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Literature / The Dragon Knight

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No one said that being a dragon was easy, or a knight, or even a mage, let alone a Dragon Knight / Magic Knight.

The Dragon Knight series is a series of fantasy novels by Gordon R. Dickson. The first book was loosely adapted into the 1982 animated movie The Flight of Dragons by Rankin/Bass. A shorter form of the first book was previously published as a short story, "St. Dragon and the George".

The books tell the story of Jim and Angela Eckert, two college graduates who are whisked away to another dimension that is nearly identical to that of Medieval England, except there's wizards, dragons, and fairies running around and everyone speaks the same language.

In the first book (The Dragon and the George) Jim Eckert is trapped in the body of the dragon Gorbash, and must rescue his wife from the Dark Powers, who are attempting to wrack the fabric of the world's space and time. Along the way, Jim meets Sir Brian, a valiant knight; Silvanus Carolinus, the world's most powerful and crotchety wizard; Daffyd Ap Hywel, the world's greatest archer and a proud Welshman; Smrgol, Gorbash's great-uncle; Aragh the fearsome yet practical talking English wolf; and Secoh, a cowardly miniature dragon. Jim poses as a Baron from America to gain the trust of the local Englishmen.


Jim succeeds in rescuing Angela from the Dark Powers, and the two of them chose to stay in the new world. As a reward, Jim is granted a modest Barony, where he plans to contentedly live out his days — until the magical energy his deeds had earned overflows, forcing him to undertake the study of magic to control it. Because of his powers and the fact that Jim is bringing 20th century technology and knowledge to a medieval world, the Dark Powers continue to target him in an attempt to use him to tip the balance between Chance (chaos) and History (stasis).

In later books, Jim is also accompanied by Sir Giles (a selkie knight), Hob (the hobgoblin of Jim's castle), and usually unwillingly involved in the affairs of Prince Edward Plantagenet.

Novels in this Series

  1. The Dragon and the George — See above for summary.
  2. The Dragon Knight — Jim and his party must go to France to stop an evil sorcerer from carrying out his plan to manipulate the French government into attacking England and triggering a war.
  3. The Dragon on the Border — Jim visits his friend Sir Giles in Northunberland where the Dark Powers are raising an army of Hollow Men to destroy northern England.
  4. The Dragon at War — Jim and his friends must fight in a war between the dragons and the English on one side and the French and a navy of sea serpents on the other.
  5. The Dragon, the Earl, and the Troll — Jim and Angela adopt a baby while attempting to prevent an army of trolls from assaulting the royal Christmas party.
  6. The Dragon and the Djinn — Jim and Brian travel to the middle east to rescue Brian's fiance's father, captured in the crusades, so Brian can be legally married.
  7. The Dragon and the Gnarly King — Jim and Angela's son is kidnapped by the "Gnarly King".
  8. The Dragon in Lyonesse — Jim and his party travel to the mythical lost kingdom of Lyonesse.
  9. The Dragon and the Fair Maid of Kent — Jim helps England fight off the black plague while attempting to sort out Prince Edward's love life with the Fair Maid of Kent.

See also The Flight of Dragons, which was in part very loosely inspired by the books.

The series provides examples of:

  • AB Negative: In a couple of books, Brian and Daffyd are at risk of dying due to blood loss.
    • In The Dragon at War, Daffyd is injured from multiple crossbow bolts. When the possibility of doing a transfusion is brought up by James, one of the first hurdles is to figure out who gets to donate the blood, so that Daffyd didn't accidentally get the wrong blood type. With a bit of thinking, James is able to overcome this hurdle with some magic, and it is found that his own blood is safe for Daffyd, and again, using magic, is able to slowly transfer some of his own blood into the archer, saving his life.
    • Likewise, in The Dragon and the Gnarly King, Brian is injured due to a lance, somewhat accidentally put through him by James himself. While not as serious as Daffyd's earlier injury, Brian was still short of blood. Remembering his prior experience, James is able to figure out whose blood was good — once again, that blood was his own.
  • The Ace:
    • Brian is considered to possibly be the single best fighter in all of England,note  something he seriously needs because winning tournament prizes and ransoming horses and armor is the only way he can keep himself and his lands financially afloat for most of the series. Unfortunately this also makes him a target of envy by other knights like Sir Harrimore.
    • Daffyd also shows signs of this, being an exceptional archer, and always competes against those who think themselves better with the bow, and on one occasion, wrestled two men in his father-in-law's outlaw band at the same time, breaking his arm in the attempt.
  • Action Girl: Danielle in her first appearance, down to the cocky attitude.
  • The Alcoholic: Pretty much all of the humans since alcohol is safer to drink than water. The king of England, especially. Dragons also have an intense love of wine and drink it by the keg.
  • All Myths Are True: The series suggests that non-Abrahamic pantheons were real, and also that at least some version of the Judaism, Islam, and Christianity are true.
  • Alternate History: Medieval England but with magic, dragons, and fairies. And thanks to Jim, some 20th century technology that will no doubt make it even more different.
  • Animated Armor / Dancing Pants: The nature of the Hollow Men is along these lines, in that they are spirits that inhabit armor, or clothes, in order to have a body, with the upper ranks having full-plate armor of the current era, on down to those who wear basically the equivalent of a shirt and pants.
  • Anti-Magic: Priests, and other religious sorts, can effectively shut down a lower-ranked magician of the same religion by blessing them, or the area. That being said, the blessing must be renewed every 24 hours, and higher-ranked magicians know a trick or two to get around a blessing. Also, blessings have no effect on Nature abilities, like James' ability to turn into a dragon.
  • Archer Archetype: Daffyd, a stoic, slightly-aloof loner with an unacknowledged heritage, who is as noted above, the greatest bowman in the current world, and justifiably proud of being such.
  • Armor Is Useless: Averted, for the most part. James, Brian, and other knights, as well as men-at-arms, wear armor in order to protect themselves, and it usually keeps them alive. In fact, one scene in The Dragon on the Border has James, Brian, and Giles having to make sure that unarmored Daffyd stays between the three of them while fighting a group of Hollow Men.
    • Played straight where anyone on the wrong end of Daffyd's arrows are concerned, as his arrows can go through plate armor. Justified in that he uses a bow that has a 200+ pound draw strength, and he crafts arrows that can penetrate armor.
  • An Ass-Kicking Christmas: The Dragon, the Earl, and the Troll is set during the Christmas season, and includes a Tournament and a Joust, which everyone loves to see, even the Bishop himself (although he's not supposed to approve of it).
  • Atlantis: Lyonesse and the Drowned Lands, both of which have been under the ocean for centuries, and both lands have people living in them. They are also neighbors, sharing a common border, but have issues with each other.
  • Badass Boast: James has more than a few, usually when warning foes that it's a bad idea to mess with a magician. Of course, even the villains have their own, such as the case of Lord Eshen, leader of the Hallow Men, who warns a disguised James that, if killed, he'd be back to life in 48 hours.
  • Badass Normal: Among the Companions, who are more often involved in fighting, Brian, an exceptional knight, and Daffyd, an exceptional archer, are just men who are very good with their weapons, who, alongside of a Dragon Knight / Magic Knight, a powerful mage, a Talking Wolf (who is a Canis Major as far as most wolves are concerned), a selkie, as well as a regular dragon, fight off a lot of supernatural creatures.
  • Badass Preacher: The Bishop of Bath and Wells (Richard de Bisby), shows plenty of signs of this, and is rather eager to prove it, even willing to attack what he thought was a demonic wolf (Aragh actually), until James identified the wolf in question as a friend. He called out a lower ranked priest that had tried to "help" James under false pretenses (by blessing him, thus stripping him of his magic, not that he had any at the moment), forcing the priest to return back to their area, on foot, and begging his way back. He would later hold his own against deep-earth goblins, who had attacked him and James, and their guards, on their way to London.
  • Back from the Dead: Selkies can come back from the dead twice. However, they can only come back in human form once; if killed again, they will be modelocked in seal form.
  • Bash Brothers: James seems to become this with those who are his Companions, and they with each other. Should one of them be in danger, the rest will go and help out.
  • Beneficial Disease: In The Dragon and The Fair Maid of Kent, James comes down with both the Bubonic plague and a magician's-only condition from when he used up a lot of magic in a short period of time. For whatever reason, despite both of them making James incredibly weak, the two conditions also fought each other, which allowed James to have an easier time compared to someone with just the plague. Of course, opium was useful with the pain.
  • Benevolent Boss: As far as the people of the castle are concerned, James is seen as this, even in spite of his bunny-eared and occasionally unusual tendencies, in so far as Medieval England is concerned. In fact, they'll fight and die for him, if need be.
  • Berserk Button: Never call a magician a sorcerer.
  • Beware the Nice Ones:
    • Hobgoblins are cowardly and kindly goblins who have power over smoke and hide in chimneys. In one of the latter books, Jim's hob raises an army of hobgoblins who summarily wipe the floor with a much larger and more well-trained army of goblins.
    • James himself also qualifies; he's a peaceable, good-natured person who always prefers to solve disputes by diplomacy, and is very good at talking his way out of jams - but he's also a tall (a giant by the standards of the medieval era), powerfully-muscled, skilled athlete who's highly agile and is especially good at high jumps. He's a pretty rudimentary man of arms compared to Brian, but then, as noted above, Brian is probably the best swordfighter in England - and as the series progresses, James becomes a good enough fighter to defeat a belted knight in single combat (in his human form) and a sea serpent (in his dragon form), a creature bigger and more powerful than a dragon.
  • Black Knight: In The Dragon, The Earl, And The Troll, James helps Mnrogar, a troll, become one of these, so that he could locate a disguised troll hidden in the Earl's castle.
  • Bodyguarding a Badass: James might be a magician, and have the ability to turn into a dragon, but when he travels around, he tends to have his Companions, or about half a dozen men-at-arms, near him. This is justified because there's times that James gets attacked by foes, and lacks the ability, or time, to utilize magic, or it's not practical to turn into a dragon at the moment, and he's only just good enough to utilize his mundane weapons to protect himself in a fight. In such cases, even having half a dozen men-at-arms tends to come in handy, to say nothing about his Companions.
  • Brought Down to Badass / Brought Down to Normal: When he runs out of his magic, or is unable to use it, or is unable to turn into a dragon, James is only good enough to use his weapons to just protect himself. That being said, he's still pretty smart, can talk himself out of trouble, and, oh, odds are that his Companions are either nearby, with him, or are just about to show up with extra help.
  • Bunny-Ears Lawyer: Most everyone else sees James, and Angie to a certain extent, as one of these. To begin with, James isn't real good with weapons, and, unlike most knights, dislikes going into battle, and seemed to be, according to Sir Harimore, nothing more than a jumped-up squire, although that knight asked for forgiveness upon learning what James could really do. Likewise, even local magicians wonder about him. However, due to the fact that he can use magic, and can think up plans, to say nothing about his other-world experience, he is able to accomplish things thought impossible, such as being able to best superior Magicians, convince conflicting groups to work together, fight off difficult foes using simple tricks, and save England.
  • Cheaters Never Prosper: Zig-Zagged in the same scene even in The Dragon and the Djinn, during the dice game between Brian and Sir Mortimor.
    • Sir Mortimor uses two pairs of dice, which are shaved in a certain way, one that causes the user to win, and one that causes the user to lose. In this way, Sir Mortimor stole a lot of the money that Brina was planning to use to help find Geronde's missing father.
    • James, while watching the rematch game, figures out how Sir Mortimor did this, and secretly begins to control the wins and losses himself, at least until the game is forced to stop, thankfully due to outside forces, because at this point, Sir Mortimor had figured that something was up, and had rudely called for the game to be halted, at which point James called out that he could smell smoke - Sir Mortimor had the sense to use this as the excuse as to why he halted the game. By this time, Brian had won most of his money back. That being said, James doesn't tell him that it was due to his magic, due to the fact that Brian wouldn't want to win by cheating.
  • Cloudcuckoolander's Minder: In some situations, Brain and Daffyd, and their other companions, are this to James, mainly to keep him from making mistakes that might be embarrassing and potentially damaging to James' reputation. Justified in James' lack of knowledge of the way some things are, and they also justify it with the fact James being a Magician is a little out of touch with the common folk, along with the fact that he's not English.
    • James himself is occasionally this to Brian, especially when Brian is gambling, or it looks like someone is trying to goad the knight into a fight that might cause trouble to James' plans. Lady Geronde states that she prefer to have Jim traveling with Brian because of this.
    • A downplayed example occurs in The Dragon Knight when James takes his squire aside, telling him to keep an eye on Brian's relatively inexperienced squire, who will be leading the men while James and Brian are away, due to being of Rank, unlike James' squire, a former Chief Man-at-Arms. James' squire understands, promising to keep things on course. As it is, Brian has also given the same orders to his Chief Man-at-Arms. The two manage to do this, all without letting Brian's squire know that they were doing this.
      • Oddly enough, it is while reflecting on this that James realizes that Brian and Giles had made a similar silent agreement where he was concerned, although he doesn't bring it up to them, and is touched that they care enough about him to keep an eye on him.
  • Combat Pragmatist: While a lot of people show this, James takes it up a notch, or two, from using his magic to hide his forces, letting archers thin out the ranks of the opposing forces a bit, faking magic to get his fighters to stay together in a charge, punching an enemy sorcerer in the guts before he can use his own magic, using makeup to disguise himself as a demon, to say nothing about running around and jumping and jump-kicking, among other things.
  • Confronting Your Imposter: Occurs twice in the series, where James and company encounter impostors of their allies.
    • In The Dragon Knight, James finds out about an impostor of Prince Edward, who is giving life to the lie that he's joined the French. In fact, the real one wishes to confront this impostor himself. While he, himself doesn't get the chance to do anything, he does find himself face-to-face with his fake. However, James, upon remembering a story he'd been told prior, manages to deal with the situation by splashing both the real one and the fake with water, causing the fake, who'd been made from enchanted snow, to melt. As it is, James felt like he'd murdered the fake.
    • In The Dragon in Lyonnesse, James and company encounter a fake of Dafydd, standing before a rift. Once again, the real one wishes to confront the impostor, only for James to use the fact that he'd been previously warded to allow him to walk up to the fake, and cause it to distort and collapse, as it was little more than a magic illusion, along with the rift.
  • Cool Shades / Goggles Do Something Unusual / Specs of Awesome: During The Dragon in Lyonesse James creates a pair of glasses that serve multiple functions while in that mystical land. In a style similar to bifocals, the upper half reacts to bright light, and functions similar to tinted glasses, while the bottom half reacts to color, increasing its brightness, especially since Lyonesse is only safe if the scene is black-and-white to mortal eyes.
    • James utilizes these glasses as part of a Badass Boast when trying to free Brian from the Bright Knight, and to beat said knight in a joust.
    • Later, when James starts seeing the color red, he knew that it was time for him and Brian to leave the land.
  • Covers Always Lie: While the covers do depict scenes in the books, in a number of cases, James was actually in his human form, not the dragon form shown on the cover. Then there's the fact that, depending on the publisher, and even the artist, James' dragon form is always different on the cover. Sometimes he has legs, arms and wings, sometimes one pair of legs and a pair of wings, and then there's times he's bigger than he's supposed to be. Poor guy is all over the place.
  • Cultured Warrior: Due to the fact that he's from another land and that he's a magician, James will occasionally act as if he is one, defusing potential conflicts by speaking in mystical-sounding words and phrases that leave some people puzzled.
    • Upon first meeting Brian in The Dragon and The George, after the knight decided to be one of James' Companions, there was some awkward silence, until James decided to ask about the knight's Social Security Number, saying that knowing the other's would be a good way to know if the other could be trusted, even coming up with one for the knight when the knight said that he didn't have one.
    • In The Dragon and The Djinn, James finds himself in the sights of an upset Sir Mortimor, who was previously having an argument with Brian, until James talks about weather pressure systems, whereupon Brian explained that James was a magician.
  • Damager, Healer, Tank: Daffyd, an archer with no equal, kills foes from a distance, before the rest move in. James uses his magic to heal his companions and other allies as needed, along with other tricks. Brian, an exceptional knight, and gifted with his swordsmanship, tends to do the duty of going after those that are a serious danger to those who lack heavier armor, although James also does this at times.
  • Dare to Be Badass: Smrgol to Secoh. Secoh was rather cowardly, until Smrgol, who at the time had been crippled by a stroke, reminded the smaller dragon that he was a Dragon! And a Dragon is a Dragon!
  • Deliberate Values Dissonance: Given the setting of the book, this sort of thing does happen. James and Angie, being from the late 20th century, often have to learn how to deal with things that others just take for granted.
    • One instance is James' tendency to invite others, regardless of rank, to sit down with him. Servants and man-at-arms however, don't sit down with their lord and master, and thus feel uncomfortable when he makes the invitation. Angie basically gives them an order to disobey said invitation, much to their relief.
  • Demoted to Extra:
    • Danielle is not seen much after the second book, merely mentioned in passing, although she does reappear in person in a few of the later books.
    • Angie swings back and forth between this and being a third protagonist. Justified by the setting, since the Middle Ages were very Stay In The Castle. In some books like The Dragon and The Djinn or The Dragon and The Fair Maid of Kent, which are domestic, Angie plays a far greater role.
  • Doing In the Wizard: The laws of reality follow this. Magic that becomes too common stops being magic and starts being science. Consequently the Collegiate prizes the ability to create new magic above all others.
  • Dragon Knight: If the name of the series hasn't given it away, James is a knight (or so he claimed to be) who can turn from a human into a dragon, and back again. He even has a dragon on his shield, as given to him by the King of England.
  • Due to the Dead: Zig-Zagged quite a lot. Worthies are treated with dignity, while the lower classes get tossed into a ditch.
    • This is why James and the Earl of Cumberland tend to square off. The Earl had wanted to bury the knights that had fallen in the big battle in The Dragon Knight in one grave, but James had promised Giles that he'd bury that knight at sea, which in fact restored that knight to life.
  • The Dung Ages: The reality of the medieval world, rammed home quite quickly to Jim. He uses magic to try to at least bring a little sanitation to his personal spaces, but has to deal with the rest of the world on its terms.
  • Eldritch Abomination: The Dark Powers in general. Unlike most examples, they are helpless to do anything directly to the world; they instead hire, seduce or subvert others to do their bidding. Some major classes of demons Such as Ahriman from The Dragon and the Djinn, also qualify.
  • Embarrassing Nickname: The evil magician Jim fights in The Dragon Knight was known as "Stinky" to Carolinus from their time in school together.
  • Enemy Mine: Happens a few times in the series — sometimes even the villains pull this off as well.
    • Daffyd, a Welshman, has a chip on his shoulders where English bowmen are concerned, joined James and Brian in The Dragon and the George because he wanted to prove himself to Danielle that he was just as good as them. They became friends afterwards.
    • Sir Raoul, a French knight in The Dragon Knight, would rather see the English driven into the sea and fight them, as opposed to work with them, but the Mage Malvinne has corrupted the French court, and killed his family, and thus doesn't want him in power over his beloved France.
    • Sir Lachlan, a Scottish knight in The Dragon on the Border, wouldn't mind a war with England, if Scotland could win. However, while fighting on the defense against English aggression is one thing, invading England is another, and is foolish, which is why he's against fighting England. Then there's the issue with the French, who'd probably betray them.
    • Likewise, in The Dragon on the Border, James has to convince the Border Men and the Little Men to work together in order to fight the Hollow Men.
    • In The Dragon At War James has to convince the English Dragons and the French Dragons to, at the very least, make it look like they are working together against the Sea Serpents trying to invade England.
    • James attempted this between the titular Earl and Troll in The Dragon, The Earl, and The Troll in order to find a "hidden troll", but to say that negotiations fell through is an understatement.
    • In The Dragon and the Djinn, James and Brian have to work with Baiju, an Mongol, in the Middle East, along with a few others, in order to foil the Real Mastermind's plot.
    • Likewise, in The Dragon and the Djinn, James and Brian have to work with Sir Mortimor, in order to survive against an attack of Sallee Rovers, that is, Moroccan Pirates.
    • James forms one with Hill a Gnarly in "The Dragon and the Gnarly King".
    • In The Dragon in Lyonesse, the men of the Drowned Lands cooperate with King Arthur's knights, against an invading force commanded by the Earl of Cumberland.
    • Among the villains, most seem to work with the others, but they generally don't like each other, alongside the Dark Powers. In fact, Hugh de Bois has worked alongside of the evil mage Malvinne, and later, worked alongside the Earl of Cumberland, Agatha Falon, Queen Morgan, and the Earl and Agatha had worked with the Gnarly King prior.
  • Eternal English: Discussed in the first book by Angie and Jim, the former of whom notices that their speech patterns are different than they're used to in the present day.
  • Everyone Is Armed: Given the setting, most everyone is indeed armed, either with obvious weapons, hidden weapons, things that can be used as weapons, or there are weapons/things that can be used as weapons nearby.
  • Evil Uncle:
    • The Earl of Cumberland is this to Prince Edward, as he is always trying to get the young prince in one sort of trouble or another.
    • Agatha Falon is the Evil Aunt version where Robert Falon is concerned.
    • Hill from The Dragon and the Gnarly King had to deal with his uncle, who seems to have killed Hill's father.
  • Fake Ultimate Hero: After Jim regains his own body, Gorbash, the dragon whose body he inhabited, frequently takes the credit for Jim's first adventure. Jim himself feel like this on occasion in spite of his many accomplishments.
  • The Fair Folk: The Drowned Lands are elf-like, especially given the fact that a lot of the inhabitants are archers.
  • Fan of the Past: Jim was studying for his Medieval European studies doctorate before being tossed there. Even with his training he's still not aware of much of the day to day life of being a knight or running a castle, though, and before he arrived he definitely didn't realize that its politics and social expectations were at least as difficult and as serious as modern day America's.
  • Fish out of Temporal Water: James, and Angie, are, at least initially, this. However, they adapt over time, or at least modify things a bit where possible.
  • Fighter, Mage, Thief: Brian is a knight, and is the best swordsman in all of England, and is the Fighter of the main trio. Daffyd is an exceptional archer, although he is decent with a sword when he must use one, and is able to sneak around unnoticed, making him the Thief of the trio. James knows magic, can turn into a dragon, and is okay with a sword, making him the Mage of the trio.
  • Fighting Your Friend: In The Dragon and the Gnarly King, Brian supports a tax-protest, and joins a group causing small troubles in order to get the taxes changed to something more favorable. James is under orders to support the side trying to stop the protest. When their respective groups meet in combat, James and Brian both try to avoid harming the other, but the closeness of their respective cavalry charges still result in James putting a lance into Brian. Luckily, James is able to use his magic to take them someplace safe, so that he could heal his friend.
  • Fights Like a Normal:
    • James avoids using magic when fighting other humans. This is because magic cannot be used to harm others. Also, it would be seen as dishonorable to be under the effects of magic during a fight. Case in point, in The Dragon Knight, he and his men, using sticks that made them invisible, had snuck up on the French King's position — just before the charge, he'd ordered the group to throw the enchanted sticks away.
    • Giles, and his family, are selkie, who can turn into seals when in the sea. Understandably, while useful in the sea, the ability is useless on land. As a result, he and his family fight like any other human.
    • Played with for Mnrogar, a troll who learned how to joust in order to locate another troll that was hiding in his castle. However, he is still much larger and stronger than a normal human, which when combined with his boar-turned-horse, which was much larger than most warhorses, allowed him to easily defeat most human knights in the Joust. Only Sir Harimore gave him any real trouble, and that was because he was on par with Sir Brian in terms of skill.
  • From a Certain Point of View: When Jim arrives in England, he tells Carolinus he's a "Master of the Arts" and Carolinus construes it as meaning he's a master of the magical arts. He also tells Brian he's a baron from America. Later, Carolinus tells Jim there's no such thing as an evil Magician, but he later admits that he only said that because evil Magicians are technically called "Sorcerers". However, in The Dragon At War, Carolinus explains that sorcerers work alone, and have sold themselves to The Dark Powers in return for learning more offensive and evil "counter-magic" (as opposed to normal magic, which cannot be used for personal gain or any sort of evil).
  • Full-Frontal Assault:
    • In The Dragon on The Border, the Scotsman, Lachlan, fights naked when James' group attacks the party lead by the Frenchified-Scottsman, MacDougall.
    • Downplayed a bit, but early on, James would have to take his clothes off in order to turn into a dragon, or else he'd ruin them. It came in handy when he used this to convince MacDougall to not attack the de Mer family after his release at the end of The Dragon on The Border.
  • Glove Slap: Used at least once, if not twice, in The Dragon Knight, the big one being when Sir Hugh de Bois challenged James Eckert, at the behest of the evil magician Malvinne.
  • Grand Theft Me: One of the abilities James finds out that he has amounts to this — he's able to possess other beings' bodies, having done it to Gorbash the dragon (by accident), Hill the Gnarly (to help him win his fight), Hob the Hobgoblin (with Hob's permission in order to do some spying), and a Harpy (again, to do some spying, accidently destroying a nest for the Dark Powers' creatures).
  • Groin Attack: James finds himself on the receiving end of one of these, while protecting Brian's castle from sea-born raiders. Embarrassing enough, the guy wore less armor than him, making James overconfident, until getting kicked forced him to his knees, with a sword to his throat, being forced to chose between surrendering or dying. Luckily, the outlaw Giles and his men were nearby, one of which put an arrow into that raider, saving James' life. Afterwards, Brian noticed that James was in a bit of pain, and upon learning of the injury, tells James that at least he won't die from it, and tells a man-at-arms to fetch some wine for James. From then on, James uses this as a very good reason not to underestimate peoples' danger to him.
  • Helmets Are Hardly Heroic: Averted. James, and the knights, as well as most of the men-at-arms, wear a helmet in order to protect their head.
    • As it is, early on in The Dragon and the Gnarly King, James's castle is under attack by a bunch of brigands, who use fire arrows, and he has to remind his men, especially those who aren't experienced in the ways of combat, to not look up, as the shape of the helmets deflect the arrows away, or just get an arrow in their shoulder, instead of their face or throat.
  • Heroic Sacrifice: Happens at least twice, if not more.
    • Smrgol, crippled by a stroke, manages to kill Bryagh, though it cost him his life in the attempt.
    • Sir Giles also does this in The Dragon Knight while protecting Prince Edward from that book's villain. He gets better in the next book though.
    • Sir Geoffrey, Geronde's father, who was out in the Holy Lands preforms a non-fatal variant upon accepting a curse. The condition of the curse was such that, if he disobeyed his master, the curse would extend on down to theseventh generation. Thus, in order to protect his daughter, and possible future descendants, he never left, until he was rescued, and the curse was lifted. As it was, the nature of the curse was something he wished not to talk about, until James forced him to say what it was - leprosy.
  • Heroic Willpower: Many examples, but Daffyd deciding not to die of harpy venom because Danielle ordered him not to has to count.
  • Honor Before Reason: Pretty much every knight in the setting, but especially Sir Brian.
  • How Dare You Die on Me!: Daffyd almost dies in the first book, until Danielle orders him to not die.
  • Humanity Ensues:
    • In The Dragon at War, James turns Secoh into a human while they are in France. Their reaction to being transformed is a Little "No", because before, he could rely upon his teeth and claws, but now that he's human, he's physically weak. Still, this doesn't stop him from throwing himself into a fight while using a table leg as a club in order to protect his friends.
    • Gorbash also had a brief case of this, when he was trapped in James' body in the Modern era in The Dragon and the George. Seems he ended up on the wrong end of a guard/cop who had a baton and took a Tap on the Head.
  • Hyper-Awareness: In The Dragon Knight, Daffyd can deduce from a single arrow with scratches on it that the castle is under attack, by whom, for how long, as well as who shot the arrow.
  • Hypercompetent Sidekick: Brian and Daffyd are sometimes this, compared to James, namely because they are an exceptional swordsman and archer, respectively, and have skills and training that James, a man born and raised in the late 20th century, lacks. However, James, due to his lie about being a Baron, is their superior, due to Brian being just a plain knight, and Daffyd being a commoner. That being said, James tries to give credit where it is due when telling the stories of their adventures, but listeners seem to see it as him being modest about his actions.
  • I Choose to Stay: Given that there are sequels, it's fairly obvious that James and Angie made this choice.
  • Ingesting Knowledge: This is how Magickians use the Encyclopedia Necromantick.
  • Intellectual Animal: Wolves and dragons are in a separate kingdom from most animals, and can even talk.
  • Intercontinuity Crossover: In The Dragon, The Earl, and the Troll, Jim visits both the Neverlands and 221B Baker Street with Carolinus, meeting with Tinkerbell and Sherlock Holmes.
  • Jerk with a Heart of Gold / Jerk with a Heart of Jerk: As far as wolves are concerned, there's only friends, whom they act abrasive to, or enemies, whom they tend to tear the throats of, or folks whom they just don't give a damn about. If one is a friend, they'll help out of love, but don't expect them to admit it. If one is an enemy, expect to lose An Arm and a Leg. If you're not someone they are concerned about, they may not care if a group of bandits are about to attack you.
  • King Incognito: Occurs quite a bit in the series -
    • Daffyd is of the Drowned Lands Royal family, but prefers to be an archer, as he wishes to live where time exists. Only on a few occasions does he use his true rank, as in the case of convincing the Little Men to work with the men of the Borders in order to defeat the Hollow Men, and during the times he's in the Drowned Lands themselves.
    • Prince Edward, and Princess Joan, disguise themselves as a poor knight and squire, respectively, when they go to visit James in The Dragon and the Fair Maid of Kent.
    • Played with, in the case of James, as he isn't really nobility but others think that he is. In The Dragon and the George, Danielle is convinced that Baron is the least of James' titles, on the basis that no Sorcerer would bother with a mere Baron.
    • The king himself does this in order to attend Brian and Geronde's wedding unofficially, although everyone already knows that it it is him; they just have to address him as Sir Jack Straw.
  • Knight in Shining Armor:
    • Brian is a Straight example of this trope, believing in honor, chivalry, wouldn't harm a lady or child, and would help said lady or child if they were in trouble.
    • Played with where James is concerned. He's not actually a knight, but exemplifies the trope in such a way that others wish that they were more like him.
    • Parodied with the Bright Knight, who wears enchanted armor that reflects the sun into his opponents' eyes.
  • The Lady's Favor: Lady Geronde's favor means a lot to Brian.
  • Lady of War: Lady Geronde, Brian's wife, is quite handy with a boar spear.
  • Little Miss Badass: May Heather shows a lot of signs of this. At the age of 8, she was willing to take a battle-ax to a dragon that had just shown up at the castle (actually, her Lord, who was dealing with a minor magical issue), in order to protect her Lady. By the age of 11, she is, in all but name, the Number Two, where the servants are concerned.
  • Love at First Sight: Daffyd to Danielle, literally. Later played with in that Danielle is worried about losing him if her looks were the only thing that attracted him in the first place.
  • Magic A Is Magic A: Magick has inviolate rules, spelled out in a painfully large encylopedia. The two most often referenced in the series are that magick cannot be used offensively, and magick cannot cure diseases.
    • However, Carolinus and KinetetE both note that at the highest level of magick, a magician discovers entire new worlds of magic to be studied which are not bound by these rules. Jim actually determines that 'magick' as Magickians know it is just one fraction of the accessible powers of the world.
    • Jim also raises questions about magick that even Carolinus hasn't considered, to the latter's half-amazement, half-annoyance.
    • Speculatively, magick can't cure diseases only because no one has figured out how to do it properly; even the wisest medieval minds focused on symptoms, not causes.
    • Magick also cannot cross over into kingdoms, such as those of the Dragons and Wolves, since they would have no way to be aware of or defend themselves from whatever would come their way. Jim uses this to his advantage by having Aargh attack Malvinne, for instance.
  • The Magic Goes Away: Magic is constantly leaking out into science. In The Dragon and the George, Carolinus cites one such example, which turns out to be the development of sewing. In consequence, one of the primary ways that Magickians can advance in their ranks is by creating new magic, as Jim does on several occasions, for instance, at the end of The Dragon, The Earl and the Troll.
  • Magick:
    • Carolinus somehow manages to pronounce it this way, while Jim says it without the "K".
    • No less wise a wizard than Merlin points out that "Magick" and "magic" are two completely different things.
  • Magic Knight: Jim, though he's not too good at the fundamental skills of the knight part. He's substantially better at the chivalry and nobility part, but constantly fails to realize this.
  • Magitek: Most of Jim's spells revolve around this, making up for his gaps of knowledge on the laws of magic by MacGyvering up technology. He initially constructs his spells like C-written computer programs, for instance.
  • The Magnificent Seven Samurai: Let's see, James is a Dragon Knight as well as a Magic Knight, Brian is a Knight in Shining Armor, Daffyd is an Archer Archetype, Aargh is a Talking Wolf who doesn't stand for nonsense, Carolinus is one of the three most powerful mages in the world, Secoh is, initially, a somewhat cowardly dragon, and they, among others, have to defend England, as well as the rest of the world, from the Dark Powers.
  • Mama Bear: Angela towards young Robert Falon. She is even described as becoming like a she-wolf after she starts taking care of the infant. She even fends off an attempt to kill the child, fighting with the child's Evil Aunt, Agatha Falon. Later, when the child is abducted, she tells her husband that she "wants him back."
  • Man Behind the Man: To the point of Jigsaw Puzzle Plot from The Dragon and the Djinn:
    • The first Sir Geoffrey the main characters find is fake.
    • This leads to the real Sir Geoffrey, pretending to be his master, Murad of the Heavy Purse, but instead, cursed and controlled by...
    • The Dragon, Hasan ad-Dimri, Grandmaster of the Assassins, who in turn is controlled by...
    • ibn-Tariq, a powerful sorcerer and the Man Behind the Man. The book strongly suggest the Big Bad behind it all is an evil Djinni, Sakhr al-Jinni...
    • But he's a Red Herring, appearing and being banished within a couple of lines. The villain really is Ahriman, a summoned Demon Lord and Eldritch Abomination — a Dark Power all his own — that all must join together to banish back to his own Kingdom.
  • Martial Pacifist: As a Knight, James tends to find himself in one conflict or another. However, due to his 20th century upbringing, which declares that War Is Hell, he is often reluctant to actually fight, or at least start one. Then there's the fact that as a Magician, he can't take any aggressive actions, unless he has to. That being said, when push comes to shove, and he is forced to fight, he fights to win.
  • Medieval European Fantasy: The series setting, in general.
  • Mind Rape: Towards the end of The Dragon and The Gnarly King, James does a variant of this to the Earl of Cumberland, in order to get him to rescind certain warrants that were against James and his Companions. In short, he showed the Earl just what would happen if he pushed things too far, which would lead to the Earl being drawn and quartered - a punishment which the Earl merely spat at - while wearing his Coat of Arms, which caused the Earl to yell out in a loud voice "NOOOOO!!!! Not my arms!", which apparently is a Fate Worse than Death for a knight, as it would mean that all record of him would be destroyed as well.
    • As it is, the next time they meet, in The Dragon in Lyonesse, when James and his Companions have been made prisoner by his men, the Earl seems to react like he's in a situation where he has just grabbed a tiger by the tail.
  • Mr. Vice Guy:
    • Sir Brian is the most honorable and true person you'd ever meet, but he has a terrible gambling addiction.
    • The dragon species in general are a race of gentle giants, but are also lazy and easily distracted by treasure and wine.
  • Mundane Utility: Overuse of magic to do mundane things causes it to stop being magic. Jim uses his dragon form (which technically isn't magic perse but a special personal thing he can do) for a lot of mundane uses, though, such as maintaining his castle and lands.
  • My Master, Right or Wrong: The servants and men-at-arms are very loyal to those they see as their lords.
    • That being said, they do have limits. In fact, it is mentioned that, due to the various changes that James was implementing, such as better hygiene practices and certain renovations to see to it that the Lord's Bedroom would be reasonably warm at all times, the servants probably would have left, had James not have been a Mage, and thus knew more than the average person of the era.
  • New Powers as the Plot Demands: Originally, in order to turn into a dragon, James had to use magic. However, as of The Dragon and the Djinn, this ability is on par with a Natural ability, and not bound to the rules of magic. Likewise, as he gains experience in magic, James is able to do different things, as he's able to envision what it is he needs to do in order to make the spell work.
  • No Man of Woman Born: In The Dragon in Lyonesse, James comes across a knight who claims to be under a curse, wherein he cannot marry the one he loves unless beaten in a spear running and a sword fight, and part of said curse is that he can't be beaten by anyone born upon this earth. Reluctantly, as part of the curse doesn't allow for James to decline the fight, James has to face him. After beating the knight, due to the fact that Technology Marches On, and there's a thousand years of advancement between the armors worn by James and the knight, to say nothing about the fact that Gorp, James's horse, is bigger than the one used by the knight, James tells him that of all the knights currently alive, he wasn't born on this earth.
  • No Name Given / Only Known by Their Nickname: During the events of The Dragon in Lyonesse, when traveling in that land, James invokes these tropes, either not giving his name, or going by Knight Dragon, or even The Dragon Knight. Justified because Morgan le Fay, his enemy at the time, is trying to learn his name.
  • Noble Fugitive: Giles of the Wold is hinted to be this, although his identity never actually is revealed.
  • Noble Wolf: Aargh. So very much. He becomes one of James' first companions, due to previously being friends with Gorbash, whose body James was occupying at the time. He has helped to save, and protect, the Prince of England, fought sea serpents, helped out with a troll, and helped fight against deep-earth goblins. The same is true of Snorrl, a Northumberland wolf, who assists in battling the Hollow Men.
  • Obi-Wan Moment: See Smrgol's section under Heroic Sacrifice.
  • Obligatory War Crime Scene: In the Medieval period, nonessential prisoners tend to be killed, as James found out in The Dragon on the Border.
  • Oh, Crap!: Pretty much the expression most people have when they find out that James and his Companions are on the side that they are about to fight.
  • Once Done, Never Forgotten: Jim made the mistake of introducing himself to Carolinus as a "Master of Arts" (his title as a college graduate). This term means something much more prestigious among Magicians, and Carolinus has never let him forget that little slip-up.
  • One Steve Limit: Averted majorly. There's a lot of Johns, Neds, Williams, at least 2 Roberts, 2 Edwards, and 3 Giles.
    • Lampshaded when Giles the knight meets Giles the boat captain. The boat captain does state that there's a good number of Giles on both sides of the channel. The group uses the name the captain uses when he's in France to avoid confusion.
  • Open Heart Dentistry: Several times, usually involving James having to use a mixture of magic and 20th century knowledge in order to save his friends, or himself, when injured.
  • Our Dragons Are Different: They can't breathe fire, their body structure is very similar to birds of prey, and they can echo-locate (although even most of the dragons don't realize this). They spend most of their lives fearing their own Super Drowning Skills, which don't actually exist; though a dragon body is substantially heavier than water and thus prone to sinking, it can inhale more than enough air to make itself buoyant.
  • Our Ghosts Are Different: Hollow Men live along the northern border, who like to raid groups of travelers smaller than themselves, killing everyone, in order to steal their weapons and armor. They can be killed, but only for 48 hours, after which they need a pair of clothes, or armor, in order to regain a form, so long as one of them is still "alive".
  • Our Goblins Are Different: Goblins are the lowest rank of demon. Stronger demons actually kicked them out of the underworld in a fit of sadism and scapegoating. Hobgoblins began existence as freak (nonsadistic) goblins.
  • Our Werewolves Are Different: Not technically werewolves, but the wolves of the setting are all sentient, capable of speach, and live solitary lives instead of living in packs — only meeting to mate and raise cubs. They're also twice the size of "earth" wolves, being quite a bit more like bears than wolves and filling a similar ecological niche.
  • Out-Gambitted: Jim with regards to the Dark Powers, who have every desire to control him and those he loves, but they're also frequently thwarted by his 20th century knowledge and attitude. As Carolinus has often said, Jim's expertise with magic would scarcely be enough to graduate him past a C rank, but his understanding of people and danger, beyond anything the other humans in his new time can fathom, provide a far more vast pool of potential than anyone can expect. And sometimes, he even unexpectedly thwarts their plans just by doing what comes naturally to him, even if it wildly contradicts what other people in his situation would do.
  • Papa Wolf:
    • James, after foiling an attempt to kill young Robert Falon, threatens to turn his attacker, Agatha Falon, the boy's evil aunt, into something small and slimy. Later, when the boy is abducted, he goes to a land under the sea, foils a plot against England, and possesses a new ally's body in order to fight the boy's abductor, the King of the Gnarlies.
    • Sir Geoffrey, upon accepting, and understanding the nature of a certain curse, never went back to England, in order to protect his daughter, and future descendants, until James and company saved him and lifted the curse.
  • Perception Filter: In a few books, James, and even Carolinus, use a form of hypnotism to get people to not notice them, or those they have under a similar effect. This was useful in ambushing the King of France's men, and later, sneaking around in that king's castle. Carolinus makes use of it to talk to James during times when he can't just have James step to the corner, as it were, for a private chat.
  • Perspective Flip: For the story of "St. George and the Dragon". The dragons here are a mostly friendly and intelligent species, and humans (or "georges") are seen as evil by them for killing dragons.
  • Pintsized Powerhouse: Secoh is one of the most feared dragons in England, despite being only half the size of a normal dragon due to a family curse, simply because he is so damn aggressive.
  • Pirate: James has at least three encounters with these guys -
    • In The Dragon Knight, a group of rovers attack Brian's castle while he was visiting James. James, and some men, plus Daffyd and his father-in-law's outlaw band, are able to eliminate them with relatively minimal difficulty.
    • In The Dragon At War, James and those with him, get into a fight with those lead by a Scottish pirate known as "Bloody Boots", due to the fact that he'd dye his boots red with blood, presumably from a goat, but given the amount of blood inevitably spilled, in an attempt to get the dragon treasure that James had been given by the French dragons.
    • In The Dragon and The Djinn, James gets involved in a fight with Sallee Rovers, that is Moroccan pirates, due to the fact that Sir Mortimor, their host at the time, had been engaged in a bit of part-time piracy himself, only for his victims to get tired of this and hire some real ones to take care of him.
  • The Quiet One: Daffyd, who rarely says a word, unless necessary.
  • Reasonable Authority Figure: Sir John Chandos is often this, a major ally for Jim and his friends at court and not as prone to excitable actions as the Bishop of Bath, the king or Prince Edward.
  • Red Shirt: The common men-at-arms in Jim's castle, though he does his best to not use their lives causally. One suffers a particularly horrible fate in book four, Swallowed Whole by a marauding sea serpent that was hiding in a dark wood — though he had time enough to get off one scream and warn Jim.
  • Reverse Escort Mission / Stealth Escort Mission: Two of these occur in The Dragon Knight.
    • Upon finding out that John Chester, Brian's noble-born, and inexperienced, squire was going to command the men-at-arms while they were away, James is mildly annoyed at this, until he sees Brian talking to Tom Seiver, his Chief man-at-arms, and thus, realizing the situation, talks to his own, former Chief Man-at-Arms-Turned Squire, Theoluf, who understands the situation, and agrees to quietly assist in helping Chester keep command of the men. Chester doesn't find out but acknowledges the pair for their assistance.
    • While reflecting upon the prior situation, James realizes that Brian and Giles had made their own silent agreement to help keep him out of trouble. James is actually touched by the realization, and doesn't let on that he knows.
  • Rightful King Returns: Subverted in Lyonesse: Daffyd is heir to the quasi-elven kingdom, but he has chosen to live in the real world, rather than staying and dwindling with the rest of his people. He does go back to defend them — but he leaves right after.
  • Sapient Eat Sapient: Implied as well as discussed to have occurred, at least in the past, with dragons and trolls having dined on humans.
    • Dragons used to eat humans, until they, the humans, grew shells (armor), horns (lances) and started charging them on their horses. Seems that even a dragon can fall to a human in that situation.
      • As it is, in the first book, there was talk of the winner of a raffle eating Angie, had James, in Gorbash's body decided that holding her for ransom would be a better idea.
    • Trolls are also known for eating humans, which is why having several hundred in the area were a concern in The Dragon, the Earl, and the Troll.
  • Savage Wolves: As far as a wolf is concerned, if you're not a friend, you're an enemy, and if you're an enemy, expect to get your throat torn out.
  • Scars Are Forever: Geronde, Brian's betrothed, has a scar on the side of her face from an encounter with Sir Hugh de Bois, which remains until the end of the last book, until James figures out a way to remove it
  • Self-Proclaimed Knight: Two characters, at any rate
    • Shortly after arriving in England, James claimed to be a Baron, and thus a knight. Of course, he was smart enough to claim that he wasn't properly trained for the job, once he got his human body back. That being said, there are those who have figured out that he's not that good with weapons, like Sir Harimore, but, given the fact that he's also a magician, most seem to get the idea that, at the very least, it is difficult to master both areas. However, there have been a few times where James has been close to admitting the lie, and has to bite his tongue, as it were.
    • Justified in the case of Mnnrogar, King of the Trolls, in the guise of a Black Knight, due to the fact that Kings can declare who is, or is not, a knight.
  • Selkies and Wereseals: Sir Giles, a selkie knight. The same seems to be true of the rest of his family.
  • Shapeshifting Squick:
    • Implicitly Played for Laughs at the start of the second book. Jim awakens to find himself turned into a dragon once more... while in bed, with a naked Angie sleeping soundly next to him. Getting up without waking her proves tricky.
    • Even better, Jim briefly considers that he may be stuck like this for some time — which wouldn't please his wife. Not at all.
  • Short-Range Guy, Long-Range Guy: Brian, and James when he's unable to use or forced to not use magic, have this going on with Daffyd the bowman.
  • Shout-Out: In The Dragon in Lyonesse, when making arrangements for Brian to be able to return home in a hurry, KinetetE makes it so the spell is activated by his clicking his heels together three times and saying "Smythe, Smythe, Smythe". (Jim and Angie clearly realize the similarities, since they almost choke in surprise when they hear the method.)
  • Shown Their Work: Not for the first book, but from book two on Dickson did extensive amounts of research on the middle ages, usually pointing out how terrible the Ye Goode Olde Days trope is. Jim has to constantly use magic just to keep insects off of his bedding and clothes.
  • Sidekick Glass Ceiling:
    • In one of the books, Angela turns into a dragon through sheer force of will but Carolinus locks away her powers because two 20th-century time-traveling magitek wizard weredragons would be more than he or the world could handle.
      • Angela, however, had no magickal credit, no training, no association with the Accounting Office, and no inherent ability to transform. According to Carolinus, whatever she did nearly destroyed the fundamental cosmic balance.
      • Fortunately for their relationship, this does not forbid Jim from using magic to transform Angie when she wishes — except this only happens once in the series.
  • Sinister Minister: James has had a few run-ins with these sorts of people.
    • In The Dragon at War, while attempting to aid a sickened Carolinus, James encounters Friar Morel, who seems to be the leader of a group of vagabonds, waiting for the elderly mage to die. Due to his having blessed the area, James was unable to use magic, forcing him to use a mixture of intimidation, deception, and information about the Irish potato famine, in order to rescue the elderly mage.
    • In The Dragon and the Gnarly King, a priest, under the orders of the Earl of Cumberland, blesses James, preventing him from using magic — although he was out of magic anyways, and attempted to do the same to a weakened Carolinus, only to be stopped by the Bishop of Bath and Wells (Richard de Bisby). Said Bishop forced the priest to go back to their own region, begging the whole way.
  • Small Role, Big Impact: In a sense, Giles, from The Dragon Knight.
    • Because of him, James had to fight the Hollow Men, despite just planning on visiting the guy's family to notify them of his death, and ends up going on yet another trip to France in order to fight sea serpents.
    • Also, because of him, James makes an enemy of the Earl of Cumberland, who has it in for James for quite some time.
  • Sniper Duel: In The Dragon at War, Daffyd ends up having to face off against a group of crossbowmen on a raider's ship. He is able to kill them, but the last one was a clever target, with other raiders reloading multiple crossbows while hiding behind some shields, while Daffyd was down to only a few arrows, meaning he needed to be extra careful. It was a near thing to, as Daffyd was wounded several times, and in danger of bleeding to death, even passing out from loss of blood, after finally killing the last crossbowman.
  • So Proud of You: Smrgol to Gorbash / Jim, just before the final battle of The Dragon and the George.
  • Sorceror King: The Dragon Knight is a baron who's also a magician (albeit a low-level one, since being a feudal lord means he can't dedicate his life to magecraft).
  • Squishy Wizard:
    • Averted, in the case of James, who has a certain amount of athletic background, knows how to use most knightly weapons okay enough to protect himself, and can turn into a dragon.
    • Justified in the case of Carolinus, who is, understandably, an old man, and in one case had trouble with a pair of so-called nurses and a group of vagabonds, due in part to being sick with something. Luckily, James and some of his people arrived, and helped him out.
  • Stealth Hi/Bye: Daffyd and Aargh tend to do this, a lot, one way or another. Sometimes it can be scary at how long it takes for others to notice them, unless they make themselves known, even when they are only a few feet away.
  • The Stoic: Daffyd Ap Hywel, a man of few words and little visible emotion.
  • Sudden Name Change: In the first book, a few names are different from the rest of the series
    • One of Jim's companions is the wolf Aragh. In all subsequent books, his name is Aargh
    • The Accounting Office is referred to as the Auditing Department
    • Lady Geronde Isabel de Chagney's father is named Sir Orrin. His later appearance gives him the name Geoffrey.
  • Suspiciously Similar Substitute: In The Dragon on the Border, Aargh declines Jim's offer to go with him to the north, but Jim finds that Sir Giles's sister has a friendly wolf companion with nearly the exact same personality, in the form of Snorrl.
  • Super Smoke: The innate ability of hobgoblins is to control and fly on smoke.
  • Swallowed Whole: In the fourth book, the sea serpents' primary method of attack — and they're big enough to do this to dragons.
  • Sword and Sorcerer: Brian, who is a knight, and James, who is a mage, have something of this dynamic when they must do something without Daffyd, who is an archer.
  • Taking the Bullet: In The Dragon on the Border, James, Brian, and Giles repeatedly shield Daffyd with their bodies during an early fight with the Hollow Men. Justified in that James, Brian, and Giles are wearing armor while Daffyd lacks armor. That being said, Brian takes an injury through a gap in the armor, which the others find out when the man is pale from blood loss. Luckily for Brian, James is able to help save his life, using what he knows of his 20th century medical knowledge.
  • Technology Marches On: In an in-universe situation, when James and the others head into Lyonesse in order to defend it from the Dark Powers, James ends up being challenged by an armored man. James is able to best him due to the differences in their respective armors, given that the armor worn by James was that of Medieval technology, while that of the other man was the sort worn by warriors a thousand years earlier. This is even mentioned during a conversation between James and Brian as part of a concern when the Dark Powers' forces, most of them being outlawed knights and the like, are about to face off against the Knights of the Round Table. Luckily, King Arthur's knights manage to prove victorious, with the outlaws fleeing, but this is mainly because they believed that God was on the side of the locals, especially since there was a lion and James, in dragon form, near King Arthur, as if the figures on the king's shield had came to life.
  • Temporal Paradox:
    • Possibly because of Jim, the history of medieval England is all off. Bits of the Renaissance have leaked in prematurely, such as early aqueducts/sewer systems, some medicine, blood transfusions, paned windows, more efficient indoor heating, and theatrical special effects. (It's all either managed or chalked up to magic, though.) Plague is ahead of schedule and noted events don't match the times they historically occurred. Carolinus dismisses this as the history books being wrong.
    • Jim is explicitly responsible for several changes, however. He may have blunted the Black Plague substantially, by explaining how the disease is transmitted by fleas, found on rats, even going so far as to suggest bringing in more cats in order to deal with them. He also taught his fellow knights a lot of songs they shouldn't quite have known.
    • The series implies, however, that these changes and discrepancies are all to the good; if History grows too strong and these chaotic elements are not introduced, the world lapses into Stasis.
  • To Win Without Fighting: In, The Dragon Knight, James and Brian are staying at an inn. When Brian goes off to check on some things, James finds himself the subject of an argument that another knight has due to James and Brian staying in a room that had been promised to his family some generations back. The other knight challenges James to a fight, and James goes to meet him in the street. Knowing that the other knight was, most likely, better with a sword than himself, James claims that he cannot draw his sword, unless it's to first cross blades with that of a French knight. The other, so impressed by the sort of bravery that must be necessary to make such an oath, expresses his admiration. James even puts an end to any conflict by inviting the other knight, Sir Giles, to share the room with him and Brian, due to another oath he made that restricts him to the floor. Sir Giles soon becomes one of James' Companions after this.
  • Took a Level in Badass: Secoh at the end of book 1. He has since become something of a bully, in that he can now push other dragons around.
  • Trickster Mentor: Carolinus is often this, sending Jim into a situation with only partial information about what's going on and expecting him to be able to use his unique world-view to figure out a solution. Fortunately he's also usually right.
  • Undying Loyalty: The servants and men-at-arms of the castle show a lot of this.
    • Strange dragon shows up - everyone grabs a weapon, and gets set to attack it, until Angie lets them know that James was just practicing some magic and had just startled her.
    • James gets captured by the enemy force hidden inside the castle - everyone grabs a weapon in an attempt to save him. James actually has to order them to halt, in order to save them from being massacred by the opposing men-at-arms that are better armed and armored.
  • The Usual Adversaries: Dark Powers. They seem to oppose James at every turn, and either aid or lead his foes.
  • Verbal Judo: There are many scenarios where James gets his way out of trouble, simply by talking.
    • When he first meets Brian, who was out dragon-hunting, James convinces the knight that he was also a knight that had been placed under a spell to look like a dragon.
    • When he meets the knight Giles, who was in dispute with him over a room, James explains that he had made a vow not to draw his sword unless it was to cross blades with a French knight. Giles is actually impressed by this vow, and James defuses the situation by offering to share the room, to which Giles accepts, and eventually becomes a Companion.
    • When Brian and Mortimor are gambling, and a fight is about to occur between them, James is able to use complicated words to throw Mortimor off his idea of provoking a fight with him.
    • When taken prisoner by the Earl of Cumberland, James is able to convince the Earl that being a prisoner was just part of the plan, preventing the immediate execution of James and his friends.
  • Vocal Dissonance: In the fourth book, most of the giant creatures of the sea (e.g. Granfer the giant squid, the sea serpents) speak with high pitched, squeaky voices...the bigger, the squeakier. Notably, the Sea Devils (a race of friendly aquatic giants) are an exception.
  • The Voice: The Accounting Office is a neutral disembodied voice created by the magicians of the world to keep track of the world's supply of magic and enforce some basic rules of magic. It also acts as some sort of magical bank that slightly increases the supply of magic via investment. It typically bosses Jim around, though Carolinus and later (once he graduates) Jim can intimidate it by threatening to pull their supply of magic from its management. It also doesn't concern itself with the morality of magic, only the danger a magician poses to potentially decreasing the supply of magic.
  • Voluntary Shapeshifting: There's a reason James is called the Dragon Knight — he can turn into a dragon.
  • War Is Glorious: Many of the local knights, and even the regular commoners, look forward to when they can go to war, much to James' annoyance.
  • War Is Hell: James, by contrast to the native knights, dislikes the idea of fighting, due to his 20th century upbringing.
  • Watering Down: During major parties, there is a tendency to add water to the wine that folks drink. Part of this is the idea that adding water will reduce the odds of intoxication, allowing guests to feast longer. Of course, given how much folks drink, this doesn't have much effect.
    • Geronde, after her father gets rescued, in preparation for her wedding, makes Brian swear to add water to any wine he drinks, much to Brian's annoyance. In is own words, he'd rather drink 19 glasses of water to have a glass of good wine, instead of ten glasses of watered wine. James, on one occasion gets around this by personally pouring Brian a glass of wine, and giving it to him, as it would be rude for Brian to refuse said gift, much to Brian's pleasure.
  • We Need a Distraction: Occurs on more than a few occasion.
    • In The Dragon at War, when meeting the French king and enemy sorcerer, James has Daffyd rush to the other side of the room, so that James could close in with the sorcerer and punch him in the guts, before he could use his own form of magic.
    • In The Dragon and the Djinn, Brian is gambling with Sir Mortimor, who is using crooked dice. James, having figured out the cheater's game, uses his magic to control things a bit more fairly. Mortimor figures out that something is up, calls the game to a halt, and he and Brian look like they are about to come to blows, as halting the game was rather rude, until James called out that he could smell smoke. Mortimor uses this as an excuse as to why he halted the game, claiming that he too had just smelled smoke himself.
  • Weaksauce Weakness: Being on ground that is Holy, or has been Blessed, prevents Magicians from using their magic, as does being Blessed themselves, which lasts 24 hours. Likewise, in areas where their magic is not native, they have issues. There are ways around this -
    • Many experienced Magicians will cast a ward of sorts around them, which allows them to to use magic on Holy/Blessed grounds, or in areas that their magic is foreign, although native magic-uses could strip them of this ward if noticed.
    • Previously caused magics can still work, such as the soothing box in The Dragon, The Earl, an the Troll.
    • James can still use his dragon shapeshifting abilities, as well as his spirit possessing abilities.
  • What Happened to the Mouse?: A series example, at the end of The Dragon, the Earl, and the Troll Agatha Falon appears to have softened somewhat with her renewed familial relationship with her adoptive grandfather Mnrogar, the troll and appears to suggest she'll be at least putting off any political ambitions to focus on visiting him. This is not mentioned in any of the later books and Agatha seems at least as ambitious and dangerous as before, if not more so.
  • What Measure Is a Mook? / What Measure Is a Non-Human?: While James has no issues killing when he has to, he doesn't like it, and he tries not to kill when he doesn't have to. As it is, when he encounters a enchanted-snow version of The Prince, and throws water upon them, causing them to melt, James can't help but feel that he just committed murder. Then there's other instances, such as when he had a bunch of attacking sea serpents first doused in oil, and has a burning torch tossed upon them, causing them to roast, James feels sick to his stomach at having done so, despite it being necessary.
  • Who Wants to Live Forever?: At the end of The Dragon on the Border, after defeating the Hollow Men, and their worm, James walks up to a dying Lord Eshan, who mentions that it has indeed been a long time, and that he's glad that he, and the other Hollow Men, can finally rest.
  • Worf Had the Flu: There's been a few times where Brian and/or Daffyd have received an injury that prevents them from assisting James and the rest in any fighting. James often has to figure out how to make do without them.
  • Worst Aid: Due to their relative lack of medical knowledge, even compared to that of the average person from the 20th century, James as a natural reluctance to let native "doctors" treat him or his friends, for this very reason. As it is, in The Dragon at War, Carolinus has a bad encounter with a couple of "so-called healers", who are excessively rough on him, especially given his age, and he probably would have died from their "so-called treatment", had James, Angie, and some of his men-at-arms not arrived to take him to their place, and even they wouldn't have saved him, had John Chandos and Sir Giles not shown up just then to scatter the group of vagabonds preventing them from leaving with the mage.
  • Worthy Opponent:
    • Brian seems to see Sir Harimore as this, as they are both equally skilled with their weapons, and have had more than one encounter, wherein they've bested each other, something few others have been able to do.
    • Dragons also see humans as this, especially after the battle of St. George against a dragon. Initially, dragons were upset at not only being the loser, but also being the villain. After a century of indignation, most came around to the idea that George was a formidable opponent, and would talk about what they themselves would have done. As a result, dragons started to call humans "Georges".
  • Wouldn't Hurt a Child: Among the vows that Brian took, they were to not to harm women, children, members of the church, and to help them if they were in need of aid.

Alternative Title(s): The Dragon And The George, The Dragon On The Border, The Dragon In Lyonesse


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