Janet Hoult: Dragons – Their History and Symbolism

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Dragons are as alive and well as they used to be a thousand years ago. Popular culture is steaming with dragons in books, movies and games. There are terrifying dragons as well as kind dragons. Even dragons hiding themselves in human form.

Dragon

What is it that makes this legendary creature so intriguing to us? Janet Hoult’s small book on the history and symbolism of dragons is filled with examples on the ways dragons have been a part of the folklore and history of mankind since the earliest of times.

Author: Janet Hoult
Publisher: Gothic Image Publications 1987
Category: Non-fiction
Original language: English
Rating: 4/5

Dragons are known everywhere, but there are certain areas more prone to this imagery than others. In Europe the British Isles seem to be the main stronghold of the dragon-lore. There are numerous places, whose names reflect their history of dragon legends – either with the word dragon or worm included in the name. Most often this seems to come in the form of a “Worm Hill” in the place where a dragon was supposed to have been killed by a local hero, usually sometime in the Middle Ages or before.

I wonder if the word worm has come to signify dragon for the same reason as in Finland there are numerous nick-names for a bear – it was believed that saying aloud the word bear would bring the feared beast to the speaker, thus it was better to use some kind of euphemism.

Janet Hoult presents in her book the history and ceremonies related to dragons, their different shapes and types around the world, British dragon legends, which are plentiful, especially the ones related to St. George and St. Michael, the ones connected to King Arthur and the use of dragon symbol in alchemy and so on.

Hoult’s book contains several drawings of ancient art works depicting dragons. These are wonderful, but some of them even more intriguing than others. One of the pictures illustrates South-American elephant-headed rain god and a dragon. A South-American elephant? This had to be checked, and it turns out there has indeed been elephants in South-America.

However, the conservative science places them in much earlier times that obviously was true, based on the art works created by South-Americans. A bit more cross-boundary science would be beneficial for all, one might think. Art historians specialized in South-America could tell the paleontologists right away that their assumptions can’t be true.

Susan

Dragons: Their History and Symbolism:

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Julie Kagawa: Talon

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Who doesn’t love dragons? Long gone are the days when dragons were something to slay and the brave knights in their shining armors saved innocent princesses from those slimy beasts. Or that’s what one might think.

Julie Kagawa has a different idea. She has created a world, where dragons are still to be slayed – by the dragon slayers – but the reptiles (?) have learned to hide in full sight transforming into human form. Now, put together a fiery, beautiful dragon girl and a brave, righteous slayer boy and see what happens. Trouble happens, that’s for sure!

Julie Kagawa Talon Saga

Author: Julie Kagawa
Publisher: Harper Collins Nordic 2016, Finland (the Finnish edition)
Category: Fantasy
Original language: English
Rating: 4/5

HelMet Reading Challenge 2017: number 40. A book by a writer who comes from a different (from yours) culture.

Ember and Dante Hill are dragon hatchlings, who have grown up as twins – the only sister and brother known to dragons, who usually lay just one egg. Their first 16 years of life have gone into intensive training to make them ready to infiltrate the human society, in the human form. As dragons they live far longer than humans and consider themselves to be way above the human race. When Ember and Dante are positioned to Crescent Beach, California, Ember is sworn to enjoy her teen experience to the full.

Soon after Garret Xavier Sebastian, a valiant dragon slayer of the Order of St. George is also sent to same town to find out the new infiltrator and – to slay her. Garret has a grudge with dragons, as his parents were killed by one and he has spent all his 17 years training to become a perfect soldier for the Order.

But when Ember and Garret meet, it’s instant attraction and they both need to rethink what they want from their life and find out who they are dealing with. To mix up the scene, a rogue dragon Riley appears and Ember finds out she’s not completely indifferent to the call of the dragons either.

Julie Kagawa has created an enthralling world with dragons and knows perfectly how to move the story. The triangle drama is unpredictable, but I’m intrigued to see how it proceeds in the sequels. Ember has a dual mind after all, the one of the human, but also the one of the dragon.

Susan

 

“Talon Saga

A long time ago, the Order of St George succeeded in slaying almost all dragons. The ones that survived, hid themselves as humans and have ever since lived among the people.

Ember and Dante Hill have grown up as twins in a secret institution of Talon. They have been trained to infiltrate to the human society and their final test is to take place in Crescent Beach. This is the town where Garret Xavier Sebastian, a young but experienced dragon slayer from the Order of St George is sent too. His job is to eliminate possible Talon agents. But first he has to make sure that they really are dragons, which is not so simple regarding Ember Hill. Ember’s courage, confidence and will mess up Garret’s world. How much is he willing to compromise while finding out the truth about dragons?”

Want to read the whole series?

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Laura Gallego Garcia: Memorias de Idhun. La Resistencia/Chronicles of Idhun – Resistance

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I’m in love with a Spanish tv-series  in which two male actors travel in different parts of the country tasting the local delicacies and talking with people. It’s adorable and bubbly and so very humane. And when I read Laura Gallego Garcia’s novel Resistance I had the same feeling. This is certainly not your everyday Anglo-Saxon fantasy series. It’s quirky, it’s naive, it’s frank and somehow it feels sweet and nostalgic…

Laura Gallego Garcia: Resistance

Author: Laura Gallego Garcia
Publisher: Bazar kustannus 2010, Finland (the Finnish edition)
Category: Fantasy
Original language: Spanish
Rating: 4/5

HelMet Reading Challenge 2017: number 31. A fantasy book.

Gallego Garcia begins with a very traditional fantasy setting – Victoria and Jack are thrown into a strange new world they didn’t know existed and they don’t know what their part in it will be. They seek support from each other and try to find their way to some answers while fighting the adversaries. This would be a very ordinary story, if it wasn’t for the way Gallego Garcia presents it to us.

Her writing is fresh and unpretentious. First I was a bit taken aback by the appearance of naivety of the writing, but as I continued it took a hold on me. Gallego Garcia started writing the series Chronicles of Idhun when she was 15 years old. This base is evident in the novel. It gives an authentic voice to its teenage main characters in a way that is often lacking in YA fiction/fantasy. It is direct and honest in its story, without clever references to the genre or ironic characters and it’s very refreshing to read because of that.

I will certainly follow Victoria, Jack and Kirtash/Christian through their journey to Idhun in the following parts of the series.

Susan

Visit Laura Gallego Garcia’s website!

 

 

The peace of the magical Idhun planet was broken, when wizard Ashran Nekromanti ceased power. The new ruler killed his opponents and the dragons and unicorns of the planet. Some of the Idhunians escaped his rule to the Earth, but wizards minions are always after them. A small and persevering resistance tries to gather Idhunians hiding on the Earth together to reconquer their home planet.

The core of the resistance includes Alsan, the warrior prince fled from Idhun and wizard Shail, but there are also two children of the Earth: mysterious school girl Victoria, who studies magic with Shail and confused 13-year-old Jack, who wants to find out why Ashran’s minions killed his parents.”

“Laura Gallego Garcia (born 1977 in Valencia, Spain) is an extremely popular author in her home country Spain, often called “the Spanish J.K. Rowling”. She has written since she was 11 and published about 20 books. She started to write Idhun’s Chronics when she was 15. Gallego Garcia has won the esteemed Barco de Vapor literature award twice. She is finishing her doctoral thesis on Spanish filology.”

In Spanish:

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