The DragonHeart novelization was written by screenwriter Charles Edward Pogue, based on a story written by him and Patrick Read Johnson, and Pogue's original screenplay for the film of the same name. Adriana Gabriel wrote the junior novelization, and Michael Page narrates the audiobook. Berkeley published the book on June 1, 1996.
- ISBN 1-57297-130-4; June 1996, 262-page paperback
- ISBN 0-58236-401-9; January 14, 2000, Pearson ESL, 42-page Penguin Readers paperback
- ISBN 1-56100-895-8; June 1, 1996, Nova Audio Books, abridged cassette
- ISBN 3-44243-613-3; October 1996, Goldmann, 282-page German paperback
- ISBN 8-37169-165-3; 1996, Amber, 271-page Polish paperback
- ISBN 8-82002-307-5; June 30, 1997, Sperling & Kupfer, 258-page Italian paperback
Long ago, fate brought them together—Bowen, a Knight of the Old Code who trained a young prince to one day rule with honor...Kara, a peasant girl who mortally wounded the prince in the revolt that killed his father...Draco, a noble dragon who took pity on the dying boy-king and healed him through a heartfelt sacrifice.
The most uncommon of allies, they now join forces to defeat a king who has matured into a ruthless tyrant. But only one among them knows the terrible price which must be paid to achieve victory...
Part I: The Knight
Part II: The Quests
Part III: The Naming
Part IV: The Rebel
Part V: The Code
Part VI: The Rebellion
Part VII: The Vow
Part VIII: The Battle
Part IX: The Heart
- The opening takes in the late afternoon instead of early in the day like in the film. In the practice spar between Bowen and Einon, the knight fights topless, and Einon wears a training helmet and a surcoat adorned with the royal coat of arms (a dragon head impaled on a spear). At one point, as the sun sets, Bowen falls and plays dead to lure Einon into a trap. Instead of being alone, Brok is accompanied by two soldiers when he informs the two of the peasants rebelling.
- Bowen's attire includes a jerkin and leather surcoat adorned with the symbol of the Old Code (a silver sword, hilt up, within a golden circle).
- It's revealed that Brok and Bowen's hatred for each other stems from a duel between the two that would decide which of them would be Einon's mentor. Freyne wanted it to be Brok, while Aislinn chose Bowen, and Bowen emerged the victor.
- In the novel, the peasant rebellion occurs at night, and King Freyne has already been attacked and left for dead by the time Bowen and Einon reach the battle site.
- When Einon takes the crown, he doesn't tell his father to die but only jerks away after being startled by Freyne. Then Einon is faced by Hewe the Bear and a group of peasants led by Kara's father, Riagon the Red, who nearly kills Einon with a scythe. Bowen intercepts him and escapes with Einon, who now has a cut on the back of his right hand from Riagon's attack. When Einon remembers dropping his crown back in the village, he takes Bowen's sword and horse and rides back, leaving Bowen behind and running after him.
- Kara is described as having shoulder-length hair instead of long and brown eyes. She is also gangly and roughly a year or two older than Einon, making her either 16 or 17 at this point.
- As he retrieves his crown, Einon is knocked off the horse by Kara. Her bucket helmet comes off in the fall and reveals her hair. Einon prepares to strike her with Bowen's sword but hesitates after turning towards her, so Kara grabs the sword from Einon and thrusts it into his chest. Catching up to the two kids, Bowen takes his sword from Kara, grabs her from behind by her hair, and prepares to strike but hesitates when he realizes Kara is a girl. Bowen flings her away, and she runs off, after which Bowen retrieves the wounded Einon.
- When Brok tells Queen Aislinn of Frenye's death, he joins her in kneeling before her bedchamber altar. Then Bowen comes into her room with Einon in his arms. Under crimson moonlight, riding her horse as Brok guides it, Aislinn leads Bowen and four guards carrying Einon through ancient Roman ruins up a mountain path.
- The novel explores Queen Aislinn's background in detail. She is described as an educated woman coming from people from the North Seas lands, having blue eyes, "yellow hair, tinged pink under the scarlet moon, a graceful neck and smooth jaw," and having a "quiet, eternal melancholy." She is a bride of conquest forced into a loveless marriage by King Freyne because of politics; he slaughtered her people and drove them into hiding as he wanted her solely for her beauty. When she helps Kara escape the castle, Aislinn has a long talk with her about how she once thought of killing Einon when he was an infant. But while holding him in her arms, she didn't see the monster he would become, only something frail and helpless that was a part of her, not realizing she was the helpless one. Aislinn says she couldn't be Einon's mother because she was seen merely as "a creature of submission," not allowed to have feelings or a voice, leaving Einon's father to taint him.
- The novel reveals the entire Old Code instead of only the middle portion heard in the film.
- When Aislinn leads Bowen, Brok, and the others to Draco's cave entrance, they hear a ghostlike trilling, causing Bowen to recognize it as a dragon singing. Aislinn leads the way with a torch, Bowen carries Einon in his arms, and Brok follows behind with the remaining men. Bubbling mud pits and bones are visible in the cave. Draco is visible during the scene as his iridescent hide glows each time he moves in the shadows, and his eyes are described as luminous and occasionally glowing. Aislinn refers to Draco as the "Serene One" instead of "Great One," and he refers to her as the "Daughter of Athelstun." Instead of being silent, Einon deliriously mutters about his crown and Kara's hair. After Aislinn gestures to Bowen, Draco gently plucks at the Old Code symbol on Bowen's surcoat.
- Einon takes hold of Bowen's sword when Draco extends it to him and swears to be a just ruler, but slumps back before he can kiss the pommel. Bowen cries out at Aislinn that Einon is dead because of her, and she scolds him for cursing the dragon. After Bowen takes back his sword, Draco unleashes a mighty breath that extinguishes the torches, leaving the cave in total darkness except for the occasional glint from his shimmering hide and glowing eyes. Then Draco uses his half-severed talon to cut his breast open. As the dragon holds the piece of his heart over Einon, the boy's eyes open, and he smiles as Draco reaches down and the orb seeps into Einon's wound. After Draco cauterizes his wound, Einon struggles to sit up, but Draco restrains him, covers Einon's face with his claw, and closes his eyes. Then Draco shoots another burst of flame and relights the torches, after which Brok and the four guards carry Einon out on a stretcher. Aislinn and Draco bow to each other before she leaves. Bowen follows her example and knells to Draco when he vows to repay him for saving Einon.
- As Queen Aislinn and her entourage trek back down the mountain and past the Roman castle ruins, Einon's crown slips from his hand, causing him to awaken and bolt upright on the stretcher. Brok has the guards lower the stretcher and kneels beside Einon, who feels the scar on his chest and smiles. Brok returns the crown to Einon, and the boy puts it on though it's too big for his head. He gets off the stretcher, stands up, and tells Brok that he will build a castle greater than the Roman one, smiling like his father. Then Einon has his men lay waste to Kara's village the following morning: Huts are set on fire; people are slaughtered with their bodies littering the muddy paths in between; and some men in hiding, including Riagon, are captured for the quarry.
- When Bowen thwarts Einon's attempt to blind Riagon, he takes a soldier's horse and gives it to Riagon. Kara runs to her father from the oak tree she's hiding in, and Bowen and Einon recognize her before she and Riagon escape into the forest on horseback. Then Einon and Bowen clash, and when Einon says, "the king is above the code," he stabs Bowen in the shoulder. Bowen falls between their horses, grabs Einon's leg from the stirrup, and yanks him to the ground. The fight continues until Bowen trips Einon up, lunges atop him, and presses his sword to Einon's chest. After telling Einon to fight with his head and not his heart, Bowen remembers the dragon's heart and rides off into the forest. Then Einon orders his men to seize Bowen.
- After Bowen leaves, Einon, Brok, and several knights ride back to the courtyard of Freyne's wooden fortress, below Aislinn's chamber window; despite ordering Bowen's capture, Einon says to Brok that Bowen can go since he has served his purpose. Then Einon sees Aislinn watching from her window when he feels pain in his right hand, though he writes it off as a cramp and looks at the scar on it that Riagon gave him. As he shakes the pain out of his hand, a tortured trilling can be heard, with Brok and Aislinn knowing that it's coming from Draco.
- Draco repeatedly bangs his maimed middle talon against jagged stones in anger until his hand is shredded and swollen. The claw breaks off with crimson light emitting from its base before fading into a thick blood-like liquid. Draco's skin sheds its natural color upon sensing an intruder, making him look like part of the cave. His filmy inner eyelids mask his eyes, enabling Draco to remain undetected while watching the intruder: Bowen. After entering the cave, Bowen finds the broken talon and demands the camouflaged Draco to show himself as "All bonds are broke with your betrayal," to which Draco replies, "Not my betrayal." Following Bowen's second demand to show himself, Draco flies over his head and out of the cave with color flowing back into his scales. Emerging from the cave in time to see Draco fly off towards the clouds as the sun sets, Bowen vows to hunt him down, and Draco answers with a mournful trill.
- In the novel, a scene takes place three years later in which Bowen is camping by a lagoon, and across it lies the half-submerged burning carcass of the tenth dragon he's killed and cremated with a fire arrow. Bowen attaches the middle right talon he severed from it to his trophy shield, with Draco's broken claw at the center. The word is that an 18-year-old Einon has built a grand castle upon the Roman ruins on the mountain and become a more feared and hated king than his father. Bowen now has an unkempt beard and hints of gray in his long brownish-blonde hair. He splashes his reflection in the water and sadly watches a fiery lump of flesh slide off the dragon's exposed rib cage into the pond.
- While the film jumps ahead 12 years, only four years pass in the book.
- Six months after the lagoon scene, Gilbert gets introduced. The dragon he encounters is visible; it's described as a decrepit male dragon instead of a female and referred to as "The Old One" instead of "The Scarred One." Bowen's attire now consists of "a tattered surcoat, a dull chainmail coat, dirty patched breeches, and scuffed boots." His horse carries an assortment of weapons: a "broadsword, lance, bow and arrows, mace, battle-ax, and buckler." The fight between Bowen and The Old One is also visible, and Gilbert is involved in it as he has a few close brushes with death.
- After Bowen kills The Old One, peasants armed with knives swarm the dragon carcass and begin taking it apart. Bowen fails to stop them until Lord Felton arrives with his three men and orders them to chase the peasants away and make them put out the fire. After Felton threatens to arrest Bowen for "poaching the king's wildlife," an outraged Gilbert steps forward in protest, but Bowen holds him back. As Bowen walks to his horse, Felton calls out to him by name, not forgetting about him, and says he will tell Einon. Gilbert offers Bowen some coins as thanks for saving his life, but Bowen kindly refuses them before they leave together. Felton has forgotten about Bowen by the time he tells Einon his road tax idea.
- Bowen tries to find Draco by looking for a dragon with a scar on its chest and a broken middle right talon. Bowen looks for these signs on each dragon he kills before chopping off their middle claw.
- In the book, Einon ages from 15 to 19. He wears his crown ringed around his ashen-yellow hair, and he has grown a wispy beard of the same color to look older, though it only makes him look younger. The cut on his right hand is now a jagged scar, and he's developed the habit of stroking his chest whenever distracted.
- As Einon prepares his hunting party, Felton is humiliated as he struggles to mount his horse, weighed down by his hunting gear, only to have Brok grab him by his pants and shove him on. Then Einon further humiliates Felton by tossing the lord's bow at him.
- At 20 or 21 years old, Kara wears a shapeless dress to hide her strong, lean figure and a tattered cape with the hood up to hide her beauty and wild red hair.
- To quell any "treasonous impulses," Einon allows Kara and the other peasants to visit their imprisoned loved ones in the quarry once a week. Kara gives water to the thirsty slaves she passes while making her way to her now-blind father, chipping away at the stone. Riagon tells Kara to return home because she is now a beautiful woman, fearing what Einon's men will do to her once they notice. Kara sneaks some food to Riagon and gives him a ladle of water that is shot out of his hand by an arrow by Einon, whose hunting party has managed to kill some pheasants, boars, and a stag. Kara pleads with Einon for Riagon's fate, worrying if he remembers her and Riagon from that fateful day four years ago. After Kara asks Einon to release Riagon, he says, "Release him? Granted, wrench!" and shoots Riagon. As Kara runs to her father, her hood flies back and reveals her hair. She cradles Riagon's lifeless body, looks to see Einon and his lackeys riding out of the quarry, and presses her father's fallen headband to her teary eyes.
- At nighttime, two days after Riagon's death, while camping out on a pebbled shore by a stream and eating mutton, Gilbert and Bowen discuss Avalon and their respective goals. Gilbert says he is on a pilgrimage to find the holy place and pray to Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table buried there so they may bring back the days of "chivalry and the Old Code." He asks to join Bowen as their quest might be the same, but Bowen says he already has a quest, "To slay all dragons...And one, in particular..." This is the first of two scenes deleted from the film found in the DVD/Blu-Ray extras.
- There's a scene in Einon's room where he drinks some wine and glares at the fireplace, thinking about Kara and Riagon. Einon thinks of Kara's hair as familiar and believes Riagon died in the quarry long ago after being blinded. Einon recalls the nerve and pride he saw in Kara's dark brown eyes when she faced him and that he killed her father so he wouldn't succumb to them. The sight of Kara's flowing hair at the quarry invoked a memory in Einon that made him stop his horse and stare back at her before riding off "like a frightened child." Then he tosses the rest of his wine into the fire.
- In the film, Bowen arrives at the waterfall for reasons unknown. The book has a scene beforehand explaining why: As they travel down a forest path the following morning, Gilbert reads another of his scrolls to prove to Bowen that his quest for Avalon isn't in vain until he falls into a large hole in the path that Bowen looks at curiously. Then Gilbert says when he finds Avalon, he'll pray for a savior to rid the land of Einon's evil. Bowen says Einon was possibly bewitched, but Gilbert says, "You cannot bewitch the devil. Trust a clergyman on that." He tries to see what Bowen thought was so interesting, but the knight tosses a fallen scroll into Gilbert's face and rises, hurries back to his horse, and says goodbye to the priest, saying their quests now take separate paths. Bowen goes off the trail and disappears down a ravine with his eyes searching the ground. Gilbert grabs Merlin's reins and goes after Bowen, falling into the same hole as before, realizing what Bowen saw: a huge dragon track. Bowen and his horse go through a stream of clear water, finding another dragon track visible in the mud of the shallow stream bed. Seeing a waterfall downstream, Bowen readies his lance, believing his dragon would be there and feeling guilty about abruptly leaving Gilbert.
- Then Gilbert appears from behind a pile of gray boulders, some of which almost glisten silvery in the sun. Gilbert climbs onto a sun-dazzled boulder that seems to wobble as Gilbert rises and waves his freshly dipped quill. Some ink splatters from its tip and across the rock, which Bowen sees shudder, then crinkle, and open up to reveal a huge ink-stained eye glaring up at Gilbert. The rocks shake and collapse into the lake, with Gilbert flung into the creek. Most of the boulders have disappeared, leaving behind a sandy beach. Then Bowen sees a dragon tail, changing color from dull gray to a glittery warm brown, and pokes after it with his lance before it disappears behind the waterfall.
- Seeing the dragon's silhouette behind the waterfall, Bowen demands it to come out, and it tells him to go away. Bowen demands it again, threatening to go in after it, and a barrage of armor and bones come flying through the veil of water, with most of it crashing into Gilbert. Bowen says the dragon won't add him to his collection and throws his lance, hitting his target, only to have it thrown back at him in pieces. Then, instead of going through the falls on foot, Bowen rides through on horseback as Gilbert verbally composes about the knight riding "into the pit of fear unknown." Simultaneously, the dragon shoots a blast of flame at Bowen, who deflects it with his shield.
- Draco is described as having eyes with a nictitating membrane and shimmering iridescent scales that change color, letting him blend into his surroundings. The middle talon of his right hand is initially half-severed from a past encounter with Freyne. Four years later, before his fight with Bowen, Draco's right hand has been reduced to "a maimed stump," with a thumb and fore talon, the small finger is wholly gone, and the middle one is missing both its tip and claw.
- Right after Draco emerges from the waterfall, Bowen chases him down the creek and snares Draco's foot with a chain-mesh net before being dragged through the forest.
- The fight between Bowen and Draco is slightly extended and modified, so is their dialogue. Bowen uses his shield in the battle and occasionally catches blows from Draco on it and gets lifted off the ground. While trapped in Draco's mouth, Bowen complies with the dragon's request to get off his tongue and shifts, so Draco's tongue is free to move, but it slaps Bowen in the face whenever Draco talks. Draco has extended dialogue while he has Bowen pinned down.
- Gilbert rides Merlin towards where Draco landed, following the trail of broken twigs and disturbed ground made by Bowen. The priest continues composing his poem as he sees fire flash behind the trees. Gilbert stops and dismounts Merlin by the forked tree with the stump, saddle, and chain, and again fire flashes from behind the trees ahead. As he reaches the clearing, Gilbert sees Draco scooping Bowen into his mouth. The following morning, Gilbert awakes to find Sir Eglamore's arm and mistakes it for Bowen's. When he reappears at the swamp village, Gilbert tells Bowen about burying the arm in the clearing beneath a cross with Bowen's name on it.
- Instead of a cliff as the film depicts, the waterfall where Draco and Bowen begin their fight later serves as their campsite; it's where the scene in which Draco says he longs for death but fears it occurs. The waterfall is also where Bowen later gives Draco his new name.
- In the book, the "fights" between Draco and Bowen while they scam villagers are similar to choreographed sword fights, with the two "attacking" and dodging each other trying to make Draco's "threat" look authentic. Their pretend battles end in either one out of two ways: Draco either pretends to eat Bowen and flies off carrying his horse or Bowen "shoots" Draco down with the weapon he's carrying, such as a lance or a bow and arrow. In the film, Bowen only shoots Draco down from afar with a ballista.
- When Draco attacks Lord Felton's property, he does more damage: two of Draco's fireballs blow off the storehouse roof and blast a blizzard of flour into the air, covering everyone and everything, and after Draco flies a swaying grist wheel, it rolls downhill and crashes into the side of Felton's house. Flanked by his thugs-at-arms and with his minx at his feet, Felton sits on a chair before a line of peasants in front of his house's wrecked wall to watch Bowen, who rides up the hill, his battle-ax aloft with Draco waiting for him on a millstone. As Bowen charges, Draco swoops in, scoops Bowen into his mouth with his legs sticking out, and grabs the horse. The shocked crowd watches Draco fly overhead and into the forest towards the waterfall.
- In the film, Felton's minx is credited merely as his minx. The novelization reveals that while Felton could never remember her name, he recalls her name beginning with 'Ro.' A few guesses at her name are Rowena, Rosamund, and Ronalda.
- Draco and Bowen's next scam after Felton happens at a village having a market day that's run by an overweight lord, with a sheep herd near a lake. Draco falls into the lake after Bowen 'shoots' him down with a bow and arrow and finds a single sheep left behind by its herd. Afterward, Draco floats in the air on his back, gliding around Bowen as they talk about the Old Code. The film combines the scenes and their dialogue, removing the lake village scene entirely, having Bowen shoot down Draco over a lake during the scene with Lord Felton. Draco flies in circles around Bowen during their following conversation.
- The novel reveals that Draco uses the scams as a way to pick at Bowen's conscience and test his morality. Bowen sees the peasants suffer under Einon's rule until the time comes when he can no longer justify conning the king's minions; this element of Bowen's character arc is missing from the film. This plot point comes to a head when they and Kara arrive at the reeking swamp village where the people are starving, miserable, and beyond poor. As Bowen expresses his contempt toward the peasants for letting Einon have his way with them but pretends not to care, Draco studies his reaction and realizes Bowen is the one he's been waiting for and has it in him, but wonders how to bring it out.
- There are two moments at the waterfall where Bowen almost sees the scar on Draco's chest, causing Draco to hide it before he can. The first time is after scamming Felton as Draco cleans flour off himself, and the second is after Bowen's fight with Einon when Bowen worries that Einon hurt Draco.
- In the novel, when Kara tries to avenge her father, she gets close enough to Einon by pretending to be a serving girl. Einon later remembers her as the one who stabbed him four years ago because, during her failed assassination attempt, she calls him "Piglet," as her father used to.
- In a partially built tower room, Einon is dressed in his night robe when he remembers Kara. Then he storms through the castle to where she is being held to confront her.
- Einon is more physically aggressive towards Kara as he throws her to the ground after she fails to kill him, pulls her up by her father's headband around her neck, and slaps her after she spits in his face. In the book, he succeeds, and when a drunken Einon attempts to seduce Kara, he places her bloody knife to her throat before wiping it along her cheek. He kisses Kara, and she bites his lip, so he yanks her back by her hair and roughly kisses her again before shoving her down on his bed. After promising to make Kara his queen, Einon doesn't take her knife with him. Instead, he sticks it into the bedpost before leaving. After this, Kara turns the knife onto herself but is unable to go through with committing suicide. The film only implies that Einon rapes Kara, and Kara never shows any signs of being suicidal.
- After Aislinn helps Kara escape Einon, he kills two guards in a rage. He asks how Kara could have known about the secret passage, suspecting Aislinn before ordering Brok to gather his best men to search for Kara.
- In the novel, as Bowen approaches Kara's village, she is chased into his path by an angry mob throwing mud and rotten vegetables at her, with bits of vegetables getting stuck in her hair and stuck to the mud on her. Then Hewe brushes past Bowen's horse and confronts Kara. Instead of a small watermelon, Hewe prepares to throw a gooey lump of cheese at Kara until Bowen takes it from him and takes a bite out of it. Kara gives Bowen an unnerving look of probing interest before he says, "Why waste good food on bad rhetoric?" and takes another bite out of the cheese. Bowen refers to Kara's disheveled appearance as a vegetable patch instead of a mudpie, and she tries to reclaim her dignity by wiping her face.
- After Kara takes Bowen's hand and shoves the lump of cheese into his face, Draco comes and circles over the village before he swoops down, scatters the crowd, and instead of a faraway cliff, he perches on the bridge over the stream. Looking over Bowen's shoulder, Hewe says the dragon might go away, and Bowen replies that Draco might let everyone die of thirst before asking for the lord responsible for the village.
- After Bowen tells the villagers to take his offer or leave Draco, Kara pushes through the crowd pointing at Bowen, and says, "Leave him!" as they don't need some blackmailing knight to get rid of a dragon. Bowen turns to a nearby plump man with three overweight daughters. After Bowen says dragons are partial to maiden sacrifices, Hewe smiles at him and asks why they must sacrifice a daughter. Bowen follows the gaze of Hewe's good eye as it falls on Kara. The villagers roll Kara tied to the cart down the path to the bridge's opposite end, elaborately bow to Draco, and make a hasty retreat back to the village. After sneaking across the stream, Bowen hides behind a group of bushes near the bridge. Then he and Draco whisper to each other as they debate what to do with Kara. When Draco leans toward Kara and reaches out to her, she screams and faints. Draco pulls the stake from the cart and flies off with Kara, and then the hiding villagers come out and cheer.
- After Draco takes an unconscious Kara as a "sacrifice," he tries to revive her to no avail. She eventually awakens and resumes screaming. Draco covers her mouth and shushes her with a maimed forefinger to his lips, politely telling her that he has sensitive ears and asks if she is alright. An unsure Kara nods and Draco removes his claw from her mouth before apologizing for scaring her. Draco cuts her bonds at the waterfall and says she's free to go; his kindness makes Kara uneasy, and she falls into the creek. Draco helps her out and compliments her beauty, gaining Kara's trust before introducing himself to her.
- After an hour of waiting for Draco to return to the village, Bowen leaves to look for him and finds hoofprints belonging to what he believes to be a hunting party. Kara pets Draco after he sings to her and tries to protect him from Bowen by jumping onto the knight's horse and hitting him until they both fall into the stream. When Kara tells Draco to torch Bowen, Draco tries to suppress his laughter before asking if Bowen is alright. Bowen tries to help Kara up, but she slaps him away and falls back into the stream. As Bowen scolds Draco for forgetting about him and being "smitten by this baggage," Kara interjects. Bowen stares her down, and again Kara gets the feeling she's seen Bowen somewhere before, the same feeling she got when seeing him in the village.
- When Einon and his search party arrive at the waterfall, Kara tries to run, but two of Einon's men on horseback grab her; Bowen kills them and saves her. After Einon refers to Bowen as "the king's old mentor," Kara remembers Bowen as the knight who spared her life and defied Einon to save her father. Einon tells Bowen his intention to make Kara his queen, and Bowen says he will make Kara a widow at the wedding, much to her amusement. Before his fight with Bowen, Einon throws his shield at him and rides toward Kara. He grabs her by the hair and kisses her roughly before Bowen knocks Einon off his horse for "turning his back to a corpse." After Draco makes Einon and his men flee, Bowen tries to see if Draco got injured. Trying to keep the scar beneath his scales hidden from Bowen, Draco turns away from him and lies that it's the old complaint from before. After Draco tells Bowen to look after his own wound, Kara asks how they know each other.
- Bowen, Draco, and Kara stop at the top of a hill and come across the swamp village the next day. Kara and Bowen have extended dialogue, and Draco has lines. As Kara and Bowen talk, Draco is silent and staring at a tor in the mist beyond the village aside from trilling. His inner eyelids cover his eyes until he breaks his silence. After Bowen tells Kara that she reminds him of his former self but will learn as he did, Kara prepares to leave him, and Draco stops her with a question. When Bowen asks Draco if his longing for death finally outweighs his fear of it, Draco looks to Kara and says, "No...I can't help you. Man abandoned dragon wisdom long ago...Einon will not fall in my lifetime..." Then his filmy inner eyelids cover his eyes again, and Kara resumes walking downhill toward a grove of trees in the mist. Bowen asks Kara what she plans to do, and she responds, "Try to turn the wretched world the other way."
- The book describes the swamp village as a group of gray huts on the edge of a gray marsh covered in a gray mist with a rocky tor lurking above the haze. The village smells like rotting fish, is full of mosquitos, and the villagers are towering, unkempt giants with sunken cheeks and eyes filled with anguish. They're so poor that they can only pay Bowen with "crude cutlery, glass beads, a pewter ring, some actual coins—all of base metal and low worth."
- As Draco plays dead in the marsh after Bowen "shoots" him down with a lance, Kara still tries to expose their con. She takes a knife from Gilbert, climbs onto Draco's stomach, and starts bouncing on him before using the knife to tickle him.
- In the film, a horde of pigs is in the swamp village despite the starving villagers, but the pigs are absent from the book. After the scam goes awry and Draco flies off, the film makes it seem like the villagers turn cannibal when they go after Bowen, Kara, and Gilbert. In the novel, the villagers turn against Kara after accusing her of being part of the scam despite her earlier warnings, and then Gilbert for backing up Bowen. They essentially turn against the three for cheating them out of a dragon that would've fed them. When Draco returns, he picks up Bowen and Kara before going back for Gilbert and Merlin.
- In the film, the last scene where Gilbert's mule Merlin is seen is the forest where Bowen and Draco fight each other to a stalemate. In the novel, Merlin is with Gilbert when he reappears at the swamp village, taken to Avalon with him, Bowen, and Kara, and then Kara's village afterward.
- Some minor and supporting characters that were nameless in the film are named in the book: Kara's father Riagon the Red; a young peasant named Trev who becomes a 'disciple' of sorts to Gilbert; and the dragonslayers Aislinn summons Cavan, Uhlric, Ivor, and brothers Tavin and Trahern. The dragonslayers play a more significant role in the climax and are more developed; they show disagreement with Einon's order to keep Draco alive. They even interact with Draco as he tries to goad them into killing him.
- The book broadly explores Einon's lust for Kara. He claims that Kara is similar to his mother as they share the beauty that only a king can have. Einon frets over his thoughts of Kara being with Bowen as they talk about him and plot against him. Einon seeks to possess Kara by killing Bowen and proving he's the stronger one, and in effect, strip Kara of her power and purge his fear of her, just as Freyne did to Aislinn.
- Einon returns to Draco's cave after the waterfall encounter, contemplating how he, Bowen, Kara, and Draco seem to be connected. He finds Aislinn there and asks her why Draco didn't kill him despite his betrayal, feeling that she is hiding something.
- Upon realizing he is in Avalon, Gilbert stands in the middle of the stone ring, pointing out the stones and naming the corresponding Knights of the Round Table, until he ends on King Arthur's stone, the one Draco sits on.
- Kara, Gilbert, and Merlin take shelter under a rock overhang while Draco waits on top in the pouring rain. At one point, Kara runs out into the storm. Then she turns to Gilbert and points up at the sky as lightning flashes, and, in a moment of clearness, they see Draco's silhouette flying toward the distant tor.
- King Arthur's spirit and the Knights of the Round Table visit Bowen; each knight recites lines from the Old Code. After Arthur's ghost vanishes, Bowen sees a smiling Draco sitting atop King Arthur's monolith. Bowen reaches out to him, and Draco wraps his wings around Bowen. This scene of the 'hug' between them was part of the film's original storyboards and screenplay.
- When Bowen presents Draco as the rebels' "secret weapon" to Hewe, he gestures to a ridge on the other side of the stream, and Draco rises from behind the horizon, his hide glowing like fire and blazing against the morning sun.
- In the film, the archery training moment with Gilbert and Hewe occurs in the village. In the novel, the archery scene happens in a forest clearing, and Trev accompanies them. Gilbert has already tried many weapons, and archery is his last hope. At one point, Gilbert inadvertently shoots down Brok's falcon, and Brok arrives with his hunting party, including Felton. When Felton tries to see Hewe's sword, Hewe slices off Felton's hand, and the ensuing chase leads to Brok's discovery of the rebel camp.
- When Brok tells Einon of his discovery, Aislinn goes to her chamber and writes four letters to the five dragonslayers. She sends the letters by courier that night and then kneels in her chapel and prays for forgiveness.
- Bowen has a nightmare with a degree of foreshadowing: He begs the dragons he killed for forgiveness, but they descend upon him, and he kills them again. Then he finds himself fighting Einon. Bowen stabs him in the chest, and Einon turns into Draco. Draco falls off Bowen's sword, and Bowen gets sucked into a black void in Draco's wound, where he hears nothing but a sad dragon song as he calls for Draco.
- He wakes from his dream at the sound of Kara's makeshift battle trumpet when she enters his tent with breakfast. She attempts to shave his beard with a battle-ax, but Bowen pulls away, saying that he taught her to cut throats, not shave them. Setting the ax down, Kara says that Bowen should look like a victorious general. He tells her that he isn't one yet and not to get overconfident. She replies, "You are my confidence. I've never been more sure of anything in my life." This is the second deleted scene from the film.
- For the most part, Bowen's attire remains unchanged throughout the film. In the book, Gilbert, Kara, and the peasants design and make him new armor consisting of a chainmail coat, a leather surcoat complete with a helmet and shield. The shield and surcoat are decorated with the Old Code symbol but slightly altered, with a pattern of bright golden stars dotted through the circle, the constellation Draco.
- After Kara helps Bowen put on his new armor, he asks her for a "lady's favor" to wear or carry into battle, and she reveals her rape by Einon to him. Bowen promises to "wash away the stain of her soiled innocence" by killing Einon and kisses her hand.
- In the book, Draco lets Bowen fly around on his back the night before the battle against Einon, during which they destroy Bowen's dragon talon trophy shield. Draco's scales enable him to appear like he's become one with the night sky and fly close to Einon's castle undetected. Einon sees Draco a few times but sees him as a piece of the sky moving like a black tapestry. Meanwhile, Einon declares he isn't afraid of Bowen and Draco before Aislinn presents the dragonslayers to Einon, gaining his trust. Einon sees Bowen's destroyed shield as a falling comet, an omen of disaster, and the death of kings. Aislinn claims it isn't a comet since it doesn't fall like one; she says that based on stories the elders of her clan used to tell when she was a girl, the "sky fire" was said to be the torches of the dead who have come from paradise to bless those left behind in the realm of the living, and believes it to be Freyne. She tells Einon the sky fire means his father has come to say he's proud of his son and accomplish what he couldn't: kill the dragon.
- After Felton loses his hand, he wears a decorated jeweled leather cuff over his stump. He gets several cuffs dyed in different colors to match his wardrobe.
- Just before dawn the morning of the battle, with Kara and Gilbert riding at his side and banners bearing his coat of arms crackling in the wind, Bowen and his army march out in a seemingly endless line that extended through the pasture over the bridge behind the village. Draco flies off his cliff perch and glides along the army line, dipping a wing in salute that's answered by a thousand raised weapons and a sizeable excited shout as dawn comes.
- As Draco attacks the castle, two of the five dragonslayers are killed. When a burning beam caused by one of Draco's firebombs strikes him, Uhlric accidentally fires a catapult's firing mechanism and causes the pike to shoot out. It impales Ivor, and he's skewered against the wall, still holding his ax as the lance has embedded into the wall. Later, Draco's foot gets caught by a grappling chain with a hook on both ends thrown by Sir Cavan. Cavan is carried off by Draco and slammed into a tower before he can secure the other hook, driving the fangs lining his helmet into his head. Then Cavan's corpse slides down the tower wall and lands at the hooves of Einon's horse before the chain around Draco's foot is attached to a tower ledge.
- During the battle in the forest, a black armor-clad Felton plays dead three times to avoid fighting as he now has only one hand. He is attacked by his former minx, now a part of the rebel army, before Gilbert shoots him in the rear. Then his former minx strikes Felton and takes his money purse and jeweled cuff before he blacks out.
- While the rebel army fights Einon in the forest, the men left at the castle begin to pull down Draco by the chain snaring his foot. Draco soon pulls out of range of the dragonslayers' spears until the chain pulls taut, and soldiers are either dragged or thrown from it. The chain tears from the tower ledge, taking a tower section with it, and stone and fire fall upon the battlements. Now free from the chain, Draco soars into the sun's glare, determined to enjoy a small taste of victory before the end, resolving not to let Bowen, Kara, and the others down and have the end happen the way he wants.
- As Einon orders a retreat, charges out of the forest and up the hill toward the castle road, Kara throws an ax at him and misses. Just as Gilbert exits the forest, Einon goes up the road nearly parallel to him, and Gilbert takes his shot. Draco's chest glows red as he falls to Einon's castle. After removing Gilbert's arrow from his chest, Einon charges at Bowen, but Draco's wailing trill stops them. The panicked Einon rides back toward the castle as Bowen yells at him to come back and fight. Stopping the dragonslayers from killing Draco, Einon gently caresses Draco's neck, and Draco shivers at his touch.
- Later that night, the rebel camp in the forest can hear trilling from the captive Draco. Bowen worries that Einon is torturing Draco, but Kara says Einon won't harm Draco, repeating what Draco told her outside the swamp village. She says Draco must die for Einon to die, but Bowen refuses to listen. He faces his men, leaps onto a stump, and asks who will join him to help save Draco, but no one volunteers. Trev and Hewe say the fight is over, and they can't beat someone invincible. Bowen says he expects them not to desert themselves, let alone a friend, and turns away in disgust to find Kara holding his sword. She tells Bowen he's not going alone, and picking up his bow, Gilbert also volunteers.
- At one point during Aislinn's talk with Draco, she rubs a cut on his snout. When Einon catches her, Aislinn backs away, and he follows her. They go behind Draco, where he can't see them, but he can see their silhouettes on the wall before him as Einon raises a shadow spear to strike Aislinn.
- In the film, Bowen wears the headband that belonged to Riagon without explanation on the eve of the battle. In the novelization, Kara gives it to Bowen as her 'lady's favor' in the cistern of Einon's castle while sneaking in to rescue Draco, after which they share a passionate kiss.
- The brother dragonslayers, Tavis and Trahern, are left to guard Draco after Aislinn kills Uhlric. As Bowen and the rebels storm the castle, Draco taunts the brothers to make them kill him until they're also killed.
- Instead of a sword, Brok fights Kara with a ball and chain. She kills him by taking the battle-ax from the impaled dragonslayer Ivor's grasp and using its broken shaft to catch the spiked ball and whip it into Brok's face.
- In the film, Draco's shoulder glows when Kara stabs Einon, but this causes a continuity error as it never happens again. However, in the novel, parts of Draco's body or his entire body glow whenever Einon gets gravely wounded throughout the story. It's visible when Bowen hurts Einon during their final battle, especially when Einon falls into the cistern and Draco's whole body glows red as he groans in agony.
- After Bowen throws away his ax, refusing to kill Draco at his request, a tearful Kara volunteers to do the deed before Einon stops her.
- Gilbert has a slightly more prominent role in the final battle. Amidst Einon and Bowen's fight, Gilbert gets wounded as he and Kara fend off guards in Einon's chamber before she leaves him to rest at his insistence. Then Gilbert returns to help the peasants open the gates. Gilbert, Hewe, and a group of peasants later arrive on the scene as Einon threatens to kill Kara in the courtyard.
- When the ax strikes Draco, his half-heart flashes crimson. His scales flash with color in an early script.
- Instead of after, Draco dies shortly before Einon stops short of stabbing Bowen in the back and grabs Bowen's shoulder. Bowen brushes Einon's hand away and says, "You are a corpse," before Einon falls to the ground and dies. After which, the rest of the rebel army enters the courtyard and begins cheering and celebrating their victory, except for Bowen, Gilbert, and Kara, who hold a peaceful vigil for Draco, with Gilbert reciting a Latin prayer.
- Draco's ascension to heaven happens very differently than in the film. Glowing red light comes out of his wound, covering his body and spreading over the ground like a mist. His body becomes one with it and floats past everyone as in the film. Then glittering red light rises above the castle walls and toward the sky before spinning behind the mountains. The sky "comes alive with celestial color, flashing across the black horizon." A trilling sound fills the air, heard not only by Bowen but everyone else; the sound is Draco's song, not his sad lament but the happy song he sang for Kara. Then the light spins from behind the mountains and turns into a bright ruby comet. The stars dim, and the light shoots upward and explodes into a star that becomes the Draco constellation's eye. Draco's body doesn't dissolve into mist in an early script, and the humans don't see his spirit rise.
- The rebels continue cheering and celebrating while Bowen, Kara, and Gilbert gaze at Draco's star and feel him smiling down on them.
Chapter 29 - A Dragon's Bequest and a Mother's Gift
Bowen rode up a narrow trail to the crest of the cliff. The valley below was alive with cookfires, gleaming in the darkening twilight. Music and shouts and sounds of merriment trickled up from the camp, joyous and carefree, as though none of the revelers were facing death the following day.
Draco had claimed this lonesome bluff, where he spent long hours, sleeping little. But he knew he had chosen the best watchtower and that he was the best watcher. Who could see or hear as far as he? There was little chance for a surprise attack with Draco at his post.
But even though the enemy had discovered their camp, and sent out a few scouting parties, they made no move against them. Bowen had drilled enough tactics into Einon to know the boy wouldn't dare risk an attack. He was at a disadvantage in terms of open ground and numbers, as Einon's spies surely had told him. He would wait for Bowen to bring the battle to him. Well, thought Bowen, he would not have to wait long.
Bowen heard the soothing beauty of Draco's contented trilling before he saw him, curled at the cliff's edge, dreamily gazing down on the camp.
"Hello, Bowen," Draco greeted him without turning around. "I heard another hundred and fifty families found their way into camp today. The eve of battle and still they come."
"So many, so fast..." Bowen said. "There's not been enough time, they've not been properly trained."
"What they lack I training, they make up in passion." The assurance in Draco's voice was like the assurance in his dragon song...comforting and peaceful. Both allayed Bowen's concern. The dragon turned and smiled at him. "You've done well."
"Because you have made me better than I was." Bowen longed to take pride in the dragon's praise, but he could not. Not yet. His dream of this morning still haunted him. He leaned back in his saddle and unhooked something from it. It clanged as he slung upon the rocks in front of Draco. It was his talon-trophy shield. "I have not always done well."
"Oh, Bowen," the dragon said sadly, "the Once-ways were long forgot on both sides. And wrongs by both committed in ignorance and misunderstanding. You, like these you slew, were merely a creature of sorry circumstance. Surely God forgave you any sin in this."
Bowen dismounted and knelt before Draco. "I do not seek God's forgiveness. Only yours."
The forgiveness was in the dragon's eyes. "I can find no fault in you, Knight of the Old Code."
"A knight of the Old Code needs no such adornment." Bowen picked up the shield of his shame and offered it to Draco. "Perhaps you know what should be done with it."
"I know...." Draco smiled again and leaned his shoulder down. "Climb up and bring your shield."
Bowen obeyed mounting Draco and clinging to his neck. Draco's elegant wings unfolded and Bowen felt the kiss of the wind upon the face as they hurtled heavenward.
They soared higher than Bowen ever remembered soaring. The last gray streaks of dusk gave way to the oncoming night, its advent lit by an escort of stars. Draco's constellation dangled across the sky like glittering diamonds spilled on black velvet. How clean and white they were. And Bowen spoke his silent thought: "Like a promise of hope."
"Hope is not so far away, Bowen," the dragon replied, gazing longingly at the stars. He swerved and swooped away. "Look down!"
Bowen did so...and gasped at the panorama that filled his eyes. The landscape was dotted with the campfires of his people, as though some stars had fallen to earth and now glowed both above and below him.
"There lies your hope, Bowen," Draco said. "The one I've waited for. Man must now make of the world what he can....The day of dragons is done...." "Not done for you!" Bowen protested, "If we are victorious tomorrow, we'll need you."
"You'll have victory," Draco assured him. "But no need of me. Listen to them, Knight of the Old Code. The Once-ways are in their songs and their laughter and the cries of their children. Listen. And look."
Perhaps it was only the hollow howl of the wind that made Draco's words sound cryptic and wistful. But they sent a suspicious shiver down Bowen's spine nonetheless. He looked, watching the patches of lights flicker against the dark. "What do you see?" he asked the dragon curiously.
"Everything," Draco replied. "It's yours now...."
The night was dirty and loud. Aislinn watched from her chamber window as Einon and his knights surged through the crowded courtyard, bustling with war preparations. Men drilled. Armorers and blacksmiths sweated over forge fires. Weapons were cached. Wagons rolled into the castle gates with food and provisions for storing.
As Brok and the others tried to keep up with his fierce pace, Einon strode across the stones inspecting everything. He was dressed only in his night robe and carried a torch. As the entourage moved to a cart stationed below her window, Aislinn was able to catch bits and pieces of the conversation.
"...entire towns and shires deserted, milord," Brok was dourly reporting, "...peasants all gone..."
"And gone with them the best of m crops and livestock!" Einon snapped out the words. He had leapt into the cart and his torch exposed a meager load of apples. Picking one up, he bit into it, made a sour face, and spit the morsel out. He flung the apple against the castle wall in disgust. It hit with a pop and clung there—an oozing glob.
The torchlight danced grimly across his face. It seemed whiter than normal, almost ghostlike. The rage in his pale eyes dwindled to a fixed reflective daze as he stared up. Aislinn pulled back from the window so that she would not be seen. But he wasn't looking at her. His intense gaze sought the night sky, as though trying to bora a hole into the darkness, in search of some light to chase the shadows from his disturbed soul. He shuddered and his fingers crawled inside the folds of his robe, stroking his chest in agitated distraction.
The unctuous tons of Felton trickled over the din as the lord slithered forward to try and appease his troubled king. He gestured grandly with his stumped wrist, now covered in a leather cuff studded with jewels that caught the torchlight and sparkled. Aislinn had observed that he had several different cuffs, dyed in different colors to match the variety of his wardrobe. This one was brown, matching the soft deerskin tunic and pants he currently wore. "Do not worry, sire, a few dirty peasants are no match for us."
"A few, fop?" Brok growled. "Hundreds, all armed and spoiling for a fight."
"You should know, Brok." Felton sneered, amiably. "It's your land they're on. But any noble is worth a hundred peasants."
Brok tapped Felton's leather cuff. "Guess you're only worth fifty."
Felton snatched his arm from Brok's touch and held it up proudly. "At least I have proven my valor to my king. Do you preach caution because you're afraid, Brok?"
Brok certainly wasn't afraid of Felton, and snarling at the man's insult, he charged the noble. But Einon leapt from the cart to stand between them, and waved Brok back with his torch, putting a protective arm around Felton. The torch flickered over the king's calm smile.
"My brave Felton." Einon patted the noble's cheek. "A regiment unto himself."
Einon chuckled. Felton giggled. The others joined the merriment. Then Einon savagely clawed the cheek he was patting and whirled Felton by it, slamming him against the wheel of the cart.
"Idiot!" Einon's fingers slid from Felton's cheek and his palm thrust under the noble's quivering chin, stretching his neck back over the rim of the wheel. Felton's startled eyes stared straight up—where they met those of Aislinn, gazing down. In the torch glare, she could see the red welts where Einon had torn at his cheek.
"I know this man who leads them!" Einon barked, and released the fop. Gasping, Felton slumped against the wheel as Einon whirled on his other knights, shouting, "You're all idiots! I am served by dolts and fools! The only clever man in this kingdom is my enemy! And I will destroy him! But I will not underestimate him! Him or the dragon! Now begone! All of you!"
The knights quickly dispersed into the commotion of the courtyard. Einon, torch in hand, stormed into the castle. Aislinn knew where he was going and waited and watched. A few moments later her suspicion was confirmed when she saw flickering light ascend past the arched windows of the tower stairwell.
The queen turned to the five burly men who waited behind her. "Come," she said, and she led them from the chamber.