The book is about a world where magic potential determines your status in society. I read it around 4 or 5 years ago and it looked fairly new. It was a really good book but I forgot what happened.

I remember that the main character had a potential of zero. I remember faint memories of magic tattoos and in the beginning of the story he was assigned his number. Eventually he fought a dragon since he couldn't absorb any magic.

  • Welcome to the site. It would help a lot if you could add more details: When was the book published? Any other plot details?
    – Voronwé
    Commented Aug 19, 2018 at 4:23
  • Sorry, I read this years ago and it looked fairly new. I have no clue in regards to the date but Ill try to recall more of the plot.
    – OllieOpps
    Commented Aug 19, 2018 at 5:26
  • When you say "years ago" how many years do you mean? Five? Ten? Twenty? Commented Aug 19, 2018 at 6:16
  • I read it around 4 or 5 years ago.
    – OllieOpps
    Commented Aug 19, 2018 at 19:52
  • This has some slight similarity to Blood of a Dragon by Lawrence Watt-Evans (one of his Ethshar novels) -- but that one had no tattooing, no number assignment, no universal testing, and though the protagonist set out to become a dragon hunter, he instead became an agent for a dragon.
    – Zeiss Ikon
    Commented Jun 28, 2023 at 18:54

3 Answers 3


This is not much to go on, but it reminded me of The Hero and the Crown, by Robin McKinley. The protagonist, Aerin, is a princess in the land of Damar, where everyone except her seems to have some nascent magical ability. Among the common folk, there is little magic, but the nobles and members of the royal family (who she grows up around) have fairly strong magical abilities. Aerin is reviled among many of the royal household, both because her mother was a pale-skinned, red-haired foreigner (who Aerin closely resembles) and because she apparently lacks magic.

Desperate for something to do with her life, Aerin researches an formula for a ointment that will make her immune to dragon fire, and once she masters it, she goes out hunting dragons. Most dragons in Damar are small, dog-sized nuisances. Once she has gotten experienced at killing them, she gets to face off against one of the great dragons, Maur the Black, who poses a much greater challenge when he is awakened.


It could be the cycle of Xanth, by Piers Anthony. First tome is A Spell for Chameleon, published in 1977 .

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Xanth is a magical world where every inhabitant has power. Like all natural elements such as plants. This country is also populated by magic animals (mandrakes, unicorns, harpies, ...) which are the result of crossings of vulgar species (beings without magical powers). Some powers are very useful (metamorphosis), other are very useless (changing hair colour, or creating pink spots). Your power can defines your career.

If at the age of 25, a resident of Xanth did not discover his power, he was banished from Xanth and sentenced to exile in Mundania .

We follow the story of Bink, a young man without any apparent power ...

We find out later that his talent is in fact immunity to magical harm, which is really powerful in a world where quite everything is magic !

It's a very funny universe with many worldplays and comic situations. I don't remember any dragon, but there's for sure a manticore, as you can see

  • 1
    The aspect of "everybody have a magic power" is also set in the french comic "Lanfeust of Troy " (and its spin-off). It doesn't match your description, because Lanfeust knows his talent since the beginning, but it might be useful for someone :) Commented Aug 19, 2018 at 13:17

I was just looking for this exact same book and came across this post in the process, but I found what I was looking for. Was it Dragon Run (2013) by Patrick Matthews?

Testing Day is supposed to be a day of celebration for Al Pilgrommor. Born into a wealthy family, he expects to follow in his successful father's footsteps. Of course, that all depends on the rank number Al receives at the testing. The higher the rank he has tattooed onto his neck, the better his life will be.

To his surprise and horror, Al is revealed to be rank zero, the lowest of the low. He's now not only an outcast — he's also a danger to his entire family. So Al goes on the run, fleeing the brutal Cullers, men who hunt down zeroes . . . and put them to death.

Cast out of his home, cut off from his friends, and armed with only a sword and his wits, Al is reduced to just surviving. As he meets other outcasts, however, he begins to suspect that he is a pawn in a larger game — and that he might have the power to tip the scales in a high-stakes struggle between man and dragon.

This does seem to have a lot of the same components (number assigned, tattoo [a comment on GR mentions that they're magical], dragon-fighting ...)

  • 3
    Hi, welcome to SF&F. Can you describe this book, and explain how it matches the question? An answer should have enough detail to be recognized as correct.
    – DavidW
    Commented Jun 27, 2023 at 19:51

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