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Dragon Books – Part I

Out there in bookstores and and on Cyberian e-book shelves around the world, there is a treasure trove of Dragon books. Throughout the week, we will be featuring a variety of books for fun and draconic erudition. As MotD sponsor, bear with my indugence to start with a couple of my own…and a few others, to boot!

Shawn MacKENZIE. The Dragon Keeper’s Handbook: Including the Myth & Mystery, Care & Feeding, Life & Lore of These Fiercely Splendid Creatures (Woodbury, MN: Llewellyn Publications, 2011).

Here be Dragons……

Not the slavering, whimsical monsters from childhood fancies, but real Dragons­—fierce, complex, wondrous, and wild. They do not require our belief; they never have.

With hard science, and myth, empirical wisdom and original line drawings, The Dragon Keeper’s Handbook is the draconic enchiridion for the modern world, providing everything you need to know about these extraordinary beings. From disparate theories of Dragon evolution and the golden geometry of their form to modern conservation efforts and how to release a well-weaned orphan back into the wild, this book answers all your questions, even those you didn’t know to ask. From awe-inspiring Cosmic Creators to wee pisuhänds guarding hearth and home, discover the habits and habitats of Dragons and pseudo-dragons both familiar and rare.

The Dragon Keeper’s Handbook shows us how human and Dragon lives are bound together and why Dragons are now—and ever-will-be—relevant: In their wildness lie lessons for us all.

*****

Dragons for Beginners coverShawn MacKENZIE. Dragons for Beginners: Ancient Creatures in a Modern World (Woodbury, MN: Llewellyn Publications, 2012).

Welcome to Dragon Country!

Here Dragonfire sears the grass and the wind dances with Dragon-song. Here you’ll find true Dragons, real flesh-and-blood creatures that are as fiercely alive and majestic as they were thousands of years ago.

• Learn about the three true species: Eastern, Western, and Feathered • Explore how Dragons evolved and the various types of pseudo-dragons • Study the science of Dragons: size, diet, temperament, habitat, and more • Discover how Dragons impact religion, art, literature, and occult studies • Find out how to safely interact with Dragons

This essential, comprehensive introduction to Dragons is filled with what everyone must know about these extraordinary creatures. Whether a casual dracophile or a dedicated Dragon keeper, come explore what Dragons have to teach us about the world and our-selves. Discover how, with care and devotion, you can help save them from extinction.

******

J. Bissell-Thomas. The Dragon Green (London: Robert Hale Ltd., 1936).

This is a tale of the first order about the rare and wonderful Dragon Green, born from the great Gold Dragon’s egg in the blistering sands of the Kalahari Desert. Fearless and feisty, Dragon Green makes his way among ant bear (aardvark) and ostrich, giraffe and shark. Eager to grow up, he bargains with a witch, seeks the wisdom of a wizard, and falls in love with a princess. He is proud and funny, irreverent and loyal to a fault. This is a Dragon with more heart than sense and enough love to challenge even the strongest magic. A spiky-wiky Dragon of the first order. A Dragon to be emulated.

Though The Dragon Green is currently out of print, if you can find a copy at your favorite used-book store, snatch it up. It’s a treasure. (And the illustrations by Vernon L. Soper are delightful, too.)

*On a personal note, this was my first Dragon book ever, so it naturally has a special place in my heart.

****

M.W. de Visser. The Dragon in China and Japan. (Amsterdam: Johannes Muller, 1913; reprint: Kessinger Publishing, 2010).

At times a dry—but scholarly—look at Oriental Dragons and the role they’ve played in myth, religion, philosophy, and art, with particular emphasis on their divinity and magic. If you are willing to sift through contrary, even conflicting bits of information, this is an illuminating, though somewhat dated read.  What was understood about Dragons in 1913 was quite different from what we understand about them today. That said, it is certainly one of the most extensive studies of Asian Dragons I’ve come across. Well documented with copious footnotes and bibliography, though, the scholar in me wishes I’d been able to track down more of de Visser’s source works; alas, many are either out of print or tucked away in rare books libraries.

****

Paul & Karin Johnsgard. A Natural History of Dragons and Unicorns (New York: St. Martin’s Press, 1982).

This is a charming book with, as the title implies, a scientific slant. It looks at Dragons through the ages, from proto-dragons to modern East to West, with an examination of anatomy, habitat, habits, and—of course—their struggles to survive (i.e. coming into conflict with humans). While covering some familiar territory, the Johnsgards do so with humor and solid scientific grounding. My studies may have led me to divergent conclusions on various points, but there is solid scholarship here, which is always welcome (and a gentle reminder that we cryptoherpetologists can always civily agree to disagree) The illustrations are a little simplistic, but not offensive—and goodness knows, there can be offensive dragon illustrations!

The Unicorn section of the book will probably be less familiar to many, though they are enclusive—from the K’rin of Asia to the svelte European Unicorns celebrated in Medieval tapestries and Renaissance oils. A good place to start for the neophyte Monocere aficionado.

More books to come.

What are your favorite Dragon books? Fiction, non-fiction, autobiography?
Love to hear from you all.

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