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Literature / The Obsidian Chronicles

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The Obsidian Chronicles is a fantasy trilogy by Lawrence Watt-Evans, which consists of these novels:

  • Dragon Weather
  • The Dragon Society
  • Dragon Venom

Young boy Arlian lives with his family in a small mountain village. One day the weather becomes unusually warm and cloudy; Arlian's grandfather calls it "the dragon weather", because in the old times dragons tended to fly on just such a weather. Sure enough, three dragons attack the village and burn everything and everyone—except for Arlian, who hides in a well. Some time later a small party of armed men, led by someone called "Lord Dragon", enter the village. Arlian hopes that they can help him get to civilization—but immediately, to his horror, he understands that the men are just here to loot the dead. They capture Arlian and sell him into slavery. And so it begins...


The first book starts basically as the plot of The Count of Monte Cristo WITH DRAGONS, as Arlian gets his freedom and begins his quest for revenge: on looters, on some evil lords, on Lord Dragon, and eventually—if he survives—on the dragons themselves.

Not to be confused with The Obsidian Trilogy by Mercedes Lackey.

This series provides examples of:

  • Background Magic Field: Magical energies run wild in the south, and many effects of them are highly unpleasant.
  • Beat Still, My Heart: There exists a form of magic that allows a person to remove their heart from their body in order to protect it from harm. This is used in an attempt to purge the human body of dragon venom.
  • Bizarre Alien Reproduction: The method by which dragons reproduce is suitably alien and magical. Humans who ingest a mixture of human blood and dragon venom gain the "heart of a dragon". This magic gestates over several centuries until a newborn dragon bursts from the host's body. Arlian eventually determines there's a second aspect to this reproductive cycle: If a pregnant woman ingests the mixture, their unborn child will be born a god capable of controlling the dragons.
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  • Blood Magic: Human blood is a necessary ingredient in giving someone a heart of the dragon.
  • Compelling Voice: It isn't a direct magical control, but having a heart of the dragon means a substantial charisma boost. When someone with a heart of the dragon speaks, others listen.
  • Demonic Possession: Not by a demon, but by raw magical force. Results differ depending on who or what was possessed: humans, animals, plants, mushrooms—there're many possibilities, but they are never pleasant.
  • Determinator: Whatever happens, Arlian simply never gives up.
  • Doomed Hometown: Arlian's village, which gets destroyed by dragons in the very beginning.
  • From Nobody to Nightmare: The ruler of Tirikindaro, who is tremendously powerful, had pretty humble beginnings: it was a common leech, which got mutated by wild magic and later drunk some very special blood.
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  • Hooker with a Heart of Gold: Several.
  • Immortality Immorality: Humans with the heart of a dragon tend to grow colder and more alien to normal humans as time passes.
  • Les Collaborateurs: At the end of the first novel it's revealed that Lord Dragon made a deal with the dragons to moderate their attacks on the humans.
    • And in the third book, some humans knowingly side with dragons in hope of getting a heart of the dragon. These humans work as the dragons' agents in human cities and may even carry out assassinations if need be.
  • The Magic Goes Away: In the south, wild magic runs strong and unchecked; but in the north, magic is weak and requires ages to master. An important part of Arlian's quest is learning the cause of this difference.
  • Malevolent Mutilation: Once several lords decided to run a small brothel. How did they ensure that the slave prostitutes won't run away? They just cut off their feet. No wonder Arlian adds the lords to his revenge list.
  • Our Dragons Are Different: On the first glance, they are almost standard issue: big, flying, evil and darn tough. The only difference is, they don't breath fire, but spit venom, which ignites on contact with air. But then we learn how they reproduce... And much later, in the last book, we get another surprise when we learn what they eat.
  • Powered by a Forsaken Child: The wizards of southern city-state Kaltai Ol have devised spells to control monstrous nightstalkers, and use said nightstalkers to protect the city from other dangerous things. Alas, the nightstalkers eat human brains, and so the women of Kaltai Ol are almost always pregnant to ensure that the monsters are fed.
  • Really 700 Years Old: Humans with a heart of the dragon do age, but much slower than normal humans—maybe a dozen times slower. The oldest of the bunch is roughly 900 years old.
  • Revenge: It's the main driving force behind all Arlian's actions.
  • Stronger with Age: Dragons grow stronger as they age, and change color accordingly. Arlian's village was attacked by three of Black Dragons, which are the oldest and strongest color.
  • Weaksauce Weakness:
    • The dragons seem to be immune to steel weaponry. But obsidian works on them just fine.
    • The cat-creatures in the third novel are immune to steel, too. But silver affects them.
  • You Killed My Father: And mother, and brother, and grandfather... Dragons are not nice.