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Posts Tagged ‘fantasy writer’

Remember those two giant dragon sculptures installed at Caerphilly Castle in March? It seems they have been doing what comes naturally… Now a giant nest has appeared, with eggs! Just in time for Easter, visitors can take part in an egg hunt and also see why Dwynwen is being so affectionate with Dewi.

Okay, it’s a little cheesy. The nest looks more like something a bird would build, and it’s hard to see how two disembodied heads would incubate the eggs. But, since April the Giraffe has finally dropped her calf, this gives all us dragon fans a baby watch of our own.

Stay tuned!

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Just a few of my 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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We might not think of dragons as medical miracle-workers, but scientists have announced a breakthrough in the search for new antibiotics. The source? Komodo dragons!

Biologists have long known that Komodo dragons have some really nasty bacteria in their mouths. If these big lizards can’t overpower their prey, they use a long-acting bacterial weapon as their fall-back. Any animal bitten by a Komodo dragon will develop a serious infection known as sepsis. It might take a few days, but the dragon follows its prey until the infection kills it. Then, it’s dinner time.

However deadly their mouth bacteria are, Komodo dragons themselves never seem to suffer from sepsis. Scientists decided to study them and figure out why. A team at George Mason Univerisity, led by Monique van Hoek, recently announced they had isolated a blood protein called DRGN-1. In laboratory tests, DRGN-1 was highly effective against some of the most notorious drug-resistant bacteria. Not even MRSA could stand against the dragon’s cure.

Although these are preliminary results, and much work remains to be done, van Hoek’s team hopes to develop a new antibiotic weapon for the ongoing battle against resistant diseases.

Our hero… the dragon?

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Just a few of my 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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That’s right — I have a new project in the works. The Weight of Their Souls, the swords and sorcery novelette that I podcast back in 2013, will soon be available as a 99-cent e-book. Cover art will be by Diana Harlan Stein. She’s an old acquaintance from Pern fandom, and I’m excited to bring her in on this project.

While Diana’s hard at work, I’m doing behind-the-scenes setup through Bowker, Draft 2 Digital and Kindle. Once art is complete I should be able to drop it in, and viola! My next book should be out around May 1st.

Here’s the blurb:  The epic war is over, the great Enemy destroyed. A ragtag band of survivors tries to make 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 lethal. 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.

Those of you who’ve helped out with swapping reviews and blog appearances in the past, I hope you’ll support me again. Reviews, signal-boosting, it all helps.

And, don’t forget 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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Draconian — something very harsh or cruel. I’ve always thought this word was a comparison to dragons, because they are thought to be such vicious creatures. Turns out, there actually was a person named Draco. He is the first political figure identified by name in the history of Athens, Greece.

Draco must have been a trusted leader. He was elected by the citizens around 620 B.C.E. with the explicit goal of reforming their legal code. Previously, Athens operated on the basis of oral tradition and the Greek religion. These customs were subject to personal interpretation, and when citizens sought justice the results could vary widely.

Draco made a great contribution to establishing consistent laws that were written down and displayed in public. Every citizen who could read was able to see these laws and know what to expect. Draco also established a council of judges to administer the laws. This meant that justice was more consistent for all citizens.

Only thing was, the penalties Draco set down were pretty harsh. Like his predecessors, Draco was an individual who made his own interpretation. His interpretation was that there were no minor crimes. Draco seemed to believe that having severe penalties for the little things would stop people from committing more serious crimes. Yes, even in the 7th Century B.C.E, politicians were vowing to “get tough on crime.”

Thus, under Draco’s rule, people could be executed for things like stealing a cabbage. If you couldn’t pay your debts, you would be enslaved. He did make the important distinction between murder and manslaughter; murderers were executed, while those who accidentally killed someone were merely exiled.

Soon, the Athenian citizens got buyer’s remorse. Draco himself was exiled to the island of Aegina and died there around 600 B.C.E. The Athenian code of justice was later reformed with softer penalties. However, the committee of judges and some other parts of Draco’s constitution remained a foundational part of Athenian democracy.

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Here’s another Irish dragon legend for you.

Lig-Na-Paiste was a dragon who dwelt in a forest pool near the headwaters of the Owenreagh River. He managed to keep his head down when Saint Patrick banished all the serpents from Ireland, and so he lingered and waited. Eventually the saint died, and Lig-Na-Paiste figured this was his chance. He took up his evil ways and marauded across the countryside once again.

Of course, people cried out their woes when he ravaged their herds. Word of their troubles reached another holy man, Saint Murrough. After fasting and praying for nine days, Murrough received a divine message. He gathered three rods made out of green reeds and sought out the lair of Lig-Na-Paiste. The dragon thought he must be a sacrifice sent by the local people, and readily came out of his den.

Legends differ as to the details, but Murrough tricked Lig-Na-Paiste  into wearing the reed bands. He then prayed, and the reeds transformed into iron. The dragon struggled mightily, but he could not get free. He then tried his own trickery, begging Saint Murrough to put him in the water, where his power would be greater. He claimed, also, that humans had no power over him. The saint held steadfast and asserted that God had power over all living things, even a dragon.

By Saint Murrough’s prayer, Lig-Na-Paiste was banished downstream to farthest depth of Lough Foyle. He is still bound with iron bands. The people who live nearby often tell of strange forebodings when they are near the water. If there are waves without a source or flooding on the lake shore, it is thought that Lig-Na-Paiste is struggling to get free.

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The dragons of Irish legend were more associated with water than those of other lands. Ireland was dotted with peat bogs, right into modern times. Though no snakes were native to the island, the peat bogs were home to other wiggly creatures like eels. In addition, Ireland was surrounded by ocean, which is a mysterious realm ripe for magical beings. Thus the dragons of Irish imagination resembled gigantic, malevolent eels more than the winged, flying dragons we picture today.

In pre-historic spirituality, dragons were a force of decay and the underworld. The bubbling stink of a peat bog would have fit right into this legend. The Irish word for dragon was piast or peist (anglicized as pest or beast). If you listened to every story, you might believe that piasts were very widespread in Ireland. Nearly every major hero fought one. Some legends, such as that of Fionn mac Cumhaill (anglicized as Finn MacCool) include lengthy boasts of the piasts and other hauntings he had put an end to.

More recent legends tell that Saint Patrick came to Ireland and banished all serpents in the name of God. It is thought by modern scholars that this reflects the change from the traditional folk religion to that of Christianity. This was probably a gradual process, and that is reflected in a few tales of piasts who lingered after the expulsion.

I’ll share one such folktale next Wednesday.

 

 

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What do Hydra, Cerberus, Zeus, Hera, Tartarus and Gaia have in common? They are all connected to the most hideous monstrosity of all Greek legend — Typhon.

Lastborn of the primordial titan race, Typhon was a gigantic man with numerous… uh… extra features. Not only was he taller than mountains. Not only did he have a savage and lawless nature. No, Typhon had 100 snake heads growing from his shoulders, and each snake head had heat vision! Even more remarkable, each of the heads spoke some language of beast kind and they were all shrieking constantly. Roaring lions, howling wolves, bulls, elephants, eagles, you name it. Typhon existed in a vortex of the most horrendous noise imaginable, punctuated by fiery eye-beams.

How could such a being exist? As I mentioned, Typhon descended from the titans who ruled the Earth before Zeus overthrew them. Furious at his betrayal, Gaia conceived one last child with Tartarus, a titan who lived in the underworld and gave it his name. That child was Typhon.

However, another legend says that Hera was responsible for this terror. She was angry that Zeus had brought forth Athena all on his own, so she prayed to Gaia for a son as strong as Zeus. Her prayer was answered and she became pregnant. When Typhon was born she gave him to another mythic serpent, Python, to be raised.

A final version of the story combines these ideas. Gaia, in her anger, told Hera lies about Zeus. This caused Hera to seek aid from her father, Cronos, who gave her an egg smeared with his own semen and told her to bury it in the earth. Typhon supposedly hatched from the egg.

Whatever his origin, it was Typhon’s destiny to battle Zeus. He rose up to conquer the Earth and was making good progress until he reached Mount Olympus. Some legends say that he snuck into Olympus while Zeus was asleep and tried to murder him that way. Others say Zeus confronted Typhon’s challenge head on.

What a battle it was! For many days they fought, causing earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, tornadoes and tidal waves. Storm clouds blocked the sun, and Typhon’s 100 heads howled the whole time. Eventually, Zeus landed a hit with his thunderbolts that blew Typhon off Mount Olympus. The giant fell to earth and was imprisoned in Tartarus with the rest of the titans.

Incredible as it may seem, Typhon managed to find true love! His wife was Echidna, a half woman, half serpent descended from the primordial ocean god, Phorcys, and possibly also related to the dreaded Medusa. Among their numerous offspring were Cerberus, three-headed dog, and Hydra, the many-headed dragon.

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