Read Calling on Dragons Online

Authors: Patricia C. Wrede

Calling on Dragons

Contents

Title Page

Contents

Copyright

Dedication

Introduction

In Which a Great Many Cats Express Opinions

In Which Morwen Encounters a Rabbit

In Which Morwen Makes a Discovery and Some Calls

In Which Morwen and Telemain Argue and Killer Discovers the Perils of Mixing Cosmetics and Magic

In Which the Plot Thickens

In Which the Plot Positively Curdles, and the King of the Dragons Loses Her Temper

In Which Killer Rises in the World

In Which Telemain Does a Spell and Morwen Misses a Call

In Which the Expedition Leaves the Enchanted Forest at Last

In Which Telemain Works Very Hard

In Which They Make an Unexpected Detour

Which Is Exceedingly Muddy

In Which They Make a New Acquaintance

In Which They Trade Stories

In Which They Have Difficulties with a Mirror

In Which They Learn Something Worth Knowing

In Which There Is Much Excitement

In Which They Concoct a Plan

In Which They Confront the Villains

In Which Disaster Strikes

In Which Nobody Is Satisfied

Epilogue
Which Hints at Things to Come

Sneak peek of TALKING TO DRAGONS

Buy the Book

Read all of the Enchanted Forest Chronicles

About the Author

Text copyright © 1993 by Patricia C. Wrede

Introduction copyright © 2015 by Patricia C. Wrede

 

All rights reserved. Originally published in hardcover in the United States by Harcourt Children's Books, an imprint of Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company, 1993.

 

For information about permission to reproduce selections from this book, write to Permissions, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company, 215 Park Avenue South, New York, New York 10003.

 

www.hmhco.com

 

The Library of Congress has cataloged the print edition as follows:

Wrede, Patricia C., 1953–

Calling on dragons/Patricia C. Wrede.

p. cm.—(The Enchanted Forest chronicles; bk. 3)

Sequel to: Dealing with dragons; Searching for dragons.

Sequel: Talking to dragons.

Summary: Queen Cimorene turns to her friends Morwen, Telemain, and Kazul for help when troublesome wizards make their way back into the Enchanted Forest and begin to soak up its magic.

[1. Fairy tales. 2. Magic—Fiction. 3. Wizards—Fiction. 4. Kings, queens, rulers, etc.—Fiction.]

I. Title. II. Series: Wrede, Patricia C., 1953–

Enchanted Forest chronicles; bk. 3.

PZ8.W92Cal 1993

[Fic]—dc20 92-35469

 

ISBN: 978-0-15-200950-2 hardcover

ISBN: 978-0-544-54147-4 paperback

 

eISBN 978-0-547-53793-1
v1.0915

 
 
 
 

For my nieces and nephews,
with love and the hope
that they will grow up reading

Introduction

Calling on Dragons
is not merely a book I hadn't intended to write; it is the one book of the four that I actively didn't want to write. It was the last of the four Enchanted Forest Chronicles to be written, even though it is number three out of four by internal chronology, and it is a darker book with a far more ambiguous ending than the others. It had to be, because it was the final bridge in the story line that linked
Dealing with Dragons
to
Talking to Dragons
, which meant that the end of this book had to set up the situation at the beginning of
Talking
. When I started writing it, I couldn't see how to do that without leaving things in a horrible cliffhanger, and I hate cliffhangers. (I am the sort of person who buys the first two books of a trilogy and puts them on the shelf
without reading
them
until the third one is available.)

I was therefore expecting
Calling on Dragons
to be more difficult to write than the other three had been. In addition, I was starting to get twitchy. I'd been writing nothing but Enchanted Forest books for nearly four years straight, and while I was still having plenty of fun doing them, I was looking forward to working on some of the other ideas I hadn't gotten to. So I had very mixed feelings when I realized, halfway through
Searching for Dragons,
that the “middle book of the trilogy” had too much story for one book and was going to require a second middle volume.

I had other problems too, starting with the title. The pattern “----ing (preposition) Dragons” was by this time solidly established . . . and I couldn't think of a single thing that felt right. I wrote the whole manuscript under the “title” “Enchanted Forest Book 3,” but my editors refused to let me turn it in that way. They were unsympathetic when I complained that I didn't have any ideas, and they certainly weren't willing to let me delay turning the book in until I finally thought of something workable. So, in a fit of pique, I came up with the silliest thing I could think of, and handed the book in under the title “Bowling for Dragons” (a deliberate play on the TV game show
Bowling for Dollars
). My editors laughed and agreed that we really couldn't call the book that, and eventually suggested
Calling on Dragons
as a more acceptable alternative. I was just happy I hadn't had to think of it myself.

Once again, I also faced the question of which character to use as the viewpoint. I'd already wrestled with that problem when I was talked into writing
Searching for Dragons
. I now had three books (
Dealing, Searching,
and
Talking
), each of which was from the point of view of a different member of the eventual family. Unfortunately, there were only three people in that family, so I was either going to have to repeat a viewpoint or else find a completely different person who could be a central part of the story.

All of the arguments against repeating a viewpoint still held. I didn't want the series to emphasize one of my characters at the expense of the others. Fortunately, I once again had a character whom I really liked but who hadn't had a really major role in the first two books: Morwen, my somewhat unconventional witch. The clincher was when I realized that Morwen understood her cats, which meant that I could show their side of the conversation if she was the viewpoint character.

Morwen felt right for other reasons, though. I liked the idea of writing about Cimorene, Mendanbar, and the dragons from outside their family. A witch (however unconventional) also seemed like a good choice as the main character for a book touching on darker themes, as I knew this one would.

As with the first two books, I began with only a sketchy idea of the plot. I knew there'd be a theft and the start of open conflict between the wizards, the dragons, and the Enchanted Forest; I knew that neither side would have a clear “win” and that the book would end with the prospect of a sixteen-year stalemate. I didn't know exactly how to get from here to there any more than my characters did.

Like
Searching for Dragons,
this book is a journey through the landscape of fairy tales. The characters meet up with ordinary people who are making the best of the roles they've been assigned by the stories they inhabit. But
Calling on Dragons
is very much a transition book, and I was always conscious of the fact that in
Talking to Dragons
I hadn't had nearly as many obvious fairy-tale references as I'd put in the first two books of the series. There are still a lot of fairy-tale motifs in
Calling,
such as magic mirrors and the cabbages that turn people (or rabbits) who eat them into donkeys, but there are more things, such as fire-witches and invisible dusk-blooming chokevines, that I made up. I was hoping that this combination of tropes and bits I made up would provide a smoother transition to the fourth book.

As I got closer to writing the ending, I got more and more worried about handling it. Once again, my editor came to the rescue, suggesting the epilogue as a way of hinting that things
would
be settled eventually, even if the ending of this one left things more open-ended than I liked. It took me several tries to get a version I found acceptable. I probably won't ever be quite as happy with the ending of this book as I am with the others, but I will now grudgingly admit that this is probably more a matter of personal taste (mine) than an actual problem with the story in this book.

1

In Which a Great Many Cats Express Opinions

D
EEP IN THE ENCHANTED FOREST
, in a neat gray house with a wide porch and a red roof, lived the witch Morwen and her nine cats. The cats were named Murgatroyd, Fiddlesticks, Miss Eliza Tudor, Scorn, Jasmine, Trouble, Jasper Darlington Higgins IV, Chaos, and Aunt Ophelia, and not one of them looked anything like a witch's cat. They were tabby, gray, white, tortoiseshell, ginger, seal brown, and every other cat color in the world except a proper and witchy black.

Morwen didn't look like a witch any more than her cats looked as if they should belong to one. For one thing, she was much too young—less than thirty—and she had neither wrinkles nor warts. In fact, if she hadn't been a witch, people might have said she was quite pretty. Her hair was the same ginger color as Jasmine's fur, and she had hazel eyes and a delicate, pointed chin. Because she was very short, she had to stand quite straight (instead of hunching over in correct witch fashion) if she wanted people to pay attention to her. And she was nearsighted, so she always had to wear glasses; hers had rectangular lenses. She refused even to put on the tall, pointed hats most witches wore, and she dressed in loose black robes because they were comfortable and practical, not because they were traditional.

All of this occasionally annoyed people who cared more about the propriety of her dress than the quality of her spells.

“You ought to turn him into a toad,” Trouble said, looking up from washing his right front paw. Trouble was a large, lean gray tomcat with a crooked tail and a recently acquired ragged ear. He had never told Morwen exactly how he had damaged either the tail or the ear, but from the way he acted she assumed he had won a fight with something.

“Who should I turn into a toad?” Morwen asked, looking an unusually long way down. She was sitting sideways on her broomstick, floating comfortably next to the top of the front door, with a can of gold paint in one hand and a small paintbrush in the other. Above the door, in black letters partly edged in gold, ran the message “
NONE OF THIS NONSENSE, PLEASE
,” which Morwen was engaged in repainting.

“That fellow who's making all the fuss about pointy hats and respect for tradition,” Trouble replied. “The one you were grumbling about a minute ago—what's his name?”

“Arona Michaelear Grinogion Vamist,” Morwen recited, putting the final gold line along the bottom of the “
L
” in “
PLEASE
.” “And it's a tempting thought. But someone worse would probably replace him.”

“Turn them all into toads. I'll help.”

“Toads?” purred a new voice. A small ginger cat slithered out the open window and arched her back, then stretched out along the window ledge, where she could watch the entire front yard without turning her head. “I'm tired of toads. Why don't you turn somebody into a mouse for a change?” The ginger cat ran her tongue around her lips.

“Good morning, Jasmine,” Morwen said. “I'm not planning to turn anyone into anything, at the moment, but I'll keep it in mind.”

“That means she won't do it,” said Trouble. He looked at his right paw, decided it was clean enough for the time being, and began washing his left.

“Won't do what?” said Fiddlesticks, poking his brown head out of the front door. “Who's not doing it? Why shouldn't he—or is that she? And who says so?”

“Turn someone into a mouse; Morwen; I certainly don't see why not; and she does,” Jasmine said in a bored tone, and pointedly turned her head away.

“Mice are nice.” Fiddlesticks shouldered the door open another inch and trotted out onto the porch. “So are fish. I haven't had any fish in a long time.” He paused underneath Morwen's broom and looked up expectantly.

“You had fish for dinner yesterday,” Morwen said without looking down. “And you ate enough breakfast this morning to satisfy three ordinary cats, so don't try to pretend you're starving. It won't work.”

“Someone's coming,” Jasmine observed from the window.

Trouble stood up and ambled to the edge of the porch. “It's the Chairwitch of the Deadly Nightshade Gardening Club. Wasn't she just here last week?”

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