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Literature / Hurog
aka: Dragon Bones

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Hurog is a series of two books, Dragon Bones and Dragon Blood, written by Patricia Briggs. It is mainly about Ward, who pretended to be stupid ever since his father gave him a beating that would almost have killed him. At the start of the novel, his father died, and Ward has problems to convince everyone that he is fully capable of inheriting and managing the estate.

The death of his father brings about many changes, among them the fact that he inherits Oreg, who he thought was just a ghost. Oreg is actually an immortal being, ''made'' into castle Hurog so that the man who did it (Oreg's own father) would not need any other servants. Things are further complicated by the fact that two noblemen ask Ward to deliver a slave, who had fled to Hurog. Ward will do no such thing, stating that "There are no slaves in Hurog", and flees the place, with his Cute Mute sister Ciarra, Oreg, the slave, and two loyal men of the castle staff in tow.


Hurog provides examples of:

  • Abusive Parents: Fenwick, the previous Hurogmeten, was physically abusive to all three of his children: Ward Obfuscates Stupidity to avoid his wrath, Ciarra hides as much as possible, and Tosten was sent away by Ward after attempting to kill himself to escape.
    • Oreg's (illegitimate) father counts as well, poisoning his son in order to transform him against his will into the slave and Genius Loci of Castle Hurog. Oreg specifically notes that the reason he still has a physical body which feels pain is because it "amused" his father.
  • Agony Beam: This is one of Jade Eyes's powers, which he uses liberally on Ward during his imprisonment in the Asylum.
    • The binding spell's punishments of Oreg for disobeying an order or straying too far from Ward seem to have a very similar effect.
  • Amazon Chaser: Ward is attracted to Tisala's muscles and Brawn Hilda build, and absolutely smitten after seeing her fight.
  • Ambiguously Bi: Garranon mentions having "the desire to sleep with men instead of women", but also seems to care deeply about his wife, though he doesn't see her often and they have no children. His forced relationship with Jakoven muddies the waters further.
    • Ward has had relationships with a few women, and eventually ends up with Tisala, but also spends a lot of time noticing how attractive Garranon and Oreg are, going so far as to describe watching Oreg use magic as "beautiful" and "erotic".
  • Animal Motifs: Wary, abused Oreg is regularly and explicitly compared with Stygian (aka Pansy), Fenwick's skittish and ill-treated warhorse.
  • Anywhere but Their Lips: Ward kisses Oreg gently on the forehead before driving a knife through the back of his neck (at his own request).
  • Beauty Is Never Tarnished: Averted. Tisala has a distinctively masculine face that is Covered with Scars from years of fighting. Ward also notes that she's not "slim-fragile" like most tall women, instead having a broad, "square build" that is lean and heavily-muscled, " ...stronger, I [Ward] dare say, than many men."
  • Big Bad: High King Jakoven is a background threat throughout the first book, killing Erdrick, tormenting Garranon and attempting to seize control of Hurog, though the main plot focuses on getting rid of Kariarn and the Vorsag. Jakoven comes in as the main villain in Dragon Blood, along with his Dragon Jade Eyes.
  • Big Brother Instinct: Ward towards his younger siblings.
  • Book Ends: The book starts with a Dictionary Opening saying Hurog means Dragon and ends with Oreg repeating those words as a cryptic answer to Ward's inquiry.
  • Brawn Hilda: Tisala is a practical application of this trope. She's taller than most men, has a masculine face and a short, practical haircut, is Covered with Scars and callouses, broad-shouldered, lean, and muscular enough to match most men in strength. Ward, of course, is completely smitten by her.
  • Broken Pedestal: Ward is horrified and disgusted to learn that his historical childhood hero, Seleg, was the man who killed the dragon beneath the keep, and had Oreg tortured for speaking against him.
  • Chemically-Induced Insanity: In Dragon Blood, the protagonist is given drugs as part of a plot to make him seem unfit to rule. The reader gets to know what he thinks his surroundings look like (people talking to him are monsters, etc).
  • Cold-Blooded Torture: Happens to both Tisala and Ward in Dragon Blood, on separate occasions. (Ward gets an Agony Beam, Tisala has good old-fashioned whips and knives.)
    • Tosten is briefly tortured by Bastilla in Dragon Bones.
  • Court Mage: Like the high king and many nobles, Ward's father kept one of those. Everyone else uses him (the mage) as a unit of magical incompetence.
    • Oreg eventually serves as this to Ward at Hurog Keep.
    • Jade Eyes is this to Jakoven in the second book, doubling as The Dragon.
  • Deadpan Snarker: Oreg's way of dealing with people who annoy him or he doesn't agree with. He is a slave, but he can mostly do and say what he wants unless ordered to shut up. His better judgement is the only other thing that can stop him, considering his long time serving abusive masters.
  • Death Seeker: Oreg admits to being this during his servitude, antagonising his masters in the hopes that they would snap and kill him. It didn't work.
  • Depraved Homosexual: Jakoven, the Big Bad, is a rapist and paedophile who keeps Garranon as a blackmailed Sex Slave. However, the narrative does go out of its way to note that being a rapist is what makes Jakoven irredeemable, rather than his sexuality.
    • Jakoven's lover and Dragon Jade Eyes counts as this as well.
  • Dictionary Opening: Dragon Bones opens with the phrase "Hurog means dragon" under the chapter title, and the protagonist repeats the definition in an inner monologue on the second page. It foreshadows much of the plot.
  • Did You Just Flip Off Cthulhu?: In Dragon Blood, Ward delivers an angry telling-off to the ancient god Aethervon for possessing Ciarra and tormenting Oreg in the previous book.
  • The Dog Bites Back: The warhorse Fenwick mistreated eventually causes his death, by bucking him off during a hunt.
  • Driven to Suicide: Tosten apparently attempted suicide after being beaten by his father one too many times, but was rescued by Ward and sent away from Hurog to keep him safe.
    • Oreg very much wants to die, but can't: he can only be killed by his current master, and no-one wants to waste such a useful slave. Eventually he convinces Ward to kill him. This breaks the curse and leaves him both alive and free, but he had no idea it would.
  • Dumb Muscle: Ward pretends to be this to protect himself from his father's wrath.
  • "Everybody Helps Out" Denouement: In the end of Dragon Bones, everyone works hard at rebuilding castle Hurog, which had been destroyed in the victory over the villains.
  • Evil Sorcerer: Oreg's father. Turning Oreg the child into a castle Powered by a Forsaken Child, and, despite Oreg being a powerful mage himself, making it so that Oreg is enslaved to whoever wears a certain ring and can't break this curse ... no mean feat. That evil sorcerer is long dead when the story begins, but there are others, such as Bastilla who is a very powerful, very sadistic mage and the antagonist of the protagonists for much of the plot.
  • Evil Tainted the Place: Castle Hurog is stained by the evil magic that turned the place into a Powered by a Forsaken Child building. This is implied to be the reason why an unusually high number of people don't survive their childhood there, turn mad, or have other things wrong with them. Ciarra, for example, was born mute, with no physical reason to be found. She gets better once the place is de-cursed and she goes to live somewhere else.
  • A Family Affair: Ward's father had an affair with his wife's half-sister/Ward's aunt.
  • Faster Than They Look: Ward is assumed to be slow, because of his huge size. He's actually quite fast both in body and mind, but talks slow, contributing to his image of a fool.
  • A Fate Worse Than Death:
    • It turns out that the family's castle was built using magic that involved doing this to a child.
    • Being eaten by basilisk is considered so. It swallows its prey whole, alive and fully conscious but paralyzed and slowly digests it.
  • Fluffy the Terrible: Downplayed with Ward's horse, a huge, powerful warhorse with a bad temper honed by previous mistreatment, to the point where it killed its former rider. Getting the horse to trust him is a slow process for Ward. He names it Pansy.
  • Forced to Watch: Bastilla tortures Tosten in front of Ward in the hopes that this will make him give up information about the dragon bones. It works.
  • Foreshadowing: In Dragon Blood, Ward grants a Mercy Kill to a bandit by putting a dagger through the base of his skull and into his brain. He notes it's the quickest and least painful way for someone with his strength to kill. At the end of the book, when Oreg begs for his own death, Ward kills him in exactly the same way.
  • Friendly Ghost: Oreg, the family slave/ghost. He is a sweet kid (albeit with a knack for snarking and occasional mischief) despite his awful past and has a soft spot for children, animals and people who treat the aforementioned groups nicely.
  • Friend to All Living Things: Ward. According to Oreg, he has irrepressible need to help children, abused animals and slaves, with the plot of Dragon Bones set in the motion by his adamant resolution to help a slave. Ward's kind heart was actually one of the reason why his father abused him, as he considered his son weak.
  • Gentle Giant: Ward is huge, a deadly fighter, and also caring, protective and a Friend to All Living Things.
  • Half-Human Hybrid:
    • Half the cast have a dragon ancestor several generations back.
    • Axiel is half-dwarf.
    • Oreg's father was a half-dragon.
  • Haunted Castle: Oreg is generally considered to be a Friendly Ghost roaming Castle Hurog. He's a bit more than that.
  • Heroic Bastard: The evil king Jakoven's illegitimate half-brother is a brave and noble general who eventually befriends Beckram. He is planning to overthrow Jakoven, but it's hard to blame him, and he doesn't want the throne for himself, but for their kind-hearted brother.
    • As it turns out, Oreg is this as well, as the bastard son of a previous Hurog lord.
  • Heroic Build: Ward and Tisala are both extremely tall and heavily-muscled for their respective sexes; Tisala in particular stands out since she is not a busty, statuesque, "slender-yet-toned" Amazonian Beauty, instead having a wide, blocky, muscular frame that rivals most men in strength.
  • Hypocrite: Seleg reinstated Hurog's status as a refuge against slavery and a sanctuary for escaped slaves...and also captured a dragon and chained her under the keep, eventually killing her for power, and had the castle's magically-bound slave tortured for protesting it.
  • I Am Not Pretty: Tisala brings this up in an attempt to convince Ward that she would not make the right kind of wife for him. Ward retorts that he's not so shallow as to need a beautiful trophy wife to bolster his self-esteem, but at any rate he personally finds her ridiculously attractive.
  • I Cannot Self-Terminate: Oreg can only be killed by his master, the Hurogmeten. Eventually he convinces Ward to kill him, though it's a variation, as Oreg's death wish isn't the major deciding factor: his death allows the protagonists to collapse Castle Hurog on top of the people seeking to steal the dragon's bones. And it doesn't stick.
  • I'm Cold... So Cold...: Subverted in Dragon Bones when Ward says that he will never be warm again, after killing someone else.
  • Immune to Mind Control: Ward seems to be immune to mind control to some extent. Doesn't help him much, though. The villains have other means. A magician who tried to compel him to do something complained that her magic didn't work on him. She theorized it could be due to his stubborn character and thick skull.
  • Incredibly Inconvenient Deity: In Dragon Bones, the god Aetherveon takes possession of Cute Mute Ciarra, and uses her body to tell the other protagonists cryptic things. This causes Oreg, who tried and failed to protect Ciarra, to suffer horribly.note  Ciarra's protective big brother Ward is not amused. But that's what you get for camping in the ruins of an ancient temple. Ward is angry at Aetherveon for quite some time afterwards, and refuses to pray to him out of spite, instead summoning Siphern, the god he usually worships, from his homelands. (Deities seem to be usually bound to a place in that universe, but as Ward proves, that is not absolute.)
  • Kissing Cousins: Hurog cousins Beckram and Ciarra marry at the end of Dragon Bones, and have a child midway through Dragon Blood. It's noted that this is fairly commonplace in Shavig, so long as the bloodline is healthy and the family doesn't do it too often.
  • Lady Looks Like a Dude: Tisala, who has her father's homely, masculine features, including a huge hawklike nose, small, close-set eyes, a long, angular face, a heavy brow ridge and jaw, and a wide, thin-lipped mouth.
  • Laser-Guided Karma: When Ward's father is thrown by his horse, causing his death, this is directly connected to his mistreatment of said horse. People believe the stallion to be too dangerous to ride, but Ward manages to tame him, proving that the horse only behaved like a monster because it had been mistreated.
  • Man in the Iron Mask: King Jakoven built the Asylum specifically to lock up his brother Kellen, having been warned in a prophecy that it would be a very bad idea to kill his brother. While it's common knowledge that he's in there, most of the common people seem to have bought the idea that he's genuinely nuts, rather than unjustly imprisoned.
  • Mercy Kill: Ward does this for a bandit stabbed through the stomach by Ciarra, knowing that the wound can't be treated and will kill him slowly and painfully if he's left alive.
  • Na´ve Animal Lover: Ward is thought (partly due to his Obfuscating Stupidity) by other characters to be this with regard to a very vicious horse, but in fact is really a Friend to All Living Things, as he knows his way around horses and the horse in question is actually not so much aggressive as ruined by his violent father. The horse actually killed his father, but Ward decides to keep it and give it a cutesy name.
  • Nice to the Waiter: One of the more obvious signs that Ward is not like his father is the way he treats Oreg. It does take Oreg a while to accept it, though.
  • "Not If They Enjoyed It" Rationalization: Brought up and discussed. The heroes come to the conclusion that rape is rape, regardless of any accidental "enjoyment".
  • Obfuscating Stupidity: Ward started feigning brain damage as a young boy to protect himself from his abusive father. As Ward is officially next in line for his father's title, his apparent incompetence becomes something of an obstacle later on.
    • It's implied Ciarra may also have been doing this, as she begins acting much steadier after her father's death.
  • Older Than They Look: Downplayed with Garranon, who looks several years younger than he actually is. This is apparently why Jakoven keeps him around.
  • Our Dragons Are Different: Hurog means "Dragon". It turns out the family has dragon blood — dragons can take human form.
  • Our Ghosts Are Different: Oreg, who is bound to the head of the family through magic.
  • People Puppet: The god Aethervon possesses Ciarra in order to deliver cryptic messages to Ward and Axiel and torture Oreg. Ward is not impressed.
  • PietÓ Plagiarism: Beckram carries Erdrick's body before the king before asking for a position in his military.
  • Please, Don't Leave Me: Oreg begs this of Ward after they are separated in Dragon Bones. Justified as it turns out being separated from Ward triggers the slavery curse, putting Oreg in unbearable agony as long as Ward is away.
  • Powered by a Forsaken Child: Castle Hurog is powered by Oreg, who was killed and transformed into the building's Genius Loci as a teenager many, many generations ago. Killing him destroys the castle.
  • Pretty Boy: Both Tosten and Oreg, according to Ward. A darker variation with Oreg, as Ward notes that his beauty and magically-enforced obedience mean he was almost certainly used as a Sex Slave by previous masters.
    • Garranon as well, with about the same results as Oreg. It's dangerous to be pretty in this universe.
    • Jade Eyes is a villainous example.
  • Rape Is a Special Kind of Evil: A major theme of the books, with many of the villains also being rapists of some form. Also goes out of its way to avert both Double Standard Rape: Female on Male and Double Standard: Rape, Male on Male, with Jakoven and Bastilla treated as equally evil to Fenwick's attacks on the servant women.
  • Real Women Don't Wear Dresses: Averted with Tisala. It is lampshaded, as Ward notices that despite her badassery, she knows how to wear a dress.
  • Refuse to Rescue the Disliked: Ward is confronted with the fact that a runaway slave has hidden in his castle. He is asked to return the slave to Landislaw, a noble he dislikes, because Landislaw bought the slave from someone who didn't actually own her, and will get in big (maybe lethal) trouble if he doesn't give her back. Ward states that "There are no slaves in Hurog", and therefore, the slave is not a slave, and he won't deliver her to the noble. His uncle later asks him whether he made this decision out of principle, or whether he would have decided differently if he didn't dislike Landislaw. Ward himself isn't quite sure about his reasons.
  • Reluctant Gift: In Dragon Bones, Oreg gives a ring to Ward, that he prior to handing it over held in his fist, with his knuckles white, as though it was hard for him to part with it. Not surprising, as the ring gives Ward ownership of and absolute power over Oreg, who is magically compelled to do anything his owner tells him to. He has no choice, as the ring must go from Ward's father to Ward, Oreg can't keep it. Ward doesn't learn about all the implications until later.
  • Screw This, I'm Outta Here: Dragon Blood begins with a Torture Technician working his trade on Tisala and trying to educate his young grandson in what he's doing. The boy is disgusted and quickly leaves, to the disappointment of his grandfather (who is killed when Tisala escapes about a page later).
  • Self-Punishment Over Failure: Oreg, who is magically enslaved to the head of the Hurog family (which, at the moment, is the protagonist, Ward) punishes himself for failing to protect Ciarra, after Ward ordered him to do so. To some extent, he seems to be in pain that comes as a part of the Fate Worse than Death he was given when he was Made a Slave, but he also beats his head against a rock. He stops it after Ward tells him that it's not his fault, and the order was only to try to protect Ciarra. (Actually, it was more of a "Great that you're protecting my little sister, keep doing it", which makes the consequences all the more tragic.)
  • Significant Green-Eyed Redhead: A villainous example with Jade Eyes, Jakoven's Dragon and, apparently, Starscream, in Dragon Blood. He's described with red hair and unsettlingly pale green eyes, and is terrifying.
  • Stock Medieval Meal: In Dragon Bones, while fighting bandits, the heroes live on (increasingly mouldy) bread and cheese.
  • Stranger Safety: This trope is sometimes subverted (Ward's younger brother ran away from the man Ward sent him to live with, because he didn't trust Ward, and thought strangers to be the safer option. Ward is perfectly trustworthy.), but also played straight a number of times - which this is justified by the number of scheming nobles. Random strangers are more trustworthy if a large number of people wants you dead because of who you are.
  • Strong Family Resemblance: Apparently this is very marked in the Hurog family, with Ward, his siblings, his uncle, the bastard children of his father, and even Oreg looking very similar.
    • Tisala also strongly resembles her father.
  • A Taste of the Lash: Oreg has a flashback to being whipped after laying a curse on one of his old masters. His powerful magic makes the damage real, at least until he can get enough of a grip to heal himself again.
    • Also happens offscreen to Tisala as part of her torture by Jakoven's guards.
  • Twin Switch: Beckram and Erdrick on occasion, when Beckram has too many things to do at once. Turns very tragic when an attempt is made on Beckram's life for pursuing the queen.
  • Tyrannicide: In Dragon Blood, high king Jakoven is an overall bad ruler, who also murders innocent people and rapes children. La RÚsistance has been planning his carefully timed demise for some time, and is only waiting for him to dig himself a bit deeper so that even more people will oppose him. After the revolutionaries get the Hidden Backup Prince out of prison, there is nothing that stands between the tyrant and a sharp blade anymore ... at least nothing that would hinder the heroes in any meaningful way.
  • Unfriendly Fire: This is how Fenwick killed his father in the backstory, during a fight against some bandits.
  • Undying Loyalty: It's noted in Dragon Blood that Oreg is just as devotedly loyal to Ward as he would be if the slavery curse were still in effect.
    • Rosem also has this for Kellen.

Alternative Title(s): Dragon Bones, Dragon Blood

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