon; who rescues dragons and cuddles with them; a grumpy wyvern that others cannot seem to get along with; Herefordshire/Hertfordshire, Mordiford/Meryton, ok, not the same, but it did make me do a double take for sure…oh so many things that came to play in crafting the characters of both Elizabeth Bennet and her wyvern Longbourn.
And Elizabeth was not the only one shaped by dragon legends. The Lambton Worm informed the character of Darcy. But that is a story for another time. In the meanwhile, I present for you, what Pride and Prejudice might have been had Jane Austen known about the Blue Order.
If you’re not totally hooked by now, here’s a preview of Pemberley: Mr. Darcy’s Dragon, to give you a taste of this world: http://randombitsoffascination.com/2016/10/03/pemberley-mr-darcys-dragon-ch-1/
What do you think about dragons and Jane Austen? Leave me a comment below for a chance to win your choice of e-books from this series.
#1 Pemberley: Mr. Darcy’s Dragon
England is overrun by dragons of all shapes and sizes. Most people are blissfully unaware of them and the Pendragon Treaty that keeps the peace between human and dragon kind. Only those born with preternatural hearing, like Fitzwilliam Darcy and Elizabeth Bennet are able to hear and converse with dragonkind.
When the first firedrake egg laid in a century is stolen from Pemberley, the fragile dragon peace teeters on collapse. Darcy has no choice but to chase down the thief, a journey that leads him to quaint market town of Meryton and fellow Dragon Keeper, Elizabeth Bennet.
Elizabeth shares a unique bond with dragons, stronger than anything Darcy has ever experienced. More than that, her vast experience and knowledge of dragon lore may be the key to uncovering the lost egg. But Elizabeth can’t stand Darcy’s arrogance and doesn’t trust him to care properly for a precious baby firedrake. After all, he already lost the egg once. What’s to prevent it from happening again?
You can find it at Amazon.com.
#2 Longbourn: Dragon Entail
Her father and the family estate dragon insist she marry the last man in the world whom she could ever be prevailed on to wed. Will the help of her minor dragon friends be enough for her to she escape the fate of the dragon entail?
Darcy thought his problems were over when Pemberley hatched and successfully imprinted on humans. But baby dragons prove far more difficult than any dragon lore prepared him for. Only Elizabeth Bennet’s notes offer him any help. When his imperious Aunt Catherine takes matters into her own hands, things take a turn for the worse and Pemberley’s life hangs in the balance. He desperately needs more of Elizabeth’s help, but she ignores all of his requests.
Elizabeth, though, has problems of her own. After the Bennet family dragon sent Pemberley away, life at Longbourn was supposed to return to normal and Elizabeth get on with the all-important business of marrying the heir to her father’s estate. Except that he is the last man in the world whom she could ever be prevailed on to marry—a bumbling, addle-pated dragon-hater who demands she gives up the dragons she lives for.
Can she, with the help of her dragon friends, find her way back to Pemberley before they both suffer their fate from the Dragon Entail?
You can find it at Amazon.com
#3 Netherfield Rogue Dragon
Elizabeth Bennet thought she was prepared to do anything to make the Dragon Conclave accept her beloved young dragon, Pemberley, into the Blue Order, but she had not anticipated it would leave her banished from her ancestral home and betrothed to none other than Mr. Darcy. But before Elizabeth and Darcy wed, they must find a dangerous rogue dragon before it provokes a war amongst the dragons and brings the fragile peace between dragons and mankind to a catastrophic end.
Nothing written in the annals of dragon lore has prepared Elizabeth to manage a dragon not governed by the Blue Order. Dragons have always loved her, but this one finds her arrogant, selfish and insensitive to others. With only her instincts to guide her, she must convince the rogue of her good intentions before the Blue Order loses patience and decides on more drastic measures.
Called away to the other side of the kingdom, trying to settle the dragons’ unrest, Darcy learns the nature of the force poisoning the rogue dragon against Elizabeth. One nearer and dearer than they could have imagined.
Can Elizabeth and Darcy convince with rogue dragon to cooperate before darker forces turn it against them, without destroying the fragile bonds uniting the couple?
You can find it at Amazon.com.
Maria Grace is offering one of the three books in the Jane Austen’s Dragon Series to my readers. You can choose which book to receive and to enter the giveaway all you have to do is comment on this post and click on this link to formalise your entry.
Good Luck everyone!