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Tuesday, May 8, 2018

GIVEAWAY & GUEST POST: Netherfield: Rogue Dragon, by Maria Grace!

Joining me today is Maria Grace, whose Austenesque stories you already know I love, and who is currently celebrating the release of the final book in her Jane Austen's Dragons series! Click through to check out what she has to say about bringing this unique series to life, and the inspiration behind it, and then enter to win a copy of your choice of the three books in the series, below!
And don't forget to stop back by tomorrow for my thoughts on book 2, Longbourn: Dragon Entail!

The Myth and the Mashup
Banner containing the 3 books in the Jane Austen's Dragons book series by Maria Grace; giveaway; guest post; blog tour; jane austen retelling

I’m utterly tickled to announce that the Pride and Prejudice arc of my Jane Austen’s Dragons series is complete with the release of Netherfield: Rogue Dragon. Now wait, I can hear you muttering and rolling your eyes, “Dragons? Really? Seriously—dragons? Why—just why?”

You’re not the first to roll their eyes at me and mutter that, expecting an answer like “Because zombies, vampires and werewolves have already been done.” And while that is utterly true, and the sort of thing I might say if you caught me at just the right—or wrong—moment, it isn’t a very good answer.

You’re rolling your eyes at me again. I know just it, but give me a chance and hear me out. I promise, Jane Austen would approve.

Why, you say, rolling your eyes yet again. Because, if you take a glance at English mythology, it is full of dragons. Seriously, they are everywhere. Don’t believe me, here’s just a partial list: the Lambton Worm, the Dragon of Mordiford, the Dragon of Unsworth, the Dragon of Wantly, the Dragon of Longwitton, the Dragon of Loschy Hill, the Bisterne Dragon, the Worm of Linton, the Stoor Worm, the Sockburn Worm (or Wyvern), Blue Ben, and the Lyminster Knucker.

Even the father of fabled King Arthur has a dragon connection. King Uther Pendragon was said to have seen a dragon shaped comet that inspired the dragons that graced the standards he carried. With dragons just about everywhere in English myth, it seems likely that Jane Austen herself was familiar with many of these dragon legends.

One of the fascinating—and crazy making—aspects of studying mythology is the number of different accounts of the same story. Since, until the early modern era, tales relied on oral tradition for transmission, each teller would craft a slightly different version of the story, making finding the ‘real’ story nearly impossible. While there were moments in the research that made me want to beat my head against the wall, it did lead to an interesting line of thinking: What if… (A word of caution, when a writer says “what if”, it might be a good time to politely excuse yourself…)

So, what if those dragon myths contained a large helping of reality and there really were dragons in England? What it they weren’t just a thing of the medieval era, but continued to be a very real presence in British society into the modern era? How might that work? That would require a research trip back to medieval dragons.

The best known version of Uther’s story comes from Geoffrey's Historia Regum Britanniae (1136). Uther is the youngest son of King of Britannia, Constantine III upon whose death, Constans, his eldest son succeeds to the throne. Constans though is murdered by an advisor Vortigern, who seizes the throne. Uther and his other brother, Aurelius, flee to Brittany, when they grow to adulthood in safety. As adults, Aurelius and Uther return to Britannia, where Aurelius kills Vortigern and becomes king.

Under Aurelius’ reign, Uther helps Merlin bring the stones of Stonehenge from Ireland to Britain. Later, while Aurelius is too ill for battle, Uther leads his army against Vortigern's son and his Saxon allies. On the way to the battle, Uther sees a comet in the shape of a dragon, which Merlin interprets as a sign of Aurelius' death and Uther's glorious future. Uther wins the battle, but returns to find that Aurelius has been poisoned. Uther becomes king and adopts the use of a golden dragon as his standard.

So, what if Uther Pendragon was embroiled in battle not just with the Saxons, but with dragons as well and he saw a real dragon who could speak with him, not a comet as most stories suggested? Would not others have heard it too? Wait, no—what if the dragons had a way of hiding in plain sight that only a select few people could see through and Uther was one of those and made peace with dragonkind…

Suddenly I saw a world, hundreds of years removed from medieval England, where mankind and dragonkind could coexist, governed by the Blue Order, an organization founded by Uther Pendragon himself, on human and dragon partnership, dedicated to protecting the safety and interests of both species while keeping the dragons secret from the very large segment of the human population with hearing insufficient to detect dragon voices.

Moreover, another myth, that of the Lambton Worm, began to inform my hero, Mr. Darcy, whose estate, Pemberley, (according to Austen) was in walking distance from Lambton.
The legend of the Lambton Worm originates from County Durham in North East England, near the River Wear. In it, John Lambton, an heir of the Lambton Estate, battles with a giant worm (an early reference to a dragon) that had been terrorizing the local villages.

John Lambton is actually responsible for the presence of the worm himself. As a young man, he skipped church on Sunday and went fishing in the River Wear. There he caught an odd creature whose description varies with different tellings of the myth. All agree that it was ‘no fit fish’ he caught and he discards the creature in a nearby well that later became the wishing-well known as “Worm Well.”

John forgets about the creature and goes off the fight in the crusades as penance for his youthful follies. When he returns, he discovers that his father’s estate has been laid waste by the creature. His father keeps it placated with daily offerings of twenty gallons of milk. Realizing he is responsible for the creature, John seeks the advice of a witch that allows him to defeat the creature in an epic struggle.

Like many other British dragon stories, the myth connects the slaying of a dragon to the provenance of some aristocratic family and their self-proclaimed right to rule over the domain they protected from the dragon.

So many inspirations in this tale. Dragons and the landed class tied together; a dragon in Lambton, so near Pemberley, and connected to a local estate; a baby dragon who grows up abandoned in a strange place…oh so many things that came to play in crafting Pemberley: Mr. Darcy’s Dragon.

And Darcy was not the only one shaped by dragon legends. The Mordiford Dragon, began to inform my heroine, Miss Elizabeth Bennet, a woman whose sympathy for and understanding of dragonkind goes far and away beyond anything England has ever known.

The story of Maud and the Mordiford dragon (a wyvern actually, not the more typical ‘worm’) is set in the Herefordshire village of Mordiford. Maud finds a green baby wyvern while out walking one morning. Maud takes the baby back to her home as a pet and feeds it milk, comforting it by stoking its claws and cuddling it.

As the creature grows older, it starts dining on the Mordiford villagers, but refuses to injure his friend Maud. Not surprisingly, the villagers insist this is intolerable and find a nobleman (or condemned convict, depending on the version of the tale) to dispatch the beast. Maud was described as ‘insane with rage’ over the death of her wyvern. A painting of the creature hung in the village church until 1811 when the vicar ordered it destroyed as a ‘sign of the devil’.

So many inspirations in this tale! A girl who loved a baby dragon; who rescues dragons and cuddles with them; a grumpy wyvern that others cannot seem to get along with; Herefordshire/Hertfordshire, Mordiford/Meryton, ok, not the same, but it did make me do a double take for sure…oh so many things that came to play in crafting the characters of both Elizabeth Bennet and her wyvern Longbourn.

All the being said, I present for you, what Pride and Prejudice might have been had Jane Austen known about the Uther Pendragon’s Blue Order.

If you’re not totally hooked by now, here’s a preview of Pemberley: Mr. Darcy’s Dragon, to give you a taste of this world:

screenshot of Maria Grace's website with an excerpt of Pemberley: Mr Darcy's Dragon
Click the link or the pic to be taken to an excerpt of Pemberley: Mr Darcy's Dragon!


What do you think about dragons and Jane Austen? Fill out the Rafflecopter and leave me a comment below for a chance to win your choice of e-books from this series!
This giveaway IS international, and the full rules and reg is listed in the Rafflecopter terms!

a Rafflecopter giveaway




book cover for Netherfield: Rogue Dragon, book 3 of the Jane Austen's Dragon's series by Maria Grace
about the book:
Elizabeth Bennet thought she was prepared to do anything to make the Dragon Conclave accept her beloved young dragon, Pemberley, into the Blue Order, but she had not anticipated it would leave her banished from her ancestral home and betrothed to none other than Mr. Darcy. But before Elizabeth and Darcy wed, they must find a dangerous rogue dragon before it provokes a war amongst the dragons and brings the fragile peace between dragons and mankind to a catastrophic end.

Nothing written in the annals of dragon lore has prepared Elizabeth to manage a dragon not governed by the Blue Order. Dragons have always loved her, but this one finds her arrogant, selfish and insensitive to others. With only her instincts to guide her, she must convince the rogue of her good intentions before the Blue Order loses patience and decides on more drastic measures.

Called away to the other side of the kingdom, trying to settle the dragons' unrest, Darcy learns the nature of the force poisoning the rogue dragon against Elizabeth. One nearer and dearer than they could have imagined.

Can Elizabeth and Darcy convince with rogue dragon to cooperate before darker forces turn it against them, without destroying the fragile bonds uniting the couple?



about the author:
author photo of Maria Grace, standing in sunlight

Though Maria Grace has been writing fiction since she was ten years old, those early efforts happily reside in a file drawer and are unlikely to see the light of day again, for which many are grateful. After penning five file-drawer novels in high school, she took a break from writing to pursue college and earn her doctorate in Educational Psychology. After 16 years of university teaching, she returned to her first love, fiction writing. She has one husband and one grandson, two graduate degrees and two black belts, three sons, four undergraduate majors, five nieces, is starting her sixth year blogging on Random Bits of Fascination, has built seven websites, attended eight English country dance balls, sewn nine Regency era costumes, and shared her life with ten cats.



3 comments:

  1. You are telling me I can get an Austen retelling with dragons? Sign me up!

    ReplyDelete
  2. I need no persuading because I enjoy Maria Grace's books that I've read and dragon stories. But cool, I loved getting the history of dragons in England post. :)

    I need to get it in gear and read this series. :)

    ReplyDelete
  3. Great idea. I just bought the first book and I’m enjoying it.

    ReplyDelete

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