Monday, June 1, 2015

Dragons (Peter Hogarth with Val Clery)

Peter Hogarth with Val Clery
Nonfiction, Folklore/Mythology
***+ (Okay/Good)

DESCRIPTION: From the epic struggle of Tiamat and Marduk in early Mesopotamia, through the mythic roots of China, even in pre-Columbian America and distant New Zealand, all the way up to modern times, dragons have coiled, slithered, and flown through the worlds of human myth and legend. This book explores the dragon as it appears in numerous stories and guises in nearly all cultures.

REVIEW: Published in 1979, this isn't a bad coffee-table exploration of dragon lore. Hogarth delves into numerous cultures with varying degrees of depth, sometimes spending several pages on one tale or location and other times glossing over huge chunks of time and culture with a passing sentence or two. His sources aren't always clear, though; as he sometimes gets too clever for his own good with the writing, it can be hard to tell where fact and historical resources leave off and personal commentary or opinion begin. This book does, however, have a strong visual appeal, with numerous dragon images (and a few other beasties, particularly griffins) from a broad variety of sources decorating every page. Unfortunately, these images sometimes interrupt the flow of the narrative, and the captions aren't always useful or informative. Overall, it's not a bad exploration of global dragon lore that just barely lost out on a four-star rating. (I admit I almost gave it an extra half-star just for the end papers alone: in the hardcover edition, they feature a dragon-themed illuminated alphabet that I'd love to get as a downloadable font, though sadly this book predates such concepts.)

You Might Also Enjoy:
Tales of Great Dragons (J. K. Anderson) - My Review
Dragons - Truth, Myth and Legend (David Passes) - My Review
Dragons: A Natural History (Dr. Karl Shuker) - My Review

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