Bazil, still with his tail in one piece, arrives in the white city of Marneri with Relkin. They have come to try to win a place in the Legions of Argonath. The Legions include infantry, cavalry and dragon squadrons, which are essential in battle with the hordes of the enemy, which always include troll. Unfortunately in an early trial combat Bazil's tail is ruined. To save it Relkin sets out to steal some flowers from a high balcony. He fails, but is introduced to the Great Witch Lessis who gives him a herbal remedy for the dragon. This works, although not perfectly, and Bazil's tail is restored enough for him to win admission to the Legions.
However, the Masters of Padmasa have infiltrated Marneri and their agent Thrembode, the New, kidnaps the young Queen, Besita. Bazil, along with a small force of men and dragons are caught up in a precipitate pursuit of Thrembode across the High Gan to the dread city of Tummuz Orgmeen ruled by the evil Doom, a rock imbedded with malevolent intelligence. They are captured, except for Relkin and young Lagdalen of the Tarcho, who revive the Great Witch and spark an uprising in the Arena when Relkin manages to hurl down Bazil's dragonsword at the crucial moment. Tummuz Orgmeen falls to the forces of the Argonath and Bazil cuts down the Doom, although he loses his sword in the process.
A Sword for A Dragon
Bazil is given a new sword, an elf made blade imbued with an ancient, fierce spirit, Ecator, who was first encountered inhabiting an old black cat in the city of Tummuz Orgmeen. Ecator is the finest dragonsword ever made.
The 109th Marneri Dragons are part of an expeditionary force sent down the river Oon to the ancient land of Ourdh, where the ruler faces an insurgency designed by the Masters of Padmasa. After an epic journey the Argonathi army arrives in time to play a crucial part in the battle of Salpalangum. Thereafter, however, they are forced to shelter in the city of Ourdh which is subjected to a siege by the forces of the Mesomaster. Ultimately, with the assistance of the Great Witch Ribela, Queen of Mice, Relkin and Bazil are able to confront the Mesomaster. His dread sorcery is enough to crush anything except a dragon and his sword, a fact that he discovers to his great cost.
Dragons of War
The 109th are on a mission to quell religious strife in the hills of Kohon when the word reaches them that the Masters have launched a huge invasion of Kenor with the clear objective of cutting right through to the settled lands on the coast. Their objective is the complete destruction of the nine cities of the Argonath.
The 109th fight their way across the mountains, with the help of the Wattel folk, particularly Eilsa Ranardaughter, beautiful heiress of the Clan chief. She and Relkin become close, before the 109th leave to continue their march. With the aid of great sorcery by the two greatwitches Lessis and Ribela, they manage to get ahead of the enemy's thrust toward Marneri. They make their stand on Sprian's Ridge and with the assistance of their friends the 66th Marneri Dragons and some local militia they hold the line long enough for the Argonathi army to catch up.
News has reached the Greatwitches that their enemy has begun the manufacture of crude cannon in the heart of the dark continent, Eigo. The Masters know that cannon can break the military ascendancy of the Argonathi dragon force. Accordingly, a huge expedition has to be mounted to send an army around the world to find and destroy the Masters' cannon factory. As part of the effort the Argonath forms a coalition with forces from Czardha and Kassim. These forces come together to defeat the Kraheen, lead by their mad prophet, at Koubha, the capital of Og Bogon, the civilized kingdom of tropical Eigo.
Later, Bazil and Relkin are able to prevent the assassination of great King Choulaput of Og Bogon, for which he rewards them with a fortune in gold.
But before any fortunes can be spent the expedition must press on into the heart of the dark continent, to the Ramparts of the Sun and the Isle of the Bone. There, they confront the Kraheen armies and the crude but effective cannon that have been built by the Master Heruta Skash Gzug. The battle of Tog Utbek provides a pyrrhic victory for the Legions, for though they destroy the enemy's forces and cannon they suffer huge casualties and are pursued by further enemy troops. Ultimately it is the dragons of the 109th, with Relkin and the Greatwitch Lessis who pursue the Master Heruta through his lair, just as the volcano on which it rests explodes. Bazil and Relkin are hurled far out into the Inland Sea by the blast and though they survive by a miracle, when they reach land they are completely alone.
A Dragon at Worlds' End
Bazil and Relkin are lost in the depths of the dark continent, Eigo. After surviving encounters with the dinosaurian life that still dwells there they save Lumbee, a female of the tailed Ardu folk. Relkin and Lumbee fall in love while isolated in the wilderness. When they reach the lands of the Ardu this causes trouble and Relkin is eventually betrayed to slavers from the south who carry him off to the city of Mirchaz, the city of the Elf Lords, who have dwelled there in hiding from the world since the earliest days.
Bazil leads the Ardu to crush the slaver town on the river and then to march on Mirchaz itself. Meanwhile Relkin has become the victim of a malicious Elf Lord and has been marooned in a dream construct, derived from the Great Game that the Elf Lords occupy themselves with. In the end Relkin and Bazil come together to bring down the Great Game and end the rule of the Elf Lords and their evil ways. They take ship for the Argonath from Og Bogon, laden with golden treasure.
Surviving a volcano's blast and separated from the
City of Sorcery
But Relkin is abducted by Slavers and taken south to be sold. There, in the city of , where
An Enormous neck swung out of the woods and a moment later it was followed by a vast bulk, at least ten, perhaps twenty times Bazil's size. With a cracking sound, the whiplike tail erupted from the nearest brush and lashed at Bazil's ead.
He dodged back as the tip cracked only a few inches short of his nose. The beast towered over him. Bazil retreated. Even with
A moment later, there was a tremendous crashing of vegetaion and a second enormous beast emerged behind the first.
Dragons of Argonath
Rebellion simmers in Aubinas, the wealthy grain province of Marneri. Other wealthy provinces, such as Arneis are tempted to join the rebellion which is the work of the grain magnates. Behind the scenes, however, a far more terrible foe has entered the fray, for Waakzaam the Great, an "elemental" of the first order, has finally come to subdue Ryetelth and add it to the twelve worlds he already holds in his dire grip.
Waakzaam unleashes two plagues on the Argonath, a pestilence spread by rats and then a fever of even more deadly nature. Now the forces of the Argonath must defeat the rebellion with vastly weakened forces. The 109th dragons are involved in the critical fighting and ultimately it is they who drive Waakzaam to leave Ryetelth just ahead of death by dragonsword.
Waakzaam the Great has not finished with Ryetelth. And now he has focussed his rage upon another foe, the Sinni, the golden beings who have long fought him across the Sphereboard of Destiny. First the Argonath, weakened by the plagues, must fight off an army of the Masters of Padmasa lead by Waakzaam, and then Bazil and Relkin must endure a terrifying journey across the gulfs of space and time to do battle with the vast golem created by Waakzaam in his bid to destroy the Sinni. This clash, between titans, comes perilously close to ending Bazil and Relkin's lives, but with the aid of the Sinni, themselves under attack, and their own indomitable powers the dragon and his boy bring down the golem and extinguish Waakzaam. All across the Sphereboard of Destiny oppressed peoples rise up with joy in their hearts at this tremendous act of liberation.
Set in a different realm on the same world as the tales of Bazil Broketail, this story recounts the adventures of a young Prince, Evander of Sedimo Kassim, who has fled his homeland to avoid an early grave.
He is cursed by a dreadful Wizard and seeks help for the toad skin that covers his upper body in the city of Monjon, which floats due to the power of the great Thymnal, an object retrieved from the higher planes by a long dead king.
Monjon, however is also under a curse from the same Wizard and when Evander foils the Wizard's plot to take the Princess Serena as his wife, the Wizard hurls a terrible at them. Unfortunately this contravenes the Law of the Thymnal which does not allow for other magic to be performed within its own sphere of influence. A cataclysm results that catapults Evander, the Princess and the flying carpet they are on to another world, the doomed world of Orthond.
In the ruins of Orthond, crushed beneath the heel of the Dominator, Waakzaam the Great, Evander and Serena meet Perspax, a member of the former Eleem nobility. With Perspax they journey across the wastelands of Orthond and eventually to the fortress of the Dominator, Himself. Fortunately, Waakzaam was away, tending to business on another of the Twelve Worlds he held in his grip. With the aid of an ancient Eleem mystic Evander and Serena escape Orthond and return to Ryetelth.
There they still have to contend with the evil Wizard of the Black Mountain, but in the end, Evander triumphs and he and Serena return to Monjon with a new, even more powerful Thymnal.
While I'd been gainfully employed writing a certain kind of SF novel for Del Rey Books I'd often cast an eye across the list at the Fantasy side of things. I had no inhibitions about the Fantasy genre, although it was held in contempt by the Cyberpunk school of SF that had come to the fore in the 80s. I was old enough to have enjoyed the stories of Lin Carter and L. Sprague de Camp back in the sixties. In my youth I read everything by Robert E. Howard and H.P Lovecraft. My favorite US SF Authors, Ursula Leguin and Jack Vance, had also written some wonderful Fantasy fiction.
And, of course, I have a deep and abiding affection for Tolkien's works.
Looking at the Fantasy field in the late eighties I had a feeling that there might be room for something a little different from what seemed a glut of Copies of the Rings and Tales of Warrior Princesses in embattled lands.
As usual with me, the process began with an idea that turned the totemic fantasy animal of the genre on its head. My idea of "battledragons" was partly inspired by Jack Vance's "dragons" from "The Dragon Masters" his Hugo winning novel of 1960. That, however, was Science Fiction, not Fantasy. Vance's "dragons" are actually mutated forms of the alien race known as the "Basics" to the human characters in that story. The humans breed the Basics into "dragons" while the Basics breed humans into a variety of troopers and mounts.
Further inspiration came from Vaugn Bode's "smart weapons" -- a little known SF comic book from the Underground Comix artist best known for his "Cheech Wizard" series in the early 70s.
I worked on the idea on and off and one day while doodling I came up with a name for my lead dragon, he would be Bazil and he would be the Broketail. He came to life quickly after that. A wyvern battledragon with spirit and a sense of humor and a steadiness that would in time make him a leader among his own kind. And to care for him, because in the Legions of the Argonath cities, battledragons were paired with dragonboys from a young age, he would have Relkin Orphanboy.
Right from the start I had a good feel for Relkin. A careful kid, ready to play by the rules most of the time, but equally ready to abandon them when it became necessary.
Soon after that I had more characters, Lagdalen, and Lessis the Greatwitch and Queen of Birds. Then came more dragons, lots of them, and I wrote up a treatment and submitted it to Lester Del Rey. At the time Veronica Chapman, Lester's assistant, was very helpful in getting the tone right and in setting up a meeting with the grand old man.
It was an odd experience to be pitching my battledragons story idea to Lester Del Rey, whose short Science Fiction had been among the formative stories that I read in the 50s. I still have a collection of his work, "Robots and Changelings" that I bought for 35¢ in 1959 when my family lived in Montreal. Thanks to Veronica's grooming the meeting went very well, but alas, Lester just didn't care for my own take on the classic ingredients of Fantasy fiction, in other words my dragons weren't his kind of dragons.
So it was time to move on. The book found a home at Roc, part of Penguin in the US. Editor John Silbersack liked it a lot and Roc got behind it and were rewarded with a medium sized hit. Bazil Broketail sold well, and has stayed in print for 11 years. Along the way it generated six sequels, "A Sword for A Dragon"-- "Dragons of War"-- "Battledragon"--- "A Dragon at Worlds' End"-- "Dragons of Argonath"-- "Dragon Ultimate." And an eighth story set in part on the same world, Ryetelth, "The Wizard and the Floating City."