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Literature / Dragoncharm

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Dragoncharm front cover, with Cumber overlooking Aether's Cross

Dragoncharm is the first in a trilogy of fantasy novels written by Graham Edwards, and is extremely unusual, if not unique, because almost all of the main characters are dragons.

There are two sub-types of dragons, the Charmed and the Naturals. The Charmed have the ability to use magic, while the Naturals do not - and that has caused bitter animosity between the two. The story follows a young Natural dragon named Fortune, who teams up with a Charmed named Cumber. Together, they embark on an journey to warn the dragon king of the destruction of their settlement as a result of this fantastic racism. They discover en route, however, that the destruction is spreading faster than they can, so they must find another way to save the world...

Graham Edwards wrote a sequel named Dragonstorm, and the final instalment in the series is Dragonflame.

Dragoncharm provides examples of the following tropes:

  • Action Girl: Gossamer and Velvet both qualify.
  • Act of True Love: How Gossamer convinces Fortune to give up the Seed if Charm
  • Addictive Magic: A moment towards the end of the book where Charm abruptly becomes unavailable to the Charmed is a clearly agonizing one for all of the Charmed.
  • Adults Are Useless: Played with. Scoff is by far the oldest dragon, who accompanies Fortune and his growing band of travelling companions. At first he is more or less apathetic, and his advice can be construed as cantankerous. He becomes more helpful as he feels more engaged with the younger dragons, though.
  • All Up to You: Fortune occasionally finds himself in situations like this, including when he finds himself alone in the Maze of Covamere and the final confrontation with Wraith.
  • Ambition Is Evil: Wraith wants to ensure that Charm lives on rather than just hibernate, which is what it's meant to do, and is willing to do some pretty evil things to make it happen.
  • Ape Shall Never Kill Ape: Averted several times.
    • Shatter breaks an egg and the neck of an infant dragon to frame the Charmed and incite a riot.
    • Pander has no problem doing a mind-swap with Cumber, which would leave Cumber in Pander's dying body.
    • Wraith uses so many of his followers to set off booby traps to the entrance of the Maze that even in their Fantastic Racism-incited fervour, his followers eventually start cheering him a little less enthusiastically.
  • Artifact of Attraction: The Seed of Charm is this.
  • Babies Ever After: Fortune and Gossamer have one, although its gender and name are not given until the sequel, Dragonstorm.
  • Badass Adorable: Velvet, Cumber and Fortune certainly don't disappoint.
  • Badass Bookworm: Books don't exist in this story, information appears to be passed on orally instead, but Mantle qualifies.
    • Averted with Ordinal, Cumber's tutor, who is murdered by Naturals at South Point on the night of the riot.
  • Badass Normal: Fortune and Cumber, two very ordinary youngsters from a sleepy population, both of whom wonder how they ever ended up as heroes.
  • Bearer of Bad News: Fortune and Cumber meant to be this, before the tide of madness caused by the death-throes of Charm overtook them.
  • Beauty Is Never Tarnished: Gossamer is pretty much beauty incarnate, in terms of her outward looks and personality. Despite often being at the centre of events, she never seems to sustain any injuries or get dirty. In fact, the 'beauty' trope is exaggerated later when Cumber turns her pure white
  • Beware the Nice Ones: Cumber demonstrates this by luring Hex into the Realm, using himself as bait, and leaving again once he sees the raw charms inside tearing Hex apart.
  • Big Bad: Wraith.
  • Bilingual Bonus: Averted. One morning, Cumber wakes up and thinks of the ancient Charmed word for "beginning", whis is the same word as for "morning"... but the narrative doesn't tell us what it is.
  • Break the Cutie: Several.
    • Fortune makes a plan to sneak into the Charmed caves at South Point with his friend, Wood, just to see what the Charmed look like and the kinds of things they get up to, but ends up being split from Wood and has to flee the entire colony in a hurry. He has to leave his mother behind and doesn't know if she has escaped too or not, and as he travels further away discovers that the rioting that caused his home colony to collapse is happening to the entire world.
    • Cumber gets cornered in his home caves by a mob of angry Naturals, sees his tutor torn to pieces, and flees with Fortune, whom he doesn't yet know if he can trust. He also lures a dangerous Charmed dragon keeping himself and his friends captive to his death. Later he experiences Realmshock, a kind of puberty for Charm-wielders, which strikes him dumb for several days and culminates in him almost roasting Fortune, Gossamer and Brace alive.
    • Gossamer and Brace are both fascinated by Charmed dragons and indulge regularly in Charmed-spotting, or 'hole-watching' as it's called in-universe until the day they are abducted by visitors to the same Charmed colony. Once they are released, both have no option but to leave their home behind, and Brace becomes determined to take revenge on the Charmed.
    • Velvet is a forest dragon who only ever expected a straightforward life. Then her entire forest is burned to the ground.
  • Brother-Sister Team: Gossamer and Brace, although they become more of a team later in the story.
  • But Now I Must Go: Wood pulls this in the dying embers of the Maze.
  • Come with Me If You Want to Live: Fortune meets Tallow this way. Fortune has been spat out of the Maze and is hopelessly lost in unfamiliar territory during a snow-storm, and injured to boot. Luckily Tallow is a pathfinder extroadinaire.
  • Dad the Veteran: Wood's father, Barker, becomes this throughout the story.
  • Darkest Hour: Fortune has one when the Maze rejects him. When Tallow finds him, he pretty much decides to make a completely fresh start of his life - until he discovers that Gossamer and the others are still alive, at which point he becomes absolutely dilerious with joy
  • Dark Is Evil: Zigzagged. Wraith is black and is, but so is Mantle, but he is not evil.
  • Despair Speech: Brace's 'they're all dead' announcement to Fortune. All the sadder when you remember that his sister, whom he swore to protect, is among those he believes is dead. Thankfully he's wrong.
  • Disney Death: This is how Wraith dies.
  • Doomed Hometown: Fortune, Wood and Cumber's home, South Point, burns at the climax of the riot.
  • Earn Your Happy Ending: Charm is dying, and may stay dead if the Seed of Charm isn't planted beyond the stars. Mantle is able to do that, but the Basilisk wants to destroy it, Wraith wants to own it, and it's all too possible that dragons will die in the crossfire. As the book goes on, staying alive becomes harder and harder.
  • Eldritch Abomination: The inhabitants of the Realm are this.
  • Eldritch Location: The Realm.
  • Elves vs. Dwarves: Charmed vs. Naturals.
  • Evil Overlord: Wraith.
  • Fantastic Racism: The whole trilogy runs off this. The Naturals are afraid of the Charmed and their weird magic powers, while the Charmed are uneasy and disdainful of the magicless Naturals.
  • Forbidden Zone: Weft and Piper died in one of these. The Charmed set up parts of the forest as off-limits to the Naturals, who occasionally venture in regardless. Weft and Piper did so for a dare and died swiftly.
  • Giant Spider: Sort of. Wraith has two forelegs, two hindlegs and a pair of wings like most Charmed dragons (making 6 limbs), but uniquely among the Charmed, he has also grown two extra forelimbs, which he uses as forearms. Gossamer instinctively likens him to a spider - and Brace confirms that Wraith is huge.
  • Green-Eyed Monster: Brace has a long history with jealousy, firstly suspecting that his parents don't love him quite as deeply as they love his sister, Gossamer. He chooses to hate himself instead of her. When she falls in love with Fortune, Brace immediately takes his long-pent-up resentment out on him.
  • Healing Hands: Healing wings, in this instance, since the Naturals are technically wyverns, not dragons. Gossamer uses simple magic to heal Wood back to health after his near-fatal fight with Shatter.
  • Hero of Another Story: A few.
    • Welkin, Fortune's father, entered the Maze of Covamere and came out the other side. Not only that, he rescued Wraith, who had gotten lost.
    • Destater, a Charmed dragon from ancient times, who hatched while his egg was in free-fall, learned to fly within a few beats of his wings and refused ever to touch the ground thereafter. The story implies he has legendary status beyond this but rarely touches on why.
    • Tallow is greeted enthusiastically by Volley, who says he had been worried about Tallow. Tallow's answer? "I could hardly let some fire and ice get in my way, could I?"
  • The Horde: The Naturals are this to the Charmed.
  • Karmic Death: When Wraith tries to take the Seed of Charm, dying shreds of the Maze collapse around him, killing him.
  • Last Stand: Fortune and Wraith in the heart of the Maze.
  • MacGuffin: The Seed of Charm, although it does have power.
  • MacGuffin Escort Mission: Mantle is the only one who can take the Seed of Charm beyond the stars, where it needs to go in order to germinate and create another aeon of Charm.
  • Manly Tears: Crying appears to be acceptable among male dragons in Dragoncharm. Once Fortune and Cumber are out of immediate danger, the tragedy of the destruction of South Point catches up with them and they cry on each others' shoulders.
  • Meaningful Name: Several.
    • Fortune plays a pivotal part in securing the future of Charm.
    • Gossamer is notably slender.
    • Cumber is encumbered with a burden: he must take bad news to the dragon leader.
    • Brutus is noticably heavy-set.
    • Barker is described as having a very loud voice.
  • The Mentor: More than one.
    • Ordinal became this to Cumber after his parents died
    • Tallow is this to Fortune, initially by teaching him better flying technique (Fortune learned to fly in a hurry when leaving South Point), and occasionally offering advice and suggestions later on.
  • Names to Run Away from Really Fast: Wraith, Shatter, and Brutus.
  • Odd Friendship: Fortune, being a Natural, and Cumber, being a Charmed, ellicit surprise from more than one character by being obviously great pals.
  • Official Couple: Fortune and Gossamer.
  • Offscreen Moment of Awesome: Destater's life appears to have been full of these.
  • Oh, Crap!: Several, including but not limited to:
    • During their tour into the South Point caves, Cumber states that the Charmed population is small. Fortune doesn't believe that could be possible and starts listing the assumed heirarchy of the population of Charmed dragons. He assumes there must be at least seventy-five, so is horrified when Cumber cuts him off by saying, "Seven".
    • The night that Fortune wakes up and sees a humanoid giant (which is much bigger than he is)
    • The dragons of Aether's Cross when the Charmed descended on them at dawn.
  • Old Windbag: Cumber's first impression of Scoff.
  • One Sided Battle: The riot of South Point, with the Naturals vastly out-numbering the Charmed. Though, the battle isn't quite as one-sided as one might first assume, since a Charm-wielder can do a lot of damage such as spontaneously opening the veins in a dragon's nose to make them bleed heavily, swap bodies with another dragon, or petrify other dragons.
  • Parental Favoritism: Gossamer and Brace's parents appear to have preferred Gossamer.
  • Psychic Powers: Sometimes played straight, sometimes averted.
    • The Charmed have magic powers but can't read minds. The fact that they can read facial expressions (but only as well as the average Natural) combined with paranoia on the Naturals' part sometimes makes the Naturals think they can.
    • The Seed of Charm can speak directly into a dragon's mind.
  • The Quest: Cumber has to deliver the news of the fate of South Point to the dragon leader, Halcyon.
  • Right Under Their Noses: Cumber and Scoff manage to weave a spell between them to effectively turn Fortune invisible so that they can sneak him past a pair of Charmed sentries.
  • Rousing Speech: An off-screen example. Tallow takes Fortune to meet the Flight. The leader asks him his thoughts on Shatter, the Charmed, and the general state of affairs. He ends up talking half the night away and realises, part way through, that he's been doing all of the talking and everyone - even Tallow - are watching him like an audience. However, his flow comes to an abrupt halt when the Flight's leader, Werth, asks him what actions should go with his inspiring words and Tallow steps in to end the discussion gracefully.
  • Sanity Slippage: Plenty of it, and not all of them are Charmed.
    • Shatter is hardly the poster child of mental health from the start, but as time goes on, he becomes more and more sick. By the time the final third of the book, he has ceased to believe in the existence of any other dragon aside from himself, and thinks they're all either hallucinations to be swatted away or irrelevant.
    • Stition and Rite of Aether's Cross, although they seem to be in a far worse state than most Charmed.
    • Wraith has a moment in the Heart of the Maze when Wood turns up and he notices that Wood and Fortune have some very similar mannerisms that happen to coincide with a Natural he met many years ago - Welkin - who was Fortune's father and Wood's non-blood uncle.
  • Simultaneous Arcs: The author is quite prone to these.
    • Fortune and Cumber are separated at Aether's Cross, leaving Fortune to get acquainted with Gossamer, and Cumber to figure out how to escape his cell, find Fortune and then escape Aether's Cross.
    • Fortune and Cumber head into the Maze, leaving Gossamer and Brace behind.
    • Then Gossamer is separated from Brace, and Fortune from Cumber.
  • Stay on the Path: Averted with the Maze. The Maze is conscious, and decides for itself whether to let you find its centre. It doesn't matter which way you go, it'll move around you to make sure you go whichever way suits its agenda.
  • Story-Breaker Power: Charm itself. When Scoff explains to Fortune and Gossamer what's happening with Cumber during Realmshock, he reveals that Charm is devastatingly powerful. How devastating? "Could destroy the world if misused."
  • Symbolic Wings: The Charmed have all sort of options for this, since they can shape-shift. The only limit is their imagination, really. Examples include:
    • Cumber has reduced his wings to two, tiny virtual leaves on his shoulders. He can't use them to power flight, but can use Charm to float, and flaps his wings (slowly) to simulate flight.
    • Scoff is a fairly drab green all over his body, with little in the way of spines, fronds or anything else elaborate. His wings, however, are a stark contrast to this: their design includes a mosaic of rainbow scales.
  • Terrain Sculpting: Fortune and Cumber see an earth giant throwing stones into the air and letting them fall in a circle. In the Dragoncharm universe, earth giants are far bigger than any dragon.
  • Took a Level in Badass: Brace starts as an overweight, overlooked object of ridicule. At the end of the story, he arranges a rescue party to travel with him to Aether's Cross to rescue the trapped dragons there.
  • True Companions: Fortune, Cumber, Scoff, and Gossamer become this.
  • Underground City: The Charmed tend to feel more comfortable in caves, so we see a handful of cave systems throughout the story including at South Point, Aether's Cross and Covamere.
  • Vestigial Empire: The entire Charmed community (ie., the entire landmass on which the story takes place) is falling apart, because their power is weakening and many Charmed are going insane, but Wraith wants to be the king of it all.
  • Villainous Breakdown: Wraith has one in the heart of the Maze when Wood turns up unexpectedly. He's freaked out because Wood and Fortune have the same 'look' as Welkin, whom he met many years ago and who rescued him when he got lost in the Maze of Covamere - a fact he finds humiliating. He has an attack of acute paranoia, wondering if Welkin's spirit inhabits all Natural dragons. If that is true, then even if he becomes the ruler of all dragons, he will never be free of his painful past.
  • Warrior Poet: Volley likes to sing - and is quite a bruiser when he wants to be.
  • Where It All Began: The prologue shows Welkin's final twelve hours or so, where he offers fatherly comfort and guidance to Wood, and names Fortune in the morning before dying.
  • Who Wants to Live Forever?: Two examples.
    • The immortal basilisk wakes up from a very long sleep and sees an opportunity to die by fusing with a dragon. It fuses with Wraith.
    • Wraith's reaction to the basilisk is utter revulsion. He wants to prevail but is clever enough not to want immortality.
  • Woman in White: Three examples:
    • Gossamer and Velvet are both turned white by Cumber to camouflage them in the snow.
    • Solice, a militant Charmed dragon who unwittingly gives Cumber the idea to camouflage himself and the two female dragons when he spots her on patrol.
  • Woobie, Destroyer of Worlds: The basilisk has lived for a very long time, and all it wants to do is die. When the Maze is in its death-throes, the basilisk eats the remains and then projects its will into Fortune so that it can make Fortune crush the Seed of Charm so that Charm truly dies.
  • You Can't Fight Fate: Zigzagged. Charm is dying, although many of the Charmed are in denial or trying to find ways to avert its demise. They needn't worry, since although Charm is going into hibernation and needs preparation to come back out in a few thousand years, there's nothing unnatural about its weakening.

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