Flashback Friday is something I do here at Bookwraiths every once in a while; a time when I can post my thoughts about books that I’ve read in the past but never gotten around to reviewing. With the hectic schedule of day-to-day life and trying to review new releases, there never seems enough time to give these old favorites the spotlight that they deserve. But with a day all to themselves, there is no reason I can’t revisit them, so let’s take a look at a fun fantasy series, which would make a great summer read.
Bazil Broketail by Christopher Rowley
Series: Bazil Broketail #1-7
Publisher: ROC (August 4, 1992)
Author Information: Website
Purchase Bazil Broketail at Amazon.
I general find that most people have never heard of this fantasy series. Or, if they have, the covers turned them off. Either way, they missed out on a light, entertaining series, which would have sucked them in and had them begging to tag along behind a sensible yet badass battledragon called Bazil Broketail.
In the world of Ryetelthis, the Argonath Empire is the last bastion of freedom on a continent slowly being devoured by the Dark Masters of Padmasa. The only reason the empire is able to hold back the black tide is due to their fierce contingent of fighting dragons. These huge behemoths forming a legion of leather armor wearing, giant sword wielding warriors, whose prowess on the battle field is unmatched by all their enemies.
But battledragons are so busy fighting they need someone to look after them, and so each dragon has a personal squire assigned to him, appropriately dubbed their “dragonboy.” These youths feeding, grooming, and taking care of their dragons as well as fighting alongside them in war. And while you’d think these humans are there to control these lumbering beasts, you’d be wrong, because the dragons are highly intelligent, sensible creatures — though they tend to not be as chatty as their human friends.
Among this dragon legion is Bazil Broketail and his dragonboy Relkin. The two having a very close relationship, which generally consists of Relkin throwing caution to the wind at times and getting into trouble while Bazil gets them both out of it. Though to be fair to Bazil’s human squire, he always has the best interests of everyone at heart — most of the time. And in Book One, he only wants to rescue the kidnapped Princess Besita; a noble desire if ever there was one. But like all Relkin’s ideas, it is filled with tons of danger that Bazil has to overcome.
Light, fast-paced, and easy to read, the Bazil Broketail series is up there with Anne McCaffrey’s Pern novels as my favorite fantasy books featuring dragons. Definitely, the two series are very different from one another, but here (like in Pern) the dragons are not magical, mythical creatures, nor just another mount, but unique individuals who have their own personalities, humor, and interesting quirks. Their relationships with their human allies one of equals, not servant and master.
But to be fair, the reason I always recommend this series to friends is due to the excellent adventure it weaves for our pair. From straight ahead rescue story to military fantasy to humorous buddy story, Bazil Broketail weaves all the cool fantasy plot lines into one grand adventure, taking a reader across the world from fearsome battles to sorcerous fortresses to mystical otherworlds to a final ending. In other worlds, our two heroes (and friends) live an epic life before it all coming to a fitting halt . . . which might or might not mean everyone dies. You just have to read the books and see.
And to think, it might not have ever even been published. But that is a story I will let the author himself relate. The excerpt below taken from Christopher Rowley’s website.
“While I’d been gainfully employed writing a certain kind of SF novel for Del Rey Books I’d often cast an eye across the list at the Fantasy side of things. I had no inhibitions about the Fantasy genre, although it was held in contempt by the Cyberpunk school of SF that had come to the fore in the 80s. I was old enough to have enjoyed the stories of Lin Carter and L. Sprague de Camp back in the sixties. In my youth I read everything by Robert E. Howard and H.P Lovecraft. My favorite US SF Authors, Ursula Leguin and Jack Vance, had also written some wonderful Fantasy fiction.
And, of course, I have a deep and abiding affection for Tolkien’s works.
Looking at the Fantasy field in the late eighties I had a feeling that there might be room for something a little different from what seemed a glut of Copies of the Rings and Tales of Warrior Princesses in embattled lands.
As usual with me, the process began with an idea that turned the totemic fantasy animal of the genre on its head. My idea of “battledragons” was partly inspired by Jack Vance’s “dragons” from “The Dragon Masters” his Hugo winning novel of 1960. That, however, was Science Fiction, not Fantasy. Vance’s “dragons” are actually mutated forms of the alien race known as the “Basics” to the human characters in that story. The humans breed the Basics into “dragons” while the Basics breed humans into a variety of troopers and mounts.
Further inspiration came from Vaugn Bode’s “smart weapons” — a little known SF comic book from the Underground Comix artist best known for his “Cheech Wizard” series in the early 70s.
I worked on the idea on and off and one day while doodling I came up with a name for my lead dragon, he would be Bazil and he would be the Broketail. He came to life quickly after that. A wyvern battledragon with spirit and a sense of humor and a steadiness that would in time make him a leader among his own kind. And to care for him, because in the Legions of the Argonath cities, battledragons were paired with dragonboys from a young age, he would have Relkin Orphanboy.
Right from the start I had a good feel for Relkin. A careful kid, ready to play by the rules most of the time, but equally ready to abandon them when it became necessary.
Soon after that I had more characters, Lagdalen, and Lessis the Greatwitch and Queen of Birds. Then came more dragons, lots of them, and I wrote up a treatment and submitted it to Lester Del Rey. At the time Veronica Chapman, Lester’s assistant, was very helpful in getting the tone right and in setting up a meeting with the grand old man.
It was an odd experience to be pitching my battledragons story idea to Lester Del Rey, whose short Science Fiction had been among the formative stories that I read in the 50s. I still have a collection of his work, “Robots and Changelings” that I bought for 35¢ in 1959 when my family lived in Montreal. Thanks to Veronica’s grooming the meeting went very well, but alas, Lester just didn’t care for my own take on the classic ingredients of Fantasy fiction, in other words my dragons weren’t his kind of dragons.
So it was time to move on. The book found a home at Roc, part of Penguin in the US. Editor John Silbersack liked it a lot and Roc got behind it and were rewarded with a medium sized hit. Bazil Broketail sold well, and has stayed in print for 11 years. Along the way it generated six sequels, “A Sword for A Dragon”– “Dragons of War”– “Battledragon”— “A Dragon at Worlds’ End”– “Dragons of Argonath”– “Dragon Ultimate.” And an eighth story set in part on the same world, Ryetelth, “The Wizard and the Floating City.”
I for one am very thankful, ROC saw the potential in Mr. Rowley’s battledragon and allowed me to be recommend it to readers decades later. So if you are looking for a fun, fantasy read with badass dragons in a classic fantasy world following along behind two friends caught up in epic circumstances, go pick these novels up and give them a go.