Literature / The Dragonslayers

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Let's play the "Which one's really the Rebellious Princess" game!

King Mildred raised his hand and said, "I pronounce you the Dragonslayers! Now go forth and slay this mighty beast."
He didn't notice the look in his daughters face, nor hear her mutter to herself, "Not if I get there first, Daddy."

Grizelda: (Singing)
"Revenge can be sweet
Can be fun
Can be fine"

The Dragonslayers is a both a musical and a children's book based off it (the latter written by Bruce Coville). It's the typical tale of a princess who needs to get married soon. Her parents are in despair, as she is not interested in anyone.

And then the dragon attacts the kingdom. But even with the king offering half the kingdom, and the princess's hand in marriage to the one who kills said dragon, no one is willing to take up the job except Elizar, who is old enough to be the princess's father. Naturally, she's not happy with this. Disguising herself as a boy, she runs off the kill the dragon herself. But the dragon isn't a "normal" dragon, and instead it is the creation of a witch, who wants revenge for something...

Along the way, the Princess-disguised-as-a-boy runs into Elizar (who is really the Kingdom's oldest squire), his page, Brian (who has a birthmark that could explain a lot of things), a talking bear, fox and cat and the one who created the dragon in the first place.

A CD with the songs from the musical can be bought from the website here.

This book contains examples of:

  • Distinguishing Mark: A dragon-shaped birthmark.
  • Eye of Newt: The first chapter includes a large list of items to create the dragon. The witch Phrenella is actually surprised that the trope namer isn't one of them. That's when Grizelda pulls out a live newt and says she's actually using the whole thing.
  • Heel–Face Turn: The witch Grizelda, once everyone finds out what happened.
  • Heroes Want Redheads The end result, as Brian marries Willie.
  • Honor Before Reason: Willie refuses to kill a giant spider while its back is turned.
  • I Call It "Vera": Brian names his sword Dragonwhacker.
  • "I Want" Song: At least three in the musical.
    • "Why Can't a Girl?" (Willie's Song)
    • "Revenge" (Grizelda's song)
    • "Father's Lament" (King Mildred)
    • "One of the Boys" (Brian)
  • I Owe You My Life: Throughout the book Willie, Brian, and Elizar each save a Talking Animal (Elizar quite by accident), who subsequently decide that the best use of their time is to help them on their quest, regardless of how...um...helpful they can actually be. (A bear, maybe. A housecat and a fox can only do so much where a dragon is involved.)
  • Luke, I Am Your Father: After her dragon is killed, Grizelda swoops in and informs Brian that she's his mother. When she points out the birthmark on his shoulder, which is how she knew, Elizar recognizes it as the one his son had. That's when they both realize who the other is.
  • May–December Romance: Averted and played straight. King Mildred offers his fourteen-year-old daughter's hand in marriage to the one who kills the dragon, then sends Elizar, who's old enough to be Princess Wilhelmina's grandfather, to do it; she avoids having to marry him by killing the dragon herself. Then it's played somewhat straighter when it turns out Elizar's long-lost wife, who was much younger than he was, is still alive and well.
  • Meaningful Rename: When she became a witch, the peasant woman Maureen renamed herself Grizelda to fit her new image.
  • My God, What Have I Done?: This is Grizelda's reaction when she realizes that Brian, the boy she just cursed so he won't be able to kill her dragon, is her long-lost son.
  • Our Dragons Are Different: The dragon in this story is a magical construct, who can only be killed if you learn its true name. It's Fear.
  • Parental Abandonment: Sort of. Elizar and Grizelda were married, but Elizar went off to war, and didn't come back. Later, Grizelda was working in the fields. When she returned home, she found her house on fire and her son gone.
  • Standard Hero Reward: King Mildred promises half the kingdom and his daughter's hand in marriage to whomever kills the dragon. When she kills it herself, it means she can choose her own husband.
  • Unfortunate Names:
    • King Mildred
    • Princess Wilhelmina (aka Willie).
  • Vengeful Widow: Grizelda thinks she's this, seeking revenge on the king for the loss of her husband and son. In fact, both are alive and well - Brian was rescued from the burning house by King Mildred and his men, but Grizelda didn't know this and abandoned the destroyed house in favor of finding a witch to teach her what she needed. Later, Elizar (whom Grizelda assumed had died in the war) returned to find his home destroyed. Thinking his wife and son were dead, he went wandering and eventually found employment at King Mildred's castle. Eventually, all three are reunited at the end of the book after Grizelda, having recognized Brian as her son, reveals their relationship and how she recognized him... and Elizar is shocked, because his son had the same birthmark as hers.

http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Literature/TheDragonslayers