United Kingdom
United States
World English
Go to Usborne.com

A Darkness of Dragons

How to buy this book


Kindle eBook

Apple iBook

Google Play

Buy this book at Usborne.com


Click on the links to listen to The Songs of Magic. These tunes were written by Anthony Marks to accompany the Songs of Magic series by S. A. Patrick. The first title, A Darkness of Dragons, is available now.

For teacher's resources for this book to view or print out, scroll down to the last topic.

The Songs of Magic

There are three recorder parts - Friendship, Magic and Courage. Click on the link below to hear them played together. You can find out how to play each part further down the page.

Sound files

Adobe PDF

The Songs of Magic: Friendship

Sound files

Adobe PDF

The Songs of Magic: Magic

Sound files

Adobe PDF

The Songs of Magic: Courage

Sound files

Adobe PDF

Teacher's notes to download

Click on the title below to download the teacher's notes.

Adobe PDF


Internet safety

Children, make sure you follow these three simple rules when using the internet:

  1. Always ask an adult's permission before using the internet.
  2. Never give out personal information, such as your name, address, school or telephone number.
  3. If a website asks you to type in your name or email address, check with an adult first.

For more tips, see Internet safety for children.

Adults - we recommend that children are supervised while on the internet. The content of a website may change at any time and Usborne Publishing is not responsible for content on sites other than its own.

For more on internet safety, see Internet advice for adults.

Using a tablet or smartphone?

Websites with interactive content may not work on your tablet or smartphone, but you can view them on a computer. Find out more…

About this book

Songs of Magic
A Darkness of Dragons

In a world of dragons, song spells, pipers and battles... Patch Brightwater is a boy in disgrace. Thrown in jail for playing a forbidden spell, he is no one's idea of a hero. But then he discovers a deadly truth – the evil Piper of Hamelyn is on the loose. With the help of Wren, a girl cursed to live as a rat, and Barver, a fire-breathing dracogriff, Patch must stop the Piper sparking the biggest battle of them all. Three accidental heroes versus one legendary villain... an epic adventure is born.

“All the ingredients of a perfect fantasy adventure.”
Kieran Larwood, author of The Legend of Podkin One-Ear

Read an extract

The screams of the children brought the villagers running.
The little ones often played among the tall pines at the southern edge of Patterfall. This high in the mountains, winter was always hard; the pines offered shelter from the icy winds that blew through the valley.
As the villagers ran towards the sound, the panicked children emerged from the trees and came rushing through the snow. The first to reach them was Frer, the eight-year-old son of the baker.
“It’s come! It’s come!” said the boy.
“Steady, child,” said Greta, the village Elder. “Tell me what it is. A bear?”
He shook his head. “No, Elder. It’s the Ice Beast!” With that, he ran past them to safety.
“The child is just scared,” the Elder told the other villagers, because the Ice Beast was a legend, nothing more. A legend as old as the village itself, about an extraordinary creature formed of snow and ice – a creature that absolutely did not exist.
There were extraordinary creatures in the world, of course. Some, like dragons, were at least as intelligent as humans; others, like basilisks and manticores, were terrifying monstrosities.
But there was nothing like that anywhere near Patterfall. Dragons lived on a different continent, far to the east; as for the terrifying monstrosities, they were thankfully rare, and limited to the remotest parts of the world.
Only those foolish enough to get lost on the valley roads in deep winter ever claimed to have seen the Ice Beast – people who were exhausted and frightened, seeing things that weren’t really there.
Yet the villagers could see movement a short way inside the forest.
Something large. Something white.
No,” the Elder said aloud. “It can’t be!”
But it was.
The Ice Beast was the height of a large man, and seemed to be made entirely of snow. Its legs and arms were as thick as tree trunks. The head was a featureless white ball, but every villager could imagine where the terrifying mouth was, fangs dripping, ready to sink into the flesh of anyone who got too near.
Its slow steps drew a heavy crunch from the snow underneath. From its head came a steady moaning.
And the villagers kept moving towards it.
“Go!” they called to the children as they passed them. “Run to your homes!”
There was one child left, though. One small boy, too frightened to move, standing directly in the creature’s path – Hap Werner, only four years old.
“Little Hap,” called the Elder. “You go home now! Go on with you!”
But Hap shook his head, rooted to the spot. The creature was getting closer to him.
With no time to waste, the Elder raised the shovel she was carrying. “I’ll have you, Beast!” she cried, and ran towards the creature. The other villagers followed, wielding what weapons they had – hoes, pitchforks, brooms.
The Elder was first to reach it, and she swung her shovel hard, hitting the Ice Beast’s head; the creature made a strange noise before falling to the snowy ground with a thud.
There it lay, motionless, as the villagers surrounded it, ready to hit it again if it moved even a fraction.
But where the shovel had hit its head, a few chunks of ice and snow were now gone, revealing something underneath. The villagers stared at what they saw: a very cold, very red nose, and below that, a very human mouth.
Ow…” the mouth groaned.
For a moment the villagers looked at each other in shock. Then they began to scrape away what they could of the ice and snow that clung to the stranger. With each chunk removed he was smaller, lighter, yet what they found underneath was a curious giant, the legs and arms unnaturally thick. Only when more ice was cleared did it make sense to them.
Layer upon layer of shirts and trousers; dozens, perhaps more. The stranger’s neck was thick with a hundred scarves, the hands and head puffed out by gloves and hats. Torn strips of material were densely wrapped around the face, gaps left only for the mouth, nose and eyes.
Too heavy to carry, they dragged the unconscious stranger to the village, his legs and feet still ice-bound. In the village hall a fire was roaring, and they propped him up in a chair in front of the blazing logs, then began cutting and unravelling the layers with care. In one corner of the hall, the pile of discarded garments grew, while the unconscious stranger shrank, until all that was left was a thin figure slouched in a chair, with a long coat over his simple clothing.
It was a boy, his hair dark and scruffy.
“Look how young he is, he can’t be more than thirteen!” said a villager. “How did he survive his journey?”
“A good question!” said the Elder. “To emerge from the forest where he did, he must have come through Andig’s Pass. An icy hell this time of year.”
“It’s certain death for anyone crazy enough to go that way!” said the villager.
“And yet this boy made it through,” said the Elder, thoughtful. “There must be more to him than meets the eye!” She reached inside the boy’s coat and searched the deep pockets within. After a moment, she slowly pulled out her hand; with it came a wooden flute, the length of her forearm. Those watching gasped as they saw.
It was not a flute, of course. The small finger holes were far more numerous, the layout much more complex, than on any flute they had ever seen.
This was not a flute.
It was a Pipe.
The Elder lifted it up. “The Piper has come,” she said in awe, and the people cheered. The doors of the village hall were flung open, and the news was passed on to those waiting outside. Everyone took up the call:
“The Piper has come! The Piper has come!

S.A. Patrick

S.A. Patrick

S.A. Patrick was born in Belfast. When he was a child, he wanted to write video games, become an author, and have magical powers. The first two came true. If he ever does get magical powers, he hopes people like dragons and griffins because there’ll suddenly be a lot of them around. A Darkness of Dragons is his first book for children.

Press Reviews

this stunning book reminds us of the soaring joy of adventure, the captivating danger of magic, and of the delight of finding friends in unexpected places.
Mr Ripley's Enchanted Books
an immersive magical world that will thrill its audience with its action-filled fantasy plot, its dark magic and its homage to the power of music.
Books for Topics - Ones to Watch, Autumn 2018
A Darkness of Dragons is sheer brilliance in children’s fiction. I have not been this excited about a children’s series of books since a pubescent wizard called Harry Potter first leapt onto the scene. S.A. Patrick’s storytelling knows no bounds and is masterfully executed and Patrick builds a quite brilliant original tale whilst also creating an unforgettable magical world for his readers to escape into.
Storgy Kids
A Darkness of Dragons creates an exciting imaginary world that will leave children eager to get their hands on forthcoming sequels.
Mark, The Alligator's Mouth
this could turn out to be a fantastically popular new series. [...] S.A. Patrick has adapted the traditional fairy tale to create a fearsome character and then filled the plot with action, suspense and magic from start to finish.
An unmissable fantasy from a talented voice. I loved the characters, the plot and the setting. I’m certain Patch and his friends will remain with me even now I’ve closed the book.
Book Murmuration, blogger
A Darkness of Dragons is an inspired take on an old story, with engaging characters, a really good story and several unexpected twists.
Linda Wilson, Crime Review
I think this book is going to go down a STORM at school. I can’t wait to hand it to some of the readers in my class.
A Little But A Lot, Blogger

Reader Reviews

I think the title suits the book quite nicely.
It is a great book and very interesting.I highly recommend to read it.

Aanvi, 13th October 2019
Loved it
At first I didn’t think I would like the book, but after reading it I almost expected the Hamelyn Piper or Patch to jump out of nowhere and say hi. The book felt so real and I got scared or sad or worried in some parts of the book when it got really intense. I think 7-12 year olds would enjoy this book as I loved it and I am only 10.

A fan, 6th July 2019
A Darkness of Dragons
I liked that it was unique to all other fantasy books that I have read previously. I would recommend this book to my friends because it is full of imaginative characters as has an original story line that is full of captivating moments and plenty of surprises.

Chatterbooks Review, 18th December 2018
A Darkness of Dragons
I loved the story because it was full of unexpected twists and turns. This book is amazing and it deserves to be recognised

Chatterbooks Review, 18th December 2018
A Darkness of Dragons
It was amazing. Captured bu the first sentence and by the end of the first page, I couldn't put it down. It's brilliant, simply brilliant.

Chatterbooks Review, 18th December 2018
A Darkness of Dragons
A book full of twists and turns and full of non-stop adventure

Chatterbooks Review, 18th December 2018
A Darkness of Dragons
It has everything from friends to adventure, but most all DRAGONS!

Chatterbooks Review, 18th December 2018
A Darkness of Dragons
It was incredible! The adventure, the story - I read it twice and never got bored of it

Chatterbooks Review, 18th December 2018
A Darkness of Dragons
Wow! Just wow! It has everything. A spin on a classic tale. Adventure, friendship and more!

Chatterbooks Review, 18th December 2018
A Darkness of Dragons
I loved the fact I couldn’t put it down! It continuously threw curve balls at the main character Patch and he always found a solution no matter what the problem was – you never knew what was going to happen next! It is suitable for anyone who was up for an adventure or looking for a quality book

Chatterbooks Review, 18th December 2018
A Darkness of Dragons
I kept thinking I know where this is going, but each time I was surprised by the sudden twists. Really kept me on my toes. It's full of adventure, friendship and magic - the perfect mix for everyone.

Librarian, Chatterbooks Review, 18th December 2018
A Darkness of Dragons
I really liked the fact that it had magic and mythical creatures

Chatterbooks Review, 18th December 2018
A Darkness of Dragons
I liked that how it included a new way of magic instead of using a wand

Chatterbooks Review, 18th December 2018
A Darkness of Dragons
I would recommend this book to my friends because it is really funny and it is very enjoyable.

Chatterbooks Review, 18th December 2018
A must read!!
Wow! Everyone should read this book! This book is a twist on the tale of the Pied Piper of Hamelin. It has everything, adventure, friendship, twists and of course Dragons! You think you know where the tale is going and you turn the page and something else gets added in. It truly is an amazing book! I was gripped from the first page and could not put it down. Highly recommend to everyone of all ages! You will fall in love with the 3 main characters. Patch, 13 year old boy, Wren, a Rat! and Barver...well Barver is just amazing! Wish he was my friend.

H.Sturcbecher, 14th December 2018
It is extremely interesting and will definitely keep the reader interested at all times!

Gabby, 14th October 2018
A Darkness of Dragons
This is a brilliant fantasy booked based around the story of the Pied Piper Of Hamelin. The characters are really well described, Barver is my favourite character, he is really funny, yet managed to never did even though he is in situations where he should! The story is full of adventure to try and stop the evil Piper, easy to read as you really get into the story!

Pokeman (Toppsta Reader Review), 12th September 2018
A Darkness of Dragons
My creative daughter was deeply immersive in this magical book. If you like Terry Pratchett The Amazing Educated Rodents this book is for you, My daughter loved reading both books. I recommend this book for age 9+

SnipSkye (Toppsta Reader Review), 12th September 2018
A Darkness of Dragons
This is both a beautifully written and very engaging fantasy tale. It has all the elements needed to capture the imagination of today’s children: magic, dragons, spells, fantasy world and delightful characters. It is has adventure and excitement in spades and will, I am sure, engage even the most reluctant readers. I intend to use it with my dyslexic students as an incentive to encourage them to enjoy reading for pleasure and escapism. I am already looking forward to the sequel.

Tipsy (Toppsta Reader Review), 12th September 2018
A Darkness of Dragons
This book is full of adventure, mystery and fantasy as it is set in a magical world. A kind of sequel to The Pied Piper of Hamelyn, I recommend this book to brave readers of 8+. I can't wait for the next book to come out in 2019.

NinjaBoy (Toppsta Reader Review), 12th September 2018
A Darkness of Dragons
This book had me gripped from start to finish. The story has a magical and exciting vibe with the author hooking you in so that you can't wait for what's coming next. Following the main character Patch, a disgraced Piper and his friend Wren, a rat, who together seek to find the truth about the Piper of Hamelyn. Will definitely look out for more offerings from S. A Patrick.

Stephi (Toppsta Reader Review), 12th September 2018
A Darkness of Dragons
This is a brilliant fantasy adventure story to introduce children to the genre. It mixes mythical creatures, magic with a well known fairytale that creates a really interesting story with lots of twists and turns along the way. Brilliant for children who like Harry Potter or the Hobbit. We can't wait for the next installment to come out.

Kstar (Toppsta Reviewer), 12th September 2018
A Darkness of Dragons
This book was inspired by The Pied Piper of Hamelin, and provides an excellent twist to this tale. I love the adventurous nature of this book and the language used to create the scenes is just brilliant. There is done interesting language within the book which provides opportunities for great discussions, as well as enhancing vocabularies. Such an imaginative story which you really can get lost within. I didn't want to put it down, such a gripping book. I don't want to give away too much about the plot and spoil it but I definitely recommend giving it a go!

Kate (Toppsta Reviewer), 12th September 2018

Help with links

Problem with a link?

Websites do occasionally experience problems. If a link isn't working we recommend leaving it a while and trying again. If the site is still down the following day please report the problem using our contact form. We will fix the problem as soon as possible, or find an alternative link.

Can't see any links?

If this is the first time you have used Usborne Quicklinks and you can't see ANY links, you may need to adjust your web browser settings. To find out how to do this, see Help & Advice.

Missing link?

The links in Usborne Quicklinks may vary slightly from those described in your book because when a website closes down, or we find a better site, we update the links in Quicklinks. (If we remove any of your favourite sites let us know!)

PDF links

To view and print out files in .pdf format, you need the free Adobe Reader software. Download Adobe Reader.

Sound files

Sound files should play on a computer, tablet or smartphone. If you have difficulty, make sure you have the most up-to-date version of your web browser, or on a desktop computer, download the latest version of Adobe Flash Player (see Technical help).

Midi files

To hear midi files, you need a free program such as Windows Media Player, Real Player or Quicktime. Make sure your speakers are switched on! For more about these programs, see Technical help.

© Copyright 2020 Usborne Publishing. Web design & Development by Semantic