PC002: For Fear of Dragons

By Carrie Vaughn
Read by Cunning Minx (of Polyamory Weekly).
Introduction by Summer Brooks.
First appeared in Weird Tales, 2006.

The year came when soldiers rode to Jeanette’s family’s holding. Their
captain announced that from the sea to the mountains, Jeanette was the only
woman over the age of ten known to be a virgin. Only one possible name
could be drawn in the lottery.

Jeanette’s mother sobbed, and the soldiers had to tie her father to keep
him from doing violence. They held her three brothers off with crossbows.
Her family had urged her time and again to marry someone, anyone, a young
whelp, an old widower on his deathbed. They had even begged her to find a
likely boy to love her for a night and give her a child. But Jeanette had
refused, because she knew that this day would come, that one day she would
be chosen, and she knew her destiny.
 Before the soldiers led her away, Jeanette held her mother’s face in her
hands. “It’s all right. I have a plan, I know what to do.”

Rated G. Contains enormous webbed wings, sharp fangs, and a hide of glistening scales.


  del.icio.us this!

25 Responses so far »

  1. 1

    Pod Castle: For Fear of Dragons « Filling the Well said,

    April 8, 2008 @ 11:17 am

    [...] 8, 2008 Hear “For Fear of Dragons” at Pod Castle.  Good old-fashioned [...]

  2. 2

    Kail said,

    April 8, 2008 @ 3:22 pm

    Very nice.

    I spent the first half of the story distracted by my own Evil Overlord-ish musing on how, given that there was a dragon that wanted a virgin a year, to set up my kingdom to avoid rampant teen pregnancy or rampant burnination. Which was of course beside the point.

    One hopes that the community of exiles in the Good Kingdom Next Door will eventually decide that cultural exchange and free immigration can relieve the peasantry of their old home of the yoke of Narratively Significant Stupid Tyranny, without having to sacrifice anyone.

  3. 3

    scatterbrain said,

    April 8, 2008 @ 4:59 pm

    Wow…I’d never thought I’d hear such an excellent tale of high fantasy, fables, Arthurian Legend, religious tradition/ignorance, feminism and pedophilia.

    Well done Pod Castle for another hook to make sure I’ll never stop listening.

  4. 4

    csrster said,

    April 9, 2008 @ 7:02 am

    Isn’t there something wrong with the logic of this story? Is it the case that Jeanette’s never having been pregnant is considered proof of her virginity?

    I thought this story was a little too free with “with one bound she was free” moments – secreting daggers and lockpicks around herself even when being prepared for sacrifice, dashing past dumbfounded priests etc.

  5. 5

    Clancey said,

    April 9, 2008 @ 10:49 am

    Just to answer csrster’s 1st question from my perspective, Having had a child is pretty much proof that a woman is *not* a virgin. I am sure the priests would have checked her as they did in the days of yore before their marriages. I didn’t think that a detail like that was necessary for seasoned fantasy readers. Reality is way overrated ;-{)}.

    The second objection reminded me of the People Magazine rip in their review of “Field Of Dreams” where they panned the movie because one had to “suspend disbelief” to view it in a positive light. Never read another People Magazine movie review.

    Anyway, I enjoyed the story, but saw the end coming from a mile away. Sometimes that’s a good thing though. Thanks for a pleasant installment!

  6. 6

    yicheng said,

    April 9, 2008 @ 10:55 am

    @csrster, pregnancy was used as proof of non-virginity. You said the logical inverse of that, i.e. non-pregnancy implies virginity, which is false. The story seemed to infer that the priests had some examination process to verify virginity.

  7. 7

    csrster said,

    April 10, 2008 @ 3:28 am

    The phrase “suspension of disbelief” always reminds me of Tolkien’s comment on a pantomime he had once attended at which “… disbelief had not so much to be suspended as hanged, drawn, and quartered.”

    However as I understand it, “suspension of disbelief” usually refers to the fantastical and other-wordly elements of a story – e.g. the existence of magic or dragons. It’s not, or shouldn’t be, an excuse for slack storytelling.

    One positive thing I will say is that I _didn’t_ see the end of the story coming. I thought Jeanette would end up turning into a dragon herself.

  8. 8

    James S. A. Brown, III said,

    April 10, 2008 @ 7:58 am

    What a delightful story! I loved it!

    This may get me lynched: As I always do, I listened for the parable. In my mind, the Dragon personifies the old Soviet Union and the virginal maiden the forces that eventually destroyed that decrepit nation (the Mujahedeen?). The dragon could not die on its own, it had to be slayed.

    That would make the priests into the western industrial defense complex, desperate for a new villian after the collapse of the not-so-great evil empire. And the maiden-turned-hag illustrates how the “freedom fighters” of the 80′s became the terrorists of the 21st Century.

    Yes, yes, the analogy breaks down when one tries to draw the parallel between the kindly old lady and al Quaida. Still, though, it is commonly said that the West, especially the US, fears terrorists far more than terrorists deserve to be feared. I tend to agree.

    Hey, who knows? Maybe the old crone rolls a grenade into the priests’ abbey every so often. However loose the analogy, I think this is a lesson well worth grasping. Wonderful story!


  9. 9

    Life Lemons said,

    April 11, 2008 @ 9:41 pm

    This story brought up some important questions in my mind. I found it interesting how, in order to keep the peace, the priests had to unite the nation against some evil being.

    Although I, as well as csrster, couldn’t see the end coming. I at first thought that the priests were going to start a new tradition of burning people “believed” to be witches. I was glad that the young girl didn’t die.

    I to some extent agree with csrster about the believability of the story, although I didn’t really notice that until csrster pointed it out.

    Any way, it was a good story that left me with questions: What will happen to the girls that are sacrificed when the main character dies? Will she pick one to be her successor or will the priests just pick a new enemy to sacrifice to?

  10. 10

    Teaist said,

    April 13, 2008 @ 11:42 am

    I really liked this story, although I did see the end coming. For a genre that I think is largely discounted, fantasy does have a way of cutting to the way society functions…from time to time.

    And in response to James Brown, who thought the parable broke down when compared to the US’s current middle east involvement, I disagree. Actually, that was the first thing I thought of. Sacrificing our young people to some ill-defined evil being in the mountains above a desert so that society’s fears can be assuaged? Sounds like Iraq/Afghanistan to me.

  11. 11

    Artem Baguinski said,

    April 13, 2008 @ 12:54 pm

    the tradition wouldn’t have been broken if they first milled her face off then sawn her heart to her gown. will this be the only story that escape artists will cast from now on?


  12. 12

    Clintmemo said,

    April 14, 2008 @ 11:47 am

    I liked the story overall. Like csrster, I thought she would become the dragon and “exact terrible revenge on the priests for their crimes.” I was pleasantly surprised when it didn’t go there, though, in a sense, she did exact her revenge.

  13. 13

    maztec said,

    April 14, 2008 @ 7:15 pm

    Sorry, but this is the first podcast I had to stop listening to because it sounded like the reader was chewing gum at the same time. Maybe it was the sound quality or something. I even tried to listen on a second system. It started as a good story… Just the gum, static, or whatever was distracting. :(

  14. 14

    Audita Sum said,

    April 17, 2008 @ 3:08 pm

    It was a nice rendition of a story I’ve read a hundred times. Girl gets sacrificed to dragon. Girl kills dragon. It was entertaining, but medievally fantasy is my least favorite kind. There’s a lot you can do with a totally original world; you could make new species, have original magic for once. Unique societies. But all people ever write about are white people with elemental powers, dragons, knights, castles… I hate that stuff.

    I’m kind of ranting. The story was alright.

  15. 15

    WEIRD TALES: magazine of the gothic, fantastic & bizarre » Blog Archive » Vaughn’s dragon roars said,

    April 20, 2008 @ 9:04 am

    [...] Carrie Vaughn’s popular WT story “For Fear of Dragons” is now available as an audio download from PodCastle.org! [...]

  16. 16

    csrster said,

    April 21, 2008 @ 8:00 am

    Audita, you forgot to include “witch-burning patriarchal priesthoods” in your list :-)

    (See also the latest Flash-story on pseudopod.)

  17. 17

    Mike said,

    April 23, 2008 @ 2:05 pm

    I didn’t like this story. I didn’t think it was up to the standard of the stories that Escape Pod runs. I hope it’s not indicative of what’s to come.

    I *did* however really like Summer’s introduction. I only know Summer from the work she’s done on the Dragon Page podcasts, in which capacity I always thought she was overshadowed by Michael and Evo. It’s really great to hear her all on her own. I’d like to hear more from her. I found myself wishing she had done a full-on introduction, like those Steve Eley does for Escape Pod.

  18. 18

    Blue Tyson said,

    April 24, 2008 @ 10:44 am

    Getting a 404 error on the download mp3 link?

  19. 19

    Dennis Egan said,

    April 25, 2008 @ 3:17 pm

    Excellent story, I especially like the quote at the end. I am a little concerned though, these first three stories (I listened to fire horse already) are about girls, and have a you go girl kind of feel. I am as feminist as any father of a teen age girl and I like all of these stories, watch out that you include some variety. (I see the next story is goose girl, hmmm).

    Anyway, good stories well told. Congratulations.

    Dennis Egan

  20. 20

    Spork said,

    April 30, 2008 @ 7:43 pm

    A bit predictable, but enjoyable all the same. I wish I knew more about how dragons couldn’t die, but could be killed. Maybe have the “crazy old witch” talking to someone who wasn’t there as she approached the girl, when she would have been chatting with her old friend, the disembodied dragon?

  21. 21

    David said,

    May 2, 2008 @ 5:02 am

    WOW!!! I like stories that get the cogs turning in my head, and this is one of those stories. The idea that a dragon is immortal and that killing a dragon can cause that person to become immortal. This makes sense for them to go extinct, because any knight who is unable to die would never have to worry about death(theoretically).

  22. 22

    The Fix | From the Podosphere: April 2008 said,

    May 15, 2008 @ 10:35 am

    [...] “For Fear of Dragons” by Carrie Vaughn, what starts out as a traditional dragon-sacrifice story takes on a [...]

  23. 23

    Weird Tales - Vaughn’s dragon roars said,

    January 15, 2011 @ 2:36 pm

    [...] Contact Vaughn’s dragon roarsFiled Apr 19, 2008 by Weird Tales in Features, Podcasts • Swap text colorCarrie Vaughn‘s popular WT story “For Fear of Dragons” is now available as an audio download from PodCastle.org! [...]

  24. 24

    what is google authorship said,

    June 13, 2014 @ 9:51 pm

    Nice post. I was checking constantly this blog and I am impressed!
    Very useful info specifically the last part :) I care for such info much.
    I was seeking this particular info for a long time.
    Thank you and best of luck.

  25. 25

    Darell said,

    July 1, 2014 @ 4:57 pm

    It is really a nice and helpful piece of information. I am lad that you
    simply shared this helpful info with us. Please stay
    us up to date like this. Tank you for sharing.

    Here is myy page: Nashville Chiropractor Free
    Consultation – Darell -

Comment RSS · TrackBack URI


PodCastle is powered by WordPress with theme Greenery

Site design by JustinBrooke Design