The Two Dragons – My Own Review

The Two Dragons (New Cover)Prior to rereading the Senta and the Steel Dragon books, I would have said that The Two Dragons was my favorite.  It certainly has the most momentous events of the series– major character deaths and the tying up of lingering plot lines.  Now, while I still think that it’s a solid book, it’s not my favorite.

The Two Dragons doesn’t have the same ending that it did when I originally wrote it.  Originally, it had a very definite end, and I planned to write no more books in the series.  By the time it was ready for publication though, I had changed my mind, so the last chapter is completely different than it was.  The things that happened in that chapter are still happening, they’re just happening in later books.

The good: Magic battles, dinosaurs, a scary-ass dragon, a huge battle (make that a couple of them).

The bad: At least one major character death.

For those of you who have already purchased The Two Dragons, there is a newly edited version available for free download as you read this.  For everyone else, give it a try.  Follow this link to find The Two Dragons at Smashwords.

Magic Battles: The Two Dragons

The Two Dragons (New Cover)A third and a fourth lizzie stepped up onto the platform to be smashed by the stone of Hissussisthiss. The lizardmen in the audience seemed to be enjoying themselves—talking, slapping each other on the shoulder, and bouncing up and down in their seats.

“I think I pieced it together,” said Bratihn. “I’ve been listening to these brutes behind us. The citizens vote on who they want to be down there, and the top five hundred vote-getters are sacrificed. It’s their chance to get rid of their rivals and the neighbors they don’t get along with.”

“Kafira,” muttered Brown. Senta thought that he might be imagining how many of his neighbors would vote for him.

Suddenly her attention was pulled back to the sacrificial boulder. A young female lizardman had just stepped into the place of honor. Senta immediately recognized her as Szim, the lizzie who had served as her tour guide the day before. The giant rock trembled for just a moment. Senta snatched one of the floating glamours from around her head, activating the spell stored within it. She stretched out her right hand just as the boulder began to fall. It stopped in the air a foot above the lizzie’s head.

“Oomph,” Senta grunted. It felt as though three hundred pounds had been dropped on her shoulders. She could hear pandemonium erupt around her as lizardmen all over the arena began hissing and gesturing wildly. She could hear her companions as well.

“What the hell are you doing?” growled Staff.

“You’re going to get us killed,” said Brown.

“Form a cordon,” Bratihn called to the other former soldiers.

The reptilian witch doctor went running across the arena’s open area. He brandished his lizard fetish and cast his own spell, trying to force the rock down. Senta felt sweat break out all over her body. It wasn’t because of this new spell though. It was because of the great weight of the draconic rock, which was far heavier than her telekinesis spell was normally empowered to lift. Compared to the simple physics of gravity, the witch doctor’s spell was a veritable pebble.

When he saw that pushing the rock wasn’t going to work, the lizardman turned toward her waving his lizard lollipop. Two tiny shooting stars sprayed from his talisman. With her free hand, Senta grabbed another glamour, throwing a shield spell around her and her companions. The energy darts ricocheted off into the sky.

“Uuthanum uastus carakathum nit!” she shouted. The witch doctor was engulfed in a pond of mud where a moment before there had only been stone.

“Leave the lizzie!” shouted Staff. “We’ve got to get the hell out of here!”

“Do I tell you how to drive a boat,” said Senta, but her voice was quavering, and her body was starting to shake.

Then she heard the shouting of the Freedonian commander. “Halten sie sie auf!”

One of the wizards, she thought it was Hoff, cast a spell to force the rock down. She took no more notice of it than she had of the witch doctor’s first spell. Neither of them was a match for her. Then Tourbell threw a simple electricity spell at her, a far less potent version of the lightning spell with which she had killed the flock of achillobators. It bounced off of her magical shield. The third wizard, evidently the most powerful of the three, tried the more direct approach. He tried to overpower her mind with a domination spell. Senta grunted as a blinding pain shot through her skull. The dragon stone dropped about six inches, before she caught it again.

“Uuthanum uluchaiia uluthiuth,” she said, sending a ball of flame shooting from the fingers of her left hand. It grew to a size of ten feet in diameter in the short distance between the Brechs and the Freedonians, and burst upon the wizard, igniting him and two non-magical Freedonians. Half a dozen other humans as well as a dozen lizzies who were nearby had small patches of hair, clothing, and skin catch fire.

Senta could see Bratihn in the right corner of her eye brandishing a pistol at someone. The party had not brought their rifles, but he must have kept the handgun concealed. When a lizzie approached too close, he shot it in the face. Other sporadic gunfire echoed around her. She could feel the stone slipping. Her will was not enough to hold it up forever.

“Rezesic edios uuthanum erros paj,” she said, casting the same type of telekinesis spell she was using to hold up the boulder, instead to yank Szim out from under it. The lizzie went flying down onto the floor of the arena. The rock shaped like Hissussisthiss slammed down onto the platform, smashing through it, destroying the copper mechanism below. Then it rolled over on its side into the large puddle of mud now dominating the stadium floor, squashing the witch doctor beneath it.

The Two Dragons – Now in Paperback

The Two Dragons (New Cover)War has come to Birmisia and the rest of the world as The United Kingdom of Greater Brechalon faces off against totalitarian Kingdom of Freedonia. Freedonia has fielded its army, including the secret cabal of wizards known as the Riene Zauberei, airships of the Flottenluftkorps, steam-powered war machines, tens of thousands of lizardmen allies, and the dragon-god Hissussisthiss. Standing between them and their domination of Birmisia is the sorceress Zurfina, the young steel dragon Bessemer, and seventeen year old sorceress Senta Bly. As the actual battle approaches, Brech society seems ready to split apart, along racial and ethnic lines. Colonial Governor Iolanthe Denchantagne-Staff, Mayor Zeah Korlann, and Police Inspector Saba Colbshallow must hold the colony together as panicked citizens riot and loot, supply ships are torpedoed by Freedonian submarines, and a gang of murderous lizzies threaten the town.

The Two Dragons, book 5 in the story of Senta and the Steel Dragon is now available for the first time in Digest Paperback format for just $5.99.  Pick up your copy and buy one for a friend by following this link.

The Two Dragons – $2.99 at ‘txtr

The Two Dragons (New Cover)War has come to Birmisia and the rest of the world as The United Kingdom of Greater Brechalon faces off against totalitarian Kingdom of Freedonia. Freedonia has fielded its army, including the secret cabal of wizards known as the Riene Zauberei, airships of the Flottenluftkorps, steam-powered war machines, tens of thousands of lizardmen allies, and the dragon-god Hissussisthiss. Standing between them and their domination of Birmisia is the sorceress Zurfina, the young steel dragon Bessemer, and seventeen year old sorceress Senta Bly.As the actual battle approaches, Brech society seems ready to split apart, along racial and ethnic lines. Colonial Governor Iolanthe Denchantagne-Staff, Mayor Zeah Korlann, and Police Inspector Saba Colbshallow must hold the colony together as panicked citizens riot and loot, supply ships are torpedoed by Freedonian submarines, and a gang of murderous lizzies threaten the town.The Two Dragons is the final volume of the epic story of Senta and the Steel Dragon, a story of adventure and wonder, steam power and magic, prejudice and power, rifles and dinosaurs, love and sacrifice, dragons and lizardmen, and ultimate destiny.

Follow this link to purchase The Two Dragons for $2.99 at ‘txtr.

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The Two Dragons: Cissy

The Two Dragons (New Cover)Cissy is one of the characters in Senta and the Steel Dragon.  She is easily the most important non-human character.  Her part in the original story arc of Senta and the Steel Dragon was relatively small.  She appeared in book 3 and then her story culminated in book 5.  When I went back and added what became books 0, 2, and 4, her story became much bigger and I think richer.

Here Cissy runs into Saba Colbshallow while both are shopping at the pfennig store.

The bell above the door clanged once again, this time as a lizardman entered. It was carrying a large hatbox tied with a red silk bow. There were quite a few variations from individual to individual among the reptilians. This aborigine had a face of deep forest green that continued down and was punctuated with darker strips just below the shoulder. Saba immediately recognized by the shorter stature, just under six feet, and the lighter belly coloring, a pale green, that this was a female. Only a few seconds later he recognized who the lizardman was.

“Hello Cissy.”

“Hello Sada,” she replied.

“What do you need, lizzie?” asked Delks in a rather snotty tone.

“Dillingdow’s,”

“Huh?”

“She wants Billingbow’s,” translated Saba. “A six pack?”

Cissy nodded.

Delks raised an eyebrow, and then walked to the back of the store once again, returning with yet another wooden carrier containing six bottles of the popular soda water.

“I didn’t know you lot drank this,” he said. “That will be three marks.”

“That should be one mark thirty two P,” said Saba.

“I can charge whatever I want.”

Cissy set three one mark notes on the counter and picked up the six-pack in her clawed fist. She headed back out the front door, pausing just long enough on her way out to hiss “Asshole.”

“If you’re going to start skinning the natives,” said Saba to the proprietor. “You might not want to start with the governor’s own lizzie.”

Walking outside, Saba found Cissy tilting one of the bottles into her long, many-toothed mouth.

“I like to let mine cool down in the ice box.”

“I know. I see you drink. Cold drink not good to lizzies. I get thirsty. I like Dillingdow’s.”

“Did you pick that up for Mrs. Dechantagne?” he asked, indicating the hatbox.

“No. This is Cissy’s hat. You like to see it?”

He nodded. She carefully untied the red silk ribbon and opened the box, withdrawing a broad-brimmed lady’s hat, made of plaid material, decorated with artificial blue and pink roses and a large green feather. Carefully balancing it on her head, Cissy tied it below her chin with a thick strand of blue lace.

“It looks very nice on you,” said Saba.

“I wear it to shrine, like all the fine ladies.”

“You go to shrine regularly?”

“Yes. I Zaeri now. You Kafirite?”

“Yes, that’s right.”

“Kafira die for hoonan souls. I think not for lizzie souls.”

Saba nodded thoughtfully, and then turned to set his two six-packs into the passenger seat of the steam carriage. He didn’t know much about the lizzie religion, or if there was one now that he thought about it. It was not surprising that Mother Linton was not interested in converting the locals to Kafira, but it seemed like someone would want to. He wanted to ask Cissy who had told her about the Zaeri faith, but when he turned back around, she was already gone.

The Two Dragons: Ivo & Femke Kane

Ivo and Femke Kane are two characters in Senta and the Steel Dragon.  They first appear in book 3: The Drache Girl.  They are a husband and wife pair of engineers that come to Birmisia to work for the coal company.  Although there are hints in book 3, we don’t really learn all that much about them until The Two Dragons, in which we learn they have an unusual relationship.

Senta, who had taken a bath upon her return from the great plaza earlier in the day, took another. The rectangular tub was just over seven feet long and five feet wide, which by human standards made it quite spacious. Its depth however was what made it remarkable. Though she was an even six feet tall, Senta could not touch the bottom even on her tip-toes, without dunking her head. Four square stone spouts provided a continuous flow of water into the tub, which spilled over the top and ran down to a drain cut with four long grooves from a one foot square piece of stone.

After the bath, Senta returned to her room dressed in her large fluffy housecoat. She sat down on her sleeping mat and thought about opening Matter and the Elements once more, but just couldn’t face it. Instead she reached into her bag and pulled out a well-worn copy of Intruder by Anarosa Freedman. It was a relatively easy matter to find the racy parts, as the corners of the pages had become dog-eared with rereading.

“Well, what are we priming ourselves up for?” asked Mrs. Kane, when she entered a few minutes later.

“Just reading a bit.”

“So I see. You’ve had an exciting day.” Mrs. Kane sat down cross-legged next to Senta. “You know I’ve always thought that you were a remarkable young woman,” she said, placing her hand on Senta’s shoulder.

“Thanks…”

“I’ve thought that you might be someone I would like to get to know better.”

“Okay…”

“My husband and I have an agreement. He’s free to pursue other women, as am I.”

“As you are what?”

“Free to pursue other women.”

Senta stared uncomprehending for a moment. Then recognition kicked her in the side of the head just above the ear.

“Eww!”

“Now don’t be that way,” said Mrs. Kane. “The love between two women can be a beautiful thing.”

“I’ve got all the loving women that I need,” said Senta. “What’s more, I have a loving man.”

“That’s what I’m trying to tell you, dear. You don’t really need one of those.”

“There we must agree to disagree.” Senta lifted the woman’s hand from her shoulder and set it aside.

“Pity,” said Mrs. Kane, moving to her own sleeping mat. “If you change your mind, you know where to find me.”

“Yes, I’m sure I could navigate thirty-three inches if needed.”

Senta put away her lamp, though it had not yet grown dark enough in the room to need it, and her book, and curled up under her blanket. It had been an eventful day and despite feeling vaguely more nervous about Mrs. Kane’s proximity than she had before, she was soon asleep.

The Two Dragons: Loana Colbshallow

The Two Dragons (New Cover)Loana Hewison Colbshallow is a character in Senta and the Steel Dragon.  She has a fairly memorable part in The Drache Girl, when she meets her future husband as he saves her from velociraptors.  In The Two Dragons, the two have been married for a while and her husband realizes that sometimes beauty is only skin deep.  It might be worth noting that Loana is my wife’s least favorite character.

“What the hell?” Saba demanded of his wife.

“It’s about time they pay their fair share, if you ask me.”

“They paid for dinner the last time.”

“Dot cooked dinner last time, and it was nowhere near as nice as this.”

He gaped at her.

“The dinners we provide are always nicer than the ones they provide. And we should get out and socialize with some different people anyway. We’re very popular. Everyone wants to have us. We shouldn’t be monopolized. Reenie Ghent has been after me for weeks for us to go out with her and her husband.”

Saba dropped fifteen marks on top of those left by Eamon, and then he escorted his wife out of the café and down the cobblestone walk to the edge of the road where his steam carriage was parked. The sun had finally dropped out of sight, lending a monochrome cast to the city street that he didn’t think showed off the bright blue of the car’s bonnet well. Helping Loana into the passenger seat, he walked around back to shovel coal into the firebox. He looked up in the sky to watch a large flying reptile, harassed by seven or eight small birds. With a sigh, he shut the relief cock and stepping to the left side of the vehicle, climbed into the driver’s seat. Saba waited ten minutes for the steam to come up before pulling away from the curb. It was only a fifteen-minute drive home, but it was an altogether silent twenty-five minutes.

The Colbshallow home was a large, beautiful, red brick house sitting back from the road in the shade of large pines and maples, along with some recently planted apple trees, on a large fenced estate. The small A-frame house, which had been Saba’s first home, on the corner of the property, was currently being rented by the Zaeri Imam Francis Clipers. Pulling into the parkway, Saba brought the steam carriage to a halt in front of the portico. The lizzie doorman hopped down the steps to help Loana down.

“Leopold Ghent is a wanker,” he called after her, breaking the silence.

“He’s railroad agent,” said his wife in a tone that was usually reserved for sweet nothings. “And Reenie is adorable.”

She swept up the four steps and as the lizzie held the door for her, she disappeared inside. Saba pulled the car around to the far side of the house and parked. He hopped out, opened the steam cock, and poured a bucket of water over the coals. The loud hiss startled three bambiraptors who had been feeding in the yard, unbothered by the normal chug of the vehicle.

Saba climbed the five cement steps that led to the side door and entered the kitchen. Not having to serve dinner this evening, the lizzie cook had been given the night off and the kitchen was pleasantly cool. Opening the froredor, he retrieved a soda water and pulled out the cork stopper with his left hand, his wife having successfully trained him not to do so with his teeth. He took a swig, then snorted and almost gagged. Lifting the bottle to look at the printing, he read. “Major Gortner’s ginger and mint flavor barley pop?” He opened the froredor again and looked inside finding five more of the imposters and not a single bottle of original Billingbow’s sarsaparilla and wintergreen soda water.

“Bugger all!” he slammed the door shut, rocking the magical freezing box back and forth and toppling a small, pink pot filled with red flowers to the floor where it shattered.

The next morning, Saba got up before his wife awakened. He dressed quickly in his grey suit and left through the kitchen. He didn’t stop for breakfast, just grabbed a crumpet from a pile that the cook was assembling. She hissed at him, but handed him a cup of tea. He folded the crumpet in half and stuffed it into his mouth, then set the steaming cup on the passenger seat as he lit the furnace and filled the boiler from the water jug by the side door. By the time the steam was up, he had finished with his tea, and left the empty cup on the step.