Dragon Magic

~ 4th Novel in the Magic Series by Andre Norton

(Series aka) The Magic Sequence



Synopsis ~

From an old Amazon.com posting ~

Sig Dortmund, Ras (a.k.a. George Brown, but his older brother has persuaded him not to answer to that), Artie Jones, and Kim Stevens are the only boys in their age group who catch the bus outside the abandoned house on the extra-long run from the new development to their school. Each is lonely for one reason or another, but each keeps to himself. Until one by one, they sneak into the old archeologist's abandoned house, searching for hidden treasure. The only interesting thing is a 4-piece dragon puzzle, lying abandoned on a table. One by one, each assembles one quarter of the puzzle, and relives the history of that particular dragon, learning things that allow them to work together as a team in the end.
   "Fafnir (Sig Clawhand)" ~ Sig Clawhand's deformed hand made him an outcast at Mimir Master-Smith's forge, where he lived and worked as a potboy. Only Sigurd King's-Son, working at the forge on the strength of Mimir's Foresight, has ever befriended him, and never called him 'Clawhand'. Thus, it is that when Sigurd ventures forth against the dragon Fafnir, Sig fares forth as his faithful shadow.
   "Sirrush-Lau (Prince Sherkarer)" ~ The lau, the demon-monster of the swamplands, brought ill luck to Napata upon its capture ~ the city was taken by the Babylonians, who took the lau back to Babylon as tribute. Sherkarer, a junior prince of the royal house of Napata and now a slave, is the only survivor of the original hunting party, so he has been taken along as the expert on the care and feeding of the lau (called sirrush by the Babylonians). But the Babylonian priests have made a wager concerning sirrush-lau with one of the king's advisors, and Sherkarer's only hope is to humble his pride and work with this strange enemy of the priesthood ~ a man called Daniel.
   "Pendragon (Artos, Son of Marius)" ~ Artos, the Pendragon, is the only thing standing between the realm and a long fall into barbarism, in these latter days after the fall of Rome, but he faces rebellion. Young Artos, the son of one of the Pendragon's faithful supporters, chances to learn of a conspiracy, and acts as a messenger to try to warn the king in time.
   "Shui Men Lung ~ Slumbering Dragon (Chin Mu-Ti)" ~ The Emperor's canny old advisor might have looked half-asleep, but he was about as safe as the slumbering dragon he was called. When a general under his command rashly stakes his head as a wager on the success of a risky campaign, the old 'dragon' must salvage the situation.


Write-up from the front flap of the 1972 dustjacket ~

What was the magic power of the dust covered puzzle in the old, abandoned house? Each of the four boys who tried to find out was caught in a strange spell that took him backward in time to own long-ago-and-far-away adventure.
Although these adventures are not stories to be found in ordinary history books, they are based on fact. In this intriguing time-warp fantasy, noted science-fiction writer Andre Norton has painstakingly researched legends of four famous dragons and has found in each story a particular meaning for today. Ras, Kim, Sig, and Artie are American boys of different national backgrounds - African, Chinese, Scandinavian, and Welsh. Each boy gains from his adventure an insight into his own past, and pride in his own background and heritage.
A brilliant mosaic of lore from the past, Dragon Magic is also a very contemporary story of four very dissimilar young people who are drawn together by a shared adventure.


Write-ups from fans ~

The book is actually four separate stories, connected by minimal narrative:  Hidden Treasure; FAFNIR, Sig Clawhand; SIRRUSH-LAU, Prince Sherkarer; PENDRAGON--Artos, Son of Marius; SHIU MIEN LUNG--SLUMBERING DRAGON, Chin Mu-Ti; Dust on the Table.  Four boys of different genetic background separately explore an old house, each finding and working on one-quarter of a jigsaw puzzle depicting dragons.  Shortly after completing his portion, each boy goes to sleep and dreams of an adventure concerning the dragon of his inheritance.

FAFNIR Sig Clawhand: Sig Dortmund puts together the portion containing the silver dragon and is swept into an adventure out of tales of the old Norse gods.

SIRRUSH-LAU, Prince Sherkare: George Brown (calling himself Ras as part of black liberation protest), puts together the blue dragon and dreams? hallucinates? being a captive Nubian prince put in charge of tending the monster sirrush which was also a captive of the Babylonians.

PENDRAGON--Artos, Son of Marius: Artie Jones puts together the red dragon and assists King Arthur in the battle with Modred.

SHIU MIEN LUNG--SLUMBERING DRAGON, Chin Mu-T: Kim Stevens puts together the gold dragon and becomes the pageboy/valet to a Chinese general fighting in the dynastic wars of the Empire of the Han.

All four of these stories have some bit of historical documentation.  The Icelandic Saga of Fafnir has been used for Richard Wagner's opera, and the magic ring may also have been inspiration for Tolkien's Lord of the Rings.  A sirrush is depicted on the Ishtar Gate of ancient Babylon, King Arthur's legends are well known, and a Chinese General Chuko Liang (Zhugo Laing) actually fought a battle like the one described. ~ SL


This one is not really a novel. It is really four novellas tied together by a fifth. Four teen-age boys, all loners at a new high school discover a jigsaw puzzle in a room in an old house scheduled for demolition. The puzzle is of four very different Dragons. Each boy makes a trip to the house and is compelled to work one of the dragon puzzle sections. As the dragon is completed, the boy is transported to his ancestral past for an adventure which teaches him a lesson. Though he has spent a few days in the past, he emerges a half-hour later. The boys share their experiences and do more research on their pasts and became good friends. ~ PG


Reviews ~

Kirkus Reviews ~ Issue: April 1st, 1972
Four boys find a magic jigsaw puzzle in a deserted house, and as each completes one of the four pictured dragons, he is propelled into a mythological fantasy neatly tailored to his cultural background and personal hang-ups. Sig Dortmund finds himself transmogrified into Sig Clawhand, a witness to the killing of Fafnir; Ras becomes a Nubian slave who helps Daniel kill the dragon Sirrush-Lau and then escapes from Babylonian captivity; Artie is changed into a loyal retainer who is present at the death of Artos Pendragon; and Kim Stevens sees how the Chinese general known as the Slumbering Dragon became great by accepting responsibility for his failures. The legends (particularly the Arthurian material) are cleverly reworked, but the strict parallels of the plot admit little suspense and restrict the fantasies' appeal by making them patly didactic. As always, however, Andre Norton can be relied upon to convert her magic formulas into adroit entertainment. 


Various reviews ~ For more info and other listings see Articles Over the Years

1972 in Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books, June
1972 by M. Brady in Library Journal, June 15
1972 in Booklist, July
1972 by B. Robinson in Horn Book, August
1972 by Charlie Brown in Locus #125, October 27
1973 by Don D'Ammassa in Son of WSFA Journal #103 (fnz), August
2015 by James Nicoll
2019 by Judith Tarr


Dedications and Acknowledgements ~

For Anne McCaffrey and
L. Sprague de Camp,
two notable tamers of dragons


Bibliography of English Editions ~

  • (1972) Published by Crowell, HC, 0-690-24489-4, 978-0-690-24489-2, LCCN 70158697, $4.95, 213pg ~ illustration by Robin Jacques {Green Cloth Boards}
  • (1973) Published by ACE, PB, 0-441-16647- $0.95 192pg - #16446 $1.25 192pg - #16445 $1.50 192pg - covers by J. H. Breslow ~ #16644-X 1980 & 82 $1.95 - #16654 1985 $2.50 5th print - covers by Charles Mikolaycak

#16647/46/45 Usually, later printings have the catalogue # increase by one for each printing. For this cover the number decreased by one for each printing. No dates available for #16646 & 16645.

#16644-X The publication page states "Second ACE printing" but is probably 4th ACE edition.  ACE is listed on cover and spine, while the title page has attribution to "A Tempo Star Book" distributed by ACE. Printed twice with same ACE Number series, price, and cover art by Mikolaycak.  The first printing of this set is the one issued as a Tempo Star (1980) and has the tombstone logo on the cover [even though this logo was discontinued in 1978]. The next printing notes “This Ace printing: February 1982” below the line “First Ace printing: May 1973” and THEN has a full number line 2 4 6 8 0 9 7 5 3 1!

  • (2006) Published by Starscape, TP, 0-765-35300-8, 978-0-765-35300-9, $5.99, 224pg ~ cover by Tristan Elwell
  • (2010) Published by Starscape, DM, 0-765-35300-8, $5.99, 224pg ~ cover by Tristan Elwell
  • (2015) Published by Open Road Media, DM, eISBN 978-1-504025-32-4, $6.99, 161pg ~ cover by Connie Gabbert


Non-English Editions ~

  • (1997) Published in Warsaw, Poland; by Amber, 83-716-9651-5, 144pg ~ translation by Karolina Bober ~ Polish title Smocza magia [Dragon magic]
  • (1998) Published in Warsaw, Poland; by Amber, 83-716-9713-9 ~ translation by Karolina Bober ~ cover by Jean Targete ~ Polish title Smocza magia [Dragon magic]


Russian Omnibus Editions ~

  • (1995) Published in Zelenograd, by Zelenogradskaya Books, 5-863-14040-2, HC, 384pg ~ cover by D. Avvakumov ~ Russian title Драконова магия [Dragon Magic]


    • "Operation Time Search" as "Operation Search in Time" ~ translation by D. Arseniev, pp. 3-206
    • "Dragon Magic" ~ translation by D. Arseniev, pp. 207-383


  • (2003) Published in Moscow, by Eksmo, 5-699-01931-6, HC, 480pg ~ cover by E. Savchenko ~ Russian title Магия стали [Steel Magic]


    • "Steel Magic" as "The Magic of Steel" ~ translation by O. Kolesnikov, pp. 5-86
    • "Octagon Magic" as "The magic of an octagonal house" ~ translation by O. Kolesnikov, pp. 87-240
    • "Fur Magic" as "The Magic of Shaggy" ~ translation by D. Arseniev, pp. 241 - 362
    • "Dragon Magic" ~ translation by D. Arseniev, pp. 363 - 478


  • (2013) Published in Moscow by Eksmo, 9785699660315, HC, 864pgs ~ cover art by A. Dubovik ~ Russian title Магия [Magic] ~ Limited to 5000 copies


    • "Steel Magic" as "The Magic of Steel" ~ translation by O. Kolesnikov, pp. 7-96
    • "Octagon Magic" as "The Magic of the Octagonal House" ~ translation by O. Kolesnikov, pp. 99-230
    • "Fur Magic" as "The Magic of Hairy" ~ translation by D. Arseniev, pp. 233-362
    • "Dragon Magic" ~ translation by D. Arseniev, pp. 365-532
    • "Lavender-Green Magic" as "The Magic of Lavender Greens" ~ translation by D. Arseniev, pp. 535-712
    • "Red Hart Magic" as "The Magic of the Red Deer" ~ translation by D. Arseniev, pp. 715-861


  • (2015) Published in Moscow by Eksmo, 9785699809639, PB, 416pgs ~ cover art by Merkor3D ~ Russian title Магия дракона [Dragon magic] ~ Limited to 3000 copies


    • "Fur Magic" as "The Magic of Shaggy" ~ translation by O. Kolesnikov, pp. 5-182
    • "Dragon Magic" ~ translation by O. Kolesnikov, pp. 183-413


View the Original contract

View the 2004 Russian contract

For information on editions currently available visit the Book Store



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