Follow TV Tropes


Literature / Pit Dragon Chronicles

Go To

Cockfighting. With dragons.

The Pit Dragon Chronicles are a trilogy series of books by Jane Yolen, consisting of Dragon's Blood (1982), Heart's Blood (1984), A Sending Of Dragons (1987), and Dragon's Heart (2009).

The story takes place A Long Time Ago, in a Galaxy Far, Far Away..., on the harsh desert planet of Austar IV. Once used to dispose of criminals, Austar IV has now flourished, under a system of masters and 'bonders', a lower class that has to pay a bond price to rise up in the world. The books mainly revolves around Jakkin Stewart, a worker at a dragon farm run by the mysterious Master Sarkkhan. He steals a dragon hatchling, which he names Heart's Blood, and manages to raise it into one of the greatest Pit fighters the world has ever seen.

Of course, things aren't quite as simple. In the later books, Jakkin quickly learns of The Federation's attempts to control Austar IV, a rebel uprising, and the cruelty society inflicts upon dragons. And thus does the Space Opera unfold...

Tropes present in this series include:

  • Author Appeal: Yolen talks about how "wonderful" it would be to be a pregnant dragon. And then there's the end of the second book, which is pretty much draconic unbirthing with a more brutal means of entry.
  • Always Identical Triplets: Tri-sss, Tri-sssha, and Tri-ssskkette are collectively known as Tri. In A Sending of Dragons they're explicitly said to come from different eggs from different parts of the brood, but unlike the two siblings who hatched at the same time they are basically identical.
  • Animated Adaptation: The first book was given a kid-friendly adaptation for CBS Storybreak in 1985.
  • Beastly Bloodsports: The titular Dragon Pits, though the contest is usually not to the death (a good fighting dragon is too valuable to waste that way).
  • Bloody Murder: Dragons have acidic blood, though they don't actually use it as a weapon.
  • Carcass Sleeping Bag: Jakkin and Akki survive the brutal Austorian night by sheltering in the recently-slain body of his beloved dragon.
  • Calling Your Attacks: This is Sssargon's favorite method of speaking. Doubles as a Funny Moment.
  • Chekhov's Gun: The dragon's blood as a restorative power returns in full force at the end of book two, where dragon's blood helps Jakkin and Akki survive in the Austorian outback.
  • Daughter of a Whore: Kkarina and Akki were both born to "bag girls." Kkarina earned her way out by following in her mother's footsteps; Akki chose to work at a dragon farm instead , despite having been spirited out by her father at an early age and having no actual bond to pay off.
  • Death by Irony: For once, it's not karmic. Defeated dragons are given two slashes to the throat by the victor. Heart's Blood, who went undefeated, dies from two darts shot into her pristine neck.
  • Desert Punk
  • Dragon Rider: Outright mocked. Dragon scales are far too sharp for that sort of thing.
  • Eat the Dog: Dragons go for three uses: "Pit, pet, or stew." It gets more and more disturbing as the dragons become more obviously intelligent.
  • Earn Your Happy Ending: Literally. Servants need to earn enough to buy their way out of bond.
  • The Empath: A human can become this by sheltering in the womb of a dead mother dragon.
  • Encyclopedia Exposita: The Encyclopedia Galaxia, which provides background on the planet and its economy and inhabitants. It also serves as the epilogue in the last book.
  • Fantastic Drug: Blisterweed. It's normally a food source for dragons, but some humans roll it up and smoke it, causing them to be extremely aggressive.
  • Fantastic Medicinal Bodily Product: Dragon saliva is healing for human wounds and human saliva is healing for dragons wounds. In a played-with example, dragon blood is acidic and burns human flesh.
  • Get It Over With: "Fool's Pride," which occurs sometimes during pit fights. The defeated dragon will try to drive the victor to kill it with a specific type of roar. Any dragon who kills like this is considered unfit to fight and will usually be killed itself.
  • Groin Attack: Part of the series' spoof of Dragon Riders. Dragons have scales with extremely sharp edges along their backs, so any attempts to straddle one would end... painfully.
  • Happiness in Slavery: Errikkin, much to Jakkin's frustration.
  • The Heart: In A Sending of Dragons, while helping Jakkin with a plan Sssargon proudly declares that he is Jakkin's eyes. The Tri say that they are his ears. Sssasha, always more deliberate and patient but often somewhat wiser, tells him "I am thy heart."
  • Heroic Sacrifice:
  • I Was Quite a Looker: Kkarina, the farm cook, is past her prime and has gotten fat on her own cooking by the time she's introduced. She's a former sex worker who was apparently stunning in her youth.
  • Imaginary Love Triangle: In the first book. Jakkin develops feelings for Akki, but becomes convinced that Akki is Sarkkhan's lover. She's not. She's his daughter.
  • Jerkass: Likkarn, especially at the beginning of Dragon's Blood, when he's really hitting the blisterweed. He becomes less so after he quits smoking.
  • Jerk with a Heart of Gold: Likkarn later on.
  • Late to the Punchline: The "baggeries" are implied to be brothels. Most young readers won't get this implication until they're older.
  • Law of Chromatic Superiority: Dark red dragons are greatly desired as fighters due to their exceptional ferocity. However, it is noted that a successful pit fighter requires more than just a good color.
  • Letter Motif: The double K is found in almost all names. It appears to be a nod to Austar's original designation when it was a penal colony, KK 29.
    • A few higher-class characters are observed to lack the double K. It's later confirmed that these are the descendants of the guards.
    • It's stated in the first book that people who were born as Bonders have a double-k in their name. Jakkin is an exception: he was born free, but was named after his grandfather, who was a Bonder. His mother started off without a double-k name, but when she went into bond she had to change that.
    • In the fourth book, it's mentioned that multiple characters have changed their names to omit the double K. Henkky, for example, offhandedly mentions that she's spelling it "Henky" nowadays, although the original spelling is maintained in the narrative proper.
  • Luke, I Am Your Father: Or rather, uncle. See The Reveal below.
  • Off the Wagon: Through the first two books, Likkarn is fighting his blisterweed addiction, and is mostly clean through the second book. Then Jakkin is framed for a bombing, the Wardens are after him, and Likkarn decides to dose up one last time so he can fight them off in a weed fury and buy him time to escape.
  • Our Dragons Are Different: Up to the size of an elephant but not rideable, burning blood, vegetarian though far from peaceful, a range of colors from yellow to red which suggest their temperament, and telepathic (but "sending" only distinctive patterns of color unless you've undergone a certain process.)
  • Penal Colony: Austar IV used to be penal colony KK 29.
  • Rebellious Princess: Akki is the daughter of Sarkkin, but she remains a bonder because she intends to buy her own freedom.
  • The Reveal: Dragon's Heart reveals how Likkarn and Jakkin are connected — Likkarn is Jakkin's uncle, and has been treating him roughly in an attempt to make him not like his father was, who was Likkarn's half-brother.
  • Same-Sex Triplets: The three hatchlings Tri-sss, Tri-sssha, and Tri-ssskkette are, unlike their siblings who hatched at the same time, basically identical and all girls.
  • Series Continuity Error: With twenty two years passing between the writing of the third and fourth book, these abound. Suddenly, there is no difference between picking up on sendings that are color patterns and sendings that are words. Very few humans can pick up on the sendings of dragons, to the point where it's commonly assumed that this is impossible. The cave people are now all called 'trogs' without so much as being named that. Insects are able to send, if weakly. Being able to psychically tell a dragon what to do is an unheard-of and disturbing thing. The triplets all came from one egg. All water blocks sendings. Jakkin has totally forgiven Erikkin for selling him out. Dragons are no longer mentally Starfish Aliens, but are clearly less intelligent and capable than humans and do not have senses of humor beyond slapstick.
  • Shout-Out: The Federation seems ostensibly derived from Star Trek.
    • Heart's Blood's son names himself Ssargon, after the legendary king of Mesopotamia.
  • Slap-Slap-Kiss: Jakkin and Akki's burgeoning relationship in the first two books could be interpreted as this.
  • The Speechless: "Mute" dragons, who cannot roar. Jakkin is devastated when he learns that Heart's Blood is a mute, though Sarkkhan reveals to him soon after that he sees muteness as a potential advantage and has been trying to breed a mute fighter. Sssargon and Sssasha are also mute, though they're far from silent telepathically.
  • Starfish Language: The patterns of colors that dragons send. Until Dragon's Heart, where this aspect is suddenly almost nonexistent, dragons communicate with trainers/tenders this way, and said humans must learn what the colors mean and recognize different dragons in part by their sendings. At the end of Heart's Blood something happens to Jakkin and Akki which lets them interpret these as words and create sendings themselves, though color is still a big part of the whole thing.
  • Theme Naming: All of Sarkkhan's named dragons come from a "Heart" or a "Blood" lineage. Females are "Heart"s, males are "Blood"s. Heart's Blood is the product of a mating between the two lines. And the aforementioned Letter Motif in human names also counts as Theme Naming.
  • Third Person Dragon: Sssargon combines Calling Your Attacks with this.
  • 20 Minutes into the Future: The timeline for the stories take place in 2400 A.D., and a fictional encyclopedia entry prefaces each book as a way to enter in with the futuristic theories/ideas.
  • Trickster Triplets: Admittedly, the Tri are influenced by their other two siblings, but the 'prank' at the end of A Sending of Dragons is something they take special delight in.
  • Tsundere: Akki towards Jakkin — a lot.
  • Underdogs Never Lose: Again, outright mocked, and Jakkin is praised for choosing the biggest and toughest-looking dragon to raise, instead of taking a weak or sickly one out of misguided sympathy... which some do and end up selling it for food later when they realize it was a bad idea.
  • Ye Olde Butcherede Englishe: Dragon masters customarily talk this way to their dragons. Lampshaded a little when Jakkin muses that he has no idea if he's doing it right.
  • Your Tomcat Is Pregnant: Heart's Blood is a girl.