New York Times bestselling author, K.N. Lee presents Half-Blood Dragon, the first epic fantasy adventure in the Dragon Born Trilogy.
Pirates, dragons, fairies. Embark on a coming of age journey that will leave you breathless.
Legend says that the half-blood dragon will destroy the world – some might be looking forward to it.
A servant girl’s fate is to keep her head down, do her chores, and survive the best she can until the day she dies.
For Rowen, that day is set to come much too soon when she is sentenced to death for accidentally killing the prince.
For a human, there’s nowhere to run and no one to turn to in a kingdom where power is tightly held by full-blooded dragon shifters.
It will take a stranger from the shadows to save Rowen from execution and reveal a truth full of terrifying potential. It is time for Rowen to find the courage to accept her fate, awaken her gift, and set the world on fire.
Change is coming. So is the dark force that has awaited her presence.
Preorder your copy of this action-packed sword and sorcery adventure for only 99 cents.
Exclusive Excerpt From Half-Blood Dragon
YOU’RE LUCKY TO be alive.
Those words resonated in Rowen’s mind as the noose was lowered over her head and secured around her throat, scratching her delicate flesh with its coarse banding.
Not so lucky now, she thought, noting that this was the third time she’d had this nightmare in a week.
Still, she couldn’t awaken. Not until she had more information. If she was going to suffer in her sleep, she was going to at least figure out the cause of the prophecy, and the result. It was all she had.
Her only gift.
Rowen coughed as her airway began to close against the ropes. Was it supposed to be so tight? It didn’t matter, the wooden floor would soon disappear from beneath her and she would either break her neck from the sudden fall or suffocate.
Neither option was appealing.
Rowen looked out to the crowd of blank faces. She ignited her second sight and dug deeper into the prophecy, summoning energy from the deepest depths of her soul. She could tell the difference between a dream and a prophetic scene. It was harder to awaken from prophecy, and for good reason. There was something she needed to see. To survive, if only for a few years longer.
The people that filled the square around the gallows were nondescript. No features to their faces, and no sounds from their mouths. No movement, either. They just stood like stoic silhouettes and stared at her as she awaited her death.
A black shadow stretched across the sky, blocking the sun and dimming the courtyard. While everyone looked to the sky, Rowen’s gaze peered past them, to the gates.
Someone stood at the far end of the yard, behind the crowd, cloaked in dark gray.
The mysterious figure lifted their hand and pointed a finger right at her.
Out of the silence that filled the crisp morning air, a whisper burned her ear.
“I’m coming for you.”
Then, the trap door in the floor opened and the snap of her neck woke Rowen up.
A screech erupted from her lips as she woke up, clutching at her neck. Rowen shot up from her bed. A sheen of sweat glistened on her face as she struggled to catch her breath.
The nightmares. They were relentless. But, this time, she was going to do something about it.
This time, she was going to choose her own path. Something or someone was coming for her, and she had to leave before that happened.
Escape was the only way. She crossed the small room and gave the sleeping girl in the bed across from hers a gentle shove.
“Brea,” she whispered. “Wake up. It’s time.”
A quick glance out the tiny window that looked out to the back of the palace showed that the path from the castle to the gates was clear.
“Really?” Brea yawned and sat up, her short white hair falling into dark almond-shaped eyes.
“You sure you want to join me? The prince never laid a hand on you.”
Brea tilted her head. “I promised to help you escape. I will do what I can, Rowen.”
“But, what if he turns his gaze to you once I am gone?”
“Then I shall give him a good slap on the cheek and remind him that my father is in charge of the king’s armies.”
Rowen cracked a smile. She wished she had that kind of leverage over the prince. Still, he wasn’t the only problem.
“You are truly the best friend I’ve ever had,” Rowen said, giving Brea’s hand a squeeze.
“You as well, dear. I will miss you. We all will.”
“I’m ready,” Rowen said as she shoved on her traveling frock and boots. Once her cloak was secure around her shoulders and fastened at the neck, she strapped her money purse to her thigh. It would be unwise to leave with a bag. There could be no suspicion from the palace guards.
At first, becoming a lady-in-waiting for the princess seemed like a welcome escape from her stepfather’s constant scrutiny. Little did she know that Withraen Castle would be significantly worse. Since childhood her prophecies had been harmless.
Now, a mysterious being haunted her. Remaining in the palace only led Rowen one step closer to the fate of her prophecy. She had to find a way to prevent that horrible death.
Ready, Rowen watched Brea dress herself. With a nod, they left the safety of their apartment adjacent to the princess’ room and entered the dark hallway.
Macana, their chaperone would be fast asleep in her room right beside theirs. If they were quiet, they could escape unnoticed. But, they had to be quick and confident.
Brea put a finger to her lips and nodded for Rowen to follow.
Rowen chose her accomplice wisely. Brea had a gift that could save them both if caught. They crept down the stone hallway, careful not to let the soles of their boots make any noise. Clutching her opal necklace, Rowen tried to keep her face free of fear as they walked past the princess’ royal guards.
Brea gave one a nod, knowing that he was sweet on her.
The stairway at the end of the hall led to the back corridors and a series of secret tunnels that they’d practiced using with the princess in case enemies stormed the castle.
“This way,” Brea whispered. She led Rowen down the stairs and to large sitting room. She hurried across the carpeted floor to the paneled wall. Rowen chewed her bottom lip as she watched Brea feel around for the hidden door. With a push, it was opened, and freedom awaited on the other end of the tunnel.
Rowen couldn’t run fast enough. They slipped through the secret door and into the dark tunnel.
“Smells of old rainwater in here,” Brea said, running her hand along the slick stone.
“I don’t care, as long as we make it outside.”
“Do not worry, dear. You forget what I can do.”
Rowen hadn’t forgotten. She was just hopeful that they wouldn’t need Brea’s unique ability.
The large stone door at the end of the tunnel was a beacon of hope. It was so close, yet so far as they couldn’t help but quicken their speed to reach it. Reaching it was a small victory. Getting out of the castle’s fortified structure would be a more difficult feat.
The dark cloak of night wrapped around Rowen and Brea as they carefully wedged the door open and slipped outside. The air was humid, and the sky a dull purple shade. Soon, the sun would rise, and dragons from all over would take to the skies.
To fly. Rowen closed her eyes and wished she could do what everyone in the kingdom did without effort. To transform and outstretch her wings would be bliss. But, Rowen could not fly. No matter how hard she tried.
Rowen rubbed her arm where a dull ache lingered from a failed attempt only years ago. It was her last attempt—one where she’d nearly killed herself trying.
Together, Rowen and Brea ran across the yard for what felt like miles. Breathless, they stopped just at the bars of the gate that reached high above them and ended at the stone structure that encircled the entire castle grounds. Four gates, and this was the one with the least amount of guards as it faced the cliffs that led right into the Perilean Sea.
“The guards are about to change shifts,” Brea whispered. “I can carry you over the gate and land just beyond the main road. Then, we can walk to the Gatekeeper’s station. She can port you home or wherever you want to go!”
Rowen narrowed her eyes as she watched four guards leave their posts as four more walked toward the front post in their armor.
“Did you save enough coins for your trip with the Gatekeeper?”
Rowen nodded. “I saved everything.”
“Good,” Brea said. “You should be able to catch a port from Withrae to Harrow with four gold sullies.”
Harrow, the biggest sea port in all of Draconia.
The wind blew at Rowen, whipping strawberry blonde hair around her face as she wrapped her pale hands around the dark bars of the gates of the palace. The cold brass was soothing, despite the nerves that burned in her belly.
She yearned for it above all things in the world. For as long as she could remember, she lived her life for others, with no regard for her own wishes or desires. Back at the palace, there was a silent battle she had no clue how to fight. But, beyond those gates was an even bigger battle she was too afraid to face.
The world was vast. How long before she was swallowed up by it? How long before she ended up dead?
“Are you sure about this?”
“We can do it. The guards won’t even see us if you hold my hand. See?” She peeled Rowen’s left hand from around the bar and held it within her own.
A warm sensation filled Rowen’s body as Brea held onto her. Rowen looked from Brea’s dark brown eyes and down at her hand.
“Look, I can make you vanish as well. As long as we touch,” Brea said with a smile as she used her vanishing gift.
Rowen’s hand and arm disappeared before her eyes, and Brea was nowhere to be seen when she looked up again.
Clever gift. She wished she had a power as great as Brea’s. Still, the ability to vanish could only get them so far.
There was another world out there beyond the dragon kingdom she’d grown up in. She’d read of vast oceans and mountains, human villages and fairies. Beyond the tall brass gates was a worn path that led to the center of the kingdom of Withrae.
Once they reached the city, what then?
The free clothes, room, board, and prestige were highly coveted. Rowen’s mother would call her a fool is she showed up at home before her duties had been carried out.
Rowen chewed her bottom lip, her thick brows furrowing. This wasn’t the time for doubts, but her options were limited. She needed more than a few coins to make it in their world.
Rowen sighed and pressed her forehead to the gate. “I can’t go back home. The Duke would just send me back by first light.”
The Duke of Harrow had always hated Rowen. She was a thorn in his side since the day he married her mother. For as long as she could remember, he sent her away for every training imaginable. Languages in Summae, dancing in Dubrick, embroidery at the School for Fine Arts in Luthwig. And at eighteen, he sent her away to be a lady-in-waiting for Princess Noemie of Withraen Castle. She was merely one out seven ladies-in-waiting, yet she was singled out at every opportunity.
“What else would you do?” The Duke had asked, towering over her with a black, beady-eyed glare. “No self-respecting Dragon will take a half-blood for a wife. This is your only chance to make something of yourself.”
He was right. No Dragon would marry her. That didn’t mean King Throne’s second eldest son couldn’t pursue her at every chance he got. To have a prince desire you was a dream many of the other servant girls and ladies-in-waiting had. Not Rowen. She shivered every time he looked at her. Withrae was lucky that he wasn’t the next in line to be king.
Brea put a hand on Rowen’s. The red shimmer of her skin reflected the moonlight. “Then stay. The prince will grow weary if you simply keep declining to be his mistress. Beautiful girls come to the palace by the boatload. His eye will wander.”
“I wish that were true. But, that’s not it.” Rowen closed her eyes and backed away from the gate. Any ideas of escape were futile. She was going nowhere, not with human blood running through her veins.
“What then?” Brea’s dark eyes flickered from brown to red.
Rowen wrung her hands. “That something terrible is going to happen to me if I stay here.”
Brea took her hand and gave it a squeeze. “Then, come. I’ll transform and you can ride on my back.”
“I have nowhere to go.”
“Listen to me, Rowen. My parents aren’t as bad as most Dragons. If you are a friend of mine, they would take you in with open arms. Go to my home in Kabrick. I’ll send you with a letter. My father and mother can find you a new station.”
“I don’t want that, Brea. I don’t want to be a burden. I want to be free,” Rowen said, turning away from the gates and heading back to the palace. Her heart raced, but she knew that her plan was flawed. To truly be free, she needed a better plan.
“You want to go to the human kingdoms, don’t you?” Brea asked as she ran to catch up with her.
With long white hair and a hint of red scales on certain areas of her olive-colored skin, Brea was considered plain by Dragon standards. Women of beauty had a brighter shimmer to their skin, and a glow to their hair.
Like Rowen’s mother.
Rowen could never be as beautiful as her mother either. Short, thin, with dull gray eyes that never shown any light, and pale skin absent of any shimmering scales, Rowen was simply different.
Maybe that’s why Prince Rickard chose to pursue her.
Brea smiled at her. “I don’t blame you, Rowen. But, Draconia is your home.”
“It’s not as if I haven’t thought of finding the human kingdoms. They are my people. It would be nice to be wanted and accepted for a change.”
“You are half Dragon as much as half human.”
Rowen stopped on the lush landscaped evergreen grass and looked to the pale moon above. “But, your race hasn’t descended from humans in thousands of years. You hate them for betraying you.”
Shrugging, Brea looked into Rowen’s eyes. “I don’t hate anyone. That’s ancient history there. Nothing to do with you and me.”
“I know,” Rowen said with a sigh, her eyes resting on the massive castle before them. “Maybe one day I will go find the humans.”
“You can’t. You can’t fly or fight, or do anything that would keep you safe.”
Silent, Rowen chewed her bottom lip.
I can do more than you know. Sometimes she wished she could tell Brea her secret. Even though she was the best friend she ever had, she still could not trust her with the truth of her power.
“It’s too dangerous to leave the safety of the kingdom. There are beasts and monsters out there. On land and in the sea.”
“There are beasts and monsters inside as well.”
They paused on the cobblestone path as a large black dragon flew overhead from the city and toward the palace. It lowered itself to the ground just before the main entrance, and shifted back into a tall young man dressed in fine clothes.
Rowen took a step back, hoping that he wouldn’t look back and see them. Her face paled as he seemed to sense her presence and did exactly what she hoped he wouldn’t.
Prince Lawson Thorne turned and looked right at them. In the torchlight, Rowen could only make out the hints of gold in his eyes.
Rowen took Brea’s hand into her own. “He saw us.” The thought of being caught and turned in by the prince struck fear into her heart. An excuse for being out after dark is what they needed, but her mind drew a blank.
To their surprise, he simply turned away, and walked up the stairs that led into his palace.
“Well,” Brea said. “Aren’t we lucky?”
Rowen swallowed with a nod, curious as to why the heir to the Withraen throne didn’t seem to care that they were out after curfew. “Indeed, it’s all I’ve ever been.”
Magic. Betrayal. Dragons.
New York Times bestselling author K.N. Lee brings you all this and more in the sequel to the runaway success of “Half-Blood Dragon.”
Rowen is on the run. Convicted of a murder she didn’t commit, a last-minute surprise rescue from the gallows by her father, the notorious pirate Elian Westin should have brought her a measure of freedom, if not peace. Instead, Rowen has more enemies than ever…and more questions.
The royal navy of Withrae is on her heels to bring her to justice, and her erstwhile savior Captain Westin wants her back because he believes she is the key to finding the legendary Red Dragon, a creature so powerful that it can change the course of time.
Hunted by dragon shifters who despise her and feared by humans who don’t understand her, half-blood dragon Rowen must unravel old mysteries in order to outsmart new adversaries. She can only hope that her new, uncontrollable magical abilities don’t get her killed before she can confront the man who set all of this in motion…
…a man who hates her but will do anything to save her life.
Download your copy of this epic, swords and sorcery adventure.