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The King of Dragons
Mountains of Morning, near the Enchanted Forest
Featured in: Dealing with Dragons by Patricia C. Wrede

As before a bit of backstory… The Enchanted Forest Chronicles are a series of books written by Patricia C. Wrede way back in good old 1990 that primarily features the adventures of a princess named Cimorene who is as far from ordinary as any princess can get. She takes an actual interest in trying to learn such things as fencing, speaking Latin, magic, and cooking before any such activity is put to a halt by either of her parents. Fed up with her life, especially upon learning that she is to be betrothed to a prince whom she finds to be both incredibly annoying and stupid, Cimorene purposefully runs away to become a dragon’s princess.

Kazul’s princess no less whom had not yet become king at the time though she is easily a top candidate amongst her peers even before the old king died. Ah, yes, I suppose I should explain how a female dragon can be entitled as their king… Well, to put it simply, dragons in The Enchanted Forest Chronicles wherein they are far more literal about things than most people and the title of “king” pertains to the office itself rather than the gender of the ruling dragon. Considering that a new king is chosen by a contest where the candidates must carry a special magical stone across a set distance and course, it does make some sense.

Though one has to ask just what it is the “queen” does that no one cares to even try for the position.

Kazul is a most amicable dragon, taking interest in Cimorene when the other dragons initially scoffed at the idea of an unorthodox princess. She was especially delighted to learn that Cimorene knows how to cook her favorite desert, cherries jubilee, and sets the young princess to her paces and is immensely delighted by the results.

For dragons, having a princess is akin to having a serving rare and expensive fruit for dinner or something to that nature, not overly important but still a way to show how rich one is and most princesses aren’t… well, nothing at all like Cimorene who gladly sets to work organizing Kazul’s treasure hoard and library, even taking the spare time to refresh her Latin! Though such things are expected of a dragon’s princess, rarely is it ever done willingly let alone properly.

On a whole Kazul is like… like a person, there’s no other way to properly explain it. She’s no wise creature made so with age, nor is she some manner of beast with unprecedented magical skill or physical prowess. She’s a dragon yes but that’s second only to her name and frankly, if it weren’t mentioned throughout the book, one could easily think otherwise of Kazul.

She has an incredibly diverse number of friends that range from a witch who is both quite young and beautiful with enough sass to fill a barrel, a giantess who acts like a mother hen to friend and family alike, and of course Cimorene whom —SPOILER!— actually asks Kazul to be her maid of honor at her wedding in the book, Searching for Dragons.

Kazul’s species of dragon is distinct amongst all other dragons I’ve seen in literature insomuch that they are not only quite sensible creatures but can be quite literal about things that most aren’t. Like most others in The Enchanted Forest Chronicles, the dragons are only slightly stereotyped to their role as constantly setting themselves against knights and ravaging a village or two but doing so as an actual honest to goodness job. Heck, a dragon happens to be slain by a knight and its just another day in the office and is the same for those poor fools who get gobbled up.

Dragons even use the name “George” as a curse word in these delightfully refreshing books.

Still, there is one particular aspect of these particular dragons that I find intriguing. Dragons are born genderless and when they reach an appropriate age can choose to become male or female. That’s… that’s something that is both incredibly brilliant and undeniably gutsy of the writer to conceive. An entire species that can willingly choose to be male or female upon puberty, and where gender equality is literally hardwired into their very DNA? One who will turn into an ugly, little toad should they grow to become everything that a dragon ought not to be?

Bravo, Patricia C. Wrede, bravo!