Dragon's Winter is a High Fantasy by World Fantasy Award-winning author Elizabeth A Lynn. The story revolves around twin brothers, Karadur and Tenjiro, sons of the dragon lord of Ippa. Karadur is a dragon-child like his father, but Tenjiro is as human as their mother...and jealous of his elder brother. When Karadur grows to manhood, Tenjiro leaves their home to study magic. But the only power he desires is his brother's, and so Tenjiro betrays his brother, binding his power and preventing him from taking his dragon form.
Meanwhile, a man called Wolf arrives in the nearby village of Sleeth. The winters of Ippa grow longer and colder than any can remember. And rumors from the north speak of a strange Black Citadel risen from the earth, and with it terrible creatures from the oldest of legends. From the north, monsters appear — threatening soldiers and villagers alike — and Karadur is left with no choice but to ride to war against his brother.
The book garnered general praise when it debuted, including from such luminaries as George R.R. Martin.
The sequel, Dragon's Treasure, was released six years after the first novel was published.
Like many of Lynn's previous works, the Dragon series contains representation of non-heterosexual relationships, in this case between the main character Karadur and his best friend Azil. While it could be considered Homoerotic Subtext in the first book, there is blatant confirmation in Dragon's Treasure, in which Azil describes Karadur as his lover while they lie in bed together. For some reason, marketing of the books tends to focus on the conflict between Karadur and his brother (for the first book) and the romance with his female love interest (for the second book), at the expense of the equally important subplot of Karadur and Azil's relationship.
This novel provides examples of:
- Anyone Can Die - Wolf was presented as a main character until roughly halfway through the book when he's unceremoniously killed. No wonder George R.R. Martin liked this book.
- Battle Couple - Karadur and Azil, sort of. Karadur, as liege of the land, is also the commander of his armies. Azil rides to battle with him, but after suffering torture and the crippling of his hands, there's not much he can do in the fray. Still, he practices riding and refuses to be left behind as the army rides off to war.
- Beta Couple - Wolf and Thea during the first part of the book. Hawk and Huw later on.
- Cain and Abel - Karadur and Tenjiro
- Cain and Abel and Seth - Karadur and Tenjiro and Azil
- Celibate Hero - Karadur, once Azil betrays him. See Heartbroken Badass.
- Chosen Conception Partner - Karadur with Maia. To an even greater extent in the sequel, Dragon's Treasure.
- Disabled Means Helpless - Averted. Azil has his hands burned and broken to the point he can't straighten his fingers. Though he'll never play a harp again, he still manages to ride in the cavalry and takes great pains to still prove useful.
- A Father to His Men - Karadur is viewed as this by his soldiers. He take pains to eat with them in the dining hall at least three nights of the week.
- Heartbroken Badass - Karadur, after Azil's betrayal.Wolf: Did they gossip about Dragon, too?Thea: What would they say?Wolf: Gods, I don't know. What he likes, what he hates, who he sleeps with.Thea: Dragon sleeps alone.Wolf: They said that. (Thea shakes her head.) How do you know, then? I thought—Azil—Thea: No. Once, perhaps. But Azil Aumson left him, and whatever drew him away still lies between them.Wolf: He has no lover, no friend, no kin, save a brother who hates him. Gods, he must be lonely.
- Heir Club for Men - Karadur needs to find a woman he can have a child with, or the dragon-changeling line will die out
- High Fantasy
- Improbable Infant Survival - Shem sees both his parents killed, but is himself taken hostage.
- Interspecies Romance - A staple of the book, really. Azil/Karadur, Thea/Wolf, and Huw/Hawk all provide prominent examples of human/shapeshifter romances. While Wolf and Hawk are very relatable and considered largely human, Karadur and the other Dragons are outright stated to be somewhat alien in their thoughts and emotions.
- Last of His Kind - Karadur is the only known Dragon changeling, which is supposedly why Tenjiro wants him to get have a child before he transforms
- Love Hurts - Poor Karadur. Betrayed by his brother and lover in the same night.
- Mama's Baby, Papa's Maybe - Treion is probably the son of Kojiro Atani and Iva Unamira, which makes him Karadur's and Maia's half-brother. Which also makes him kind of a Hidden Backup Prince
- Man Behind the Man - Or really, the entity behind the man. Ankoku is pulling Tenjiro's strings, though the latter doesn't know it.
- Mode Lock - Inverted. Karadur is locked in his human form because his brother stole the amulet he would've used to assist in his transformation.
- Our Dragons Are Different - The dragons in this book are all shapechangers. Legends state that when the maker of the world created the shapechangers, she told them to decided amongst themselves who would be king. But the shapechangers couldn't choose, so she plucked a star from the sky and molded it into Dragon, and made him king.
- Papa Wolf - Wolf, amusingly enough
- Past Victim Showcase - Tenjiro's torture of Azil as a means to hurt Karadur
- Playing with Fire - Karadur has control over fire
- The Stoic - Karadur
- Straight Gay - Azil
- Stronger Sibling - Karadur
- Super Strength - Karadur, and likely all dragons
- Voluntary Shapeshifting - Karadur, Wolf, Hawk, and Bear. The shapechangers play a major role in the book's mythology and events.