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I read this story probably ~15-20 years ago - I don't know if the story is much older. I believe the story is in the form of a novel and not a short story, but I'm not 100% sure. The plot details I can remember are:

  • There are immortal people who can turn into dragons.

  • The protagonist was one of them.

  • The protagonist wasn't really a "good" person. I think none of these "species" are "good".

  • An antagonist (can't remember if it was the main antagonist) was also one of them.

  • The protagonist "kills" this antagonist by ripping his body apart into many pieces. I think even then the antagonist isn't "dead", but just neutralized (he's immortal after all).

  • The protagonist has been around for ~thousands of years (not 100% sure on exactly how long, but I do recall it was a long time - longer than a normal human lifetime at least).

  • The protagonist may have longed for death.

  • I think it was a story directed at young adults. I was really into Dragon-Lance at the time so I probably read this story expecting a similar kind of experience. -- MIGHT BE FALSE

  • Pretty sure the events of the story happens in a (my impression is modern) city - not a rural area - but I can't remember which city (or if it was really modern).

  • The protagonist is more senior (older) than the antagonist.

  • I think the members of this species might all serve some much more ancient/powerful being but I don't remember any specifics on that.

  • I'm pretty sure the cover was dark and featured a dragon.

  • I think the novel was pretty explicit now that I'm thinking more...perhaps with explicit sex scenes or explicit violence and gore. This would suggest the novel is NOT for young adults...but I really can't remember unfortunately...

That's as many details as I can remember right now. If I think of more, I'll update.

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    This question would be improved by going through the checklists here; How to ask a good story-ID question?
    – Valorum
    Jan 14, 2019 at 22:16
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    @Valorum In fact I did look through that checklist to help me write this question. The provided details are as much as I can remember at the moment.
    – enumaris
    Jan 14, 2019 at 22:18

2 Answers 2

5

Roadmarks by Roger Zelazny is close. One of the memorable characters was a book, Flowers of Evil with some real... depth. The setting, a road of mystical properties, is not exactly rural, but not urban either. The cover sported a dragon, and becoming/maturing is the main plot element.

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    That was my first guess, based just on the title of the question, but there's a lot of other stuff that does not seem to fit.
    – Buzz
    Jan 15, 2019 at 3:10
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    I don't think that's the one...I've read the descriptions and none of it is really ringing any bells. But looking at the cover, it does jog a memory that the cover I remember is quite dark. There's a dragon on the cover (I think) set against a dark background. I'll add it to the details. Unfortunately, since my memory of this novel is so poor, I'm not actually sure I'm remembering any of this correctly.
    – enumaris
    Jan 15, 2019 at 7:38
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+50

Is it possible you're remembering various scenes from Steven Erikson's Malazan series?

  • There are immortal people who can turn into dragons.

Yes, lots. They're called soletaken.

  • The protagonist was one of them.

One of the protagonists of Book 1 ("Gardens of the Moon") is Anomander Rake. There are various people throughout the series who could be called protagonists who are also soletaken.

  • The protagonist wasn't really a "good" person. I think none of these "species" are "good".

The series has very few people on the extreme ends of the good/evil spectrum.

  • An antagonist (can't remember if it was the main antagonist) was also one of them.

  • The protagonist "kills" this antagonist by ripping his body apart into many pieces. I think even then the antagonist isn't "dead", but just neutralized (he's immortal after all).

These two dot points sort of sound like the prologue of Book 5 ("Midnight Tides"). Scabandari Blood-Eye "kills" Silchas Ruin in a manner similar, though not exactly, to what you describe. Even then Silchas Ruin doesn't die.

  • The protagonist has been around for ~thousands of years (not 100% sure on exactly how long, but I do recall it was a long time - longer than a normal human lifetime at least).

The life-span of several characters, including the soletaken, in the Malazan books stretches back hundreds of thousand years.

  • The protagonist may have longed for death.

This describes Anomander Rake, who:

has grown weary over the millennia and sacrifices himself in Book 8 ("Toll the Hounds")

  • I think it was a story directed at young adults. I was really into Dragon-Lance at the time so I probably read this story expecting a similar kind of experience. -- MIGHT BE FALSE

Malazan series is certainly not YA.

  • Pretty sure the events of the story happens in a (my impression is modern) city - not a rural area - but I can't remember which city (or if it was really modern).

The first book was mainly set in the city of Darujhistan. Some of the other books were also largely city-based.

  • The protagonist is more senior (older) than the antagonist.

  • I think the members of this species might all serve some much more ancient/powerful being but I don't remember any specifics on that.

These clues don't quite match the Malazan series.

  • I'm pretty sure the cover was dark and featured a dragon.

None of my editions feature a dragon. However many of them are dark. A quick google check doesn't find any editions with dragons, however some feature creatures that look vaguely dragon-like.

  • I think the novel was pretty explicit now that I'm thinking more...perhaps with explicit sex scenes or explicit violence and gore. This would suggest the novel is NOT for young adults...but I really can't remember unfortunately...

No sex in the Malazan series but plenty of violence.

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