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Literature / The Year of Rogue Dragons

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What do you do when every dragon on the planet starts to turn Ax-Crazy and threaten to kill everything else?

Well, if you're professional dragon hunter Dorn Graybrook, Kill 'Em All would seem to be the appropriate answer. Things are more complicated than that, though.

The Year of Rogue Dragons is a trilogy by Richard Lee Byers. It covers the calamitous events of 1373 DR, the "Year of Rogue Dragons". Set in the Forgotten Realms, it follows a group of adventurers as they wander Faerun trying to discover the secrets behind the Rage, when all of the Faerûnian dragons go berserk.

It has three books:

  • The Rage (April 2004)
  • The Rite (January 2005)
  • The Ruin (May 2006)

It needs more love.


Relevant tropes:

  • Big Bad: Sammaster, the magical equivalent of an Evilutionary Biologist and convinced that undead dragons are superior to regular dragons.
  • The Big Guy:
    • Dorn, who can use his effectively indestructible iron golem half to tank incoming attacks.
    • Kara, being a dragon, turns into one of the most powerful and destructive creatures alive when she switches to her true form.
  • Brought Down to Normal: During the final battle Dorn takes a Breath Weapon blast from a rust drake that renders his golem half nearly useless. He's able to work out an alternate fighting style.
  • Chaotic Good: Kara, In-Universe. Song dragons are relatives of metallic dragons and nearly always CG.
  • Comet of Doom: Invoked in the backstory in that the Dracorage is supposed to happen only when the King-Killer Star is in the sky. An important plot point is that this time, it isn't: the elves who created the Dracorage Mythal keyed it to activate when a certain striking comet could be seen in Toril's sky, but Sammaster has tampered with it.
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  • Cyborg: As a half-golem, Dorn is a fantasy equivalent; armor plating on one side of his face, and an arm (with taloned fingers and possibly Wolverine Claws) and leg both made of metal.
  • Death by Origin Story: The reason Dorn hates dragons so much is that his parents were killed in a red dragon attack that also cost him half his body.
  • Dracolich: The point of Sammaster's tampering with the Dracorage Mythal is to convince every dragon on Toril that becoming a dracolich is a good thing — dracoliches are immune to the Rage. Why he thought turning them into liches was a good idea is known only to him (in a manner of speaking — he thinks he is fulfilling a prophecy about dead dragons ruling the world, but Sammaster is the only one that knows why he thinks fulfilling the prophecy is a good idea, except maybe to spite the proponents of the standard translation that insists the translation's supposed to be about dragons ruling the world and he stuffed up his translation).
  • Evil Feels Good: The Rage actually feels good when dragons stop resisting it. Kara's resisting it so much while she seems to crave it speaks gallons about how heroic she is.
  • The Faceless: The wizard Scattercloak always wears a hooded cloak, veil and gloves, and never takes them off even at meals (he'll sit at the table, but he goes somewhere private to actually eat). He even masks his voice, speaking in an androgynous, accentless, possibly synthetic monotone. It's never revealed why he does it — it could all be pure affectation for all anyone knows.
  • Head-in-the-Sand Management: The good-aligned metallic dragons' solution to the Rage is to put themselves into stasis until it passes. They either don't realize or don't want to know that Sammaster has managed to make it permanent. Notably, not all the metallics agree with this: the Chaotic Good ones (e.g. copper and song) want to actually stop it but are being overruled by the Lawful Stupid gold and silver dragons.
  • Heroic Sacrifice:
    • Pavel gives his life to destroy Sammaster's phylactery and with it the Dracorage Mythal.
    • Havarlan gives her life to ram Sammaster's heavily warded fighting tower in order to knock him out of it.
  • Interspecies Romance: Starting in book two, between Dorn, a human, and Kara, a song dragon.
  • Irony: Dorn lost his arm and leg because a red dragon bit them off when he was a kid; the combination of this, the trauma of having iron golem limb replacements fused to his body, and being forced to fight in the arena for his master's sake is what made him become a dragon hunter by trade. He ends up in love with a female dragon.
  • Kansas City Shuffle: Sammaster is a master of pulling this. Pretty much every challenge the heroes face is this, while Sammaster tries to prevent them from finding out the truth about the Rage.
  • Magic A Is Magic A: Byers works very hard at keeping the rules of magic consistent with D&D gameplay. Spellcasters have to memorize their spells and only have a limited amount.
  • Neglectful Precursors: The Dracorage Mythal was created by the ancient elven kingdoms to win their war with the dragons for control of Toril. Unfortunately, hundreds or thousands of years later their own civilization fell apart in a period of Civil War called the Crown Wars (set off in part by Lolth's betrayal of the elven Top God Corellon Larethian, which led in turn to the dark elven race becoming the modern drow), which allowed humans to become the dominant species of Toril but also left the Dracorage Mythal a Pointless Doomsday Device. Then Sammaster found the mythal's core and modified it.
  • Our Dragons Are Different:
    • Especially the Rage, a murderous berserker instinct that overcomes all dragons from time to time (though it is not a natural draconic trait, but rather something induced by extremely powerful globe-covering magic).
    • More generally, Sammaster's forces include a bewildering assortment of the various dragons and dragon-like monsters in the D&D universe. Richard Lee Byers seems to have thrown darts at the 3rd Edition Draconomicon and used whatever he hit.
  • Our Dwarves Are All the Same: The main dwarf character is Raryn, an Arctic Dwarf, which means he's a white-haired dwarf who wears as little as possible by preference to facilitate his love of sunbathing, is classed as a ranger instead of a fighter, favors spears over axes, and knows absolutely nothing about stonework or dungeoneering because he grew up on the Arctic tundra.
  • Our Liches Are Different: Besides the previously mentioned dracoliches, Sammaster is a lich who uses illusion magic to pass for a mortal.
  • Our Vampires Are Different: The group joins forces with a smoke drake vampire left over from Sammaster's previous attempt at creating undead dragons. He doesn't feed on humans, but that's mostly because they don't have enough blood to sustain a vampire his size (one scene in The Ruin has him drain a Tarterian dragon and complain in his Internal Monologue that the blood tastes bad).
  • Power Loss Makes You Strong: Taegan when his spells are dispelled and Dorn when he loses his metal limbs.
  • Playing with Fire: Firefingers, the unofficial leader of the Thentian wizards.
  • Royals Who Actually Do Something: King Gareth Dragonsbane of Damara is a badass paladin. Deconstructed in that it nearly gets him killed.
  • Turn Undead: Pavel is a cleric of Lathander and has this as one of his class features and a Chekhov's Skill. He threatens the aforementioned vampire smoke drake with it on their first encounter. At the end of the trilogy he uses it to destroy Sammaster's phylactery and the Dracorage Mythal at the cost of his own life.
  • Vitriolic Best Buds: Will and Pavel, who refer to each other as "halfwit" and "charlatan" respectively.


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