The Saint of Dragons is a fantasy novel by Jason Hightman. It is his first book and the first of a series, the second of which is called Samurai.
The premise of the novel is that Dragons (also known as Serpents, Serpentines or Pyrothraxes) are in fact very real and have evolved. They are malevolent, demonic beings who thrive on human misery. They are now no more than seven feet tall, bipedal and use their immense magical powers to make themselves appear human. Due to their superhuman intellect and magical powers they have clawed their way to high-ranking positions in society but are as eager to make others poor as they are to make themselves rich and so use their money and power to make humans miserable. According to one of the characters, Aldric St George, Dragons evolved from the first evil thought that humankind had, whatever that may have been. Dragons have somewhat longer lifespans that humans but are by no means immortal as the oldest Dragon in the series is no more than two hundred years old. The Dragons are also relatively easy to kill.
The story opens with a Dragonhunter named Aldric St George infiltrating the mansion of an ancient Dragon. The Dragon, despite his condsiderable age is still quite powerful and succeeds in killing Aldric's brother along with their entire party before finally being destroyed. As he dies, the creature mocks Aldric saying that he knows he has a son and his fellow Dragons are going after him.
The book then introduces the main character, thirteen year old Simon St George who attends the prestigious Lighthouse School For Boys in a fictional New England town called Ebony Hollow. He appears young for his age, has a crush on a girl in a novelty shop near his school and lives with the rather dull school caretakers. Simon has never known his parents and is treated as something of an oddity by his arrogant fellow school pupils.
One night when Simon is window-cleaning, (something he does as a favour for the school) he meets a somewhat deranged-looking man (who is actually Aldric) who claims to be his father and tries to get Simon to come with him. Simon refuses.
On Halloween Night, during a party Simon gets bored and goes out into a corridor where he overhears the headmaster talking to a man in a white suit who claims to be his father. The man leaves, leaving Simon feeling curious.
Whilst crossing a field Simon and some of his fellow pupils are attacked by some thugs who attempt to abduct Simon who is rescued by a man on horseback who is revealed to be Aldric and whom Simon recognises as the deranged-looking man who claimed to be his father. The man takes Simon back to his ship which is named The Ship With No Name. This is ironic as obviously the ship does have a name, that being The Ship With No Name, therefore its name is in fact a misnomer. Aldric reveals to Simon that the two of them are descended from Saint George the Dragonslayer and that Dragons are in fact very real and it is their job to hunt them down. Aldric is in possession of a book called the White Book of Saint George which contains the name of every Dragon in existence along with their Deathspell, the incantation required to destroy them. To vanquish a Dragon one needs to apply their hand to its chest and speak its Deathspell. Aldric and his late brother, Ormand have travelled the world killing Dragons and there is only one left : the White Dragon of Manhatten, the brother of the Dragon Aldric killed at the beginning of the story.
In New York, the White Dragon who goes by the name of Venemon has developed a crush on a human woman named Alaythia, an artist whose work nobody but he appreciates. When a Dragon makes love, they incinerate their partner who effectively becomes a living flame. Venemon thinks Alaythia would make an excellant flame and goes round to her apartment for dinner. He seduces her with a magical painting which he has made and is about to take her when Aldric and Simon arrive. Aldric and Venemon do battle and Aldric destroys him but a fire is started in the process.
Aldric and Simon escape along with the unconscious Alaythia. Aldric and Simon then discover to their horror that there is one more Dragon alive in Venice. Alaythia who possesses magical powers and can read the language of Dragons accompanies them to Venice where they encounter the Water Dragon, Brakkesh, an Italian gangster with an obsession with jewellery. In the ensuing battle Brakkesh proves himself a formidable opponent and Simon almost inadvertantly sets fire to all of Venice. Nevertheless Brakkesh is eventually forced to flee. Aldric, Simon and Alaythia go to the Dragons mansion which is brimming with water and infested with eels on account of Brakkesh's status as a Water Dragon. They discover that Brakkesh is planning world domination and in fact there are two Books of Saint George one of which is at the legendary Coast of the Dead, a place feared even by Dragons.
Aldric, Simon and Alaythia journey to the Coast of the Dead where they discover the other book and find that there are thousands more Dragons in the world. They immediately leave but are apprehended near Russia and taken into custody. Aldric discovers that the Russian Military is under the command of a Dragon and they escape the detention centre and track down the Russian Dragon who has a mansion in Moscow.
The Russian Dragon goes by the name of Russki and is quite old. He appears to be schizophrenic and has an obsession with cats. He is part of the Venetian Dragons plan to unite all the Dragons in the world and eradicate humanity and the Venetian is currently on his way to Moscow but because of their close proximity the Dragons' magic is going out of control causing Russki's fire to develop a mind of its own and defy him.
When Aldric, Simon and Alaythia arrive at the Russian's mansion, Brakkesh the Water Dragon of Venice has already arrived along with Tyrannique, the Dragon of Paris, a debauched hedonist with a fondness for eating paintings and drinking paint. They eavesdrop on the Dragons' plan and discover that although Brakkesh is the ring-leader he answers to another Dragon whom he refers to only as "the Master." Simon blows their cover, shooting Brakkesh in the heart and the three Dragons attack. In the ensuing confrontation Aldric, Simon and Alaythia fall down a trap-door and are attacked by Fire-Creatures, conjured by the Dragons who make their escape. Simon shoots the glass dome in the roof causing the snow to fall down on the Firelings and he, Aldric and Alaythia escape. Alaythia feels like she isn't getting enough respect from Aldric and leaves, much to the distress of Simon who doesn't get along with his father and is fond of Alaythia. The somewhat callous and socially-inept Aldric does not go after Alaythia despite obviously having feelings for her. He and Simon go to [[Bei-Zing to find the Chinese Dragon. There they discover that due to the vibrations in nature caused by the Dragons' considerable power people are quite literally melting into each-other, resembling Siamese twins. Simon discovers the Black Chinese Dragon in an underground lair. He is considerably old and apparently harmless. He tells Simon that as well as the evil ones, there are many good Dragons of whom he is one. He tells Simon that there is a meeting taking place in an Art Gallery in London between the Light Dragons. Simon believes the Black Dragon and accompanies him via boat to London. At the Art Gallery however Simon discovers that he has fallen into a trap. There in fact are no Light Dragons and the Art Gallery is infested with evil Dragons. Aldric turns up at this point with Alaythia and the three of them are overpowered. Brakkesh's master arrives at this point and is revealed to be Venemon, the White Dragon of Manhatten who survived his battle with Alric on account of Aldric not speaking his full death-spell. The three of them are captured and taken to the palace of the Dragons, elsewhere in London. In a white dungeon beneath the palace, Venemon reveals his villainous plan to the liberate the Dragon Goddess, the Serpent Queen from her underground prison where she was banaished by the Ancient Egyptians. He plans to sacrifice Alaythia to the Serpent Queen. Having revealed his plan Venemon takes his leave. He goes upstairs to the throne room and does a grand speech to the assembled Dragons from around the world who will combine their powers to free the Serpent Queen.
Meanwhile down below, the Black Dragon who has grown to like Simon and feels remorse for having double-crossed him releases him, Aldric and Alaythia. They go upstairs to the Throne Room and confront Venemon and the other Dragons. A battle ensues during which the combined energies of the Dragons awakens the banished Serpent Queen. The floor fades and the congregation see the terrifying form of the Serpent Queen rising from the centre of the Earth. Simon however combines the power of a scroll from the Coast of the Dead with one of the Dragonhunter arrows and shoots into the heart of the evil goddess who falls back to the centre of the Earth. In rage Venemon attacks Simon but is attacked by Aldric. Simon manages to grab onto the Dragon and utter his deathspell, destroying him. Aldric succeeds in vanquishing Russki and Brakkesh and the palace begins to collapse. The Dragons flee and Alaythia creates a magical shield to protect them. As the three of them emerge from the ruins of Venemon's white palace, Tyrannique, the Dragon of Paris attacks them but is destroyed mid-flight by the benevolent Black Dragon. As the result of all the paint the Parisian Dragon had eaten the sky then sheds multi-coloured rain.
The story ends with Aldric, Alaythia and Simon moving into a castle in Ebony Hollow where Aldric continues to teach Simon to be a full-fledged Dragonhunter.
- Simon St George: The main character, Simon has lived at the prestigious Light House School for Boys in the fictional New England town of Ebony Hollow since he was two and has never known his parents as his father has been preoccupied defending the world from Dragons for the past eleven years and his mother is dead. Whilst at the school he was treated like a servant by the staff and regarded as something of an oddity by his fellow school pupils. He has two encounters with the White Dragon when he is thirteen and is rescued by the Dragon's henchmen by his father, Aldric. Aldric explains to Simon that Dragons are in fact real, have evolved and are planning world domination. Whilst believing Aldric to be insane at first Simon is convinced when he sees the enormous skull of a Dragon. Simon can bungle things up at times such as when he nearly torches Venice and blows his, Aldric and Alaythia's cover at the mansion of the Red Russian Dragon however he proves to be a highly capable Dragonhunter and defeats the White Dragon at the climax of the book. Simon has low self-confidence and is somewhat bullied by his father although he gets on well with Alaythia. He and his father come to an understanding at the end of the book. Simon appears young for his age and has wiry, blonde hair and blue eyes.
- Aldric St George: Simon's father, Aldric is a very competant Dragonhunter and has been hunting Dragons for many years. He is descended from Saint George himself and his family have been hunting Dragons for centuries. Aldric's brother, Ormand dies at the mercy of a Dragon at the beginning of the book and Aldric is dedicated to his memory as well as that of his late wife, the Magician Maradine. A stern and cold-blooded man, Aldric loves his son and is very protective of him but is somewhat socially inept and can sometimes be too hard on Simon to the point of bullying however he does make an effort and the two grow to enjoy each-other's company towards the end. Aldric is bent on destroying all Dragons in the world on account of his wife and brother both being killed by the evil Serpents. He obviously has feelings for Alaythia but is not very good with women and can sometimes accidentally offend her.
- Alaythia: A beautiful and somewhat eccentric artist whom Simon and Aldric meet in New York, Alaythia is later revealed to be a powerful magician and assists Simon and Aldric in their battle against the Dragons. She can understand any language, the language of humans and the langage of Dragons (Serpentine) and can cast potent spells. She clearly reciprocates Aldric's feelings for her and is supportive of him however she can at times feel undervalued and at one point leaves the two of them to go back to New York later returns to help Aldric and Simon defeat Venemon the White Dragon. Alaythia has a healthy relationship with Simon and is something of a mother or big sister figure to him. Despite her delicate, feminine appearance she is also a competant fighter.
- Venemon the White Dragon of Manhatten: The main antagonist, Venemon is the brother of the Dragon who killed Aldric's brother at the start of the book and who was in turn killed by Aldric. Arguably the most powerful Dragon in the world, he is an obsessive compulsive and is obsessed with the colour white. He also has an interest in art and lusts after Alaythia whom he later attempts to sacrifice to the Serpent Queen. In his human guise he is a wealthy New York socialite and a successful artist who paints pictures of various shades of white and places a spell over them so whomesoever looks at them sees exactly what they want to be and thus Venemon has amassed a fortune. He is also a powerful gangster and presides over a criminal empire. He owns a penthouse apartment in Manhatten and a small palace in London. Venemon is regarded as highly ruthless and sadistic even by the standards of Dragons and is the one responsible for the death of Simon's mother, the Magician, Maradine. A highly ambitious individua but also a pragmatist he wants to release the Serpent Queen from her prison at the centre of the Earth so that Dragons may once again live in harmony and successfully wipe out the human race. Despite despising his brother he wants revenge on Aldric for killing him. Simon avenges his mother's death, destroying Venemon at the climax of the book.
- Brakkesh the Water Dragon of Venice: Venemon's second-in-command, Brakkesh is an immensely strong and war-like Dragon who in his human guise is an Italian gangster with an obsession with jewellery. Brakkesh becomes nausiated when away from water for too long and is regarded by many, including Dragons to be insane. Despite his vicious personality he is loyal to his master, Venemon. He is destroyed by Aldric at the climax of the book.
- Tyrannique the Parisian Dragon: A debauced, hedonistic French intellectual, Tyrannique despite being an immensely powerful and fearsome Dragon is lazy and somewhat cowardly, preferring to run away from violence rather than confront it. He has a taste for the finer things in life and is something of a womaniser. He has a taste for fine wine and thus when he burns down a buuldin with his fier breath the smoke is known to make people drunk. He also loves the taste of paint and has a tendency to eat paintings and drink pure paint. Tyrannique has a distinctive evil laugh and a hatred for children. His skin is covered with blotches of paint as a result of all the art he consumes. He is the final Dragon to be defeated and is destroyed by the Black Dragon at the climax of the book. As the result of all the paint he devoured the sky sheds multi-coloured rain upon his demise.
- Russki the Red Dragon of Russia/aka General Polokov: A schizophrenic Dragon who poses as a fascist Russian general and head of the Russian military. Russki hears the voice of every human he has ever devoured all talking inside his head, shouting radical ideas at each-other that contradict his own and thus he is constantly in a foul mood. He has a fondness for Tchaikovsky and an obsession with cats. He appears to be a parody of the stereotypical Bond villain (complete with trap-door for his enemies in his mansion) but is much less intense. He is by his own self-admission "dull" and somewhat tired and aged.
- The Black Dragon of China: The only Dragon in the book who is not pure evil, the Black Chinese Dragon is extremely old and attracts Simon's sympathy when they first meet. He tells Simon that there are just as many good Dragons in the world as bad and that he is one of the "Light ones" however this proves to be a ruse when Simon arrives in London with him only to fall into a trap by the Dragons. Unlike most Dragons, the Chinese has a conscience which later gets the better of him and he saves Simon, Aldric and Alaythia from Venemon's clutches and assists them in defeating the White Dragon. Despite his considerable age, the Black Dragon is very powerful and succeeds in destroying the formidable Parisian Dragon Tyrannique. His constant companion is a pet canary.
There is a study of the nature of good and evil running through the novel. The forces of good are represented by Aldric, Simon and Alaythia while the forces of evil are represented by the Dragons. The Dragons bear a similarity to the Demons of Judeo Christianity due to their habit of filling human minds with dark thoughts and making them hate themselves. Dragons are frequently used as symbolic representations of evil in mythology and religion however not even the Dragons are completely malevolent as the Black Dragon is shown to be a notable exception to his kind. Likewise Aldric is not completely good as shown by his treatment of Simon for even though he loves his son and is very protective of him he treats him in a manner which borders on emotional and psychological abuse. Additionally despite his affection towards Alaythia he criticises her and gives her very little praise at one point causing her to leave him and Simon although they are later reunited. The moral of the story could be thought of as being that there is good and evil in all people.