A human named the dragon “Jade,” and that will suffice. Perhaps the last of her kind, she was forced out of her homeland to live in Romania’s mountains. Hungry, she “emerged from the blackness like thief in the night. Over nine feet tall, 25 feet long, 1000 pounds approaching like a big cat.” The fire she breathed also provided lift (when the fire ran out, the dragon was grounded). She was forced to steal livestock from the dreaded but inferior humans. It had come to this.
Her story is told, from both the human and dragon perspectives, in “The Last Stand Of The Dragon” ($10.99 in paperback from Tate Publishing, tatepublishing.com; a digital download is also available) by N.J. Hanson. According to a news release, the Chico writer sets his story in the waning years of the tenth century, before dragons became merely the stuff of legend.
The central human character is Richard, “the squire of the local lord for the village at the foot of the Carpathian Mountains. His lord was Sir Ardose, a man beloved and cherished by all the people in the village.” (But Ardose, it turns out, is no saint.) At first Ardose seems not to believe Richard’s report of a dragon sighting, but soon enough the threat becomes real as Richard and others in town are forced to fight for their lives to put an end to the dragon.
Jade must contend not only with the humans but with the sudden appearance of a haughty male dragon out to destroy their eggs if the embryos are male. There must be no competition.
As for the humans, several of them, spurred on at the local tavern, intend to climb the mountain and kill Jade. Hanson uses contemporary conversational style (Lenney tells his friends: “I don’t know, guys. I mean, did you see the size of that thing?”) but this is no fairy tale. The battles are fierce and gruesome, with more than one human head being bitten off. The landscape is strewn with corpses. There are no winners here, perhaps even for those who sacrificed for love.