Torbrek and the Dragon Variation
(The Torbrek Trilogy)
by Lexi Revellian
Torbrek and the Dragon Variation is an adventure story with daring deeds, dragons, friends, foes and romance – and no darned elves.
When Tor saves the Princess from the terrifying, fire-breathing dragon and delivers her to the handsome knight she is destined to marry, nothing is quite as it seems; the dragon is overweight and hasn’t breathed fire for years; the Princess and her supposed suitor don’t hit it off; and Tor shouldn’t be in the rebel cavalry at all because she’s a woman disguised as a man. Which doesn’t help when she is attracted to a fellow soldier…
Meanwhile, studying the records of the legendary Hundred Knights, cold-blooded agent Corfe unearths a secret about Tor that even she is unaware of, a secret that makes ruthless King Skardroft very interested in her, and will change the outcome of the battle for the kingdom.
“I’m afraid I made the Dragon Master’s son’s life rather unpleasant,” said Xantilor complacently. “He’d lost his nerve by the end of the first day. Yesterday he got some other people in to help him, but I made it clear to them, in my own way, that they were wasting their time. Then this morning Barlanik himself came to see me, and I knew I was getting somewhere. He’s got a bit more sense. He listened to me.”
“I should have known I didn’t have to worry about you,” said Tor, “but I did.”
They were in a field within easy flying distance of the camp. On the way, Tor got Xantilor to practise flying in the manner of the birds they passed. Copying a pigeon was fine; a skylark presented more of a challenge, and a merlin’s hovering and diving proved too much for his current fitness levels.
Tor had brought the dragon book, and while Xantilor’s breathing slowed to normal she read interesting bits out loud to him. It had turned out to be more useful than she’d expected.
“It says here, ‘Let thy Dragon not Eate but what he hath Procured for Himselfe; for it is a Curious Observation, that the Dragon that feedeth Grosslie, and is too Amplie Provided for by his Keeper, (for reasons of Mistaken Kindenesse), will not Thrive, but grow Fat, Browne, and a Sluggard. Therefore, see ye give him naught but a Small Token for to acknowledge his Compliance; a roast Quail proveth a suitable Gifte and spoileth not his Appetite.’ No more sheep for you, then. You don’t want to be a Sluggard. And what does it mean, grow brown?”
“Most dragons go a bit brown as they get older,” said Xantilor stiffly.
“Hmm. This next bit says a dragon shows his feelings by the colour of his scales; ‘his Natural Golde giveth waye to his passions, and he turneth Purple when Cholericke.’ Maybe that’ll come when you’re fitter.”
Tor jumped up and collected some twigs from the ground, propping them against each other on end in front of the dragon. Xantilor’s head followed her movements. When she was satisfied, she stood back.
“Okay, see if you can set fire to them.”
The dragon gave her a dubious look. “Not sure if I can,” he mumbled. “It’s been a long time…”
“Just have a go; don’t worry if you can’t at first. I know you will after a bit of practice, it may take a few days, that’s all.”
Xantilor closed his eyes and concentrated. He took a deep breath, then blew.
The sticks fell over. A tiny wisp of smoke came out of his mouth.
“Excellent! A good start – we’ll try again tomorrow,” said Tor encouragingly. “And I’m going to see the saddler, there’s a really good drawing here of a dragon saddle with all sorts of hooks and rings – attachments for weapons and ropes and things.”
She jumped up to show Xantilor, and saw a man riding up the rough slope towards them. “Look, it’s Kerris.” The big piebald horse stopped nearby, rolling his eyes at the dragon and pulling his head away. “Hi.”
“Hallo,” said Kerris, “I thought I’d come and find out what a Dragon Master does. And a dragon, for that matter.” He patted his horse’s neck and dismounted. “Come on, Outlaw, just think of it as a funny-looking oversized horse.” After a moment, Outlaw relaxed and began to crop the grass. Kerris turned to Tor. “Go on, don’t mind me, pretend I’m not here.”
“Actually, we’d about finished for today. I have to get back for sword drill.”
“Rats. I’ve got the morning off, and I can’t find anyone to spend it with. Everyone’s rushing off somewhere. Can’t you miss sword drill for once? You’re the best in the troop.”
“If I’m the best it’s because I practise every day. It’s a shame you’ve got your horse, you could’ve flown back with us. Flying’s amazing, you’d like it.”
Kerris shook his head. “Some other time.”
“I know, I could take your horse, and you can ride Xantilor.”
“Really kind offer, but I think I’ll pass.”
A suspicion Tor had entertained before about Kerris became stronger. “Hmm…you don’t much like heights, do you?”
Kerris looked shifty. “Me, afraid of heights? Nothing I’d like more than a panoramic view from a few hundred feet up in the sky, perched perilously on the spikes of a dragon’s back. With nothing to hang on to. But Outlaw’s not very good with strange riders. You might get thrown. I’d never forgive myself.”
Tor grinned at him. “I can manage the horse if you can cope with Xantilor. Ten ducats says you can’t.”
Kerris’s eyes narrowed. “You’re on.”
He walked over to Xantilor. “Nice and gently for a novice rider, there’s a good chap.” He clambered up the dragon’s side, gingerly settling himself between the wings.
“These spines are a bit…spiny. Ah…and I’m quite high up already, I see, even with him sitting on the ground…oowaaah!”
Xantilor had got up with a rocking motion, first to his front feet, then to all four of them. He stretched his wings. Kerris’s face, noticeably paler, was such a mixture of unease and determination as he clung on, that Tor laughed heartlessly up at him.
“Kerris, you look the part. Anyone seeing you would think you’d been a Dragon Master for, oh, all of two minutes.”
She went to Xantilor’s head and spoke softly to him. “Take him the scenic route home, over the forest. But don’t let him fall off, will you?”
The dragon lifted into the blue sky, away from the camp, flying low and not too fast. Tor watched till they disappeared, picked up the dragon book and went over to Outlaw.
In the outskirts of the forest, concealed against its dark depths, Corfe sat on his horse and watched Torbrek consideringly. The King had told him to leave off his other investigations, in order to concentrate on the capture of Torbrek, and today Corfe was deep in rebel-held territory, to spy out the land. A pity Skardroft’s commandos were not with him; the dragon having flown off with its Master, they could have snatched him easily. Now Torbrek was heading back to the camp. Best to wait until he went hunting alone. Just a matter of perseverance. Corfe had the ability to bide his time when other men would grow weary and give up; he found patience was a strategy that worked. He turned his horse and disappeared into the trees.
Having read and enjoyed Lexi’s Remix, I was delighted to see she had written a couple of fantasy stories. I expecting good things of this, and it fully lived up to them.
The characters were very likable, the dragon was great fun and even the villain had his soft side, but that didn’t stop it being a good exciting story. I thought it was a great touch to make the dragon lazy and unfit at the beginning rather than all-powerful and overwhelming. This is a light-hearted fun read that appeals both to children and adults, with a good female heroine in Torbrek and a touching bit of romance.
I also read and enjoyed the second in the series, and am hoping there will be a third at some stage.
From the Author
For years, I resisted writing because I knew I’d never be as good as Jane Austen. Finally I realized no one is as good as Jane Austen – I started writing and couldn’t stop. I’ve sold over 60,000 ebooks.
My first two novels are fantasy (Torbrek and the Dragon Variation and Trav Zander). The third, Remix, is contemporary fiction with elements of crime, investigation and romance, and tells what happens when Caz Tallis finds a strange man asleep on her roof terrace. He turns out to be – no, I’m not telling you, you’ll have to read it to find out… My fourth, Replica, is a thriller. Beth Chandler is unknowingly replicated in a flawed experiment, and falls for the man who is hunting her double. The latest is Ice Diaries, a post-apocalyptic story with romance and humor.
My day job is designing and making jewelry and silver under my real name, Lexi Dick. I’ve made pieces for Margaret Thatcher, 10 Downing Street, and Her Majesty the Queen.