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Literature / Lily Quench

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Lily Quench is a series of children's fantasy books written by Natalie Jane Prior that follow the story of Lily Quench, the last in a long line of famed dragon slayers, and her friends.

The seven books, in order, are:

  1. Lily Quench and the Dragon of Ashby
  2. Lily Quench and the Black Mountains
  3. Lily Quench and the Treasure of Mote Ely
  4. Lily Quench and the Lighthouse of Skellig Mor
  5. Lily Quench and the Magicians' Pyramid
  6. Lily Quench and the Hand of Manuelo
  7. Lily Quench and the Search for King Dragon
As well as the companion book,
Lily Quench's Companion and Guide to Dragons and the Art of Quenching.

Lily Quench contains examples of:

  • Abusive Parent: Veronica, Murdo, and Rabbit's father beat them. The first two ran away from home, followed by the latter. This is part of the reason why they (mostly Murdo) resent Rabbit so much – he was the abuser's only biological son, sharing a mother with the first two. He basically serves as a living reminder to them of their abusive childhood, and they often bully him themselves.
  • Affably Evil: Roger, one of the evil magicians in book five, prides himself as being “the best of a bad lot”. He's right. Of the magicians we've met so far, he's shown the most kindness and hospitality to Lily, pointing out the constellations through his telescope and even openly admitting that magicians are generally pretty evil. This all changes by the end of the book, when Joscelin is vaporized and Baba finally kicks the bucket. Without the proper recipe and ingredients (dragon blood) needed for the potion that sustains his unnaturally long life, Roger knows he will begin to age and die quickly after a few days. He gets really... desperate, to say in the least.
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  • A Girl and Her X: Lily and Queen Dragon are very close and basically best friends. They part ways at the end of the series, though they certainly plan on visiting each other.
  • Battle Couple: Veronica and Gordon, presumably. They're definitely a couple by the end of the series, and they served under, challenged, and betrayed Captain Raymond for some nine years, so it's probably safe to assume they kicked some serious butt.
  • Blood Bath: Bathing in the blood of a dragon will cause the bather to become immune to fire and fear, although this also comes at the price of the bather's humanity burning away so that even if a good character does this, it's bound to eventually turn him/her evil. The Quenches have always preferred fire-proof cloaks, though a few splatters here and there are inevitable given their profession.
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  • Bookworm: The castle librarian, naturally.
  • Breath Weapon: Dragons, unsurprisingly, can breathe fire.
  • Character Title: The series as a whole.
  • Chekhov's Gunman: Lionel ends up being Prince (and later king) Alwyn.
  • Crapsack World: Ashby Water used to be a wonderful place until the Black Count showed up. Then the gardens were replaced with a grommet factory, the sparkling river turned grey with filth, and the government terrified the citizens from being even the least bit happy. Thankfully, it was all restored by the end of the first book.
    • The Black Mountains and Mote Ely are pretty dismal places, as well.
  • Deceased Parents Are the Best: Lily's mother, though quiet, was kind and an amazing botanist. Her father was a Quench and that should say enough. Both have been dead long before the events of the series take place, Lily herself being raised by her grandmother. Pretty much the only other people with parents we are aware of are Evangeline and her selfish, power obsessed mother and Veronica, Murdo, and Rabbit, whose father used to beat them. We don't know for sure what happened to him, but he was still alive when they ran away and is implied to have continued up to this point. Their non-abusive mother's dead, again demonstrating the trope.
    • Then there's Gordon's father, an interesting case. Being the Black Count, he's definitely not the best example for his son. However, Gordon knew all about his dark past, but, most likely due to the way he was raised, doesn't seem to think much of it. To him, it was just his father's work and he should be proud of it. And while there's no arguing that he's evil professionally, as a father he was actually not too bad. Sure, he did spoil his son a bit, but he did seem to genuinely care for him. Their relationship is warm enough for Gordon to look up to, respect, and try to impress him. Gordon regards him with fond memories and is determined to take up his place as the Black Count and honour him in death if not while he was alive. So in short, he was pretty darn evil, an okay dad, and definitely dead.
  • Dragon Rider: Lily, obviously; though it's not so much played for badassery as it's just two friends hanging out.
    • In book six this trope is parodied with the “dragon howdah”. A howdah is a real-life contraption used to ride elephants shaped like a small gazebo tied onto the elephant's back with straps. Queen Evangeline gets the idea to adapt the design to dragons to allow more people to ride at a time. Said dragon howdah is strapped to Queen Dragon's head (as to not interfere with her wings) and can fit around ten people. It's also painted bright blue and yellow, Ashby's royal colours, and over all has “the general effect [of a] bizarre Easter bonnet”. While admitting its usefulness, Queen Dragon does (rightly) find the idea extremely inelegant – so the trope is played Up to Eleven (literally if you're counting by the amount of passengers) while at the same time destroying the badass-ness concept completely.
      Queen Dragon: It's not uncomfortable. Just extremely undignified. Makes me look like an electric tram, or a transit bus. But don't tell the queen. She thinks it's marvelous, and I'd hate to hurt her feelings.
  • Evil Is Deathly Cold: All the Black Counts have made their home the Black Mountains, where it's either snowing or just really, really cold 90 percent of the time. Any trip there is guaranteed to not be pleasant.
  • The Faceless: Manuelo's face is always obscured by his trademark hooded cloak. This is because he is played by two easily recognizable people, one of whom is a girl.
  • Famous Ancestor: Played with. While Lily does have a horde of these (all of whom were famous for their dragon slaying, most notably Mad Brian and Matilda Quench), it doesn't really affect her all that much. Sure, she did upon learning of them and their antics spend the most of two chapters trying to live up to that, but quickly realizes that dragon slaying just isn't for her. She then goes on to do the exact opposite of what she's “supposed” to do – befriend one of the enemy; behaviour someone like the great Matilda the Drakescourge would (and did, though she got over it) find absolutely unacceptable.
    • However, her ancestry does cause some odd looks and she's been known to use her mother's last name, Cornstalk, to avoid complications with people who might react badly. She also often gets “You're a Quench!” as a justifyer for doing scary and/or dangerous things, which she is not happy about.
    • One thing that she did inherit was Quench fearlessness and bravery. But even that's Zig-Zagged as she is just half-Quench, and as such has only the occasional bouts of courage, often lapsing into her Cornstalk half at the worst of times.
      • When she meets Matilda, we find out Quenches can apparently share this feeling between themselves and use it to communicate in dire situations. Obviously, with Lily being an orphan in her time, we only get to see this once.
    • She also got some pretty rad gear, like her fire-proof cape, from her ancestors. It comes in handy more than a few times.
    • She has a little patch of scales on her left elbow, a trait common to Quenches due to the effect of dragon blood touching the skin. She gains a few more scales after her mini blood shower in book three (most of her was protected by the aforementioned cape).
  • Fireballs: Roger uses these in the fifth book to try to keep Queen Dragon from escaping by firing at her wings.
  • Fountain of Youth: The magicians' potion keeps them young, unfortunately burning their humanity away in the process.
  • Happily Married: Lionel and Evangeline by the end of the first book.
  • Heel–Face Turn: Captain Zouche ends up being the best man at the king's wedding, and later, Mr. Hartley's assistant. His eventual loyalty to the priest earns him the title of Royal Councillor.
    Hartley: Miss Moldavia never knew it, but when she sent Zouche to the grommet factory, she did him a favour. You see, as soon as he realized what it was like to work there, a little chink opened up in his heart. I think you'll find he'll turn out quite well.
    • Gordon, Veronica, and (reluctantly) Murdo give up in the final book. The first two even get married in Ashby and presumably continued to live there for the rest of their lives.
  • Immune to Bullets: Dragons apparently are. Though if something sharp gets between two scales that's an entirely different story.
  • Improbable Aiming Skills: After nine years in the past working for Captain Raymond, the original Black Count, Veronica can kill someone with a singe knife throw, for she never misses. We don't really get to see her in action, though, as Sark is too quick for her and the book ends soon afterwards.
  • Innocent Blue Eyes: Quiet, timid librarian Lionel's eyes have been described as “fogret-me-not blue” more than once. Even as a king, he remains gentle and kind, though he can get commanding when he needs to.
  • Insistent Terminology: Dragons spawn, not “pup”.
    • In a more serious example, Veronica keeps reminding Rabbit that he's only her and Murdo's HALF-brother. The parent they share was abusive to them, and the older two ran away from home to escape. Rabbit followed them, and they were forced to let him stay lest he reveal their hiding place. He constantly serves as a reminder to them of their dark past. Naturally, they want little to do with him, and often bully him themselves.
  • Instant Oracle: Just Add Water!: The Pool of the Oracle in the Cave of Secrets in the Singing Wood. You're allowed to ask one question, in return for giving up what matters to you most.
  • Interspecies Friendship: Between Queen Dragon and her human friends, though she is closest to Lily.
  • Invisibility Cloak: Would have been useful, but unfortunately forgotten.
    Queen Dragon: That's the main road over there; you'll have to walk into town alone. Pity we didn't think to bring along a cape of invisibility.
    Lily: I didn't think there was such a thing.
    Queen Dragon: You'll be amazed at the things people come up with when they want to kill a dragon.
  • It Always Rains at Funerals: It was raining all through Ursula's funeral, the raindrops turning black with ash from the factory's smokestack.
  • Jerkass Has a Point: From the fourth book: on the one hand, Ariane is irresponsible, self-absorbed and kind of a brat. On the other hand, she got given a job in the middle of nowhere with not much to do, nobody else to talk to and was told that she should be grateful for being given such an important job, even though it's kind of shit. Every time she asks for some company, she gets told 'Not now, just wait', even though she's not asking on a whim. And apparently nobody in charge ever realised that if somebody in such a vital position hates it so much that they continually try to run away, then maybe they should either be replaced or the job parameters need to be altered.
  • Kick the Dog: The second chapter has a moment for Captain Zouche, Miss Moldavia, and the entire Black Squad. Lily's grandmother had just passed away and Lily's heartbroken. With her parents gone, Ursula was all she had – now that she's lost that, too, she'll have to go live in the orphanage and work in the grommet factory, the most miserable job in all of Ashby. Then the Captain and Miss Moldavia arrive, she rudely demands to see Ursula, and, when told that she'd dead, decides that Lily'll do. She protests, but is ignored and held back as the soldiers are ordered to search the house. Apparently, to them that means “raid and destroy everything possible, including the old grandfather clock, Ursula's china tea set, and the crocheted rugs and curtains she had made.”
  • Last of Her Kind: For a while, it is thought that Queen Dragon is the only one that survived the Great War of Dragons. Much time is spent mourning her lost love and friends. It turns out that a few of them escaped through an Eye Stone, and, after hitting a few bumps at the magicians' pyramids and losing two dragons, escaped to Eydelen and continued on with life for a few thousand years until Lily and Queen Dragon crashed the party.
  • Love Redeems: Gordon's love for Veronica causes him to destroy the Black Seal, throwing away his heritage and refusing to continue the line of Black Counts.
  • The Mole: In book two, it seems like Mr. Hartley has secretly been visiting the Black Count for years, but it turns out he was just looking for his wife who was taken into the mountains ten years ago during the seige of Ashby.
    • In book six, Wilcox turns out to be a Black Squad officer working for Sark to dispose of Manuelo.
  • Mr. Exposition: The librarian provides us with a page and a half on the history of dragons and the Quenches.
  • No Immortal Inertia: This would have happened to Roger and Cassy due to Baba and Joscelin dying if they didn't refill on dragon blood quickly. It actually started to happen to Roger, but Cassy's faulty-but-sufficient substitution stops it from actually killing him. Roger dies of a different cause, but Cassy replenishes her supply and returns to Ashby. It's implied that this does eventually happen to her after her reservoir of dragon blood is, once again, destroyed.
  • Orphanage of Fear: Possibly. We don't know much about it, but the Ashby Water orphanage definitely considers marching around a yard “exercise”, and Lily is pretty upset about the thought of living there, although not nearly as much as working at the grommet factory. Thankfully we never get to explore it further before the happy ending, when it presumably got a lot better like everything else.
  • Our Dragons Are Different: There are two types that we are aware of.
    • The land dragons (Queen Dragon) are a pretty standard Western version.
      • According to the illustrations, Queen Dragon has one head, four legs, a pair of wings, and a tail. She's also large enough for Lily to ride in her mouth and breathes fire. Her scales offer her protection, as seen when the Count's artillery's bullets just bouncing right off. However, she's easily taken down by a Tranquilizer Dart managing to get between two scales. The eye area is also a sensitive spot, making it a target for Aunt Cassy.
      • Dragon blood has interesting proprieties. It can be used to “focus” an Eye Stone, getting the normally chaotic magic to behave and allow the user to actually go where they want to instead of being thrown into random times and places like they usually are. When it comes in contact with human skin, it burns badly, although it causes dragon scales to grow in that spot and renders it fire-proof. It also apparently causes the user to lose fear.
      • There's also the common in-universe misconception that dragons are dangerous. They aren't; in fact, they don't eat people at all. A dragon's diet consists of different kinds of metal, with gold acting as chocolate.
      • They used to be much more common until around the time the Black Count invaded, when they disappeared completely, bringing the Quench family's dragon-slaying jobs out of business. Later, we find out that the Golden Child lured all of them in and turned them against each other. A great battle ensued, and only the youngest and oldest, unable to fight but only watch from the sidelines, survived.
      • When a dragon dies, its bones slowly petrify, and its scales become flakes of glass.
    • Then there are the sea dragons from book four. These are mostly Eastern, visually. Mentally and motively note , they're pretty ambiguous.
      • In appearance, they're like sea serpents. Flightless, legless, with keen eyes and wing-like ears. Their colouring stems from the ocean – blue, green, or grey, depending on the weather. They have jagged teeth and tongues covered in barnacles.
      • Their diet consists of fish, fed to them by the lighthouse keeper. The light guides them to bay at feeding time.
      • They're only dangerous when angry, hungry, or threatened. Otherwise, they're quite tame and courteous. Once fed, they make room for the hungry, enjoy playing around, and make loyal companions.
      • They don't seem to be very clever, but they are magical creatures, so some intelligence is retained. They can sort of speak, and can communicate by putting pictures into the listener's head.
      • They're led by a giant Mother Dragon.
      • Every once in a while, a bunch of baby dragons spawn, and the parents leave this world by way of a magical whirlpool. ..It's more epic than it sounds.
  • Parental Abandonment: The only parents that we are aware of and aren't dead by the end of the series are Crystal, possibly Veronica, Murdo, and Rabbit's abusive father, and Lionel and Evangeline.
  • Perfect Pacifist People: All of the Dragons of Eydelen have sworn an oath to never, ever kill or harm any living thing, not to fight amongst themselves, and to raise their children likewise, the penalty for any of these being that all of them leave their sanctuary forever. Yes, even if they're under attack.
  • Raised by Grandparents: Lily. Unfortunately for her, Ursula dies within the first few chapters. She does get to see her again, though. This time being the last.
  • Rapid Aging: After their original sources of the ingredients and actual potion run out, the surviving magicians Roger and Cassy go on a desperate search for longevity potion factors while their supplies last. Since Roger isn't used to Cassy's less-than-perfect substitution, he experiences some unpleasant physical changes.
  • Really 700 Years Old: The evil magicians from the last few books are at least three thousand years old by now. Their artificial long lives are maintained by a magic potion to which only Joscelin knows the recipe and uses to scare the other two into doing what he wants. Cassandra makes her own version of the potion with the ingredients provided by Roger and gathered herself, that, while not perfect, does the trick.
  • Recursive Canon: In book four, Lily goes to the Great Southern Archipelago, a place where magic is everywhere, and meets the Drihtan. He brings out a golden bowl of crystal clear water, and takes from it a book, which he hands to Lily. She takes one glance, and, seeing herself on the cover, drops it in surprise. It turns out that the magical Library of Skellig Lir has books on everyone who ever lived. It has the first four books of the series about Lily, but when she reads it and gets to the part where she starts reading it, the lines blur and get impossible to read. We're even read a passage from the previous book that is actually word-for-word what was written in book three, as well as hearing the beginning of this one.
  • The Runaways: Veronica and Murdo ran away from their abusive father, followed by Rabbit.
  • Samus Is a Girl: Lily finds out that the mysterious Manuelo is played (part time) by Veronica, noticing her braid sticking out from under the cloak.
  • Show Within a Show: The Adventures of Count Raymond comics featured in the sixth book are based on the original Black Count, and even seem to be describing his real-life relationship-turned-betrayal by Gordon. Fitz, a guard, is a huge fan and was very upset when the franchise got cancelled due to shift in power. It apparently has merchandise (including underpants) and a few memes of its own.
  • Small, Secluded World: See Utopia. The places listed are protected by either magic barriers or creatures guarding them.
  • Spare Body Parts: Most inhabitants of the Archipelago in the fourth book have four arms, including Romina and Ariane. The weavers make famous magic capes with special looms ( including Lily's own fireproof one) and the mechanisms often assume that the user has four arms. The librarian is a possible exception; it doesn't specifically mention the number of arms she has, but she is noted to seem like a completely ordinary human at first glance.
  • Spider-Sense: Lily's patch of dragon scales on her elbow have a habit of tingling when something's amiss; usually something to do with evil magic, such as Aunt Cassy, an evil witch.
  • Talking in Your Dreams: In book six, we find out Lily has been having very vivid dreams where she is talking to King Dragon, Queen Dragon's long-lost fiance. Their location varies, but they're often set in a beautiful land where dragons are still alive. King Dragon uses these dreams to communicate with Lily and tell her to bring Queen Dragon there. At the end of the dream, Lily always sees Queen Dragon and herself parting forever. She hesitates in telling Queen Dragon about these dreams, knowing that this would eventually come to pass.
    • In book seven, they do end up going to the land of dragons, despite Lily's reluctance. However, this leads to an embarrassing and heartbreaking misunderstanding between the couple. Due to some confusion on his part, she tells King Dragon of her dreams, and we find out it was actually a Subversion. Her dreams were just visions, meant for guidance and encouragement, and not the same as talking to the real King Dragon. While it wasn't exactly a bad thing they'd heeded his advice and come, it quickly grew complicated and unpleasant for pretty much everyone involved. It would probably had been better for Queen Dragon to have continued not knowing about King Dragon and his relationship status, even if that meant spending the rest of her life dreaming of them meeting and unsuccessfully searching for him (though their eventual happy marriage makes up for it).
  • Technicolour Fire: A green variant is used to signify the flame's magic origins. Other proprieties include springing up for no reason, being inextinguishable, and apparently being sentient enough to move around to places that need a good burning. Some smaller flames are described as having a blueish or purplish hue.
  • There Is Another: Fifteen, actually. (Well... fourteen by the end of the series.) Queen dragon isn't the last one, after all.
  • Tranquilizer Dart: Used by the monkeys of Monkey Island on Queen Dragon. While she's in mid-air. Lily, naturally, is terrified.
  • The Un-Smile: “Crystal bared her teeth in what Lily presumed was supposed to be a smile.”
  • Utopia: All the enclosed places that “had barely changed since the beginning of the world” qualify. They're rarely disturbed because it's hard for regular people to get in (except Lily, of course), time runs differently, magic is strong, and they're shrouded by a cloud of calm (most of the time). The examples we get to see are the Singing Wood, where ghosts walk free, The Archipelago, where the sea dragons dwell, and Eydelen, where dragons still roam.
  • Weddings for Everyone: At the end of the series, both Gordon and Veronica and King Dragon and Queen Dragon get married in the Ashby Church, although we only get to see the latter on screen (err... page?) since the first two aren't exactly popular there. Lionel and Evangeline also got married at the end of the first book, but that doesn't count since it was only the two of them.
  • What Happened To The Rabbit?: He's never mentioned again after running out into the marsh. All we know is that he never did get that treasure...
  • Why Did It Have to Be Snakes?: Mr. Hartley has been deathly afraid of rats for so long that he can't even remember why. Of course, one just has to show up at a crucial moment and stop him from getting away from the castle with the precious Black Seal before the young Black Count comes to reclaim it. Even worse, its sudden movements cause him to cry out, making him all the easier for Gordon to find. This ultimately results in him being threatened by Veronica and Gordon, all three being threatened by General Sark, Veronica being shot in the shoulder, Gordon being nearly killed, and the seal getting hopelessly shattered into a million tiny pieces.


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