Lord Tristram Radcliffe has a secret—he is the only dragon at the king’s court in Llangard. It’s a secret he’s kept from the knights he’s fought beside, from the ladies who bat their lashes at him, and from his closest companion, Prince Reynold. If it were to get out, he’d be banished to the Mawrcraig Mountains along with the rest of his kind, but the kingdom of men is the only one he’s ever known, and his heart lives in the stone halls of those who’d count him an enemy.
When the old king dies and Prince Reynold takes the throne, two visitors from the north throw Tristram into the middle of the ancient conflict between dragons and men. They put him on a collision course with the king’s shadow, Bet Kyston, a dangerous assassin who may want him dead or may want more of Tristram that he’d ever thought to give.
With the eyes of dragons upon him and a threat from the north creeping toward the home he loves, Tristram must weigh his allegiances before his dual legacies tear him apart.
Where History Failed Us
Waverly has watched Game of Thrones.
I have not—not because I’m one of those people who thinks it’s cool to hate popular things, but because I’m a little sensitive to something that came up again and again in the TV series: rape.
“It’s historically accurate,” the fans will sometimes tell me when I say this.
It’s a debate that rages across the internet. Critics say it’s too much, it promotes current violence against women, and we know better. That level of violence against women, that amount of misogyny, was common back then, the fans reply.
So back then… in the time of dragons?
It’s a fine line we tread as fantasy authors who set our books in nebulous “historical” times. We’ve built these worlds from scratch; started in the ancient history of our characters nations and decided how they were shaped into what they are now. What effect do dragon hoards have on national economies? Does magic affect social mores? Do printing presses exist, and how have they affected the religions common in our newly built world? How does proximity to bodies of water affect diet?
Yeah, believe it or not, we thought about that.
Sure, we cozied up to an etymological dictionary and looked up every other word to be sure we weren’t throwing “parties” a few hundred years before the word “party” might have existed. But more important was the way the fantasy parts changed reality. We weren’t tied to our own world’s ancient misogyny, because who’s going to tell the dragon queen she’s a lesser being because she’s the one with the eggs? No one who doesn’t get eaten three seconds later.
Waverly and I took the kernel of inspiration for The King’s Dragon from Tudor England, and Henry VIII specifically, but the book grew out of dissatisfaction with the outcomes of history. We wanted to build a world where a king couldn’t cast women aside or have them beheaded as soon as they were inconvenient. We wanted a world where a gay man could come out and be met with support instead of the threat of death. In fiction, authors get to choose the worlds they want to present. So yes, we wove in some intrigue and a fair bit of angst, but we didn’t want that drama at the expense of marginalized people who are already all too familiar with that narrative.
In a world where we decide on history, things like violence against women and homophobia aren’t hard-coded into the story, they’re a conscious choice. And we decided we didn’t want to risk Halwyn’s wrath. I’m not getting eaten by the dragon queen.
When he glanced up to meet Bet’s eyes, they were wide, the whites showing all around them. He wondered, for a moment, if he’d earned a stabbing, but then those eyes dropped to his lips, and Bet’s own parted a fraction.
As was his most unfortunate habit, Tris dove in head first.
Their mouths crashed together, a clash of tongues and teeth that started out anything but good. Tris tasted blood in his mouth, and he wasn’t sure whose it was.
In a flash, Bet turned them so that Tristram was the one with his back to the wall. He wrapped a hand around the side of Tristram’s neck, thumb coming up to hold his jaw in place in a grip that felt downright dangerous. Then he turned his head a fraction, opening up a little space between their noses and allowing himself full access.
Not to stab anyone, thankfully, though he pushed his way into Tris’s mouth as though convinced he’d be rebuffed and wanted to taste his fill before that. Tris just tilted his head up to meet the onslaught, eyes sliding shut and fingers scrabbling against the tapestry on the wall.
Bet kissed like he fought: hard, fast, and with no intention of taking prisoners. His free hand fell to Tristram’s trousers, as though he would strip them off right there in the hall, and slowed to press against his growing arousal. It seemed he appreciated what he found there, because he let out a growl that reminded Tristram of his own nearly inhuman one.
What he’d have done, Tris would never know, because a giggle echoed down the hallway, and Bet pulled back as though he’d been slapped. He turned to see a couple of ladies’ maids enter the hall, and before Tristram could so much as say his name, Bet turned and melted into the shadows.
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W.M. Fawkes is an author of LGBTQ+ urban fantasy and paranormal romance. She lives with her partner in a house owned by three halloween-hued felines that dabble regularly in shadow walking.
Sam lives in the Midwest with husband and cat, which is even less exciting than it sounds, so she’s not sure why you’re still reading this.
She specializes in LGBTQIA+ fiction, usually with a romantic element. There’s sometimes intrigue and violence, usually a little sex, and almost always some swearing in her work. Her writing is light and happy, though, so if you’re looking for a dark gritty reality, you’ve come to the wrong author.