Today, I am welcoming Maria Grace to More Agreeably Engaged. Her latest book in Jane Austen's Dragons, is featured. Netherfield: Rogue Dragon is Book #3 in this series. I don't know about all of you, but I love all the covers of the three books. All of them are featured below with the giveaway information.
Ms. Grace has a lovely post and an excerpt to share with all of us, Dear Readers. I invite to sit back and enjoy!
Elizabeth tells dragon
stories: Laidy worm
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.
I can see you rolling your eyes and hear you muttering, “Dragons? Really?
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: 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 just to name a few. 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. Oh, and there’s Beowulf of course, and the tale of St.
George and the Dragon…
Jane Austen herself could easily have been familiar
with many of these dragon legends. So maybe, just a few of these mythological
denizens actually belonged in Regency England.
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 that made me want
to beat my head against the wall, it did provide 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, what if Uther Pendragon saw a real dragon, not a
comet as most stories suggested? Would not others have seen it, too? Wait,
no—what 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…
Suddenly, 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.
Similarly, the myths of the Lambton Worm and the
Dragon of Mordiford influenced the development of Darcy’s and Elizabeth’s
characters. So it seems only fitting, that somewhere along the way, our dear
heroine should find herself relating one of those dragon myths that Austen
herself might have known.
‘The Laidly Worm of Spindleston Heughs’, sometimes
known as the ‘The Laidly Worm of Banborough’ or ‘Bamburgh’ was preserved from
folklore in a ballad first published in 1771, something that was certainly
accessible to Jane Austen during her lifetime. (Laidly is a Scottish expression
meaning ‘loathsome’.) In this excerpt
Dragon Entail, the second book of the series, Elizabeth finds herself
telling this tale to while away the time during a long carriage ride:
Mr. Wickham escorted her to the Forsters’ house, where she
paid a quarter of an hour’s call on Mrs. Forster. Then, he ushered her out the
back door, and into the mews where the carriage, sans driver, awaited. He
handed her into the carriage where her bag waited.
It was newer and better maintained than Papa’s. Probably
refitted in honor of Colonel Forster’s wedding. The leather still smelt fresh
and new, and the side glass was sparkling clean.
Had Mr. Wickham arranged for this, for there to be no
witnesses to her escape? He was a far better friend to her than Mr. Collins
would ever be, able to see the distress of another soul and work to do
something to alleviate it. What more noble act could there be?
The coach rocked as the driver and a groomsman climbed
aboard. Mr. Wickham opened the door and handed a very groggy maid inside. She
staggered to her seat, half sitting on Elizabeth in the process.
“Pray forgive me, Miss. I get powerful sick in a coach.
The mistress give me a cordial to help.” She giggled and settled into her seat.
“I feel so very boosey and flustered.”
Mr. Wickham pulled the door closed behind them and took the
opposite seat. “A strong cordial will have that effect. There is no need for
concern. You might sleep as we drive, and you will feel better when we arrive
The girl yawned and leaned into the corner. She was softly
snoring before they reached the outskirts of Meryton.
“She truly cannot tolerate the carriage. It is best for
her to sleep.” Mr. Wickham leaned back and extended his legs just a little. “I
have done as I promised, perhaps even a wee bit more. So now I shall make a
demand upon you. But just a small one.” He winked.
April, in her typical fairy dragon way, voiced her
protest, chittering and hunkering down in her grumpiest posture. It might have
been intimidating from a larger dragon, but from a fluffle-bit who fit in the
palm of one’s hand, it was more endearing than daunting.
“And what might that be?” She drew her cloak over her
“It is three hours to London. I require some form of
entertainment. I know you to be a fine storyteller. Why do you not tell me your
favorite myth? But not one from a far-off place. I wish to hear a myth from our
own fair countryside.” He leaned into the squabs.
“I fear that Hertfordshire does not have many stories
attached to it.”
“Then what of your favorite myth of England? Surely there
is something for you to choose from in all our shores.”
From the way he looked at April, surely he was asking for
a children’s teaching story about dragons.
But April would not tolerate it.
Best not to agitate her.
Still though, there were stories that would reveal nothing
about the current state of dragons or the Blue Order.
“That seems little enough to ask. Have you ever heard of
Wyrm of Spindleston Heugh?”
April harrumphed, but did not twitter.
A broad smile lit his face. “No I have not, but I look forward to doing
so now.” He balanced one boot atop the other and laid his hands over his
stomach. “In the words of your young cousins, tell me a story Miss Elizabeth.”
She smoothed her skirt over her lap. “Many centuries ago, i
Kingdom of Northumbria, Northumberland to us now, of course, the good king who
lived in Bamburgh Castle lost his beloved wife to a most tragic death. She left
behind a son, the prince Childe Wynd, and a daughter, the princess Margaret.
Childe Wynd was his father’s son with a brave heart and a lust for adventure
that drove him to rove farther and farther from home. After his mother’s death,
his jaunts became journeys, and the journeys became longer and longer until he
crossed the sea. In fear that he would never see his son again, the king took
comfort from his daughter. Margaret was the image of her mother, beautiful as
no other woman in Northumbria and gentle and kind in equal measure to her
“A handsome prince, a beautiful princess, what more does a
fairy story need?” Mr. Wickham laced his hands behind his head.
“Dragons. It seems he wants to hear of nothing but us,”
April grumbled against her neck.
Elizabeth stroked her ruffled feather-scales smooth. “An
evil witch sir. What kind of story would there be without one?”
“So then tell me of this witch.”
“After years without his wife, the castle was cold and
lonely. The king’s judgement had been addled by too much wine. He called for
eligible women to be brought to him. A beautiful, but cruel witch caught his
eye and soon became his wife. Poor Margaret, she was bereft. She saw the witch
for what she was, but the King would not believe her.”
Mr. Wickham leaned forward a bit. “Ah, now it gets
“The witch cast an enchantment over the poor princess.”
Elizabeth hunched over her lap and worried her hands together, cackling. “I weird ye to be a Laidly wyrm, and borrowed
shall ye never be, until Childe Wynd, the King's own son come to the Heugh and
thrice kiss thee. Until the world comes to an end, borrowed shall ye never be.”
became a dragon?”
“Indeed she did.
By the witch’s spell, she became a dragon.”
“The myth calls it a wyrm, but I think she must still have
been beautiful even in the transformation. I have always considered she became
an amphithere. They are more beautiful than even the loveliest of wyrms.”
Though some might not agree, there were some very pretty
“What do they look like?”
“Of course, they are not real, but according to myth, they
are not wyrms, but enormous snakes the color of jade. Unlike any serpent, they
have great feathered wings with iridescent feathers, glistening in every color.
Their wings are powerful enough for flight, although they only do so under
great duress. Sometimes they are depicted with powerful forepaws as well. Their
heads are as serpents, but well-feathered, and their eyes, penetrating.”
“Frightful or fascinating?”
“Both, I would imagine. It is said they are creatures of
“So then, very fitting for a lovely princess.”
“Indeed. I suppose in that, the witch was merciful.”
“Or limited, perhaps. Her magic might not have been strong
enough to completely transform a woman of such beauty.” His brows flashed up in
a playful challenge.
“That is indeed an interesting interpretation. It sounds
as though you have spent a great deal of time considering fairy tales, sir.”
“It had been a pleasant pastime during some of my darker
times. I have always found the character of a prince removed from his
inheritance rather compelling.”
April shook her head and snorted. Perhaps she was right.
That was a bit much.
Wickham chuckled. Perhaps he did not take himself as
seriously as April did. “Do not leave me hanging. You must finish your story.”
“Of course. The Laidly
Wyrm, the princess, left the castle, banished to be a rogue dragon, without a
territory to call her own, facing death if she trespassed on the territory of
another, scourge to man and beast alike, stealing what she could to preserve
life and limb. Finally she made her way to Spindleston Heugh on the Great Whin
Sill escarpment. It is said that the stone can still be found in the parish of
Easington, Northumberland, you know.”
“I should very
much like to see it one day.”
mention that Papa had taken her there? April probably would not approve. She probably
should not have mentioned the specific location at all.
was very easy to talk to him.
“Perhaps I would
see the Laidly wyrm there, if I were very lucky.” He stroked his chin.
“Even if you were
very lucky, the Laidly Wyrm is naught but myth. Even if she were not, you would
not find her, for you have not heard the end of her tale.”
“Do not keep me
in suspense! I do not see how you ever get children to sleep if you constantly
keep a story so provoking.”
“You are being quite
vexing yourself. Naughty children who interrupt do not get to hear the end of a
“Pray tell me
what must I do to hear the end?” He smiled beatifically.
April huffed and
tucked her head under her wing.
“I suppose that
will do. In any case, after ten years the prince returned. He expected to find
his sister a grown woman, maybe even married. But instead, her chambers were
empty. The witch told him that his sister had been eaten by the Laidly Wyrm and
if he wanted to honor her memory, he would avenge her life and bring back the
head and wings of the wyrm.”
“A witch in all
ways. Horrid woman.”
“Indeed she was.
She even gave the prince a dragon-slayer sword with which to perform the deed.”
She had seen the one Mr. Darcy had carried and it had given her nightmares for
“Childe Wynd rode
off in search of the Laidly Wyrm. When he reached the spindlestone, he called
out a challenge to the dragon.”
“In the fashion
of heroes everywhere, I imagine.”
“They are rather
a predictable lot, are they not? Princess Margaret recognized his voice and
hurried down to see him. Naturally he did not recognize her in dragon form and
brandished the sword at her.”
“I should say he
is lucky that he did not get himself immediately crisped by fiery breath.”
“Do not be silly.
Amphitheres do not breathe fire. That is a myth about the myth.” She laughed.
should be satisfied that he really did not know anything about real dragons. No
feathered dragons breathed fire.
Margaret restrained her draconic instincts. She extended her wings and hovered
over Childe Wynd’s head, singing a song they had made up as children, one none
other knew. Her voice was sweet and high, unmistakable in his ears. ‘Margaret?’
he cried. She told him of the witch’s curse and that her only hope was her
“And of course,
he simply believed her, never once considering it was the sort of trap a clever
dragon might set for him? That is the way soldiers get killed.” He snorted and
folded his arms over his chest.
“I suppose you are correct, taking an unfamiliar dragon at
its word is not a mark of wisdom, but this is a fairy story, remember. And in
this story, he embraces his sister and kisses her. She transforms before his
eyes, all scales and feathers falling away. Once again, she is a young woman,
even more beautiful for her trials than she had been before.”
“And they lived happily ever after.” He rolled his eyes.
What had he been hoping for, bloodshed and tragedy?
“Not yet. They gathered the scales for Margaret’s dowry,
enough to fill several chests, and secreted them in a crag under the
spindlestone. The feathers they bundled up to bring to the witch, proof the
dragon was no more.”
He sat up a little straighter.
“Treasure would catch his attention,” April muttered.
“The feathers carried a powerful enchantment upon them,
the same form that the witch had cast upon the princess. When Childe Wynd
presented them to the witch, she picked one up and was immediately transformed
“No, each feather contained only a small measure of
transformation magic, not enough to accomplish so large a transformation. She
was instead turned into a toad.”
Wickham snorted. “A toad? A fitting fate, I should say.”
“Childe Wynd became king and assisted his sister in
marrying a very suitable man. And now we have come to our happy ending.”
Mr. Wickham yawned. “Just in time I suppose. Your voice is
“I am glad you approve, sir.”
“You should not have told him that tale.” April nipped her
Nothing would please her. Poor little dear was so
unsettled. Who could blame her?
But still, the story was quite safe. Who could believe
that a princess might be turned into a dragon? That was impossible. The truth—that
Margaret was turned out by a cruel stepmother and taken in to live among a
mated pair of amphitheres who were incubating a clutch—was hardly like the
story at all.
Still, the real Lady Margaret had always been her heroine.
She had been instrumental in bringing an understanding of the amphitheres to
the Blue Order. For her efforts, she had been made the first woman to hold
office in the Order.
Perhaps, if the Gardiners did not take her in, she could
find help among some sympathetic dragons.
The outskirts of London rose up on the horizon. It would
not be long now before she would know if she would have to resort to that.
But why would Elizabeth have been riding in a carriage
with Wickham, much less telling him stories? Check out Jane Austen’s Dragons
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. The giveaway will end at 11:59 P.M. on the 26th of May. Good luck to all! Thank you Maria Grace for including a giveaway for my readers.
About the Author
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.
has one husband and one grandson, two graduate degrees and two black belts,
three sons, four undergraduate majors, five nieces, is 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.
Thank you, Maria Grace.for visiting my blog! I always love to have you visit and look forward to whatever you have in store for us. I always know it will be good! :) This post was no exception.
I wish you continued success with the Jane Austen's Dragons series. I'm hearing many good things about these books. Congratulations on this latest release.
Pemberley: Mr. Darcy’s Dragon
Ms. Grace is giving away an eBook of your choice as mentioned above in bold type. If you are not sure which book you would like, should you be the winner, I am including the blurb along with the book cover for each book.
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?
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
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?
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?
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