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A series of books by Laurence Yep about an exiled dragon princess named Shimmer trying to find a way to restore her former home, the Inland Sea.
Along the way she meets a kind kitchen-servant named Thorn, and together they set out on a four-book journey to reverse the magic that destroyed the Inland Sea, and to stop an ancient evil from bringing forth destruction upon the world.
The Dragon Series takes place in the feudal China of folklore, and contains magic and all sorts of figures from ancient Chinese mythology.
This series provides examples of:
- Cain and Abel: Pomfret, the older brother, is Cain to Shimmer's Abel.
- Carry a Big Stick: Monkey has an iron rod that he can grow to any size - get your mind out of the gutter - that he can shrink to the size of a needle. It was taken from the Dragon King.
- Disc One Final Boss: Civet, the witch who originally destroyed the Inland Sea, is confronted and defeated in the very first book. Unsurprisingly, restoring the Inland Sea isn't as easy as just beating Civet.
- The Dragon: A surprisingly literal example. The Big Bad's right hand man is Shimmer's older brother, a dragon named Pomfret. Shimmer even has a fight with him right before they confront the Big Bad.
- Five-Man Band: Shimmer is The Hero, Monkey is The Lancer, Indigo is The Smart Guy, Civet is The Big Guy, and Thorn is The Chick.
- Jerk with a Heart of Gold: Monkey.
- Our Dragons Are Different: The eastern variant, but with functional batlike wings. They live in cities under the sea, and can breathe water as well as air. They're not divine, have no control of the weather (unless magically trained to do so), and are not even inherently magical, although the royalty at least, is in possession of many powerful magical artifacts. They can also be taught magic easily enough. The real threat of dragons is how big, strong and durable they are, having several kilotons of muscle, rock-hard scales, sharp claws and teeth, as well as the ability to fly and withstand the crushing depths of the sea and temperatures far below freezing and above boiling. They are not immortal, but live about ten times as long as humans.
- Mac Guffin Boy: Thorn sacrifices himself to repair Baldy's cauldron, the magical artifact that can be used to restore the Inland Sea. Later on, the combined magics of the Smith, the Snail Woman and the Old Boy are used to restore him to a creaky and potentially immortal human form.
- Mineral MacGuffin: Shimmer's dream pearl, which enhances and improves the magical abilities of the user. Its token ability, however, is to create brilliant and stunning illusions, hence the name. Also doubles as a Memento MacGuffin, as it holds particular value to Shimmer, being the only thing left she has of her mother.
- Civet also uses a blue pebble to hold all of the waters of the Inland Sea.
- A Mythology Is True: Chinese mythology, of course. Mythical figures such as the Monkey King, the Old Mother of the Waters, and the God of Flowers. Civet's defeat is even the same as it is in Journey to the West.
- Redemption Equals Death: Several times.
- Switching POV: The first two books are narrated by Shimmer, while the last two are narrated by Monkey.
- Tyrant Takes the Helm: The reign of the already cruel and merciless Butcher is made even worse when the Boneless King takes over his body.
- Voluntary Shapeshifter: Two of the main characters (Monkey and Shimmer) have the ability to transform themselves into any shape or form that they choose, via magic.
- Unobtanium: Dragon steel, an extremely durable metal that never rusts or breaks and can only be forged in undersea volcanoes by dragons.