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By Gabe Hudson
Published by Knopf on 2017-07-11
FICTION / Science Fiction, FICTION / Fantasy, FICTION / Literary, HUMOR
A TODAY Show Summer Pick
An Amazon Summer Beach Reads Pick
A Barnes & Noble Best New Fiction of the Month Pick
A wacky, exuberant, heartfelt debut novel: the unholy child of The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, Harry Potter, and Sixteen Candles—and this time with dragons.
“No good human won’t love this dragon named Gork.” —Dave Eggers
“A one-of-a-kind coming-of-age story.” —Tracy K. Smith, U.S. Poet Laureate
Gork isn’t like the other dragons at WarWings Military Academy. He has a gigantic heart, two-inch horns, and an occasional problem with fainting. His nickname is Weak Sauce and his Will to Power ranking is Snacklicious—the lowest in his class. But he is determined not to let any of this hold him back as he embarks on the most important mission of his life: tonight, on the eve of his high school graduation, he must ask a female dragon to be his queen. If she says yes, they’ll go off to conquer a foreign planet together. If she says no, Gork becomes a slave.
Vying with Jocks, Nerds, Mutants, and Multi-Dimensioners to find his mate, Gork encounters an unforgettable cast of friends and foes, including Dr. Terrible, the mad scientist; Fribby, a robot dragon obsessed with death; and Metheldra, a healer specializing in acupuncture with swords. But finally it is Gork’s biggest perceived weakness, his huge heart, that will guide him through his epic quest and help him reach his ultimate destination: planet Earth.
A love story, a fantasy, and a coming-of-age story, Gork the Teenage Dragon is a wildly comic, beautifully imagined, and deeply heartfelt debut novel that shows us just how human a dragon can be.
Author Gabe Hudson on his writing origins and a “clean” writing environment | Author Shorts
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also by gabe hudson Dear Mr. President: Stories
GORK, THE TEENAGE DRAGON
GORK, THE TEENAGE DRAGON Gabe Hudson alfred a. knopf new york 2017
this is a borzoi book published by alfred a. knopf Copyright ? 2017 by Gabe Hudson All rights reserved. Published in the United States by Alfred A. Knopf, a division of Penguin Random House LLC, New York, and distributed in Canada by Random House of Canada, a division of Penguin Random House Canada Limited, Toronto. www.aaknopf.com Knopf, Borzoi Books, and the colophon are registered trademarks of Penguin Random House LLC. Chapter 71's title, 'Back Into the Chamber Returning, All My Soul Within Me Burning,' is inspired by Edgar Allan Poe's 'The Raven.' Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data Names: Hudson, Gabe, author. Title: Gork, the teenage dragon / by Gabe Hudson. Description: First Edition. | New York : Alfred A. Knopf, 2017. Identifiers: lccn 2017004831 (print) | lccn 2017021892 (ebook) | isbn 9781524732479 (ebook) | isbn 9780375413964 (hardcover) Subjects: | bisac: fiction / Literary. | fiction / Science Fiction / Adventure. | gsafd: Fantasy. | Love stories. Classification: lcc ps3608.u345 (ebook) | lcc ps3608.u345 g67 2017 (print) | ddc 813/.6'dc23 lc record available at https://lccn.loc.gov/2017004831 This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents either are the product of the author's imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, events, or locales is entirely coincidental. Jacket illustration by Matt Buck Jacket design by Peter Mendelsund Manufactured in the United States of America First Edition
To Deborah Treisman, Edward Kastenmeier, and Susan Golomb: With love & gratitude.
The dragon began to belch out flames and burn bright homesteads; there was a hot glow that scared everyone, for the vile sky-'winger would leave nothing alive in his wake. 'BEOWULF (translated by seamus heaney)
CONTENTS Here Begins the Story of How I Found My True Love 3 Part I? THE CLEAR DOOR 7 Part II? CROWN DAY 25 Part III? THE QUEEN QUEST 59 Part IV? INSIDE THE BELLY OF THE BEAST 203 Part V? EARTH 311
GORK, THE TEENAGE DRAGON
[ 1 ] HERE BEGINS THE STORY OF HOW I FOUND MY TRUE LOVE My name is Gork The Terrible, and I'm a dragon. And here begins the story of how I went searching for my true love and then made her my Queen. And I should warn you that when it comes to dragon love stories, well mine is the most terrifying tale of them all. But also the most romantic. For inside my scaly green chest, there beats a grotesquely large and sensitive heart. Now some folks get a little confused when they first hear me say that. And I'm not talking about when I roar it at them and I've got my tail raised in a Threat Display and I'm shooting big scary firestreams out of my nostrils. No sir. I'm talking about when I say it real calm and normal, like I'm doing right now. So just to make sure you don't get mixed up here at the beginning of my story, let me try and make this as simple as possible for you. My first name is Gork. My middle name is The. And my last name is Terrible. And like I said, I'm a dragon. Plus I'm a poet. Now if you happen to be a man-'creature here on planet Earth, then you should know I have read your books and stories about my species. And not only are your reports about us dragons wildly inaccurate, they are downright insensitive and repugnant. You man-'
4? G? G A B E H U D S O N creatures sure do seem to get a big bang out of spreading ignorant lies about my species. About how vile we are. About how disgusting we are. About how uncivilized we are. I mean take old Beowulf, for instance. That book isn't nothing but a pack of slanderous lies about my kind, written by a bum poet who didn't have the gumption to sign his own name to the book. It's like even the man-'creature who wrote Beowulf knew it was a bunch of flapdoodle and so he was too ashamed to stick his own damn name on the cover. And now you man-'creatures go around passing that book off down the centuries as a bona fide classic. Well if that don't beat all. Seems to me from where I'm sitting, all's you have to do is stick a bunch of mean-'spirited lies about dragons between two covers and voil'''you've got yourself an instant classic. But you know what? Beowulf isn't even the half of it. No sir. Because the most offensive book out there about us dragons is the lunatic rantings of a man-'creature that goes by the name of Mr. J.' R.' R. Tolkien. Now this nutjob Tolkien's book The Hobbit is so full of balderdash and nonsense about my glorious species that it makes my toe claws shudder just to think about it. That bastard Tolkien paints us dragons out to be a bunch of ignorant and repulsive savages. Well as far as I'm concerned, this Mr. Tolkien was a real low-'hearted sonuvabitch. Look at how Tolkien portrayed that dragon Smaug in that book The Hobbit. Ever seen a red dragon? I haven't, and Smaug appears to be the most slovenly and debased creature in the entire universe. Shoot, like us dragons? personal grooming habits are so skeezoid that we wouldn't notice when a scale on our left breast had fallen out, exposing the soft pink skin underneath. And like we'd just stupidly go about our business and leave that soft pink spot on our left breast exposed to the elements. So some little fool named Bard who lives by a lake can come traipsing along and slay us with one well-'placed arrow. Please.
, T H E T E E N A G E D R A G O N ? g? 5 No lake-'dweller is going to get the drop on my scaly green ass. With an arrow, no less. Especially not some jerk who goes by the name of Bard. Shoot, I've got so many nanobots in my bloodstream that if I ever did somehow manage to lose a scale, it would regenerate itself before you could even pull the arrow from your quiver. Or pull the trigger on your laser pistol. Or whatever your weapon of choice may be. So if you've come here hoping for yet another tale wherein we dragons are portrayed as nothing more than a bunch of vile wyrms, well then you can do us both a big favor and buzz off. Because I can assure you this sort of old-'fashioned speciesism and bigotry has no place here. That whole crusty line of thinking is deeply offensive and strictly for the birds. Because dragons are nothing if not sacred creatures. This much I can promise you. Now I'm only sixteen. And I'm an orphan, on account of my parents died right before I hatched. But my grandpa is six hundred and eighty-'four years old. And my grandpa's name is Dr. Terrible. And this right here is the real deal, a true love story told by a real dragon. A dragon who may not be the smartest of his kind, but who is a damn sight more sophisticated and evolved than what Mr.' J.' R.' R. Tolkien would have you believe. And like all tales told by real dragons about their true love and the quest to find their Queen, this story starts with the first time I blasted fire. Shoot, every dragon knows the rule of how your proper true love tale's got to start with first fire. Now maybe you're kind of surprised to learn that we dragons have some storytelling traditions of our own. Well get used to it. Because my name is Gork The Terrible, and I'm a dragon. And this is my story.
Part I THE CLEAR DOOR