Cinder--an excerpt

The following is an excerpt from Cinder, by Will Wright. It is the story of an orphaned dragon who, with the help of the wizard Tig and his apprentice Alex, must become human in order to fight those who would destroy all of dragon-kind. It is available from

Cinder was scouting again. There was value in knowing the weather and other obstacles that lay ahead, but it made Alex nervous when she was away so long. So much of this revolved around her. He didn’t understand why she would be more important than Tig or the mage, but he knew she was. If they lost her, they would lose their hope as well.


Alex hadn’t heard Tig come on deck. The wizard’s back had to feel better to be able to move so quietly.

“Cinder’s still out?” asked Tig.

“Yes, Master.”

“How long has she been gone?”

“Six hours.”

“You’re drenched. Have you been out here all that time?”

“Only the last two,” said Alex. “If trouble is coming, I want to see it first.”

Tig nodded his head and pulled a barrel next to the boy. He didn’t even wince with the effort, though Alex suspected the wizard might still be hiding some of his pain.


“Yes,” said Tig.

“I don’t want to offend you.”

“Well, you never have, so I would say you’re well behind on that score.”

“Karghal is so powerful.”

“Yes, she is,” Tig agreed.


“Why is she so much more powerful than I am?”

“Well, you are a great wizard,” Alex explained. “Everyone says so. Was Mikander as powerful as she?”


“Your brother?”

“Not nearly.”

“Have there been wizards this powerful in the past?”

Tig wiped the raindrops from his eyebrows. “The past is a long time. I remember a story about a mad wizard who tried to kill every bird on earth because her favorite hat had been soiled by one. There was another wizard who enslaved the Imperial Family for twenty years. Though he was not royal by birth, they had to list his name among the emperors of the realm until his death.”

“Mad wizards, evil wizards, were there any good wizards that powerful?”

“There was Killia. She was the one who stood against Tsunami the dragon.”

“What was her greatest power?”


Alex looked at the rain battering the waves below. “Wisdom is a wonderful thing,” said Alex, “but it seems very ordinary against a raised storm. Forgive me, Master, but I don’t understand. Why do only the mad and evil wizards have the impressive powers?”

“Because they need them, of course!”


“Alex, do you remember the day I chose you for my apprentice?”

“Of course.”

“Did you think you had the best natural skills among the candidates?”

“Not at all,” said Alex. “I thought you made a mistake, but I wanted to be your apprentice so badly that I didn’t tell you.”

“I remember,” said Tig. “Do you still think I made a mistake?”

“I can’t do any offensive magic.”

“That wasn’t my question. Do you still think I made a mistake?”

Alex knew any of the children Tig tested would have learned much quicker than he did. Many of them would have mastered more powerful spells. Still, the wizard asked him what he thought. He had to be honest.

“No, Master,” said Alex.

Tig smiled. “I’m glad to hear it, my boy. It’s very hard for a flashy, quick-learning apprentice to become a good wizard. I didn’t want to bring another Karghal into the world.”

“So, evil is always stronger?”

“No, but evil must be stronger to prevail.”

“I don’t understand.”

“Remember the first sea storm after you moved to the island?”

“Yes,” said Alex. “It wasn’t much different than this, though I think the wind was higher that night. We sat on the beach and watched the breakers hit the shore.”

“The breakers scared you at first, but we sat and watched breaker after breaker. White water flew toward us, but the only water that hit us was the rain.”

“Until the gray wave came.”

“Until the gray wave came,” Tig agreed. “The gray wave had no white water. The wave remained whole. It wasn’t fancy or impressive. It just rolled toward us.”

“You grabbed me, and we ran up the hill.”

“If I hadn’t?” asked Tig.

“It would have engulfed us.”

“An evil wizard fights against what is meant to be. He’s like the white water breakers coming ashore. An evil wizard is impressive and scary, but it takes a very powerful evil wizard to prevail.”

Alex absorbed the wizard’s words. In the distance he saw Cinder banking through the gusts towards the ship.

“Is Karghal powerful enough, Master?”

“Let us hope she is not.”