For Ages
8 to 12

Heroes of Havensong: Dragonboy is a part of the Heroes of Havensong collection.

This timeless fantasy debut follows four unlikely heroes—a boy-turned-dragon, his reluctant dragon rider, a runaway witch, and a young soldier—bound by the Fates to save their world, and magic itself, from being destroyed.

Blue, River, Wren, and Shenli grew up on different sides of a war they didn’t start. Their land has been torn apart over centuries of conflict, with humans taught to fear all things magical, dragons driven to near extinction, and magic under attack. But an ancient prophecy has put the four them on a collision course with destiny—and with each other—in a mission to heal the fractured realm once known as Haven. 

All of them must follow the threads of Fate, leaving behind the lives and homes they know to discover the truth about the seemingly endless war—and the truth about themselves. As the barriers between them begin to crumble, can they unravel the lies they’ve been taught to believe in order to restore the balance between humans, dragons, and magic before it’s too late?

“A powerful cast of characters in an epic tale of dragons and magic.” —Lisa McMann, New York Times bestselling author of The Unwanteds and Map of Flames

An Excerpt fromHeroes of Havensong: Dragonboy


Every twenty-five years, the king of Gerbera is eaten by a dragon.

It is tradition.

What’s that, young one? No, I imagine it isn’t very pleasant, but what else is the human king to do? He has his honor to uphold, after all. And a deal’s a deal. One king every quarter century, and in exchange, the dragons leave the villages of Gerbera well enough alone.

That’s the way it’s always been. For nearly a thousand years.

No, I am not that old. You mind your tongue, kit. Before I toss you to the shadow bears for breakfast.

Of course I’m joking.

Your mother would be furious with me.

Why do the dragons want kings? How should I know? Maybe they taste better than ordinary humans. Leave it to dragons to be so particular. And, no, I don’t know why they wait twenty-five years. Maybe that’s when a human is ripe? I don’t care to think about it too much, if you don’t mind. Now hold still while I get this twig untangled from your fur.

Ah, well, the humans have no choice, you see. They must keep the peace with the fire beasts. They’ve nowhere else to go. Beyond their forest is Dragon Mountain, and that’s where the world ends.

Everyone knows that.

Besides, humans are not as clever as foxes, dear. But don’t hold that against them. They do their best. Oof, stop squirming about, would you? I’ve almost got the blasted twig free.

What’s that? Where do they get the new king? Perhaps they grow kings like carrots. My whiskers, you ask so many questions. You are giving me a headache.

Fine. Fine. You may ask one more. If you must.

What would happen if a king didn’t present himself to the dragons?

Whiskers of mercy! I pale to think of it. Our forest stretches to the base of Dragon Mountain, after all. The fury of the dragonfire would surely be the end of everyone.

No, youngling. Do not fret. You have nothing to fear. Don’t you see? The human king always comes, just as he should. It has forever been thus.

He gives his life to save us all.

Now sleep, little one. If you’re quiet enough, you can hear the moon rise.


In Which Some Magic Gets the Hiccups

Three hundred years before the Fourth War

Many years ago, and half a world away, Madam Seer Madera Starling let out a yelp. Her violet eyes popped open, the pools of midnight darkness pressing in on her, trying to keep her in bed.

The smell of rain and sage flower wafted through the open windows, promising her that all was well. But the old woman knew how flowers spun their untruths when it suited them. She cast the sage petals a look through the window. All was well indeed.

Madera slowly swung her legs over the side of the bed, her silver-white hair falling to her waist in twisty braids. She grasped the cane leaning against the wall, drawing in breath slowly, committing each detail of her dream to memory. The moonlight fell across her dark brown hands in a soft glow.

“That was you, wasn’t it?” she asked the rising wisp of violet smoke hovering over her nightstand.

Madera’s Magic hummed its agreement, swirling in a slow circle, drifting toward the woman’s outstretched hand. “You haven’t given me dreams in ages. Not since--” She shuddered and shook the memory away. Her Magic floated toward her, now a purple tornado. Madera rolled her eyes.

“There’s no need to be dramatic,” she scolded as she pushed herself to stand. The tornado let out an audible huff and then slowed to form a cumulus cloud.

“Haru!” Madera called, knowing the Scribe would hear. The boy slept lighter than a pile of feathers.

A crash rang from the hallway, just outside Madera’s bedroom. A few moments later, the door creaked open and Haru stumbled forward, his thin raven hair sticking up like a sea urchin. His firequill glowed in one hand, lighting up his tan face, with a scroll of parchment tucked under his other arm.

“You . . . called?” said Haru, blinking sleep from his eyes. They were brown with little specks of teal--starting to match the color of his Magic, which now sat on his shoulder.

“I need you to record a prophecy, Haru.”

The purple smoke growled.

“Now, you hush,” Madera snapped. “We’re doing this properly, and that’s final.”

Her Magic sighed rather theatrically.

“A prophecy, Madam Madera?” Haru repeated, his eyes stealing a hesitant glance at the purple smoke. Still a new Scribe, Haru Tanaka was eager to prove himself. The most he’d ever recorded was Elder Myrtle’s Theory on Magical Propriety. And that was nothing like a prophecy--more of a yawn-inducing ramble.

“You’ll do just fine, child, as long as you pay attention,” Madera assured him with the same encouraging smile she’d used on new Scribes for the last half millennium. Haru gulped, readying his parchment. He held his hand steady, sparks of red fire shooting from the tip of his quill.

“Help me remember,” Madera told her Magic as it settled on the top of her head. She closed her eyes. “I see a newborn child. A boy. The mother is sobbing, but I cannot see her face. The baby is wrapped hastily in a tattered gray blanket. A filthy old thing.” She frowned as the next part of the dream bubbled into focus. “There’s a full moon and it’s snowing. Who carried him--the father, perhaps? The child is left on a doorstep. He . . . does not cry.” Her eyebrows scrunched together. “Why isn’t he crying? He’s so cold.”

The Seer searched her memories as her Magic danced lightly at her temples. There was something about a door with the head of a lion for a knocker. She could sense the child’s breathing, his quivering gums in the biting cold. His tiny heart raced in sheer terror, and still he did not cry.

“This child is of great significance,” said Madera, beads of sweat now trickling down her neck. “But I cannot See how.”

“He must be remarkable!” breathed Haru, scribbling furiously across the page, red sparks flying.

Madera shook her head. “No, but that’s just it. He is, in fact, utterly ordinary. No trace of heroic lineage. And when I try to See his future, there is only . . . vast nothingness.” Her frown deepened as she searched for more. There was great beauty in this boy. But there was something else too. Something . . . hidden in darkness.

A loud squeak rang through the room.

Haru’s scribbling ceased. “Was that . . . a hiccup?” he asked, his eyes fixed on Madera’s hovering Magic.

Madera shifted her weight on the cane, convincing herself they’d heard wrong. It was something outside. A beach bat or a river toad. Her Magic squeaked again, and she winced.

No, no, no.

Magic hiccups meant only one thing.

Something dreadful was coming.

“I cannot understand it. An ordinary boy. Destined for greatness and plagued by such darkness,” Madera whispered. “But his future is kept from me. Something or someone doesn’t want me to See properly.” And then a realization hit Madera so suddenly she nearly fell over onto the bed. “It’s . . . him.”

Her Magic bounced up and down.

“Him?” repeated Haru.

“The Awaited One.” She gaped at her Magic, finally understanding its urgency. “The one from the songs of old. The songs of Haven.”

“Haven?” Haru used his firequill to scratch his head. “That’s what the old kingdom was called. Like . . . a really long time ago, right?”

“Back when life was birthed into being, yes. When all was right in our world.”

“What is the boy’s name?” asked Haru, his quill hovering eagerly over the parchment. The scorched words inked there were already recorded in the Legacy Hall of the Seers.

“He is called Blue.”

Haru scrunched his nose. “That’s his full name? Just . . . Blue?”

Madera let out a long sigh, allowing these new revelations to settle deep into her bones. This was troubling indeed. The coming of the Awaited One meant also the coming of the end. And someone was definitely out there, trying to keep her from Seeing it.

“We’ll have to be ready.” She gave her Magic a knowing look and it huffed its agreement.

“So . . . is that the last of it, then, Madam Madera?” asked Haru, his voice sounding far away. The old woman nodded and Haru rolled up the scroll carefully. It rose into the air, blanketed by the blue glow of his Magic. Then the scroll disappeared with a pop, sending bits of magic dust everywhere and causing Haru to sneeze.

“That was amazing,” Haru breathed, his teal Magic bouncing up and down on his shoulder in celebration. “My first prophecy recording!”

Madera sighed, hobbling to the window, searching the night skies. Sometimes the stars mapped out a helpful message, winking their truths to those below who knew how to See. But tonight the stars lay hidden by clouds.

Keeping their secrets.


In Which There Is a Great Commotion

Ten years before the Fourth War

A great many years later, Blue the stable boy woke to the smell of Fear. It pushed down on him like a foal sitting on his rib cage. He scrambled up from his hay-pile bed, his clothes soaked through with sweat, trying to shake from his sleepy stupor. He stumbled through the stable gates to the training arena outside, strands of hay clinging to his trousers. Nothing looked out of the ordinary with the first bits of sunlight peeking over the tops of the massive stone walls of the castle. The quietness of the grounds rested gently against his thumping heart.

Where was it coming from?

To Blue, Fear always smelled of wood and oranges, though he was never sure why. For as long as he could remember, he’d been able to smell certain emotions the way someone might detect scents of different flowers. It took many years before he even realized what was happening, since none of the other castle servants shared his strange talent. For the longest time, no one even believed him, which only left him feeling confused and embarrassed.

Then one day, a very bored seven-year-old Blue had been exploring the eastern towers. He ran into--quite literally--Lady Zoya, the Royal Mage of Gerbera. Lady Zoya kindly explained his weird ability, assuring Blue it was an incredible gift.

Blue still wasn’t sure about that. Most times his knack felt like a burden. Still, in time, he’d learned to pay attention to it--and so had everyone else.

Blue shivered in the dawn light, scanning his surroundings once more. Right now, the Fear clung to the air so fiercely, it could only mean someone close by was trapped in the worst sort of peril. But Blue couldn’t place where it was coming from. The weight in his chest sank even deeper.

He’d smelled Fear this strongly only three times in his life. Once, when the stables had caught fire. Again, when Old Man Albert had fallen from the roof trying to repair a loose shingle. And lastly, when one of the kitchen servants had had a severe allergic reaction to strawberries. Each time, Blue had been right there to help. But now he couldn’t see anyone. Silence hung in the air, except for the soft snores of the king’s horses.

Then, like a weather vane shifting suddenly with a strong wind, the Fear dissipated, the scent of woody citrus nothing more than a memory. Blue frowned, running his hands through his hair as he scanned the castle walls once more for any clues. But the Fear was quite simply gone.

“And how’d I know you’d be up so early, Blueboy?”

Blue turned to see Suri Hakimi, one of the older stable servants, pushing her way through the gate. Her dark hair was pulled into a ponytail under a plum-colored beanie, and when she smiled, her deep brown eyes seemed to shine.

“What are you doing here?” asked Blue, though it was no stranger a thing for him to be standing outside barefoot at dawn.

“Finished my family chores last night, so my mom let me come early.”

A small ache pierced Blue’s chest. Whenever Suri or the other stable servants talked about their families, Blue couldn’t help but feel a jealous longing.

“I checked the stable,” Suri went on. “When you weren’t in your bed, I figured you’d gotten an early start prepping Cedar.” She rolled her eyes. “Don’t think I didn’t notice her shiny new horseshoes waiting by your bed. Trying to get that promotion, you are, you sneaky bugger.”

Well, that was definitely true. Blue wanted nothing more than to get promoted to stable manager, and he’d been working overtime all year to prove himself to Albert, the stable master.

Suri’s bronze cheeks flushed as understanding dawned in her eyes. “Oh. You had another . . . episode, didn’t you?” she guessed, dropping her gaze to her shoes. It always made people uncomfortable to talk about Blue’s ability. Even if they’d learned to trust it.

“It was some of the worst Fear I’ve ever smelled. I thought for sure the stable was on fire again. Then it just . . . disappeared.” Blue’s arms fell against his sides in defeat. “I just don’t get it.”

“Well, it might not be so hard to guess what it was,” said Suri, nodding to the castle. Blue followed her gaze to the northernmost tower window.

“The king?” asked Blue.

Well, of course.

Today was Dragon Day.

At the nine o’clock gong, the king of Gerbera would set out beyond the kingdom, through the Peculiar Forest and up to Dragon Mountain--where he’d promptly be eaten. The king didn’t know this, of course. He only believed he would set out to slay the dragon that had begun to terrorize the outer villages. The dragon showed up exactly every twenty-five years to goad the newest king into battle. And it always ended the same. Three days after the king departed, his horse would return with a note from the dragon, thanking Gerbera for another fine meal.

Everyone knew this except the king himself. The entire kingdom--and especially the castle staff--took great pains to keep it from him. From the moment a new king was crowned--always an orphaned infant from one of Gerbera’s villages--he knew nothing of his fate. It was easier that way. There were no parents to miss him. And what kind of life would it be to know you would grow up to be eaten by a dragon? Better to let that be an unfortunate surprise. At least, that was how one of the kitchen servants had explained it to Blue when he’d asked so many years ago.

Under the Cover