Paperback | June 22, 2004

byDonita K. Paul

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One Dragon Egg Holds the Key to the Future.

Once a slave, Kale is given the unexpected opportunity to become a servant to Paladin. Yet this young girl has much to learn about the difference between slavery and service.

A Desperate Search Begins…

A small band of Paladin’s servants rescue Kale from danger but turn her from her destination: The Hall, where she was to be trained. Feeling afraid and unprepared, Kale embarks on a perilous quest to find the meech dragon egg stolen by the foul Wizard Risto. First, she and her comrades must find Wizard Fenworth. But their journey is threatened when a key member of the party is captured, leaving the remaining companions to find Fenworth, attempt an impossible rescue, and recover the egg whose true value they have not begun to suspect…

Weaving together memorable characters, daring adventure, and a core of eternal truth, Dragonspell is a finely crafted and welcome addition to the corpus of fantasy fiction.

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From the Publisher

One Dragon Egg Holds the Key to the Future.Once a slave, Kale is given the unexpected opportunity to become a servant to Paladin. Yet this young girl has much to learn about the difference between slavery and service. A Desperate Search Begins…A small band of Paladin’s servants rescue Kale from danger but turn her from her destination:...

From the Jacket

One Dragon Egg Holds the Key to the Future. Once a slave, Kale is given the unexpected opportunity to become a servant to Paladin. Yet this young girl has much to learn about the difference between slavery and service. A Desperate Search Begins... A small band of Paladin's servants rescue Kale from danger but turn her from her destinat...

Donita K. Paul is a retired teacher and award-winning author. She is also engaged in mentoring writers of all ages. Her teen writing club has e-published four juvenile novels, and she conducts two writing workshops each week.

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Format:PaperbackDimensions:352 pages, 8 × 5.2 × 0.76 inPublished:June 22, 2004Publisher:The Crown Publishing GroupLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:1578568234

ISBN - 13:9781578568239

Appropriate for ages: 13 - 17

Customer Reviews of Dragonspell


Extra Content

Read from the Book

Chapter OneAlmost There“Are ye sure ye won’t ride all the way into the city?”Kale hardly heard the farmer’s question as she stood beside his wagonload of barley grain. Her eyes looked over the crude cart she’d traveled in and then turned to the dazzling metropolis across the wide valley. The sun sparkled on Vendela, a city of sheer white walls, shining blue roofs, and golden domes. Many spires and steeples and turrets towered above the city, but in a vast variety of shapes and colors. More than a dozen castles clustered outside the capital, and more palaces were scattered over the landscapeacross a wide river.Seeing Vendela reminded Kale her life had changed forever. Her handrose to her chest and rested on the small pouch hidden under her clothes.I have a destiny. The thought scared her and pleased her too. Afterbeing a village slave all fourteen years of her life, she’d been freed.Well, sort of free.One week ago she’d left River Away, her village of two dozen homes,a shop, a tavern, and a meetinghouse. In maybe another week, she’d gothrough the tall gates of the most beautiful walled city in all of Amara,quite possibly in the entire civilized world. It would take a week to get usedto the clamor. She could feel it from here.I’d go mad in my head if I stepped into Vendela tonight.The city pulsated with thoughts and feelings of more people than shecould count. On market day in River Away, she endured thirty or fortypeople close enough for her to feel their lives bumping against the walls ofher inner person. But Vendela…I might smother. I’ll go slowly into that city. Nobody knows I’m coming. Idon’t have to hurry. A mile or so a day. Slow, till it feels comfortable.A lot of things worried her. It was easy to say you were glad not to bea slave any longer. It was hard to walk alone into a place you’d never beenbefore. Nobody knew or cared about her in Vendela. In River Away, mosteverybody cared, even if the caring revolved around whether or not sheworked hard.“Girl!” The old man’s bark jerked Kale from her thoughts. He scowledat her. “I’m going right into the city. Ye might as well ride with me.”“Thank you, Farmer Brigg, but I’d just as soon walk the rest of theway. I can look at how pretty Vendela is.”She smiled up at him, feeling some affection for the gruff old man.She’d ridden the last leg of her journey beside him on the wide woodenseat. He’d been kind to her, sharing his bread and cheese and stories of allthe wonders in the great city. Nevertheless, Kale would not be rushed intoentering Vendela. She’d do it in her own time.“Ye’re headed for The Hall, aren’t ye?” His pale blue eyes twinkledunder bushy gray eyebrows.Kale didn’t answer. To say yes would give away more about herselfthan she intended. Not such a good idea, trusting someone outside yourown village, even a grandfatherly, talkative old farmer.“Well, I see ye’re not going to tell me.” He winked at her and thenlooked off at the city, his expression growing grim. “Should ye get introuble, go to The Goose and The Gander Tavern, North City. Ask forMaye. Tell her ye’re a friend of mine, and she’ll help ye if she can.”“I will,” said Kale, and waved good-bye to the old man before trudgingup the hill, away from the road. She listened to the squeak of the axleand creak of the wheels but didn’t turn to watch the farmer’s wagon lumberdown the sloping road. Among an hour’s worth of advice, MistressMeiger had said to keep her focus on what’s ahead.Kale sighed. Mistress Meiger knows best.Lush gorse bushes covered the grassy slope. The hill nestled rightagainst one of the mountains. Farmer Brigg had known the names of allthe peaks in the Morchain Range. His stories of how these names came tobe fascinated Kale, but it was tales of Vendela that caught her attention.After all, Vendela would be her home.Just over the rise, she found a place to settle. She sat with her back toa gum tree, her bare feet propped up on a stone outcropping. She restedher arms on knees pulled up to her chin and her chin on her folded arms.Then Kale took a long peaceful breath of the hot summer air and allowedherself the luxury of gazing at beautiful Vendela. The twisting spires andfloating spheres were beyond anything she had imagined. The whole scenelooked like a magical picture, clean and bright and full of promise.Pulling the thong at her neck, Kale drew out a soft scarlet pouch.She placed it between her hands, gently rubbing the material, enjoyingthe satin finish, elated by the secret of the stonelike egg within. The eggwarmed, responding to her excitement. It thrummed. The gentle vibrationcommunicated joy and anticipation through Kale’s sensitive fingers.With her eyes back on the city, Kale talked aloud. “In a week we’ll begoing to The Hall. I’ll be a servant of the people then, not a slave. That’shigher class than I ever dreamed of being. Fancy food, fancy clothes, fancyeducation.”She smoothed the silky cloth at her throat with one rough hand. MistressMeiger had given her the long blue scarf the night her husband, ChiefCouncilman Meiger, told Kale to go to Vendela. The rest of Kale’s homespunattire reflected her social status. Her trousers had two patches, one atthe knee and one at her seat. She wore a shirt, a tunic, and the blue scarf.Travel dust covered every inch of her. She’d find a stream and clean upbefore entering Vendela.A new life awaited her in that beautiful city. Not one person in all ofRiver Away remembered a time when a local had been sent to The Hall.Master Meiger said to hold the honor tight. Kale held it tight all right, ifonly to convince herself she wasn’t scared like a squawking peeper fallenout of the nest.Focus on what’s ahead.“We’ll travel and do Paladin’s bidding.” She grinned at that. “Soundspretty high and mighty for the likes of me.”For a few moments, she stared at the fairy-tale castles surrounding thewalled city. Seven bridges in jewel colors crossed the Pomandando Riveron the eastern side. Each bridge led to a towering entrance to the inner city.“People from each of the seven high races cross those bridges at onetime or another,” she whispered.The wall in the River Away Tavern had a mural of a brotherhoodmarching across a mountain pass. Each of the races was represented.Crudely drawn, the figures nonetheless looked excited to be adventuring.Kale imagined a similar procession crossing one of the great bridges.“Bantam doneels, giant urohms, the elegant emerlindians, fighting mariones,tumanhofers, swift kimens, and o’rants.” Kale sighed. “O’rants, likeme. Chief Councilman Meiger said he thought I was an o’rant though he’dnever seen one. Another reason for me to go to The Hall, he said.”She squinted as a large, dark shape swooped over the far mountainsand headed for Vendela. She jumped to her feet and could not keep frombouncing on her toes as she recognized a Greater Dragon. It circled thecity, a dark silhouette passing in front of the iridescent white towers.Kale tucked the pouch safely back into her shirt and scrambled up thesteep hillside, hoping for a better view. She stopped and gave a whoop asshe saw two more of the majestic creatures crest the mountains and makea downward approach to Vendela.Climbing the sharp incline on her hands and knees now, Kale grabbedbranches and jagged rocks to hoist herself up. She topped the embankmentand rolled over the edge.Guttural shouts greeted her arrival. Rough, hairy hands grabbed herarms and legs. A putrid smell filled her nose, and her mouth watered inrevulsion. Her stomach lurched. Grawligs?Kale had heard tales told in the tavern. Nothing smelled as bad as themountain ogres. She saw dark hairy legs, a leather loincloth, tattered clothhanging over a barrel chest, fat lips, yellowed teeth, a grossly flabby nose,and tiny eyes, solidly black. Grawligs!Two of the mountain ogres flipped her through the air. Her musclestightened as she expected to come crashing down among the rocks. Instead,another grawlig snatched her before she hit the ground, and a screechripped from her mouth. A burst of raucous laughter greeted her alarm.Her captors joyfully sped up their game of toss.One grawlig claimed her as his prize. He slung her over his shoulder,his hard muscles smashing into her middle, forcing the air from her lungs.He gave a hoot of triumph and ran around the crude camp with the otherschasing him. Kale hung upside down with her arms dangling. Her facebounced into the oily, matted hair on his back.They’ll kill me! They’ll play with me, then kill me.The grawlig’s beefy hands tightened on her thighs, and she felt herselfswung in an arc over his head. He jumped and twisted, performing somekind of ritual dance with the others howling and gyrating around them.Kale desperately tried to pull in one cleansing breath of air.“Stupid o’rant. Stupid o’rant.” The ogre’s taunt filled her ears. “Weheard you coming.”He released Kale and launched her frail body across the clearing towardthe ridge she had climbed. Just before she sailed over the thirty-foot drop,another grawlig caught her by an arm and the back of her tunic. He swungher over his head, chanting.“Stupid o’rant. Stupid o’rant. We heard you coming.”He changed the angle of the swing. Now her head came within inchesof the ground and then high above the grawlig’s massive skull. Pain roaredwithin her head with every sweep. On the next swing downward, shefought darkness closing in around her. She lost.Chapter TwoInto the MountainOld leaves, moldy and partially decomposed, softened the ground beneathKale. Her nose wrinkled against the musty smell. Her head felt like acracked melon, and her eyes refused to open. Her stomach wanted toheave. The putrid smell of rotting garbage tormented her.She shifted. A hard lump pressed against her rib cage. The egg! Therock-hard egg was still intact. Kale tried to sit. Bindings around her wristsand ankles stopped her. Grawligs!She remembered the huge hairy grawligs and their rowdy game. Shefelt again the helplessness of being tossed from one rough ogre to another.Terror sickened her. They hadn’t killed her, but she felt that every musclein her body had been stomped on.She slitted her eyes open and peered at her surroundings. Grawligs laysprawled around a campfire. Beyond the light cast by burning logs, nightshadows hid the forest. Two females turned spits, roasting what looked likelarge deer. A group lounged almost in a pile under trees across the clearing.They made loud rhythmic noises Kale assumed must be a song.No one seemed to be interested in the captive trussed up and lyingunder a bush. Two grawligs sat just a few feet away as if they’d been set toguard her. Even they ignored her. They picked over a knee-high pile ofdirty mushrooms, popping them into their drooling mouths, smackingtheir lips as they chomped on the treats.Kale closed her eyes against the sight, hoping to protect her stomach.The repulsive smell of the grawligs could not be shut out so easily. To distractherself, she searched her memory for tales of the mountain ogres.What’s true and what’s fable?In the stories, they eat anything they catch. Lucky for me, it looks like theyprefer roasted venison to roasted o’rant.Dumb and vicious. I think I can testify to that much.Afraid of tight places? Maybe.Clumsy with their fingers.Moving her head just enough to look down, Kale examined the clothbinding her hands together. She wiggled her wrists, and the loose knotunraveled.Well, they don’t tie knots very well.She glanced up at her guards to see if they’d noticed her movements.They were still bent on stuffing the forest fungi past their flabby lips.Carefully, she moved her ankles apart an inch, and then back andforth until she could slip her bare feet out of the binding.Can I escape?She watched the two grawligs push dirt-encrusted mushrooms intotheir mouths. Their pile dwindled with every minute. Soon they wouldhave nothing to distract them. Could she crawl away? Would they turnand catch her? Should she wait until the females declared the roasting deerdone and passed the meat around?If I wait too long, I’ll probably be dessert.Kale made her decision. Rolling onto her stomach, she crawled deeperinto the bushes surrounding the camp. The grawligs’ caterwauling coveredthe crunch of leaves and twigs under her as she slithered away from thelight. On the other side of low bushes she found herself against boulders,part of the mountain looming over the smaller hills.She rose to her hands and knees and crept another ten yards. Then onher feet, but still nearly doubled over, she followed the jumble of rocks.Her muscles protested, but she pushed on.Distance muffled the noisy voices of her captors. Kale breathed moredeeply, begging her body to relax. Surely tension caused as much of herpain as the injuries inflicted by the grawligs.A shout went up from the camp, followed by a clamor of voices andhowls from the angry brutes.Kale quickened her pace, looking over her shoulder, expecting to seedark, hairy shapes rising out of the forest to chase her. One misplaced footslipped into a hole, and she found herself sliding, not away from the rocksand down the mountainside, but into a narrow opening under a hugeboulder. She grabbed for roots to try and break her fall. Loose dirt raineddown around her as she continued to scrabble, sliding ten feet fartherbefore landing on a hard rock floor.The impact jarred her aching body. She clenched her teeth andsqueezed her eyes shut against the pain. Debris still showered on her head.Instinctively, she lifted her arms to cover her hair.The last trickle of dirt slowed and then settled. Kale relaxed her jawand opened her eyes. Pitch dark surrounded her. She listened and heardthe plink of dripping water somewhere behind her. She shivered. Goosebumpsrose on her arms.Cold and frightened, she looked around for a means to escape. Peeringupward, she could make out the opening and the starry sky beyond.A cave. This may be good. Aren’t grawligs afraid of closed-in places? I surehope so.A scuffling warned her that the grawligs were tramping around in theforest above her.Maybe they’ll just pass on by.She heard branches snap, grunts and low voices, and an excited exclamation.She’d been found. The heads of three ugly grawligs blocked outthe dim light from above.They chanted, “Stupid o’rant. Stupid o’rant. We smelled you.”Kale slumped in a heap, clutching her knees, and leaned against thecold rock wall. Too tired to think, too tired to fight despair, she allowedthe tears to come.“Stupid o’rant. Stupid o’rant. We smelled you.”The chant grew louder as more tormenters joined the first threegrawligs kneeling by the hole. A hairy arm reached down and groped alongthe sides of the rock. More dirt, leaves, and twigs fell on Kale’s head.The young o’rant girl curled tighter, shrinking from the voices above.Her hand searched for her treasure, pulling it out by the leather cord. Shegrasped the smooth cloth of the drawstring pouch. At first the egg insidelay cold and unresponsive. Gradually, it grew warm. Kale concentrated onthe soft thrum in her hand, blocking out the “stupid o’rant” chant of thegrawligs.Pain and fatigue, fear and panic drained away. She shifted around tofind a fairly comfortable position on the stony floor. With the pouchgripped in her hand and pressed against her cheek, she fell asleep.When she opened her eyes once more, streams of light shone into thecave at three spots. The first was directly above her. A head covered withmatted brown hair lay partially inside the hole. Kale could see a large hairlessear and part of the loose lips of the beast. Rough snores rumbledabove.A beam no more than a hand’s width descended from a second holein the ceiling. The third opening on the opposite side of the dismal caveshowed more promise. Not only was the hole big enough for Kale towiggle through, but also large boulders like uneven stairsteps made climbingpossible.She stood and stumbled across the uneven cave floor. She looked upand studied the hole she hoped to use for her escape. Since the ceiling ofthe cave sloped upward, it would be a long climb compared to the slidelast night.“I’m thankful that’s not the hole I fell through,” she whispered.Tucking her treasure inside the neck of her blouse, she started climbing.She placed each foot carefully and tested each ledge before shifting herwhole weight. She didn’t want to cause a landslide for two reasons: I don’twant to wake those grawligs, and I don’t want to be buried under a ton ofboulders. I want out of here alive. I want to get to Vendela in one piece.Warm air touched her hand as she placed it on the next rock. Contrastedwith the chill air surrounding her, it felt like a breath from themouth of a huge animal. She pulled her hand back and listened. Faintlyshe heard the coarse snores of grawligs and the morning chatter of birds inthe trees outside, an odd combination. Within the cave, only the drip ofwater from a far corner reached her ears.Cautiously, she eased up to peer over the rock. A narrow passagestretched back into the darkness. Moist air flowed steadily from the opening.I wonder what’s back there.Again she tilted her head and listened intently. No sound camethrough the tunnel opening, no sound at all. Curiosity niggled at herthoughts.What’s in that tunnel? How far back does it go? Why warm air?She found herself crouched next to the hole and leaning in. She’d haveto crawl on hands and knees. If she had a light of some sort, she could goin. She put a hand on the floor of the tunnel and placed her head withinthe opening.What am I doing? I don’t want to go in there. I want to get away fromthe grawligs.She drew back as if she’d nearly stepped off a high cliff. Her breathingcame in quick, panicked puffs. Clenching her fists, fighting the urge toplunge into the tunnel, she remembered Mistress Meiger’s stern face.Focus on what’s ahead.Kale stretched a hand up and grabbed a rock ledge. In a minute she’dbe out of the cave.Still she wanted to turn back and explore the tunnel. The powerfulurge to go through that underground passage scared her. It made no sense.She climbed the last few feet to the top of the cave with firm determination.Kale cautiously poked her head and then her shoulders abovethe ground. Squinting in the bright morning sun, she considered thebushes around the rocks where she had fallen into the cave. Her presentoutlook was higher and a good twenty feet west of the sprawled grawligs.Not all of them had fallen asleep around the hole. That meant some wereout of sight.Awake or asleep? And how many? As near as she could count, eleven uncouth ogres lay in piles in andaround the bushes. Last night dozens of grawligs had gathered in thecamp.Where are the others?She surveyed the surrounding area, first the low ground ahead. Thenshe turned and peered above her. The best route of escape lay over therocks going west.At least that looks like the best way.She looked again at the beasts below. The grawligs might sleep forsome time. They had feasted late and probably guzzled brillum, a brewedale that none of the seven high races would consume.Five, maybe ten minutes, and I’ll be in and out of that tunnel.She slipped back into the cave and into the stone burrow before shecould think twice about what she planned to do.Thick, moist air settled on her skin as she groped her way in the dark.A sweet fragrance grew heavier as she moved farther and farther away fromthe cave. The dark, the smell, the damp, all screamed danger in her mind.Her arms and legs kept moving. She argued with herself, trying to forceher body to back up and leave both the tunnel and the cave. None of herwords, muttered softly in the cloying atmosphere, reached her ears.Enchantment! she realized with a groan. She could not resist whateverpulled her into depths of darkness.Trembling, she hoped fear would cause her to collapse.Then I’d stop. Then I couldn’t go one bit farther.But I probably couldn’t scoot backward either.I’d be stuck. Stuck until I die.

Editorial Reviews

“In Dragonspell, Donita K. Paul has created an amazing world of fantasy adventure. From riding on dragons to jumping off cliffs to moving mountains, this story is sure to spark a reader’s imagination–young and old. And with a message of identity transformed from slavery to servanthood, it’s a book families will love reading and discussing together.”–Christopher P. N. Maselli, children’s author of Reality Shift and founder of TruthPop.com“A reluctant heroine, her fainting dragon, and an assortment of colorful companions make for a delightful read in Donita K. Paul’s Dragonspell. This is adventure and fantasy at its finest–a must read for the imaginative soul.”–Linda Windsor, award-winning author of Along Came Jones and the Fires of Gleannmara trilogy“Dragonspell is a fine, well-written tale guaranteed to entertain both old and young alike. This was proven in our household when our eleven-year-old son snatched up the book and devoured it. Upon returning it, he exclaimed, ‘It’s good!’ –high praise from a rabid fan of Tolkein, Lewis, Jacques and company. I can only nod my head in agreement.”–Christopher A. Lane, Gold Medallion and C.S. Lewis award-winning author of children’s and adult fiction“Inventive, engaging, witty, insightful, touching, and profound–Dragonspell is all this and more. If Donita K. Paul’s only intention was to create a world where readers encounter novelties and wonders at every turn, then she has succeeded admirably. But she actually does much more than this: she enables us to see our relationship with God and His world through new eyes. A delight for all true fans of fantasy literature.” –Jim Ware, author of God of the Fairy Tale and co-author of Finding God in the Lord of the Rings“Enchanting! A perilous quest, a timeless battle, an unlikely heroine, and a rousing adventure in a world of magic and mystery–Donita K. Paul has concocted a tale brimming with eternal truth and seasoned with delightful and amazing characters that linger in the senses long after the last page. Dragonspell is destined to become a classic for a new generation of adventurers!”–Susan May Warren, award-winning author of Happily Ever After“The greatest thing any author can do is to catch you up and transport you right into the very scene, the very action, the story . . . in such a way that you live the book, not merely read it.  That is exactly what Donita K. Paul does with Dragonspell.  For a few hours, you will take a journey to a place you have never been, with a story you will never forget.  Enjoy the trip!”–Stephen Bly, author of Paperback Writer and Christy-award-winning The Long Trail Home“Dragonspell is a tightly written fantasy quest set in an extraordinarily rendered storyworld. With seven intelligent races, seven evil races, several delightful dragons, one weird wizard, and an endless supply of exotic plants and animals, you will NOT be bored.”–Randy Ingermanson, Christy award-winning author of Oxygen and Premonition“No one will ever be able to read this and doubt that Christian fantasy is a viable genre for spreading God’s word.” –Christine Lynxwiler, president of American Christian Romance Writers“Charming, well-drawn characters, a story chock full of adventures and misadventures, a land populated with dragons, doneels, emerlindians, grawligs, and all sorts of other fascinating inhabitants–I ask you, what more could any reader want? With Dragonspell, Donita K. Paul has nailed a complex and engaging fantasy world. Whether nine or ninety, you won’t be disappointed.”–Kathleen Morgan, author of Consuming Fire and All Good Gifts“Dragonspell has a heart-thumping, page-turning plot that is sure to captivate and enthrall even the most reluctant reader!”–Peggy Wilber, author of Reading Rescue 1-2-3