Posts Tagged ‘longbourn: dragon entail’

It’s always a pleasure to have Maria Grace as a guest, and she is here to celebrate the release of Netherfield: Rogue Dragon, the third installment of the Jane Austen’s Dragon series. Please give her a warm welcome!

Dragons in Jane Austen’s World

Thanks so much for letting me share my new project with you, Anna. I’m utterly tickled to announce that the Pride and Prejudice arc of my Jane Austen’s Dragons series is complete with the release of Netherfield: Rogue Dragon.  Now wait, I can hear you muttering and rolling your eyes, “Dragons? Really? Seriously—dragons?  Why—just why?”

Trust me, you’re not the first to roll their eyes at me and give me that look, expecting an answer like “Because zombies, vampires and werewolves have already been done.” While that is utterly true and the sort of thing I might say if you caught me at just the right—or wrong—moment,  honestly, it isn’t a very good answer.

But believe it or not, I really do have an excellent answer. You’re rolling your eyes at me again, but give me a chance and hear me out. If you take a glance at English mythology, it is FULL OF DRAGONS. Seriously, they are everywhere. Throughout Britain’s history, the lands were settled by peoples who brought dragons, they symbolism, and imagery from their homelands. The Britons, Gauls, and Germanics peoples (just to name a few) brought myths with them that mingled with indigenous ideas, reinforcing and modifying them into new and unique versions of dragons. Moreover, the influence of Byzantium and the Crusades added to the influx of draconic influence, once again altering the understood ways dragons might look and behave. These ancient dragons did not resemble today’s image of a four-footed, winged, fire breathing lizard. The earliest dragons were often more snake-like (hence the reference to ‘worms’ in many myths) and often aquatic.

Dragon stories and legends were passed down through oral tradition, both in story and ballad form until literacy became a thing. Once it did, along about the late 1600’s, those traditional ballad lyrics were published in “broadsheets” or “broadside ballads” and in newspapers.   People knew these songs and stories and kept them alive through the ensuing centuries.

That means it’s likely that Jane Austen herself was familiar with many of these dragon legends. If mash-ups had been a thing in her day, I’d be quite willing to bet that dragons would have been one of her first thoughts simply because they were so prevalent in local imaginations.

So I present for you, what Pride and Prejudice might have been had Jane Austen considered dragons a part of the world as she knew it, with an excerpt from Pemberley: Mr. Darcy’s Dragon.


Twilight was Elizabeth’s second favorite time of day, just slightly less appealing than dawn and nearly as interesting. She settled into her customary spot in the parlor, the little faded chair near the window. Long shadows danced across the worn rose-patterned carpet. Waning sunlight warmed the cozy room to soporific levels, leaving the children yawning even as they protested they were not tired.

Mrs. Bennet sat back into the sun-bleached sofa cushions and grumbled under her breath. “Children ought to mind the first time they are told a thing. Sister Gardiner is far too lenient with them.”

Neither Jane nor Kitty gave any sign of having heard. No doubt Mama did not intend to be heard, so Elizabeth chose to ignore her.

Sometimes preternatural hearing was more bane than blessing.

Papa and Uncle Gardiner exchanged raised eyebrows over the card table. The long suffering expression in Papa’s eyes suggested he would like to have words with her, but was unlikely to expend the effort.

Daniel Gardiner bounded up to Elizabeth, hands clasped before him, an unruly shock of blond hair falling over his eyes. “Please Lizzy, Mama says we must go to bed. Will you tell us a story?”

Samuel scurried up beside him, blinking up at Elizabeth, “Pwease, Lizzy, pwease.”

The child was far too adorable for his own good. Elizabeth scooped him into her arms. “If your Mama agrees, then of course, I will tell you a story.”

Joshua and Anna rushed to their mother and tugged at her skirts. “Mama, pray let us have a story.”

Aunt Gardiner took their hands and smiled at Elizabeth. “Are you certain you want to? I do not expect they will allow you to stop at only one.”

“I should be delighted. There is hardly anything I enjoy more than telling stories—”

“With dragons?” Daniel grabbed her hand and squeezed.

“Yes, dwagons!” Samuel bounced in her arms.

Mama huffed and muttered something under her breath, something that it was best Elizabeth pretend not to hear.

“What other kind of story is worth telling?” Elizabeth chuckled and ushered the children upstairs.

With Aunt Gardiner’s assistance, the children settled into the nursery and dressed for bed. The room was awkwardly tucked into a gable, all odd angles and shadows. Had it been drafty and dusty, it would have been a frightening, unfriendly place. But with bright yellow moiré paper on the walls and crisp green curtains at the window, it was snug, comfortable and playful. Exactly what a nursery should be.

“Climb into bed. I shall return in a moment.” Elizabeth looked directly at Joshua, the middle of the three boys, who was most adept at avoiding bedtime.

He hung his head and pouted as his mother placed a firm hand between his shoulders and propelled him to the little bed beside his brothers.

Elizabeth hurried to her room, collected her birdcage and returned.

“Is that her?” Anna asked, pointing at the cage. Her sweet face peeked up above the little coverlet.

“Yes it is. If you promise to be very quiet and not startle her, I will uncover the cage and you may watch her whilst I tell your story. Perhaps if you are all very good, she might sing for you afterwards.”

“We will be very, very quiet, we promise.” Anna glanced at her brothers with a pleading look. With her wide, dark eyes and silky hair, Anna reminded everyone of Jane, but her personality was far more like Elizabeth’s.

“Boys, do you agree?” Aunt Gardiner folded her arms and cast a stern look at her sons.

“Yes mama,” they murmured, eyes fixed on the birdcage.

Elizabeth nodded and unbuttoned the quilted cover surrounding the cage. The candlelight glinted off iridescent blue and green feathers. Tiny wings buzzed and the creature hovered above the perch.

“You remember April from the last time you were here. April, these are my cousins, the Gardiner children.” Elizabeth gestured at the children.

April looked up at Elizabeth with something resembling annoyance.

Anna pressed up on her elbows. “She is so beautiful. I have never seen anything so beautiful in my life!”

April flew closer to the side nearest Anna and poked her dainty, pointed beak between the bars.

“Oh, she likes me! Lizzy, she likes me!”

“Indeed she does, but don’t startle her. Here, I will set her cage on the table nearest you if you promise to be very still.”

“I will, I will!” Anna tucked back under the coverlet and held herself very stiff.

Elizabeth sat on the little bed beside her. “So you wish to hear a story about dragons? Then I will tell you one, but I do not think you will believe it.”

“But we will, surely we will.” Daniel flipped to his belly and propped up on his elbows.

“You think so now, but very few can believe the tale I will tell. It is not one for the faint of heart.”

“We’re not!” Joshua cried in hushed tones.

“That may be, but still, I expect you will be surprised to learn that England is full …” Her eyes grew wide as she pressed a finger to her lips. “… of dragons.” She leaned close and whispered the word.

“Where are they Lizzy? I have never seen one.” Anna’s expressive eyes darted from April to Lizzy and back again.

“Everywhere, they are all around.”

“Why can’t see them.” Daniel huffed.

“Children, if you do not allow your cousin to tell you the story, then I shall put out the candle, and we shall leave.” Aunt Gardiner tapped her foot, and the children ducked a little farther under the covers.

“You see them all the time, but you do not recognize them for what they are. Dragons are very good at hiding in plain sight. They speak spells of great persuasive power, convincing you that they are anything but a dragon, but most people cannot hear them directly. They think the dragon speech is their own thought, and they go about never questioning those ideas.”

“Is there a dwagon in the rwoom now?” Samuel cast about the nursery, breathing hard.

“If there was, it could not be a large one, could it? The room is quite small. Any dragon here with us would be so small there would be nothing to fear from it.”

“There are small dragons?” Joshua’s brow furrowed as he worked over the idea. He was such a perceptive, thoughtful, mischievous child.

“Small ones, medium size ones and very large ones indeed. One of the largest is the monster Saint Columba encountered in the river Ness in Scotland.”

“River dragons? That monster drowned a man! If there are dragons here, aren’t you afraid they will eat you?” Daniel’s words tumbled out almost all at once.

“I am glad you have asked, for that is exactly the story I wish to tell. Now lay back on your pillows, and I will tell you why I am not afraid of dragons.” Elizabeth waited until the children complied.

April zipped around her cage twice and settled on her perch, looking at Elizabeth as if to listen to the tale herself.

“Long ago, back in the age of Saint Columba, dragons ravaged our land. For hundreds of years, man and beast were at war; man against man, dragon against dragon, dragon against man. Chaos reigned. In the year nine hundred, it seemed as though the dragons would wipe out the race of man in the British Isles.”

“Was it like the war in France?” Joshua whispered from behind his blanket.

“As bad as Napoleon is, this was far worse. But Uther Pendragon rose to the throne. He was unlike any man born before him, for he was able to hear the dragons.”

“The dragons’ roar was silent before Uther?” Daniel asked.

“No, it was loud and terrifying, like thunder in a storm. Everyone heard that. But what Uther perceived was different. He heard them speak. Some spoke in very high, shrill notes that sounded like the whine of a hummingbird’s wings.”

“Like April?” Anna whispered.

Elizabeth’s eyebrows rose as she glanced at Aunt Gardiner. “Yes, just like that. And others spoke in a voice so deep it felt like the deep rumble of thunder. Uther could detect those voices, not just the fearsome noises. He suddenly understood what the dragons had been saying all along.”

“What did they say?” Samuel pulled the blanket up to his chin and chewed on the edge.

“The dragons were weary of war and they wanted peace as much as men did. So, the wise king Uther invited them to meet with him in a large, deep cave. His advisors warned him not to go into the cavern, for he would never come out again. The dragons would devour him, leaving the race of man without a king, and the war would surely be lost.”

“Did the dragons eat him?” Daniel asked.

“Of course not,” Joshua hissed, “Lizzy would not be telling the story if they had.”

Aunt cleared her throat and tipped her head toward the older boys.

“Uther treated them with respect and the dragons welcomed him as a foreign king. At the end of a fortnight, Uther emerged from the cave carrying a red shield emblazoned with a gold dragon. A mighty falcon with feathers that shimmered like polished steel rode on his shoulder, a gift from the dragon king. Some say a peace treaty was written on that shield, but none could tell for certain, for no one could read the dragon language then.”

“Dragons can write?” Daniel gasped.

“Some of them, just as some men can write, and read as well.”

“Is that why so many men have falcons, like Papa? To be like king Uther?” Joshua rested his chin on his fists and stared at her.

“Indeed it is. And the reason ladies keep pretty birds, like April, since ladies do not keep falcons.”

“I think April is far prettier and sweeter than a falcon. I should very much like to have one like her someday.” Anna yawned and stretched.

“Perhaps you shall, dear. But now it is time to sleep.” Elizabeth rose.

“Will you not tell us another?” Daniel sat up, but his mother waved him back down.

“It is late. I will tell you another tomorrow. But, since you have listened so very well, April will sing for you. Lay back on your beds, and I will let her out so she can.”

The children obeyed and Elizabeth opened the cage. April zipped out and flew two circuits around the room, hovering over each child and inspecting them as she went. She flew to the middle of the room and hovered low over the beds. Her sweet trill filled the room.

The children yawned. One by one their breathing slowed into the soft, regular pattern of slumber.

April warbled a few more notes and landed on Elizabeth’s shoulder.

Aunt Gardiner smiled, pressed her finger to her lips and slipped out. Elizabeth picked up the cage and followed.

“Will you return to the parlor?” Aunt Gardiner asked.

“After I put the cage away.” Elizabeth turned down the corridor toward her room and slipped inside.

“You called me a bird! How dare you call me a bird!” April shrieked in her ear.

“You need not shout. I can hear you quite well.” Elizabeth held her hand over her ear.

“Why did you call me a bird?” April launched off her shoulder and darted around the room. The candlelight glinted green off her feather-scales.

“You were the one telling them you were a hummingbird, not I.”

“What else should I have them believe? That I am a cat?”

Elizabeth pressed her lips hard. April did not like to be laughed at. “Certainly not! You do not look enough like one for even your persuasive powers to convince them of it.”

“It is one thing for me to tell them I am a bird, but quite another for you.” April hovered near Elizabeth’s face.

“The children are too young. We cannot know if they hear you.”

“They all do. Coming from two parents who hear, what would you expect?”

Elizabeth’s jaw dropped. “Aunt Gardiner does not hear you.”

“Yes, she does. Not as well as her mate, but she does, and so do the children. You must tell their father as soon as you can. They all need to be trained.”

Elizabeth held her hand up for April to perch on. “There is plenty of time. It is not as though Uncle Gardiner is a landed Dragon Keeper, only a Dragon Mate.”

“I do not understand why you humans are so insistent upon making distinctions among us based on size. A Dragon Mate may not have a huge landed, dragon to commune with, but they are Dragon Friends nonetheless. We of smaller ilk are just as important and just as proud. And we are far more convenient, not being tied to a plot of ground or puddle of water.” April flipped her wings to her back and thrust her dainty beak-like nose in the air.

Elizabeth stroked her throat with her index finger. April leaned into her. “There, there now, you do not need to get your feathery little scales in a flutter. You need not be jealous of Longbourn. He is a cranky old thing. Grumpy, and not nearly as pretty as you.”

“Nor as good company.”

“You are the best of company, my little friend.”

“Of course I am. Who would not rather spend their time with a fairy dragon than a dirty, smelly old wyvern?” April presented the other side of her neck for a scratch.

“I would not let Longbourn hear you say that. He does have quite the temper.”

April squeaked in that special annoying tone she saved for anything related to the resident estate dragon.

“You will wake the children.”

“Then you could begin training them.”

“They will be as cranky as Longbourn, and I will leave them to you.” Elizabeth smoothed the soft scales between April’s wings.

The fairy dragon really did resemble a hummingbird, though she was much prettier and far more nimble.

“Oh, very well. I do not like cranky anythings; not dragons, not people, not anything.” April’s head drooped.

“I must return downstairs. Do you wish to come? I know you do not like being alone when we have company about.”

“Does your uncle have his horrid cockatrice with him?”

Elizabeth chuckled. April had never met a cockatrice she approved of. “Rustle? Of course he came. But he prefers to keep company with Longbourn in the cavern. He does not favor so much female company.”

“Your mother insulted him when she called him a mangy looking falcon.” April cheeped a little laugh.

“I do not blame him for being insulted. So do you wish to come or not?”

“I do indeed. I have some very important news to share with the official Dragon Keeper of Longbourn.”

“What else have you not told me?”

“It is my news, and I will share it myself.” April launched off her finger and lit on Elizabeth’s shoulder.

No point in trying to out-stubborn a dragon, even a very small one. “Very well, I shall leave the door open though, in case you tire of mere human companionship and wish to return to your sanctuary.” Elizabeth propped the bedroom door open with a little iron dragon doorstop.

April nipped her earlobe. Fairy dragons did not like to be teased.

Voices wafted up the stairs. Mama complaining—again—about the lack of eligible young men in the neighborhood to marry her daughters. And—lest any of them forget—the cruel injustice that they had no sons, and the estate would go to some horrid cousin at Mr. Bennet’s demise.

“She is right, that is a problem.” April tapped Elizabeth’s ear with her beak.

“I know, but what is to be done? The law is the law and we must abide by it.”

“But what if he cannot hear us? That would violate a far older and more important law. An estate with a dragon must have a Keeper who can hear.”

“We do not know that he cannot. Do not work yourself into a flutter. Papa has invited him to Longbourn. I am sure we shall meet him soon. Then we will know for certain and can decide how to proceed.”

Papa and Longbourn had already decided, quite some time ago. Neither Mama nor April need know that yet.

“So he has given up on any further mating? I do not blame him, she is rather horrid. He should have found a woman with some sense—or who could at least hear.”

Elizabeth stopped and glared at April. “You are speaking of my mother, you know.”

“What of it? My own was nearly as stupid as a hummingbird and got herself eaten by a cat, not even a tatzelwurm, but an ordinary cat.” A shudder coursed the length of April’s tiny body.

“While your kind may not be attached to your brood mothers, humankind is. I would have you refrain from insulting mine.” Elizabeth gently soothed ruffled feather-scales into place.

April snorted and looked away.

Elizabeth continued into the parlor.

“I suppose you filled the children’s heads with more of your dragon fantasies.” Mama rolled her eyes and stabbed her needle into the bodice she embroidered.

Why was she so opposed to all things draconic? So determined in her opposition that neither Rustle nor April could persuade her into a fondness for them.

“The children love her stories so much. There is no harm in them.” Aunt Gardiner did not look up from her own sewing, but her jaw tensed just a mite.

“She does not like your mother, either.” April nipped Elizabeth’s ear. Again.

That was not April’s most endearing habit.

“So my children are fond of dragons, are they?” Uncle Gardiner chuckled and played a card from his hand.

Papa grumbled under his breath and studied his cards.

April launched from Elizabeth’s shoulder and hovered in front of Uncle’s face. “Of course they do, you nit. They hear us as clearly as you do. You had best do something soon about it or they will be thinking all of us are as cross and crass as that mangy Rustle-creature you keep.”

Uncle began to choke and dropped his cards. Papa’s eyes bulged. He stared from April to Elizabeth. Aunt’s jaw dropped as her sewing sank to her lap.

So, April was correct, Aunt could hear, too.

“I … I just remembered there is a … a business matter I need to discuss with you, Gardiner. Let us to my study. Lizzy, join us. I will need you to write for me.”

“I do not understand why you do not hire a proper secretary. It is not right that Lizzy should be so involved in your business.” Mama huffed, her feathers as ruffled as April’s.

Papa laid down his cards and rose.

That was always a sore point between them. Mama could have at least offered to help him, but no, that was a hireling’s work in her eyes. If only she could understand how he resented the disease that gnarled his hands and pained his joints, taking away his ability to do so many things. Even holding cards was difficult for him now. Mama really should know better than to continue pressing that issue.

Perhaps April had a point about Mama.

Uncle followed him out.

April flitted back to Elizabeth. “Well, come along. Do not give that old biddy consequence by even responding.”

Elizabeth curtsied to her mother and departed. Tomorrow she would probably enjoy an ear full of complaints about allowing that ‘annoying little bird’ out of her cage. No wonder Rustle kept to the caverns when visiting.

Papa closed the study door behind her.


If you’re not totally hooked, here’s a larger preview of Pemberley: Mr. Darcy’s Dragon, to give you a richer 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, click this Rafflecopter link.


About the Jane Austen’s Dragons 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?

#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?

#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?

Universal Buy Links:

Pemberley: Mr. Darcy’s Dragon https://books2read.com/Pemberley-Mr-Darcys-Dragon

Longbourn: Dragon Entail  https://books2read.com/Longbourn-Dragon-Entail

Netherfield: Rogue Dragon  https://books2read.com/Netherfield-Rogue-Dragon


About the Author

Maria Grace

Though Maria Grace has been writing fiction since she was ten years old, those early efforts happily reside in a file drawer and are unlikely to see the light of day again. After penning five file-drawer novels in high school, she took a break from writing to pursue college and earn her doctorate in Educational Psychology. After 16 years of university teaching, she returned to her first love, fiction writing.

She has one husband and one grandson, two graduate degrees and two black belts, three sons, four undergraduate majors, five nieces, has blogged six years on Random Bits of Fascination, has built seven websites, attended eight English country dance balls, sewn nine Regency era costumes, and shared her life with ten cats.

She can be contacted at:

Random Bits of Fascination
Austen Variations
English Historical Fiction Authors

Thank you so much, Maria, for being my guest today! I can’t wait to delve into this series!

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