Three years of strife have passed since Kale and Bardon freed Paladin's knights. Now, fiery dragons scorch their beautiful countryside as an evil husband-and-wife wizard duo battle one another for supremacy. The people of Amara just want to be left alone, hoping the conflict with disappear. But Paladin is dying, and Bardon and Kale-now married-must accept fateful assignments if their land is to survive. Will their efforts turn the tide against their adversaries?
They face a deadly threat-and a challenging choice.
Kale's responsibility is to find, hatch, and train an army of dragons, and she tackles the daunting task-until she is shocked by a betrayal. As the Amaran countrymen seek escape, she must search for her husband, family, and friends while organizing an underground movement to weaken the enemy. But when the end draws near, Kale must choose between two dismal destinies.
Prepare to experience breathtaking adventure and mind-blowing fantasy as never before in this stunning addition to Donita K. Paul's popular Dragon Keepers fantasy series.
Although uninitiated readers should certainly start from the beginning of the complex DragonKeeper series (DragonSpell; DragonQuest; DragonKnight), this fourth installment in the ongoing Christian fantasy will please its growing fan base. Whereas the third book focused most heavily on Bardon's adventures, this episode alternates between his story and the heroism of Kale, now Bardon's wife. Kale, charged with hatching and schooling a dragon army, enjoys help from her father but must summon strength and courage from reserves she didn't know she had. Many other fantasy series begin to wear thin after several books, but Paul continues to delight readers with new and unexpected dimensions of the world they have come to love. It's a challenge to keep up with the dizzying cast of characters, but the writing is crisp and the setting imaginative. This series will speak to all ages of Christian readers, from preadolescent on up. (July 17)
-- PUBLISHERS WEEKLY.
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July 16, 2007
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Excerpt from DragonFire by Donita K. Paul
Sir Bardon gripped his struggling wife in his arms.
"You're not rushing into that battered building, Kale." He lowered his voice to a more soothing tone. "Come on, lady of mine. You can control this urge."
With his arm encircling her waist, he felt her take a deep breath and let it out slowly. He loosened his grasp but remained wary. In this state she couldn't be trusted. Her talent sabotaged her judgment. Perhaps words of reason would override her compulsion.
"Remember, Kale, we must find Regidor and Gilda before it is too late." Kale's body tensed, and he reacted by tightening his hold just before she tried to lunge out of his arms toward the inn.
"Bardon, please." Her voice broke on the last word.
"I'm just as determined to keep you here as you are to go. Relax, Kale. Think."
He scanned the building she wanted to enter. One end had collapsed under the barrage of a recent battle. The other smoldered sullenly. The muscles in Bardon's face tightened. Fire dragons. I wonder how many? A drenching rain had doused the flames. How long ago? Where are the people to answer my questions?
The rain had finally stopped. The villagers had collected their dead. But still the acrid smells of war permeated the air.
"I have to go in, Bardon." Kale's voice shuddered as she pushed ineffectively against his hold.
"Yes, I know. All I'm asking is that you think first. That you plan."
She leaned her head back against his chest. Her skin smelled of citrus. He inhaled, relishing the fragrance, and rubbed his cheek against her hair. The brown locks in curly twists bounced against his face, tickling his nose.
Bardon regulated his breathing, willing Kale to fall into the same pattern, to draw from his reserve and strengthen her own. She ceased twitching. "I'll take Ardeo to light the way."
"Good," said Bardon.
Six minor dragons roosted on the saddle of Kale's horse. Their varied colors distinguished them as belonging to a special species both intelligent and willing to work with the seven high races. Ardeo flew from his companions and landed on Bardon's shoulder.
On this cloudy day, the dragon's pale skin looked mottled. In sunshine, his coloring resembled old pasty porridge. But in the dark, the dragon glowed with a moonlike aura.
Kale quivered within Bardon's arms. "I'll take Pat to help me pick the safest route." Another of the minor dragons flew to roost on her shoulder. He snuggled his plump brown body under her ear, rubbing his head against her chin with affection.
"Good." Bardon approved. The fix-it dragon would analyze the danger in the weakened building. Still, Bardon didn't much care for Kale going into the inn.
Her muscles stiffened, and he tightened his hold. He spoke to focus her attention. "What else? Think."
"I'll wear my moonbeam cape. That'll protect me some against splinters and scrapes."
"Fine." Bardon relaxed his grip. "You'll move slowly, with caution? You'll listen to Pat?"
"Yes." Kale nodded, her eyes fixed on the charred front door. Pat and Ardeo flew into the air and circled above the yard. Bardon dropped his arms to his side, and his wife took a step toward the shattered inn. Quickly, he placed a hand on her arm and turned her toward the horses.
"The cape," he said.
He positioned himself between her and the building until she pulled the garment from her saddlebag and draped it over her shoulders. He grasped the front lapels and pulled her to him, fastened the tie at her neck, and kissed her forehead.
"Stay out of trouble."
He watched her eyes focus, knowing her thoughts had finally settled on him, just him. A twinkle brightened the hazel gaze, replacing that distant look.
She mocked a curtsy. "Yes, my knight."
Without a doubt, his wife was a winsome creature. "Remember, you are my fair wizard." She tipped her face up with a saucy smile. Then he watched the awareness of him fade from her expression to be overtaken by the compulsion to enter that dangerous inn. He sighed and tenderly, but reluctantly, turned her away. She stepped forward without another word.
"Kale, don't be long. We haven't time." Bardon gestured to the two small dragons she had chosen to accompany her. "Pat, Ardeo, take care of her." Kale passed under a tilted entryway where the large beamed framework threatened to crash down around her. An ominous creak caused her to hop over the mantel. Inside, a splintered door lay across piles of rubble.
Most of the south wall had crumbled into a pile of rock and plaster. Above her, clouds provided a roof for the front third of the building. She zigzagged around broken furniture and rough boards that might have been part of the upstairs flooring.
With cautious steps, Kale made her way to the back. Pat and Ardeo darted through the air. Pat chirred his displeasure at the lack of stability in the building. The ceiling sagged, and she ducked under a half-fallen beam. A cascade of bed linens flowed from a hole in the ceiling. Ardeo and Pat flew to the second story, circled, and returned. The light dragon twittered. Kale nodded. "Not a living soul in the ruin. Fine." No one to interfere with her mission. Pat's thoughts bombarded her with vivid details of the devastation to the inn. She wasn't interested in what remained above, except that she preferred no loose flooring fall on her.
She braced herself against the pull of her talent. Downward. She must move downward. She must find the steps to the cellar. Stepping on a small pile of debris, she slid. Her foot landed on more secure flooring, and she steadied herself. A reminder. She must take care.
She had made Bardon a solemn promise. Pat uttered a series of shrieks, another reminder.
In the kitchen, pottery, dishes, and cutlery had rattled from the shelves. A broken sack of flour spilt over a sturdy table. But the walls stood upright, and only a few piles of plaster from the ceiling showed the beating the structure had taken.