|“||These extreme leaders believe they and their members are the rightful and chosen rulers of mankind...born to rule by the purity of their blood.||„|
|~ Vigor Verona, describing the Dragon Court.|
The Imperial Royal Dragon Court, simply known as the Dragon Court, is a European alchemical order and the main antagonists of Map of Bones by James Rollins. They are descended from German aristocrat Gnostics who were allowed to practice their beliefs in secret. They were always hidden within the Catholic Church, biding their time until their plans for revenge were ready.
The Court works to find ancient knowledge of how to purify perfect monatomic gold, allowing them to create a superconductor weapon that they will use to create a new world order.
- The Grand Imperator/General Rende
- Baron Raoul de Sauvage
- Yaeger Grell
- An unknown number of henchmen
- Dr. Alberto Menardi
- Seichan (later defected)
- Nonna Verona
- The Guild
The Dragon Court was founded on traditions of Gnosticism, alchemy, and world domination. They were declared legal by Sigismund, Holy Roman Emperor in the 15th century. Prior to this the Court managed to recruit members during the Western Papal Schism (such as the de Sauvage family). They quickly became enemies with the Thomas Church, another secret society dedicated to alchemical secrets. During World War II, the Court helped an Austrian Nazi leader and his Italian wife, Nonna Verona, escape to the Chateau Sauvage, where they pledged allegiance to join the bloodline.In the 21st century, General Rende of the Italian Carabinieri secretly became the Grand Imperator of the Court. 10 months before Map of Bones, his men in Cairo discovered writings about the purification of monatomic gold, a powerful substance known to the ancient greats to have amazing properties. With the help of Vatican ally Dr. Menardi, he created a test formula of monatomic gold to be used as a weapon.
The Dragon Court tests their new weapon by poisoning Communion wafers with it at a Mass in Cologne. Raoul de Sauvage and his men storm the cathedral and use electromagnet pulses to activate the gold, electrocuting most of the parishioners. While gunning down the survivors, Raoul steals the relic Bones of the Three Magi in the Church. In reality, these bones are monatomic gold sculptures crafted by the Thomas Church; the Court wishes to use them as weapons.
As a result of this attack, the Court finds itself pitted against Sigma Force, a covert U.S. Ops squad. Sigma leader Grayson Pierce and his team ally with Monsignor Vignor Verona and his niece Rachel- the granddaughter of Nonna Verona. They examine the Cologne cathedral but engage in a gunfight with Court members led by Raoul and Seichan, a mercenary hired by the Court. They later battle the Court in a Milan church, where an ambush was set up. During the fight Seichan leaves behind a clue signifying she wishes to betray the Court.
While finding more historical leads in Alexandria, a Court yacht attacks the Sigma crew and forces them to split up. Rachel and Sigma man Monk Kokkallis are captured and tortured by Raoul, who axes off Monk's hand. They are later flown to Chateau Sauvage and are kept under Dr. Menardi and Nonna Verona's watch. Seichan, meanwhile, helps Gray find the castle and free them. With help from Seichan's and Sigma's weapons, the group blows up the Court's main caravan and forces Raoul to flee. Nonna Verona is killed, but not before telling Rachel she regrets joining the Court.
Both Sigma and the Court discover that the end of the quest takes them to the Avignon Papal Palace. General Rende has a caravan of delivery trucks and disguised men surround the palace to steal what they find. Sigma finds the palace first, kills the Court spies, and discovers a hidden labyrinth beneath the palace. Its catalogue contains thousands of lost alchemical and biblical manuscripts from the Thomas Church and the Alexandria Library. At the center is a laser puzzle.
When the Sigma team opens the gold center of the labyrinth, Dr. Menardi attempts to insert the central key to unlock the secrets. However, the monatomic gold's electricity kills him. Raoul then forces Gray and Rachel to insert the key, which they do. It turns out to be a false trap key they made earlier, and it sets off a booby trap that blows up the labyrinth's center. All of the Dragon Court soldiers are killed by laser beam traps, and Raoul is crushed by rocks. When the chaos ends, a wounded Raoul realizes how weak and impure he is compared to the power of the gold. He asks Gray for forgiveness but is shot by Seichan.
Outside the palace, General Rende attempts to escape with his men but is cornered by Sigma Director Crowe. Snipers try to kill Crowe but Crowe uses a Taser on Rende and forces them to surrender.
The epilogue reveals that Rende's interrogation allowed the Vatican to hunt down the remaining Dragon Court members. Chateau Sauvage passed into Rachel's hands, but she sold it for money to go to the victims of the Court's Cologne massacre. The Judas Strain later reveals that Guild spies stole much of Menardi's documents from the castle before it was sold, thus giving the Guild important historical texts they would use in later plots.
- Although Map of Bones states that the Dragon Court's "sovereignty is even recognized by the EU, similar to the Knights of Malta," there is no real life Dragon Court. While Nicholas de Vere, a real-life deceased writer, claimed to be the leader of a "Dragon Court," his claims are regarded as fringe conspiracy or roleplay online and never achieved public recognition. This is further shown in sites like www.dragoncourt.net, which are alchemical mystic sites and not an actual fraternal order as depicted by James Rollins
- The Dragon Court is referenced to in other Rollins books, such as The Judas Strain (where Seichan uses its symbol to bring Monsignor Verona into her new fight). By Bloodline it becomes clear that the Dragon Court was just a minor player in the Bloodline organization, which by default controlled the Guild