The Five F’s of Dragonology, according to Dr. Ernest Drake’s guide:
“FIELDWORK—It is best by far to study dragons in their own environments.”
Wondering where those natural environments are? In the very first chapter, Dragonology shows a map of the world with the locations and descriptions of ten major species of dragons. Chapter IV tells more about how to find and track dragons, from necessary supplies to tell-tale signs to safety precautions.
“FORESIGHT—Proper learning and preparation are absolutely essential.”
Dragonology teaches and prepares young dragonologists for what they need to know about dragons, whether it be biology and life cycle or dragon behavior and how to charm them. If Dr. Drake didn’t want his students to be unprepared, all he had to do was hand them this book.
“FORWARDNESS—The student must be both daring and truly courageous.”
It would take a daring soul to go after a creature as fearsome as those described in this book—the tallest dragons are reported to be up to 20 feet high and 50 feet long. Further, attempts to interact with dragons can easily go wrong, leading to all kinds of trouble and danger.
“FRANKNESS—One must simply report honestly what one sees at all times.”
I can be frank: Not all parts of this book thrilled me. Why did the author dismiss the gas theory of dragon fire, instead favoring one involving venom and spark-producing stones in a special pouch? It made less sense to me. Since when were wyverns large, African desert creatures, and since when did Australia have pouched, hopping dragons reminiscent of kangaroos? Finally, the “spells and charms” part of the book might thrill younger readers, but it made the book feel less realistic to me. On the bright side, though, the book was thoroughly consistent, even when I would have done things differently.
“FATALITIES—Unless these are avoided, the student will make little progress.”
The humorous details in this book, such as the fifth “F” above, were amusing and set a fun tone. My favorite part was the instructions for raising young dragons. One of the warnings in that section? “It is not recommended to leave children and hungry dragons alone.”
Dragonology: The Complete Book of Dragons is available at most bookstores and libraries. Something strange to note, though—when I checked my library for this book, it was classified under juvenile nonfiction, not fiction. Who knows? Maybe some confused librarian thought that the book truly was a replica from Dr. Ernest Drake from the 19th century, with Dugald Steer merely the editor (this is the book’s claim). This is definitely a fictitious children’s book, complete with pop-ups, envelopes, and samples of “dragon scales,” but I think it would be a quick, fun read for any dragon-lover.