Alphabet of Dreams Shadow Spinner Ancient, Strange, and Lovely Falcon in the Glass Walk Across the Sea Dragon's Milk Flight of the Dragon Kyn
 

Flight of the Dragon Kyn
Book 2 of
The Dragon Chronicles
Atheneum Books
for Young Readers
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Flight of the Dragon Kyn

Kara is fifteen when the king’s men come to take her from her home, against her will. The king, it seems, wants her to call down dragons from the sky so that he can kill them as trophies.

Kara is terrified of dragons, and she wants to go back home. It’s true that she can call down birds, but what does that have to do with dragons? She decides to show the king that she can’t summon dragons. Surely then he’ll allow her to return to her farm and her family.

There are rumors that Kara was healed of an illness long ago by drinking dragon’s milk. Kara has no memory of this, but her eyes turned from blue to green at the time and there’s a small, telling scar on her cheek. As her plan to fail at dragon-calling goes spectacularly awry, Kara befriends an attractive young man of the hunting party. The king forces Kara to choose: Will she bring about the death of the creature who healed her long ago? Or alienate her new friend and incur the wrath of a king?

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A note from the author

Dragon's Milk was going to be a short story. Back in the early-mid 1980's I had this idea for a bunch of short fairy tales featuring girls with grit and courage. But something happened as I began to write. The story grew darker, deeper … longer. Way longer. Pretty soon I realized that I writing a novel, not a short story. And there was a whole bunch more stuff to write about, things that took place before Dragon's Milk began. So I decided to write the prequel, Flight of the Dragon Kyn. (The sequel, Sign of the Dove, came later.)

The most amazing thing about researching Flight of the Dragon Kyn was the birds. I talked my way into an Oregon Zoo program where they trained teenagers to work with hawks and falcons. But first, we had to earn our keep. The teenagers and I cut up cute little dead chicks and mice for the hawks’ and falcons' dinners. We practiced making falconer's knots using the fingers of only one hand. We cleaned the mews and cut up the birds’ mutes and castings, looking for signs of disease. (Castings are like owl pellets, indigestible balls of skin and bones that the birds urp up after they eat. Mutes are what come out the other end.)

Pretty soon I realized that the zoo training wasn't enough. I was going to have to hang out with some falconers. I found a newspaper article about a falconer, Byron Gardner, and called him up. He invited me to his home and introduced me to his birds. He urged me not to "pretty up" the falcons in my book. Falcons are bloody, he said. They kill in order to survive, kill cute little birds and mice. And they are magnificent, nonetheless. Byron promised to read my manuscript for accuracy and to take me hunting with his falcons the following autumn.

When autumn rolled around, I called Byron. He was very ill with cancer. He couldn't take me hunting, but he told a former apprentice about me. And that man, Bob Welle, now a master falconer, showed me his birds stooping (diving from mid-air) on prey.

Byron died before I finished the book. Bob kindly checked it over for me. Years later, when I went on an author visit, I was greeted by Byron's widow, who now worked at the school. On my way out, she handed me a gift: the bell from one of Byron's falcons. It now hangs in a special place in my studio.

Awards and recognition

American Library Association Best Books for Young Adults, 1995
Green Earth Book Award honor book, 2011
International Reading Association Young Adults' Choice, 1995
Oregon Book Awards finalist, 1994
Sequoyah (Oklahoma) Award nominee, 1995-96
Texas Lone Star Reading List, 1996-97
World Book Encyclopedia Annual Supplement, Outstanding Book of 1993, 1994
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