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Literature / The Last Dragon Chronicles
aka: Dragons

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The Last Dragon Chronicles is a group of bestselling children's fantasy novels by the English author Chris d'Lacey. The series began in 2001, and is still going. As of this writing, there are seven main books in the series, plus a spinoff series for young readers.

The series begins when David, an Ordinary College Student, starts looking for a place to stay during his term. He finds a woman named Elizabeth "Liz" Pennykettle, who is renting out part of her house on a street called Wayward Crescent. David moves in with her and her ten-year-old daughter, Lucy. Liz is an artist — she makes clay dragons, and even gives David a dragon of his own, whom he names Gadzooks. As David settles into life with the Pennykettles, he starts noticing strange things — movement in the corner of his eye here, the feeling of being watched there, and odd noises everywhere. Through his adventures with Lucy, he soon realizes that there is more to the Pennykettles than there seems. Some of the dragons they make are just statuary, but some of them are alive. David refuses to believe this at first - but his sudden inspiration to write stories, and Gadzooks' own pen and paper, soon force him into believing that there is more to Wayward Crescent than meets the eye.

David is soon dragged deep into the secret history and world of dragons. Liz and Lucy are among the last protectors of the world's dragons — descendants of Guinivere, a maiden who befriended the last "true" dragon. Dragons aren't the big beasts they once were — now, they must take clay bodies. But they still have dragon's sparks, deep down. And David and the Pennykettles must protect them from all who would do them harm!

The books in the main series are:

  • The Fire Within (2001)
  • Icefire (2003)
  • Fire Star (2005)
  • The Fire Eternal (2007)
  • Dark Fire (2009)
  • Fire World (2011)
  • The Fire Ascending (2013)

Fair warning: This series likes to do interesting things to your mind.

This series contains examples of:

  • Amnesiac God: Actually it'd be Amnesiac Fain, but for all intents and purposes, David and Alexa would be very nearly as powerful.
  • Ascend to a Higher Plane of Existence: The fourth book reveals that David did this, and at the end he gets better.
  • Beauty Equals Goodness: All of the protagonists are described as - at the very least - good-looking at some point. Then, most bad guys are ugly as road kill. AND THEN you have everyone who got infected by the Shadow - horribly deformed. But they're back to being pretty after it's gone.
  • Birth-Death Juxtaposition: Zanna's pregnancy is announced shortly after David's apparent death.
  • Cerebus Syndrome: One of the most dramatic examples in recent children's fiction - the first book is an adorable, harmless romp. By the third book, we have David killed via an ice spike through the chest.
  • The Chosen Many:
    • Liz and Lucy aren't the only descendants of Guinevere running around, and on the flipside, Gwilanna isn't the only nasty sibyl...
    • In Fire World, the Tapestry of Isenfier features David, Rosa, Penny, Angel, Gadzooks, and Mathew.
  • Cover Drop: From Fire Star onwards, a dragon matching the cover art is described somewhere in each book.
  • Divine Race Lift: "Female god" version. However, She is also a dragon...
  • The End... Or Is It?: The ending of Fire Ascending, though specified as definite by D'lacey, seemed... less then definite. Though the ending was played off as a Nested Story Reveal, Bergstrom had the mark of Oomara which David never knew about, and Gadzooks came alive on Elizabeth's grave...
  • Eye Scream: In the Fire Ascending. When Hilde orders a raven to peck an eye from a dead man's socket so as to bring vengeance to his murderer. And again, only pages later, the same bird shows up with BOTH eyes gouged out as a warning from Voss. What a charming guy, right?
  • Express Delivery: It does not take long for the quickened bronze egg to turn into a baby. Too bad Gwilanna turned him from a perfectly normal (well, for a Pennykettle) boy into a dragon.
  • Family-Unfriendly Death:
    • Minor character Hannah in Dark Fire gets torn apart in an incredibly vicious way due to being in the wrong place at the wrong time—she is impaled through the chest on a dragon's talon, with visceral descriptions of her blood oozing down and her organs popping through her skin speared on the dragon's claws. This series is targeted at the 8-12 age bracket, of course.
    • Ms. Gee's death occurs shortly after Hannah's. She has her flesh stripped away by being drenched in gallons of dragon urine from the awakening Gawaine, to the point where there's nothing left but her skeleton - which then disintegrates.
  • Fusion Dance: This happens when the Fain "commingle." By the end of Book Four, David also contains Ingavar, Thoran, Dr. Bergstrom, and G'lant. That's a lotta people in one body.
  • G-Rated Sex:
    • It is possible for descendants of Gwendolyn to "quicken" (become pregnant) when thinking about motherhood or the ones they love, which typically results in human babies born from clay eggs. In one case, however, a bit of magic results in a dragon baby being born in such a fashion. It Makes Sense in Context.
    • Similarly, in the third book in the series, Fire Star, it's revealed that Zanna is pregnant with David's baby. Since this is a children's book series, no direct reference to them having sex is ever mentioned.
  • Gorn: The series has plenty of dark and violent moments, especially Fire Star, but Dark Fire is suddenly bloody as hell. The Fire Ascending as well.
  • The Hero Dies: David dies at the end of Fire Star. Initially, this looked like it would be the end of the series (and in fact, it was originally planned to be), making it an unusually harsh ending for a book aimed at the 8-12 bracket. The series did creep on, and David came Back From The Higher Plane Of Existence, with the implication being that he became one with God(ith) and saw all the knowledge in the universe through his daughter's eyes; but if you're not aware of this, the ending of Fire Star can be a real punch.
  • Idiosyncratic Episode Naming: Every book has the word "Fire" in its title.
  • Impaled with Extreme Prejudice:
    • An ice spike through the chest is what does in David, the protagonist himself. Yes, it is gut-wrenching.
    • Hannah, a minor character in Dark Fire, gets impaled by Gawaine's claws.
  • Intergenerational Friendship: David and Lucy forge a bond over trying to rescue a squirrel named Conker. No, not that one.
  • Jigsaw Puzzle Plot: As the series goes on, the story reveals more about the origins of these powers and of dragons in general, and by the end, the story includes interdimensional aliens, time travel, and three separate parallel universes.
  • Leaning on the Fourth Wall: After main character David goes on a particularly emphatic rant, his landlady Liz soothes him: "David, stop talking in italics. It doesn't help anything."
  • Lighter and Softer: The Dragons of Wayward Crescent spin-off series, focusing on the dragons themselves, is written for very young readers.
  • Mind Screw: Fire Star is really heady for a children's book. The end of Dark Fire can also be really screwy to the mind when you try to think about what happened. In fact, the whole series becomes this starting around Book 2 or 3.
  • Mirror Universe: Every main character in Fire World has a counterpart on Earth. It's also Lampshaded in-universe.
    • David is ...well, David.
    • Eliza is Elizabeth.
    • Harlan is Arthur.
    • Penny is Lucy.
    • Rosa is Zanna.
    • Gwyneth is Gwillana.
    • Mr. Henry is Mr. Bacon.
    • Mathew is Tam.
    • Angel is Alexa.
    • Boon is Bonnington.
    • Stromberg is Bergstrom.
  • Most Writers Are Writers: David's a geology student, but becomes a writer through Gadzooks' help. d'Lacey confesses that David is a kind of Author Avatar.
  • Mr. Vice Guy:
    • Henry Bacon of is staid, grumpy, and old-fashioned to the point of being stifling. He's not exactly a Friend to All Children. He's even the primary antagonist of the first book in the series. However, as the later books prove, he is nonetheless a loyal neighbor who truly does care about his neighbors and their friends. Even if he does think they're a little loopy.
    • Henry's alternate in Fire World, Mr. Henry, averts this trope by being a definite good guy.
  • Never Found the Body: In The Fire Eternal, teenaged!Lucy refuses to believe David is dead because of this. She's right, sort of.
  • Nothing Is the Same Anymore: In Fire Ascending, after the universal mess that had been created got repaired, so to speak, the universe took one more change. It plays the entire series off as books written within the series. See The End... Or Is It?.
  • One-Word Title:
    • The series is called Dragons, and is about dragons.
    • The second book, Icefire, is one, and is also a Portmantitle.
  • Perky Goth: Zanna has pale skin, and wears black make-up and black clothes, but is relatively happy and has fun a lot more than normal stereotypical goths. Though she has reformed into more Hipster territory by the time The Fire Eternal kicks off.
  • Portmantitle: The second book, Icefire, which is also a One-Word Title.
  • Punctuation Shaker:
    • Dragons are fond of the traditional apostrophe (see: Things like "G'ravity" and "G'lant"). Ix go for the exotic and rarely-seen ː, in things like Ixːrisor and Premːix.
    • A lot of things in Fire World have semi-colons in them, to a vast extent. To name a few, there's the world itself, Co:pern:ica, with machinery known as Com:puters, and they can send E:coms with them. Harlan teaches Phy:sics, and has a Tech:nician, Benard.
  • Rewriting Reality:
    • One of the first indications of anything supernatural going on is that David's short story he's writing about a squirrel is actually happening outside, effectively in parallel with his typing. As in, he mentions that the squirrel jumps onto a washing line and the Pennykettles' voices drift in from the window exclaiming about precisely that (though he doesn't pay any attention). Debatable as to whether he's writing reality or simply being precognitive, but it seems to be the first.
    • The Fire Eternal reveals that Arthur can do it too.
    • Gywneth had her hand in messing with the flow of time by writing her dead counterpart back into reality.
  • Mr.Henry in Fire World. He dies because he got aged by Harlan's Time Rift.
  • Grella's fate in The Fire Ascending was a cruel, sad one. There's an entire part of the book dedicated to what happened to her.
  • Theme Naming:
    • All dragons' names begin with "G." Up to and including, Godith herself.
    • In Fire World, all the Firebird's true names begin with an A.
  • Timey-Wimey Ball: There are too many examples to list, though things start getting particularly crazy from Dark Fire onward. Taken to extremes in The Fire Ascending.
  • Trilogy Creep: The first three books form a definite trilogy, with a complete story, and a very definite ending. The rest do continue it, but begin a new story arc altogether.
  • Two-Part Trilogy: An inverse of the way it usually happens - the first two books form a more complete and coherent story, with the third one being more separate.
  • Unfazed Everyman: Henry Bacon - he never really knows what's going on, but he provides sturdiness in all the chaos surrounding him.
  • Whale Egg: Descendants of Guinivere hatch from eggs. It Makes Sense in Context.
  • Wise Beyond Their Years: Alexa in Book Four. It's strongly implied that she chose her own parents and family before her birth, and has been manipulating things behind the scenes for a long time beforehand.
  • Writers Cannot Do Math: If Gawain was the last dragon 50,000 years ago, why was there a dragon fighting monks at the monastery Arthur serves at in present day? That would give a range of 1000 years, give or take, from present day.
  • You Cannot Grasp the True Form: Happened to Gwillana when she seen the inverted version of Gawain's head. She died from the sight of the thing.

Alternative Title(s): Dragons