You probably know by now how much I love dragons so I was really excited when I was given the chance to review The Dragonsdome Chronicles! I have read The Dragon Whisperer and Flight To Dragon Isle one after the other in a couple of days and I am dying to read the next book!
I loved Quenelda as a main character and the evolution she goes through, I also love the dragons and all the world in this book. I think it's a fantastic adventure story for tweens but also for anyone who is a fan of fantasy and dragons in particular!
But without further ado, let me leave you with the lovely Lucinda Hare who will be talking about why she chose to write about dragons!
Dragons! Mythical, magical, scaled, horned and winged; we love them. They scare us silly, they pose riddles, they sit on mythological piles of gold and nowadays they are our friends, guides and companions. They’re even cuddly and cute and have learning difficulties. Dragons exert an enduring glamour to young readers and adults alike. A tiny bit of our minds rationalise they might have once existed, after all there is hardly a culture on the planet that does not have them embedded in mythology and legend. Dragons are dinosaurs with wings, and we know dinosaurs existed. So with so many dragons around, why did I choose dragons in such a crowded marketplace?
Firstly, because these magical creatures live in the imagination of every child on the planet. All over the world legends and myths of dragons exist. So, no matter where a reader lives, and no matter the animals they have as pets or working animals, or even if they have no pets at all, they can conjure an image of a dragon in their mind. This way no-one is left out of the story.
According to Root, who is Tangnost Bearhugger’s hapless apprentice, dragons, irrespective of breed are a horrifying assortment of teeth, talons, scales and tails. They can eat you raw or toast you – well, only the carnivores, the battledragons, can toast you, but to Root that is beside the point.
Secondly because I thought I could bring an original idea to the table, a new take on an old favourite. Dragons are thinking, talking creatures who have a pact with the peoples of the seven Sea Kingdoms to fight their age-long enemy, the amphibious voracious hobgoblins. And although The Dragonsdome Chronicles are set in a medieval world, the Stealth Dragon Services (the SDS), the elite military fighting force of the Kingdoms are clearly based upon modern armed forces, specifically the Special Air Services. Dragons take the place of Harrier jump jets, Apache Longbow helicopters and F-22 stealth raptors. They have dragon pads instead of helicopter pads, they have helmets with integrated comms and heads-up visor displays. They use modern terminology, strategy and tactics.
Thirdly dragons are not just in the book; they are central characters with wholly individual characters. There are three introduced in The Dragon Whisperer. There is Quenelda’s stocky Sabretooth battledragon, Two Gulps & You’re Gone; Root’s gentle, teasing Chasing The Stars, and the SDS Commander’s huge Imperial Black battledragon, Stormcracker Thundercloud III. Two Gulps is a proud and boastful cave dragon, he has serious attitude and is temperamental. Chasing The Stars is a Windglen Widdershanks, a mild-mannered herbivore who has a wicked sense of humour and turns out to surprise everyone with her bravery, just like Root does. Stormcracker is the last of the noble dragons, with magic of his own that can make him disappear – hence the ‘Stealth Dragon Services’. Just like breeds of cats, dogs and horses, dragons come in all shapes, sizes and colours.
And finally, because all the dragons in The Dragonsdome Chronicles are inspired by our own large family of rescued animals. A lot of Two Gulps’ character is taken from our huge ginger cat, Rufus, who has serious attitude. I’m the only one who handles him, but when we come home late at night, even if it’s cold and wet, Rufus is there at the end of the path waiting for us. He has a huge cuddly lion which he treadles, so deep inside he’s just a big softie!
The enduring attraction of dragons is that they can fly and that we can fly on them. Dragons take us to the skies where in reality mankind has only recently achieved that, and we have needed technology to do so. There is not a creature in the world that can bear us skyward, but dragons can! Flying dragons gives me great scope for showing how you might learn. Some people ride horses, others motorbikes, everyone drives cars... but dragons? Dragons belong to dreams and everyone can dream. But then how would someone learn? You can’t just get on a dragon and fly, any more than you could sit behind the wheel of a car and drive. History can provide the best inspiration. Once Roman cavalry fought without stirrups; that meant that you were often knocked from your saddle, and if you couldn’t remount you were dead. So all legionaries had to practice on a wooden horse, a tradition that lives on in modern gymnastics. So why not a wooden dragon? With a little creativity to make it go up and down and side to side and spin around, you have a wooden dragon that mimics flying. In this illustration the esquires are trying to make Root’s life a misery by giving him a saddle that doesn’t fit.
But...and there is always a but, if you are like Root then you are afraid of heights and you get travel sick, and yes, there is much of me in Root. I have never grown out of being travel sick. I hate flying....all that emptiness below, and the slightest turbulence and my stomach rapidly follows suit. Poor old Root....
The reality is that if we came across a dragon most of us would probably faint, and that is exactly what Root does! He tries not to be scared. Even when he is reassured that this girl is not a carnivore and loves her thistles and honey tablets, he finds those teeth and claws a bit too scary. The fact that Chasing the Stars has a wicked sense of humour doesn’t help.
Of course there are also domestic dragons in the Dragon Whisperer. You meet them in the paddocks of Dragonsdome and at the Winter Jousts. But just because they are placid herbivores does not mean they don't have character. The Windglen Widdershanks gifted to Root has a wicked sense of humour and proves to be feisty and very brave - just like her master! I think Chasing the Stars is my favourite dragon so far.
And then again there is the nitty-gritty of flying. Glamorous? Exciting? Well yes, but those of us who drive motorbikes know that unless you can afford the best kit, the leathers, boots, helmet and gloves, you still get cold and wet, and hanging on the back as pillion passenger when you’re travelling at warp factor nine is exhausting! And that would be the reality of dragon flying. But you would still want to give it a go, wouldn’t you? Well, does the hapless Root? This final illustration from The Dragon Whisperer gives you a clue, but go on, find out for yourself...because even for adults, dragons rekindle our childhood wonder for the world. Dragons give us wings.
I agree! A part of me thinks dragons do exist and that I need to have one :D
Thank you Lucinda for this wonderful post on dragons and a bazillion thank you to RHCB for sending me copies of the books (reviews to come up soon!).
Flight to Dragon Isle is the second book in the Dragonsdome Chronicles published by Random House Children's Books (the first book is The Dragon Whisperer) which you can buy from any bookshop! Also, how beautiful are the covers? Seriously, I want a poster!!
Do not hesitate to visit Lucinda's website as it is full of gorgeous illustrations of the Chronicles made by the author herself!