What makes a Dragon Tempest?
Take one librarian named Tom from Iowa. Add one magical dragon, one beautiful princess, and one evil kidnapper named Byron Boldface.
Toss them on a tempest sea of monsters and savages. Pour over ancient maps until shipwrecked. Roast over low dragonfire. Save the girl.
(Don't forget to wash your claws.)
Donald Bruce Callander
March 23, 1930 -- July 25, 2008
Don Callander was the best-selling author of the 'Mancer series and the Dragon Companion series. Don originally worked as a travel writer/photographer and graphic designer before retiring to start his writing.
Don was born in Minneapolis, brought up in Duluth, Minnesota, and graduated from high school there before enlisting in the U. S. Navy in 1947. After serving four years on active duty (including the Korean War) he transferred to the Naval Reserve where he served as a 'weekend warrior' for twenty additional years.
He settled in Washington, D.C., where he married, raised four children, and worked on the Washington Post newspaper and in National Headquarters of the American Automobile Association (40,000,000 members!) until his retirement in 1991.
During his retirement, Don lived in Florida and at the age of 62, began writing his bestselling fantasy books until he passed away in 2008.
I really enjoyed the "Dragons Companion" first book, the second one "Dragons Rescue" was too thrilling, and the third one is definitely a lot better then the second one. I am happy to say that the series appears to be looking up so far and I am very relieved to see that a fourth book is left open for writing at the ending of this one.Isaac S Gonzalez -- Amazon Reviews
At first I was worried that the series had gone too far down for me to enjoy this book I'm glad I bought and read this one. I really enjoyed the first in the series and...this one was still an enjoyable read.D. Tordoff -- Amazon Reviews
Tom Whitehead still has no idea who transported him from the human world, where he was a librarian at the Library of Congress, to Carolna, a kingdom of elves. Tom is the only human in a land where magic abounds, and he has no magical abilities whatsoever. In spite of that or perhaps because of that, he manages repeatedly to save the day, with the help of Retruance Constable, a great green and gold dragon who selectes Tom to be his dragon companion. “Elves and Humans, Tom had found, were not all that different. While he had to admit there was a lot of magic in their world, the Elves tended to rely on it rather too much, to the point where they often were helpless in matters that could be solved much more easily, cheaply, and more sensibly by the use of good old Iowa-style common sense. Actually, Tom realized, his knack for common sense was as strange to the Elves as magic was to him!”
This is the third novel in the Dragon Companion series, but it works just fine as a standalone. The characters are created in great depth with very interesting quirks. I really like Tom, his wife, Manda, their best friend, Clem, and many others. But my real favorites are the dragons. Retruance is joined by a brother, sister-in-law, nieces and nephews, and his father. Each dragon is unique and together they make an impressive show. In this novel, we also make the acquaintance of a lovely sea dragon who helps Retruance and his brother Furbetrance when a volcano becomes dangerous.
The plot is filled with action and it moves along at a great speed. There are mysteries to solve and dangers to avert. Lovers of dragon stories will definitely want to add this title, and indeed the entire series, to their reading lists.Cyclamen -- Long and Short Reviews
Chapter One - Shopping Trip
Retruance Constable folded his great black, leathery wings against his green-and-gold sides and plunged from the canyon rim, dropping like a stone and snapping his pinions full out at the last possible moment.
Thereby, he avoided a terrible crash into the new-laid tiles of Hidden Lake House’s roof.
The Clemsson boys shrieked in terrified delight as the red roof rushed up at them, only to be snatched away a scant moment before disaster. The fifty-foot Dragon jetted a roaring blast of violet fire, did a slow wing-over roll, and skimmed out across the calm surface of Hidden Lake.
Gregor and Thomas leaned far out over the Dragon’s scaly brow to wave excitedly at their own reflections in the water, flashing along under the hurtling beast.
“Do it again, please!”shouted young Thomas Clemsson, recklessly forsaking his firm hold on Retruance’s forward left ear. “Oh, please, Uncle Retruance... dive again!”
The Dragon grinned broadly to himself and chuckled five small clouds of hot pink smoke in a neat row before he flapped back toward the brilliant mid-morning sun above the beautiful canyon carved deep into the flanks of the Snow Mountains of western Carolna.
“I think I hear your mama calling, however,” he told his passengers regretfully. “See? Down on the upper terrace, there.”
Gregor, Clem’s nine-year-old, groaned aloud.
“I know what she wants. Time for book lessons!”
“Plenty of time to risk your very lives later, then,” Retruance assured the boys as he coasted down to land, light as a butterfly, on the edge of the new slate-paved terrace before the Librarian’s new house. “Lessons are almost as important as death-defying nosedives, I guess.”
“Almost!” shouted Thomas, who was seven.
“But not quite!” added his older brother.
Mornie of Broken Land and distant Morningside, maid-in-waiting, best friend, and close companion of Princess Alix Amanda Trusslo-Whitehead, gathered her boys in her arms as they slid from the Dragon’s head, smiling her thanks to the vast beast.
“Do you think I could ever be a Dragon Companion someday?” asked Gregor of his mother.
“Yes! I want to be one, too,” echoed his young brother.
“You’ll have to ask Retruance,” Mornie said, shaking her head. “I’m just a regular, normal, everyday sort of mother who doesn’t know a thing about Dragon-lore.”
“Only if you make yourselves fit for the honor,” Retruance said earnestly. “No Dragon wants an uneducated dunce for a partner! Go attack your books for a while like intelligent, brave young gentlemen. I’ll find time to take you swimming at the far end of the lake this afternoon—if the weather remains good.”
The boys dashed off to their studies.
“You promised, and they’ll hold you to it,” Mornie warned the Dragon. “You mustn’t promise them things you can’t be sure you’ll deliver, Retruance.”
“I promised, and a Dragon’s promise is something you can take to the bank, as Tom always says,” Retruance told her, nodding his huge head solemnly. “Do you know where he is, by the way? Tom, I mean.”
Mornie gestured toward the house.
“In the Great Hall, I think. Manda will be there, too... she’s compiled a great, long shopping list!”
“Oh, no,” sighed the green-and-gold beast. “Lists mean work to be done.”
“There’s still a heap of things to do,” Mornie agreed, unconsciously mimicking her Woodsman husband. “Lists help keep ‘em straight.”
She went after her lively sons to make sure they didn’t wreck the improvised schoolroom in the gazebo overlooking the mirror-smooth lake.
Retruance fondly watched her go, then circled the house on foot.
Hidden Lake House had been designed and was being built by the Constable Dragons and Sir Thomas Whitehead, Librarian of Overhall Castle and Sweetwater Towers. Tom was an honest-to-goodness Human from Iowa and the District of Columbia, on Earth... wherever that might be. He’d been, by way of a strange spell, plopped into the Elfin Kingdom of Carolna, right at a time to do its people the most good.
Tom had been befriended at once by the great green-and-gold Dragon, Retruance Constable. With his new friend he’d driven a band of Mercenary Knights from Overhall Castle, by dint of good old Human common sense when all the spells and magickings of the Elves of Carolna had failed.
Elves and Humans, Tom had found, were not all that different. While he had to admit there was a lot of magic in their world, the Elves tended to rely on it rather too much, to the point where they often were helpless in matters that could be solved much more easily, cheaply, and more sensibly by the use of good old Iowa-style common sense.
Actually, Tom realized, his knack for common sense was as strange to the Elves as magic was to him!
The adventure of the retaking of Overhall earned Tom a reputation as a stout fellow and a permanent position on the staff and in the heart of Royal Historian Murdan, Lord of Overhall.
And if that wasn’t enough, he’d led a party into the far northwest corner of Carolna to rescue Murdan’s daughter from kidnappers, extricated Retruance from the middle of a hollow mountain, and conducted a public relations campaign for Beatrix, the new Queen of Carolna whose political enemies were trying to cast her into disfavor with the King’s subjects.
He also rescued the delightful Princess Royal Alix Amanda Trusslo from the King’s archenemy, Lord Peter of Gantrell, and wrecked Lord Peter’s selfish plot to take the throne, and drove him into exile.
On top of it all, he’d won the heart and the hand of Princess Alix Amanda... Manda... and earned from a grateful king and kingdom this vast Achievement on which to build their home.
“Not to mention,” reminisced the Dragon to himself as he entered the Great Hall of Manda’s and Tom’s pleasant, tall-windowed, and warmly welcoming Canyon House, “recovering Manda’s baby half-brother Prince Ednol from a wickedly enchanted Dragon... my very own papa! And he helped Murdan defeat the snow-dwelling Rellings when they invaded the Kingdom!”
The Elfin people of Carolna called him “Tom the Rescuer.” But Tom preferred his original title: Librarian. He spent much time organizing, cataloging, and preserving important books and historic documents for both Murdan and King Eduard Ten, his wife’s father.
“When he found time to build this beautiful house, even I can’t imagine!” thought Retruance, shaking his head in wonder. “Humans are certainly a remarkable sort!”
The remarkable Human just then was sitting on an overturned packing crate, deep in conversation with his father-in-law, the King of Carolna. Eduard and his wife and twin children were visiting.
“It’s in the back of my mind, always,” Tom was saying. “It had to be some sort of magic, I guess. And...”
“And you fear one day you’ll be snatched back to... what did you call it? That underground place?”
“The Metro,” Tom nodded.
“In Washing... Washton... ?”
“Washington, the capital of the United States of America. Like Lexor’s your capital, here in Carolna, you see.”
“Only much bigger and busier, you once told me,” the king chuckled, only half believing the story. “Do you want to go home?”
Tom leaned against the wall behind them, stroking his chin in thought.
“In some ways... perhaps. I guess it’s only natural to miss your home of almost thirty years. But, on the other hand... no! I want to stay here in Carolna, with Manda and Retruance and you. Especially now! I’ve never been happier, nor felt as useful, Sir!”
“I... I think I understand,” murmured Eduard.
“But I still wonder why. Why was I brought here? By whom? Is his purpose finished? It worries me. To think I might be... well, sent back. I arrived suddenly. Will I leave the same sudden way?”
“Oh, my boy! There’s so much you’ve done nobody else could have done. You’ve done so many really important things!”
“Married your elder daughter, for example,” said Manda, coming just then into the Great Hall. “What do you do, menfolk? Brag to each other of your past accomplishments?”
She plunked herself down on Tom’s crate a trifle awkwardly, due to her thickened condition of pregnancy. “If that’s all you two have to do, I’d rather you considered this.”
She displayed a long, closely written document that started with: “Brocade coverlets for twelve guest beds, not to exceed four vols’ value each, but of the very best workmanship...”
“A shopping list!” laughed Tom, giving his wife a quick hug. “That’s probably much more important than my worries.”
“No doubt about that!” The king laughed in delight. “The answers to your questions, young Tom, will come in time. Some of the best Elvish minds in the country are working on it.”
“I appreciate that, sir,” murmured the Librarian. “Now, what’s on this sixteen-page list, sweetheart?”
“We’re ready, you agree, to order furniture?” his Princess-wife began. “I, for one, enjoy roughing it as much as anyone, except maybe Clem, but we do need a big, comfortable bed and a few pieces of furniture for our own suite above stairs, not to mention some sturdy bookshelves. Don’t you think so, Tom?”
“No argument from me.”
He caught sight of the Dragon in the doorway. “Come on in, Retruance! Manda’s going to send us shopping.”
“Of course I am!” cried Manda, pausing to pat the Dragon fondly on the nose. “Was that screaming I heard a while ago?”
“Just the boys enjoying a flying good time,” Retruance replied. “An errand? Where to?”
“Lexor,” Manda said, showing him her list. “We need beds and bureaus and wardrobes...”
“Wardrobes!” cried Tom. “But I designed this house with walk-in closets! They’re the latest thing at home.”
“And very, very convenient, husband, but a bedroom looks entirely bare without an impressive wardrobe or two. New ideas are all very well, but old customs demand certain confections to nostalgia.”
“Yes, they do, and the word is ‘concessions,’” replied her husband, grinning at his Dragon and his King. “Go on.”
“Concessions, then. We’ll need a sturdy banquet table, a dozen or two chairs...” Manda said, ticking off items from her list. “Four sideboards, three serving boards, twenty silver candelabras...”
“Can we afford all this?” Tom wondered, somewhat bemused by the numbers... and expense... of these bare necessities.
“Easily!” Princess Manda exclaimed. “We haven’t even begun to tap our savings, and the wedding gifts were mostly cash. See? I’ve carefully described each item for you and written the names of the merchants who took my orders last fall. They all promised to have these things ready to ship as soon as the house was ready. Which is just about now!”
Tom and Eduard glanced through her list and added a few husband-type items but, all in all, they decided it was carefully and clearly drawn.
“It would’ve taken anyone else two years just to think of all this,” the King, her father, praised Manda. “You’re fortunate to have her as your wife, Tom.”
Mornie entered the Great Hall. She bobbed a curtsey, out of long habit, to the King and waved her dustpan at the Dragon, as if it were an everyday thing to find a fifty-foot Dragon in the parlor.
“Mornie, m’love!” Manda said. “I’ve just given Tom our list. He’s not yet given me any trouble about it.”
“Nor should he,” sniffed Mornie. “I’ve only one thing to ask for myself, Sir.”
“Anything for you, bright sunbeam,” said Tom gallantly. “What is it, tell?”
“Go at once... and take my poor Clem with you! He’s at the loosest of ends, trying much too hard to be helpful with things he doesn’t know or care about, poor thing. He needs to get out and stretch his legs.”
“I intended to ask him along for help and company, anyway,” Tom said, laughing aloud. “I know just how he feels. Building a manor may be work for men...”
“... and Dragons,” murmured Retruance quickly.
“... and Dragons, yes, but making the insides warm and welcoming and sweet-smelling and comfortable is best done by ladies. When do you want us to leave, Manda?”
“Travel with us, of course,” said Eduard. “We leave tomorrow morning.”
Clematis of Broken Land, Mornie’s Woodsman husband, came in, escorting Queen Beatrix and her twin children. Their close family circle was almost complete.
“For all this planning and building, we’re careful to keep the beauty and the peace of this wonderful place,” Manda was saying. “I’ve loved it since we stumbled on it while looking for a lost Retruance.”
“A terrible trial at the time,” the Dragon confided to the seven-year-old twins, “but I can’t recall a moment’s rest as good since. Will you fly, Majesty, or go on horseback on this journey?”
“Fly, of course!” cried Eduard. “I don’t want to take a month to cover the distance home, if I can help it.”
“Too long apart from Manda if I were to ride,” Tom agreed.
He took Manda’s list and folded it carefully, placing it in his jacket pocket.
“I go to Lexor on a shopping spree,” he told Clem. “You’ll come along?”
“As a free yeoman, sir, I resent being told I must do a thing,” sniffed the sturdy Woodsman.
“It’s not I who orders you about, touchy Woodsman,” cried Tom in mock alarm. “It’s your own wife! She says you’re driving her to distraction trying to hang curtains and paint window trim.”
“Oh? Well, that’s different.” Clem chuckled. “A wife’s orders are exempt from natural law, I guess.”
Mornie gave him a hug, saying, “I’ll come help you pack. There’re a few things I need from Lexor, myself. We’re quite out of...”
Her voice trailed off as the couple left the Great Hall heading for the stairs to the living quarters.
“I’ll be ready to go at dawn, Companion,” Retruance promised. “This afternoon I must give certain young woods-imps a swimming lesson.”
“I’ll join you,” Tom decided. “It’ll take the place of a bath, which I badly need.”
“Let’s make it a farewell picnic supper,” the Queen suggested. “I haven’t had time to swim in the lake, myself.”
“Nor I,” Manda and her father said as one.
“But should you, now?” her stepmother added, looking worried.
“I’m only five months along, yet. I can still do just about anything I want. Except fly off to Lexor, perhaps. My duty lies here at Hidden Lake Canyon. And my heart of hearts, too, if I’m honest about it.”
She had such a happy glow about her these days that Tom bent to kiss her, and she threw her arms eagerly about his neck and kissed him back passionately.
The green-and-gold Dragon had hardly come to a full stop in the lower courtyard when the heavy door of Overhall’s Foretower was thrown wide. A sturdy, rather portly Elf of middle years with a short, sandy beard, dressed in a dark blue tunic, wearing a sort of skullcap of blue and white and clutching a long-stemmed clay pipe, trotted down the steps to greet them.
“Hoy! Majesty! Highness! Here’s my long-overdue Librarian. Welcome back to Overhall, Woodsman. Retruance, you know to make yourself to home. So good to see you all! How’s Manda? The baby’s not arrived ahead of time, has he?”
“No, much too early,” said Tom, embracing his employer affectionately. Despite the Lord of Overhall’s sometimes acid tongue and irascible temper, Tom was extremely fond of him.
The King and Queen and Clem each shook the Historian’s hand warmly and reported on their own families as Murdan, hoisting high on his shoulders the little Prince Royal and the Princess, herded them inside, out of the increasing rain.
Except for Retruance, who went steaming off to say hello to his many Overhall friends.
“The next most important question of the day, I guess,” said Murdan once he’d seated the twins before brimming mugs of fresh milk, “is whether the Constable Dragons have had any luck finding the foul Plume.”
“We’ve had no word from Arbitrance,” Tom replied. “Your Dragon is down in Isthmusi even now, following up on leads, as he calls ‘em. Furbetrance and Retruance were in the field until a few weeks ago, of course. Nothing to report.”
“Most strange! Those Isthmusians usually know everything going on in their forests and mountains,” Murdan muttered unhappily.
Clem nodded. “The Lofters talk to each other with big drums. Some sort of code.”
The renegade Plume had once been Murdan’s Accountant, but he’d proved to be a spy within the Historian’s household in the pay of Lord Peter of Gantrell. When found out, he’d escaped from Overhall’s Aftertower and disappeared.
Tom described Manda’s shopping list in some detail.
“When you reach Lexor, look up my merchant factor. Named Grindley,” Murdan suggested. “Handles all my purchasing and banking there in the east. Good man. Won’t take overly much in commission, like some of them effete eastern money-grubbers. Worth every penny he steals, Grindley is.”
“I’ll need his kind of help,” Tom admitted.
“Grindley will see to it the others don’t add too much in the way of handling and shipping charges. And speaking of shipping, I presume you won’t expect to carry all this cargo, furniture and stuff, home by Dragon.”
“No, even with all the Constables together the cargo would be too much to do that,” Tom agreed. “Besides, there are better uses for Dragon power. No, I must charter river barges to carry the goods at least as far as Desert Landing. We’ll haul it overland from there.”
“Desert Landing? That’s one I haven’t heard of before,” Eduard said.
“It’s on the north bank of the Cristol, due south of Hidden Lake Canyon, sire,” Clem explained. “I built a sturdy dock there, and some warehouses and things. River traffic now stops on its way up and down. A profitable sideline for Tom’s Achievement.”
The King nodded his approval.
The discussion ranged back and forth until Murdan’s housekeeper, Mrs. Grumble, rang the bell calling everyone to dinner in the Hall.
“Just in time!” cried Clem. “My good wife tried to starve us with a mere handful of roast beef sandwiches for lunch... and that was eons ago.”