Archive for the ‘Books & Movies’ Category

Dragons are famous for having vast hoards of treasure, but sometimes I wonder why. If knights are always trying to kill you and take your treasure, why would you even bother with that? Surely a dragon could have a quieter, more secure life without a hoard.

Based on legends and contemporary fiction, here are some reasons that dragons keep hoards.

  1. Pure greed. Some dragons, such as Fafnir, are created in a contest to claim an accursed treasure.
  2. Pride. Dragons often seem to relish the high status of owning a huge treasure. Smaug, in The Hobbit, would represent these dragons.
  3. Nutrition. In some books, dragon parents collect coins and other metal pieces, and feed them to their young. The minerals help baby dragons grow their near-invulnerable scales. E. E. Knight’s Age of Fire series is a good example.
  4. Preservation. Dragons who gather tomes and manuscripts might be dedicated to saving knowledge of the ancient past. They may also find that having a hobby helps them they stay alert and active over the decades.
  5. Obsession. In a few books, such as Jessica Day George’s Dragon Slippers, all dragons are born with an irresistible urge to collect. They don’t all gather the same things, though. In George’s book, the main dragon character has an enormous collection of shoes.
  6. Remembrance. A long-lived dragon might save mementos from lost civilizations or friends in their past. More aggressive dragons could keep trophies from their victories against various enemies.
  7. Hunting Lure. In my short story, Hoard, a dragon named Carnisha keeps a hoard in order to attract looters. She then feeds them to her babies.

I’m sure there are more reasons. Why do you think dragons gather hoards?

A few of my other books:

Aunt Ursula’s Atlas, Lucy D. Ford’s short story collection and Masters of Air & Fire, her middle-grade novel.

The Grimhold Wolf, my Gothic werewolf fantasy, and my epic fantasy, The Seven Exalted Orders.

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Summer’s so hot! It isn’t safe. You should stay inside and read. Try my new swords and sorcery novelette, The Weight of Their Souls. It’s brand new and just $.99!

The Weight of Their Souls

The epic war is over, the great Enemy destroyed. A ragtag band of survivors makes their way home, only to discover there were survivors on the other side, too. And even a lesser evil from that vicious host can still be a deadly threat.

It’s swords against sorcery, with more than just their lives on the line. The travelers, who barely know each other, must summon the courage to face one more battle.

Get it now from Amazon or  in your favorite e-book format through Draft 2 Digital.

Want to help a writer? -Read! -Review! -Recommend!

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I know you’ve always wondered about this, so I asked some of my own fictional dragons for their opinions.

“What do you think virgins are?” asked Lythiskar, Mystik of Yabble. “Although some dragons prefer princesses as pets.”

Yriatt of Hawkwing House* was also open to the idea of keeping pets. “An older, sedentary dragon could benefit from a pet such as a griffin or roc. Flying with your pet can help maintain wing strength and aerial balance.”

Other dragons weren’t sold on the idea.

“I would never keep a pet that might steal from me,” answered Grenandus of Lollitaine.*

According to Tetheus,* the sea dragon, “Any pet would have to be sturdy enough to keep up with me. Perhaps a larger seal or a whale. Unfortunately, those animals also make the best meals.”

“As a spirit, I find it difficult to connect with transitory beings such as humans or animals,” said Cazarluun,* Spectral Guardian of Venge Hill.

Carnisha, Queen of the Cragmaws,* laughed at the suggestion. “I have a brood of hatchlings! There is no time for pets.”

*Yriatt is a major character in my fantasy novel, Too Many Princes. Grenandus, Tetheus and Cazarluun appear in my short story collection, Aunt Ursula’s Atlas. Carnisha is featured in The Dragon’s Hoard anthology.

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Today I’m reviewing a new release by my friend, Charles Yallowitz. The Life and Times of Ichabod Brooks is a collection of fantasy short stories featuring an adventurer named… You probably guessed. Here’s the cover copy:

“Some heroes seek fame. Some seek fortune. Others want to save the world. Ichabod Brooks only wants to put food on the table for his family.” Through the 11 stories of this collection, he does just that. With uncommon humility, he attempts to discourage the ever-present bards who seek to make their own reputations by telling exaggerated tales of his exploits.

The stories are set in the same world as Yallowitz’s main series, Legends of Windermere, so many things will be familiar to anyone who has read the other books. For those unfamiliar, it’s similar to a certain role-playing game we all know and love. Ichabod rubs shoulders with races such as Halflings and Dwarves, plus a few new one like Calicos (cat people) and Chaos Elves.

The author does a good job capturing the free-wheeling feel of those role-playing sessions where spells are flying and every character has a bizarre collection of enchanted boots, weapons, cloaks, rings, necklaces, etc., etc. He keeps things moving with an almost-cartoonish combat style and plenty of humor.

Although Ichabod is joined by a few recurring friends, the action is mostly his. Each story contains a unique challenge and setting, so they don’t become redundant. There’s even an impressive sea serpent for those who need their daily dose of dragons.

The Life and Times of Ichabod Brooks is available through Amazon, and it’s a bargain at $2.99. I urge you to check it out.

Blog: http://www.legendsofwindemere.com
Twitter: @cyallowitz
Facebook: Charles Yallowitz
Website: http://www.charleseyallowitz.com


A few of my other books:

Aunt Ursula’s Atlas, Lucy D. Ford’s short story collection

Masters of Air & Fire, Lucy D. Ford’s middle-grade novel

The Grimhold Wolf, my Gothic werewolf fantasy, and my epic fantasy, The Seven Exalted Orders.

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The T.V. show Merlin (2008-2012 on BBC America) featured many legendary characters and creatures, but also created some of its own mythos as well. In the background of this saga is the Great Purge, carried out by King Uther of Albion. Uther’s wife, Queen Ygraine, was unable to have children, so Uther made a hasty bargain with Nimueh, leader of the Old Religion. Similar to Arthur’s experience with the Questing Beast, Nimueh would only create a life if another was taken. When Arthur was born but Ygraine died, Uther was enraged and embarked on a year-long campaign to destroy or drive out all sorcery from Albion.

Among the targets of his purge were dragons and a group of human warlocks called dragonlords. These magi (it seems they were all or mostly men) had an innate gift for connecting with dragons on an almost spiritual level. As the series developed, Merlin himself was revealed to be the son of a dragonlord. His friend and mentor was the last dragon alive in Albion, Kilgharrah.

The Great Dragon, as he was called, was incredibly powerful even before Merlin’s arrival on the scene. He claimed to have lived for over 1,000 years and had the gift of prophecy. All other dragons had been killed, but Uther kept Kilgharrah chained in a small cavern beneath Camelot. This was to be an example to other magical beasts and sorcerers that even such a mighty creature could not escape Uther’s decree.

Years passed, but one day the prisoner sensed a new opportunity. Merlin had arrived at Camelot to train in secret with a sorcerer named Gaius. Kilgharrah was able to draw Merlin to him. They connected, and the dragon became Merlin’s teacher as much as Gaius was. Through many adventures, Merlin sought Kilgharrah’s advice, though it often came in the form of riddles that forced the mage to solve his own problems.

However, Kilgharrah had his own needs and goals, which included revenge on King Uther. The dragon began to remind Merlin how much their association had benefited him. Merlin promised to free him one day, but the time kept being pushed off. In the Second Season closer, The Last Dragonlord, Merlin kept his promise to release Kilgharrah from his prison. The dragon immediately turned on Camelot and attacked the countryside. However, Merlin’s growing power allowed him to overcome his mentor. He banished Kilgharrah from Albion.

Although their trust had been damaged, Merlin and Kilgharrah continued to have a deep friendship. The mage called upon his dragon companion many times more before the series ended.

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I’ve been talking about the Questing Beast, a dragon-like monster from Arthurian lore. This creature continues to feature in modern works, as well.

In The Once and Future King, T. H. White created his own legend of King Pellinore and the Questing Beast. Here, Pellinore is more of a comic figure who never finds more of the dragon than its droppings. A friend persuades Pellinore to give up his hopeless pursuit. After a while, though, Pellinore learns that the Beast is pining away from loneliness now that the chase is over. The hunter nurses his former nemesis back to health and gives it a head start before once again setting off on his eternal quest.

The Questing Beast has also been featured in T.V. shows such as Merlin. In this telling, the Beast is associated with the Old Religion, a faction opposed to Merlin and Arthur. The dragon’s venom is so powerful that nothing can cure it. Once bitten, death is assured. In the first-season finale, Le Morte d’Arthur, Arthur is bitten and Merlin desperately seeks aid from Nimueh,  leader of the Old Religion. Turns out, there is one way to save the Questing Beast’s prey. The victim can be spared if another person is willing to sacrifice their own life. There’s a lot of hot-potatoing as the price for Arthur’s salvation gets passed from person to person. You can read a full synopsis here.

All these events take place in a mythical version of Britain, but it seems the Questing Beast may even have made its way to the Americas. Residents of the Republic of Molossia, a self-declared micronation located in Nevada, USA, claim to have found fossil evidence of the Questing Beast. There is a hoofprint-shaped indentation on their landmark, Helicopter Rock. The residents claim this is a track left by the Questing Beast as it leapt to escape King Pellinore.

It just goes to show, you can’t keep a good dragon down.



A few of my other books:

Aunt Ursula’s Atlas, Lucy D. Ford’s short story collection

Masters of Air & Fire, Lucy D. Ford’s middle-grade novel

The Grimhold Wolf, my Gothic werewolf fantasy, and my epic fantasy, The Seven Exalted Orders.

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The best known dragon of Arthurian lore, the Questing Beast is a creature that contradicts itself. It is described as a hideous mongrel with a snake’s head and neck, leopard’s body, hindquarters of a lion, and deer hooves instead of paws. Even stranger is the noise that accompanies the Questing Beast wherever it goes. When it is nearby, you can hear a constant growling and barking as of many hunting hounds. Some legends say that the Beast actually did swallow a pack of hounds and they are still barking inside its belly!

In the Middle Ages, questing was another word for the cry of hounds following a scent. Indeed, its name in French is the Beast Glatisant, which refers to the baying of a pack of hounds. So, calling it a Questing Beast is something of a joke. For further irony, the Questing Beast doesn’t seem to be questing for anything. Instead, various characters take it as their quest to slay the Questing Beast.

This dragon’s initial appearance in Arthurian lore is when King Arthur wakes from a nightmare and beholds this bizarre animal with its noisy ambiance. It seems Arthur had spent a night of passion with a woman named Morgause (a.k.a. Morgan Le Fey), not knowing she was his sister. Their son, Mordred, was destined to destroy everything Arthur tried to build. The Questing Beast’s arrival is believed to be harbinger of this doom.

Arthur chose not to pursue the Beast, but soon after he was approached by another knight. King Pellinore explained that it was his family’s curse to endlessly pursue the Questing Beast. Arthur consulted his wizard, Merlin, who divined the dragon’s origins. A princess had once been tempted by the Devil to lust after her own brother. Through Satan’s machinations, the brother was killed, and their child was born twisted by his mother’s crimes. Perhaps King Pellinore was descended from the same royal family. This could explain his oath to destroy the Beast.

A separate story describes the Questing Beast quite differently. In this version, Sir Percival encounters the Beast while searching for the Holy Grail. What Percival sees is a small animal, pure white and beautiful to behold. The barking still accompanies it, except when the Beast pauses to drink from a pool. Some have suggested the Questing Beast represents Christ guiding Sir Percival on his quest. However, evil forces are tearing the Beast apart from inside. This could refer to Jews, who follow the Old Testament instead of Christ’s teachings, or it could just mean all those rude people who insist on talking during mass.

In yet another variation, the Questing Beast is hunted by Sir Palmades, a Saracen knight who wants to win the affection of Queen Isolde of Cornwall. I was kind of surprised to learn there had been a Saracen knight in Arthurian lore. Ultimately Sir Palmades converts to Christianity and puts his hopeless love aside.

And those are just the Medieval variations on the Questing Beast! Check back on Saturday for the more contemporary versions of this ancient dragon.

A few of my other books:

Aunt Ursula’s Atlas, Lucy D. Ford’s short story collection

Masters of Air & Fire, Lucy D. Ford’s middle-grade novel

The Grimhold Wolf, my Gothic werewolf fantasy, and my epic fantasy, The Seven Exalted Orders.

Read Full Post »

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