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Literature / Dragons in Our Midst

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Dragons in Our Midst is a series of four novels written by author Bryan Davis. The series follows the adventures of two teens, Billy Bannister and Bonnie Silver. Billy is devastated to find that his father is in fact a dragon disguised in human skin to hide from a centuries-old dragon slayer and his squire. Bonnie has known that her mother was a dragon for years. Both teens carry traits from their dragon heritage. Bonnie has wings that she keeps hidden in a large hiking backpack, while Billy can breathe fire. When they are found and attacked by a slayer, they must fight for their lives.

Dragons in Our Midst was followed by another four-book series, titled Oracles of Fire. The first book, Eye of the Oracle, was a prequel to the DioM series, while the three others, Enoch's Ghost, Last of the Nephilim and The Bones of Makaidos, were all sequels to DioM. This series shifts its focus to other characters that were mostly in the background in the first series, such as Walter, Billy's best friend, and Ashley, an anthrozil (half-dragon, half-human) with a mind far more intelligent than a normal human. It also introduced several new characters, such as Sapphira Adi and Elam, the centuries-old teenagers. It also introduced several new villains, such as Goliath (a dragon, not the biblical giant), Mardon and Semiramis.

A third series, titled Children of the Bard, began in 2011, starring Billy and Bonnie's twin children.

A graphic novel of the first book is due in 2014. A Kickstarter project for it is underway.

These series provide examples of:

  • Academic Athlete: Ashley is not only super-intelligent (her dragon powers give that ability), but is the state of Montana's high school long-jump champion.
  • Adam and Eve Plot: This happens to Makaidos and Thigocia, who are the only two dragons to escape The Great Flood by being on Noah's Ark.
  • The Ageless: Anyone who eats the fruit of the tree that grew from the seed Morgan stole from Eden's Tree of Life. Notably: Morgan herself, Naamah, Sapphira, and Elam.
  • Aliens in Cardiff: The first two books are pretty much "Dragons in West Virginia and Montana" — the two half-dragons Billy and Bonnie meet in a small town in West Virginia. The former's father lives there as well; it is justified as he was hiding from dragonslayers and needed an obscure middle-of-nowhere place to remain hidden. In the second book, there is a third half-dragon, Ashley, living in a remote lab near Missoula, Montana, with her father's dangerous experiments hidden from the public eye there.
  • Anyone Can Die: Whether they stay dead is another matter...
  • Big Bad Wannabe: Most villains who aren't the above mentioned Big Bad.
  • Bittersweet Ending: Just about all of them, but especially Tears of a Dragon and The Bones of Makaidos.
  • Blessed with Suck: Billy and Bonnie's anthrozil powers don't necessarily endear them to people. Billy accidentally sets off the school fire alarm when his fire breath is first developing and is subsequently framed for smoking, and Bonnie is mistaken for a monster while escaping from the school (with Billy in tow).
    • Of course, their abilities eventually are turned around to be Cursed with Awesome, though both tropes are played back and forth throughout the series, depending on the situation they’re in.
  • Break the Cutie: Walter was a fun-loving boy scout in the first book. Just about everything goes downhill for him for a long, long time. He turned out pretty well in the end, though.
    • Karen and Paili also fit this trope rather well.
  • Cast Herd: The first series cast was large, but manageable. The second series added entire hordes of new characters.
  • Catchphrase: Ashley's "Too much information can make your brain choke".
    • Also a Meaningful Echo of sorts for the audience when the prequel, Eye of the Oracle, reveals Ashley's mother Thigocia saying "Too much information can be taxing on our brains", several thousand years before Ashley was even born.
    • Thigocia also repeats the Catchphrase verbatim while cradling the newborn Ashley.
  • Cell Phones Are Useless: Justified: dimension hopping equals horrible reception.
  • Collapsing Lair: In The Candlestone, after dragonform Devin's death, Ashley and Dr. Connor's lab starts to collapse, requiring everyone to get to safety.
  • Combat Medic: Ashley in The Bones of Makaidos. Learned swordfighting and has the anthrozil powers to heal, both used in battle in the book.
  • Cool Big Sis: Ashley is looked up to by her younger adopted sisters due to her empathy as well as her incredible intelligence. Especially when they were being experimented on by her Mad Scientist grandfather.
  • Cool Gate: Sapphira has the ability to create portals in space and across dimensions via her abilities as an Oracle of Fire.
  • Cool Sword: Excalibur, which in the series can transluminate enemies into light.
  • Cool Teacher: Professor Charles Hamilton. Why did I never learn about King Arthur in high school?
  • Cursed with Awesome
    • This trope swaps places with Blessed with Suck back and forth throughout the series, depending on when/where/with whom the characters find themselves.
  • Cute Monster Girl: Bonnie when she was younger and grew out her dragon wings. Many characters compare her to an angel.
  • Damsel out of Distress: Bonnie. She's in peril a lot, but it doesn't stop her from doing her best to thwart the bad guys and help Billy save her (sometimes, she even saves him).
  • David Versus Goliath: Whenever any of the kids are fighting, but especially when the Watchers and Nephilim show up.
  • Death Is Cheap: Healing, prayer, and certain artifacts (e.g. the titular Bones of Makaidos) have the ability to resurrect, which are fairly common in the series, if they are readily available. Which made Karen's death even more of a punch to the gut.
  • Designated Girl Fight: Invoked by Devin in the first book. While he has mostly-male mooks capture Billy, he has a woman (Olga) go after the dragoness Bonnie. Although it doesn't stop him from attempting the job himself.
  • Designated Victim: Bonnie, especially in the first few books as her lack of combat skill (and her wings or backpack making her easy to spot) makes her an easy target for the villains. Though this doesn't stop her from getting her moments.
  • Disappears into Light: Victims of Excalibur (e.g. Devin in the first book) get this. Lucky ones can get their souls transferred into a candlestone, though.
  • Dogged Nice Guy: Walter, of the patient friend variety
  • The Dragon: Puns aside, there are several, but Palin probably fits the description best as he frequently assists Devin with the dragon-slaying.
  • Easy Evangelism: Subverted. If anyone converts to Christianity, there is going to be a LOT of work to get them to that point.
  • Even Evil Has Standards: Doctor Connor, a Mad Scientist that experimented on adopted young girls, did something either lethal or incapacitating to the pedophile he caught assaulting Stacey.
  • Exact Eavesdropping: How Billy learns his true heritage in the first book.
  • Exactly What It Says on the Tin: The first series is about dragons and half-dragons trying to fit into the modern day world, while also trying desperately to stay hidden.
  • Excalibur: The characters' weapon with the ability to dissolve its targets into light.
  • Fingore: Shiloh loses a finger while trapped in the sixth circle. It very briefly becomes a source of romantic angst early on in her relationship with Gabriel.
  • Fish out of Temporal Water: The Arthurian-era knights were trapped in a candlestone until released in the modern day. For extra humor, they went around wearing kitchy leisure suits the first time they wore non-medieval clothing.
  • Foster Kid: Bonnie. At first. Also Matt (Charlie) and Lauren (Karen).
  • Freakiness Shame: Bonnie is ashamed of her dragon wings and hides them in a special backpack to go to school or even do anything in public. Her destined love interest, Billy, finds them lovely. (The backpack also made sure she didn't advertise her existence to the dragon slayers.)
  • Gadgeteer Genius: Ashley, who creates the artificial intelligence Larry as well as Apollo, a teleportation device.
  • Gambit Pileup: It can get pretty confusing, with Morgan, Devin, Mardon, Semiramis, possessed Arramos, Valcor, Merlin, the Professor, and a few others all contributing.
  • Generation Xerox: The Prof looks a LOT like his distant ancestor, Merlin, to the point that several of the dragons (notably Clefspeare) think he is his ancestor when they first meet him.
  • Good Wings, Evil Wings: Inverted. Bonnie has leathery draconic wings, while the Watchers have more typically angelic wings.
  • "Groundhog Day" Loop: In Tears of a Dragon, Billy and Bonnie arrive in Dragons’ Rest only to find that all the former dragons have been living identical versions of a single day over and over again, but without any memory or realization of anything beyond the given day they’re currently in.
  • Happily Married: Marilyn and Jared Bannister, Carl and Catherine Foley, dragons Makaidos and Thigocia, eventually Ashley and Walter Foley, Billy and Bonnie Bannister, Elam and Sapphira, and Shiloh and Gabriel Drake.
  • Healing Hands: Not really healing “hands” so much as “wings”, but a few of the dragons and anthrozils (most notably Thigocia and Ashley) have the ability to heal others under the right conditions.
  • Identical Twin ID Tag: After Sapphira cuts her hair short, that’s how people tell her and Acacia apart.
  • Kill It with Fire: Some more demonic (and mundane) enemies are defeated by dragon flame. Also note that in The Candlestone, Billy kills Palin with his dragon breath and conveniently-placed gas canisters.
  • Knight Templar: Devin and Palin, who would really go off the deep end in their slaying of evil dragons, killing any dragon that exists, good or evil.
  • Lethal Harmless Powers: When not trained in the arts of combat, Bonnie can only... fly. And soon learns that she can pick her enemies up, fly upward many dozens of feet, and (threaten to) drop them to their deaths. Or pick up heavy stones and toss them below.
  • Load-Bearing Boss: The Candlestone has the death of dragonform Devin causing the secret lab to collapse.
  • Like Brother and Sister: Makaidos tries to invoke this with Thigocia to get out of the Adam and Eve Plot (see above). Subverted eventually when they become deeply in love and devoted to one another.
  • Love Redeems: This trope is played with quite a bit.
    • One really interesting inversion of this trope occurs when Naamah is saved by Elam. She tried to seduce him when she was evil, and it is only after she gives up on trying to make him love her and begs him for genuine forgiveness that she is redeemed.
  • Made a Slave: Elam, by Morgan, after being kidnapped from his family. This is the series’ explanation for why the Biblical character vanished from record.
  • Manly Tears: The author doesn’t shy away from this trope for his male heroes.
  • Mayfly–December Romance: Any dragon/human relationships (anthrozils excepted).
    • Sapphira and Elam started out as this, but after Elam became immortal and hung around for a few thousand years, the age difference was very minimal.
  • Meaningful Name: Mardon and Morgan give these to the underborns to remind them of their place.
    Mardon: We give all the laborers names that reflect the sadness of their lot in life. It only makes sense.
  • Meaningful Rename: In Eye of the Oracle, Mara (whose name means “bitter”), is given the new name “Sapphira” (after her brilliant blue eyes, to signify that even though she is a slave she has beauty and value. Never mind who gave her the name change).
  • Misfit Mobilization Moment: Most battles in this series involve an assortment of dragons, humans, anthrozils, Oracles of Fire, and centuries-old teenagers, as well as a Biblical giant and a talking horse.
  • Mundane Utility: Billy uses his fire breath to do lots of mundane stuff, from heating up Bunsen burners and Pop-tarts to burning logs in a fireplace.
  • Music for Courage: Many times in Eye of the Oracle. There’s also Bonnie’s rendition of Psalm 139.
  • Mysterious Transfer Student: Bonnie, who is introduced in the first book with a rather large backpack that she never takes off.
  • Never Bareheaded: Sapphira wears a coif/headscarf/hat/veil/sunglasses at all times to hide her stark-white hair and unnaturally brilliant blue eyes. Overlaps with Please Keep Your Hat On, although it’s Sapphira invoking the trope for herself, not others requesting her to enforce it.
  • Noble Demon: Palin. Had the perfect opportunity to kill Bonnie, but did not take it. Later defied Devin in the slayer's attempt to kill several of the heroes. He was promptly Killed Off for Real for his actions.
    • Not to mention the reason he dies (the second time) is that he tries to convince Devin that what they've been doing is wrong.
  • No Loves Intersect: For the most part, Karen and Namaah are the exceptions for their respective possible love interests. Karen dies, then Naamah... re-dies...
  • Official Couple: A whole slew of them by the end of The Bones of Makaidos: Bonnie and Billy, Ashley and Walter, Sapphira and Elam, Gabriel and Shiloh, to name a few.
  • One-Winged Angel: The otherwise human Devin becomes a massive dragon in The Candlestone.
  • Out of Focus: Billy and Bonnie are rarely mentioned in most of the Oracles of Fire.
  • Playing with Fire: Sapphira and Acacia can make it, Billy breathes it. And of course, any of the dragons in their native form can also breathe fire.
  • Plucky Comic Relief: Walter Foley, especially in the first four books. Not as much in Oracles of Fire, but he definitely has his moments.
    Walter: So we have... Me, Elam, Billy, Bonnie, Valiant, Candle, Yereq, Sir Barlow, and Sapphira. That's nine of us and the dragons. [whistles] I don't know about you, but if we're facing hundreds of crazed warriors trained to kill, I'd like at least ten.
  • Power Glows: Excalibur does this as it is a very powerful mystical weapon.
  • Power Nullifier: Candlestones, to dragons and anthrozils, weakening them as if Kryptonite to Superman.
  • Public Domain Character: Several characters (including Nephilim, etc.) from The Bible, as well as that from Arthurian Legend. A backstory on how the last dragons were hidden involved Merlin's "magic" (though it is not expressed as such), and even one of the major characters, Billy, is the second coming of King Arthur.
  • Prophecies Rhyme All the Time: There are loads of these.
  • Rage Against the Heavens: What most of the villains are doing, though their methods and time frames all vary. None of them are ultimately successful.
  • Raised by Grandparents: Ashley, who was raised by her grandfather Isaac Stalworth after her parents' deaths. Subverted in that we learn Isaac Stalworth is not actually her grandfather, but just a family friend.
  • Red Shirts: Most of Devin's underlings, no matter what century.
  • Required Secondary Powers: Averted hard with Billy and Bonnie's dragon powers. The former has fire breath and does not have fireproofing himself. He constantly feels his mouth burn and drinks lots of water and soda to keep the heat down. The latter has large dragon wings (with no Hammerspace) and must wear a large backpack to hide them, frequently arousing concern. Also note that Bonnie is still a clumsy flier, though she improves over the series.
  • Second Coming: The main character, Billy Bannister, is the second coming of King Arthur.
  • Sibling Team: Acacia and Sapphira, whenever they're actually in the same place at the same time.
  • Sibling Yin-Yang: Twins Valcor and Hartanna definitely show shades of this.
  • She's All Grown Up: Paili, who took on a human name, grew up in the real world, and got married and had a kid.
  • Slave Mooks: Many in the first act of Eye of the Oracle, both underborns and kidnapped humans who were Made a Slave.
  • Soul Jar: Candlestones can hold souls of various defeated beings. The titular candlestone in The Candlestone holds Devin's soul, as well as that of Arthurian-era knights.
  • Spider-Sense: Billy and the dragons have an ability to sense immediate danger.
  • Strong Family Resemblance: Between Bonnie and Shiloh, who are cousins. This becomes very plot relevant.
  • Surprisingly Realistic Outcome: Many throughout the series. A few notable examples:
    • Having powers of dragons without the Required Secondary Powers comes with its drawbacks. In the beginning, Billy is not immune to his own fire-breathing power, which he literally has to squelch with large amounts of water and soda, which helps kick-start the plot in action when he has to use the bathroom after consuming too much fluid.
    • Bonnie has large dragon wings. They are very hard to hide and require a large backpack to do so. The book also hints that she is a clumsy flier, often unable to get away by getting off the ground, because wings were simply not designed for humans. Even when she was able to carry Billy up in the air, it was quite a struggle to do so.
    • Raising Dragons also recognizes the dangers of parachuting at a low altitude, and with two people using one parachute. While all parachutes successfully deployed, nearly everyone still got injured — and possibly would have been killed had the trees not softened their landing.
    • In The Candlestone, Billy ends up killing his kidnapper Palin, who was about to kill him. Even though it was in self-defense, and against a monster that tried to kill his family and friends, did he feel great about it? No. After the fight he felt very ill, weeping heavily. After all, he still killed a man, and in a rather grotesque way as well.
    • And in a similar sense, Billy's battle with Palin himself. Billy used a breath of fire to ignite some gasoline. Palin used a shield to protect himself from the flames, but his exposed legs and arm still got roasted, and soon he collapsed and died from the burns, defying Convection, Schmonvection. Turns out a medieval-era shield will NOT protect you from a roaring wall of fire.
  • Take That!: Against the entire human race, courtesy of the possessed Arramos.
  • A Taste of the Lash: Nabal uses this on many of Morgan’s underborns, specifically Mara (albeit very briefly) and Elam’s fellow brick-maker (who died from the experience).
  • Team Hand-Stack: Billy, Walter, Ashley, and Bonnie have one of these in The Bones of Makaidos before the final battle.
    • Walter, Billy, and Ashley also have one at the end of The Last of the Nephilim.
  • Tempting Apple: Morgan produces fruit that is essentially identical to that of the Tree of Life in the original Garden of Eden.
  • Thou Shalt Not Kill: Interestingly subverted: a lot of emphasis is put on killing honorably (through fair fights) instead of dishonorably (ambushes, back stabbing, etc.), but this doesn't stop several of the heroes from having a fairly high kill count, especially the dragons.
  • Through His Stomach: Though she wasn’t setting out to win his heart originally, Sapphira befriended Elam by feeding him through a hole in the wall when they were slaves. Later, they often refer back to this event (with the wiggling fingers gesture) as shorthand for “I love you.” Elam also says that he would devote his life to “the girl who risked her life to feed me."
  • Took a Level in Badass: Most notably Walter, Billy, and Bonnie, who go from regular teenagers in the first book to full-fledged fighters in The Bones of Makaidos. Bonnie especially, in which she went from evasion and prayer in her introduction to defeating the black knight Devin via decapitation in the last book.
  • Tower of Babel: The Eye of the Oracle features the actual Biblical story—now with dragons and inter-dimensional science.
  • Tsundere: Ashley is of the "tragic past" type (her mother died when she was young). She is largely dere, being kind around her adopted sisters, with her tsun side mostly appearing towards Walter during his jokes. This gets lampshaded in Circles of Seven with a passenger on a flight to England, after Walter angered Ashley:
    "Brilliant and filled with fire, isn't she, Walter?"
    ...Walter pulled his backpack higher and let out a nervous laugh. "I guess so. But she has a good heart."
  • Unexplained Recovery: Several different people. Doctor Conner, Roxil, Goliath, any dragon who ended up in Dragons Rest, the original ten female dragons who became human, Arramos (sort of), Billy, Bonnie... the list goes on.) It would actually probably be easier to list the subversions.
  • Voluntary Shapeshifting: Morgan had some limited uses of this power in her backstory, as seen in early chapters of Eye of the Oracle when she transformed into a raven.
  • Wacky Marriage Proposal: Walter proposes to Ashley by building a snowman kneeling in front of a snowwoman on the roof of a greenhouse. He rigs the hand of the snowman to melt, revealing an actual engagement ring it is presenting to the snowwoman. He then goes on to make a dramatic speech in true Walter style.
  • Weddings for Everyone: This occurs at the end of The Bones of Makaidos with the triple wedding ceremony of Walter and Ashley, Elam and Sapphira, and Billy and Bonnie.
  • Who Wants to Live Forever?: Sapphira, Acacia, and Elam all go through bouts of feeling like this during the several-thousand-year period of waiting in Eye of the Oracle. Considering they were almost totally isolated for much of that period, it’s impressive that they didn’t suffer serious psychological issues.
  • Wild Mass Guessing: The forums would always be most active a few weeks before the book came out. One of the biggest topics was about Palin, specifically why he didn't kill Bonnie.
    • When a member guessed that Palin had a daughter at one point and couldn't bring himself to kill someone else's little girl, Davis's response was that the member was "sowing a fertile field" .
  • Winged Humanoid: Bonnie, the Watchers, Gabriel.
    • Also, it's implied in the epilogue for The Bones of Makaidos that one of Billy and Bonnie's twins will grow a pair of wings when he or she gets older.
  • World Tree: Morgan’s “tree of life” is a smaller version, planted from seeds of the original.

Alternative Title(s): Raising Dragons