Monthly Archives: February 2013

5 Dragons I Never Want to Meet

On Tuesday, I posted a list of five dragons I would love to meet. Not all dragons are cute and cuddly, though, so I thought it wise to follow up with a list of five dragons I never want to meet.

Hungarian Horntail dragon

Image borrowed from the Harry Potter Wiki.

#5: Hungarian Horntail (Harry Potter)—I’m not a huge Harry Potter fan, but I’ll still admit that the Hungarian Horntail isn’t the nicest of creatures. Rowling designed the Horntail to be the nastiest dragon in her wizarding world—and then made poor Harry face one in the fourth book. It’s fast, it’s cranky, and it breathes LOTS of fire, so I think I’ll keep my distance.

 

Mushu image

Image borrowed from the Disney Wiki.

#4: Mushu (Mulan)—Disney fans, please don’t hate me for including this one. I love the movie Mulan, and I know that Mushu is loveable and can grow on you. He’s just so obnoxious! For those of you who aren’t familiar with the movie, Mushu is a lizard-sized dragon that wants to prove his value to a respectable family’s ancestral guardians. He wreaks havoc left and right, yet takes it upon himself to help Mulan survive army life and save China. He’s got a good heart, but I’m not eager to meet a comedic dragon voiced by Eddie Murphy. Let Mulan deal with him.

 

 

Dragonworld book cover

Image borrowed from Amazon.com.

#3: The Darkling (Dragonworld)—This creature is one of the main characters in the book Dragonworld, which I wrote about last year. He is a unique cross between two species, with the cold and foolish heart of the cold drakes combined with the fire and cunning of the near-extinct dragons. His murderous desire for revenge and conquest starts a war between humans and ends innocent lives. I wouldn’t want to cross paths with that much scaly hatred.

 

 

 

 

 

Smaug eye

Image borrowed from the LotR Wiki.

#2: Smaug (The Hobbit)—What child doesn’t tremble with Bilbo as he steals into this dragon’s lair or cheer on Bard the Bowman who faces the monster to save his people? Tolkien’s Smaug is the epitome of the standard evil dragon—greedy treasure guardian, terrible destroyer of kingdoms, and fiery flying foe. I don’t know what Peter Jackson will do with Smaug in the continuing Hobbit film trilogy, but I hope it does justice to the dragon that first showed me that dragons can be scary.

 

#1: Male dragon (Reign of Fire)—This is hands-down the scariest dragon that I’ve ever heard of and could ever hope to avoid. I confessed before that I use Reign of Fire as action junk food despite its lack of quality storyline. Part of what brings me back to such a cheesy film is the relief that I’m not the one struggling to survive in the post apocalyptic territory of the biggest, scariest, most destructive dragon to ever nearly obliterate mankind (try reading that sentence aloud ten times fast!). Size analogy: if the big guy were an eagle, the female dragons (which are your typical giant, destructive monsters) would only be sparrow-sized. No other movie fiend has ever convinced me that bigger is scarier.

Image borrowed from IMDB.

What do you think? Have any of these dragons ever scared you, or are there others that you would argue take the prize for scariest, nastiest, or most obnoxious? Maybe dragons don’t even frighten you—if not, why not?

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5 Dragons I Would Love to Meet

Over at Wyrmflight (see note below!), blogger debyfredericks took on a challenge that is being passed around WordPress right now: list five fictional characters you’d like to meet. Since she writes about dragons, she chose five dragons, and I’ve decided to pick up the theme and share my own top five. There are many classic dragon books that I haven’t yet read, as well as some well-deserving dragons that I’ve probably forgotten, but these are the ones who came to mind.

 
Without further ado, here are five dragons I would love to meet:

Toothless thd Dragon

Toothless, the misnamed dragon. Image borrowed from the How to Train Your Dragon wiki.

#5: Toothless—Hiccup’s beloved Night Fury from the movie How to Train Your Dragon is an obvious choice, and I couldn’t leave him off the list. He’s endearing and adorable, and sometimes I wonder what it would have been like to be the one who discovered, saved, and befriended a creature who had a reputation as a fearsome, unknown enemy. Toothless is anything but fearsome to his friends—I think he looks a little bit like a frog, and his behavior reminds me of an oversized cat.

 

 

 

 

Glaedr image

Cover art of Glaedr from the book Brisingr. Image borrowed from the Inheritance Cycle wiki.

#4: Glaedr—I have a soft spot for the idea of wise old dragons who act as mentors, which is why Glaedr from Christopher Paolini’s Inheritance Cycle wins a spot on my list. To be honest, I’m not a huge fan of Paolini’s style and never finished the series. Still, from what I saw in Brisingr, Glaedr has the maturity necessary to help shape the young, rash pair of Saphira and Eragon. His experience, wisdom, and advice are all part of the training they need in order to become the heroes they are destined to be.

 

 

 

 

 

Neverending Story cover

Falkor pictured center. Image borrowed from Wikipedia

#3: Falkor—It wasn’t that long ago that I wrote about the white luckdragon from The Neverending Story, but that should mean that it is no surprise that he makes my list. As I said then, Falkor is the kind of friend that I think everybody needs. He is wise, kind, and helpful, and even more importantly, full of joy and hope. If I ever needed to go on a difficult, discouraging quest, I would want to bring him with me.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Dragons of Blueland cover

Boris is pictured here with Elmer. Image borrowed from Wikipedia.

#2:Boris—Ever since My Father’s Dragon was read to me as a childhood bedtime story, I’ve wished that the cute baby dragon that Elmer Elevator befriended could be my friend, too. This brave little dragon from Blueland endures captivity, risks a daring escape, willingly helps his friends, and fights to ensure the freedom of his whole family. His family is a bunch I wouldn’t mind meeting, either—they’re all brightly colored and have similarly sweet temperaments. No fire-breathers here!

 

 

 

 

 

There's No Such Thing as a Dragon cover

Here’s what happens when a friendly, scaly, red problem gets bigger. Image borrowed from Amazon.

#1: Billy’s Dragon—I’m not sure what else to call this one. When I was very small, we had a video tape called Merry Mother Goose, with one portion dedicated to a story called “There’s NO Such Thing as a Dragon.” It’s based on a picture book that I haven’t read but really want to find. In the story, little Billy discovers a tiny dragon in his room when he wakes up one morning. He’s not sure where it came from or what to do with it, so he brings it up to his mom. His mother persists in denying the dragon’s existence, insisting that there is NO such thing as a dragon, so the little red animal grows and grows in size until he’s a giant problem that can’t be ignored. The dragon represents what happens when we pretend our problems don’t exist, but he is also an incredibly affectionate creature that, at his smallest size, would make a unique lap pet.  I wanted him when I was five, and I still want him now.

 

 

There’s my list! I would love to hear yours. Let me know if you decide to make a list (dragon or otherwise!) on your own blog. Do you think I left any important dragons out? It’s possible I haven’t read about them yet, in which case I’ll gladly take book and movie recommendations!

Come back on Thursday for my list of five dragons that I would not want to meet.

Note about Wyrmflight: Wyrmflight, the blog where I picked up this idea, is an excellent blog if you’re interested in reading more on various dragon traditions, whether in history or in fantasy. Written for an audience of both children and adults, it’s all about dragons in a way that is very similar to my vision for Dragon’s Crossing. Go check it out!

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Traditions of the Chinese Zodiac: Dragon vs. Snake

Chinese Water Dragon

Last year’s symbol: Chinese Water Dragon. Image from Wikipedia.

If you follow the Chinese calendar or read my previous post, you know that the Year of the Dragon is over and the Year of the Snake has begun. But what’s the difference?  Don’t dragons and snakes (both reptiles!) have similar personalities? Let’s take a look:

The Dragon is known for being gifted, intelligent, arrogant, stubborn, passionate, and ruthless. Many people believe that the Dragon year is a lucky year to be born, since the Dragon is accomplished.

 

Terracotta Zodiac Snake

Terracotta Chinese Zodiac Snake. Image from Wikipedia.

The Snake is known for being materialistic, seductive, and insecure. They are also believed to be creative, intelligent, and obsessive. They make good politicians. Water snakes, associated with 2013, are said to be particularly motivated and influential.

Similarities: Intelligence, relentlessness, motivation, and preference of being alone.

Differences: The Dragon’s confidence, passion, generosity, and temper vs. the Snake’s insecurity, laid-back nature, jealousy, and cool emotions.

As I mentioned last year, I’m not really convinced by the Chinese Zodiac. If I look at it as a fictional invention, it’s a fascinatingly intricate system, with its twelve animals and five elements combining to describe a wide range of personality types. Fiction writers, look no further if you’re looking for character types to flesh out your descriptions of flat characters! As truth, though, the Zodiac doesn’t seem realistic. Not only do the descriptions of my particular Zodiac animal not fully match me, I know many people who were born the same year as I was who are as different from me as night is from day. Think about it—are the people you know who are your age of the same personality as you? Do you believe that all the babies born this year are going to grow into intelligent, seductive loners with major insecurities? It seems like the only traits that fit everyone are the traits that could fit anyone.

To be fair, I would love to hear more from you if you do give the Chinese some credit. I haven’t studied it fully, so if you have a reason to believe that its predictions are significant or a comment on its origins, leave a comment below! Please comment, too, if you know more about the effect, if any, each year’s animal is said to have on the year for those people who were not born that year. Is the Year of the Snake supposed to affect anyone besides the babies born during its time? I haven’t read anything about that angle of these traditions.

This will probably be our last look at the Chinese New Year in the foreseeable future as the calendar moves away from the dragon. In case you’re curious what’s coming next year, it’s… the horse!

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Farewell, dragon; hello, snake.

No, this doesn’t mean that I’m changing the topic of Dragon Crossing.

It means that for those that follow the Chinese calendar, the new year has officially begun. Last year, I blogged about the Year of the Dragon, and what a great time it was to start a dragon-themed blog. As of today, the Year of the Snake is upon us. Last year brought some changes in my life that left my blog silent more often than I wanted, but I’m happy with the start that was made here. Though the Year of the Dragon is over, I have the feeling that Dragon Crossing’s best days are still ahead. Later this week, we’ll compare the dragon to the snake according to the Chinese traditions and find out what personality differences the two cousins have. Happy New Year!

Chinese snake

The Chinese Zodiac changes from the dragon to this guy this year. Image borrowed from Wikimedia Commons.

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And the mystery book* is…

Neverending Story cover art

Falkor, the luckdragon, depicted in the center of the book cover. Image borrowed from Wikipedia.

The Neverending Story.

I first heard the words as a child in a hotel room while my parents flipped channels on the cable TV. My family didn’t get cable at home, so it was only in the already-thrilling setting of a hotel room that I was introduced to Animal Planet, Cartoon Network, and old Disney classics. I don’t remember how old I was when The Neverending Story was briefly flipped on before bed, but I do remember the instant intrigue I felt. A classic tale, a magical book, and a story with no end—I was hooked. It took until this month for me to actually follow through and find the book at the library, but I’ve finally experienced the story that had been calling my name for years.

Have you read, seen, or at least heard of it? It’s a sweet story about a bullied boy who reads the fantasy tale of a world that is literally falling apart—and he, Bastian Balthazar Bux, is the only person who can save it. I have to admit, I enjoyed the half of the book where he was still on the outside looking into the book much more than the person he became upon entering the land of Fantastica, but his journey home again was powerful and touching. The most interesting aspect of the story for me was the idea that there is a link between the human and Fantastican worlds, and only when humans believe in Fantastica can either world be healthy and whole.

There were two “dragons” in the story. The more traditional dragon was invented by Bastian to kidnap a princess so that a noble knight could prove his worth. His role was minimal. Falkor the luckdragon had a much greater part to play.

Luckdragons aren’t exactly what we think of as dragons. I will let Michael Ende, the author, explain in his own words:

“Luckdragons are among the strangest animals in Fantastica. They bear no resemblance to ordinary dragons, which look like loathsome snakes and live in deep caves, diffusing a noxious stench and guarding some real or imaginary treasure…. Luckdragons are creatures of air, warmth, and pure joy. Despite their great size, they are as light as a summer cloud, and consequently need no wings for flying. They swim in the air of heaven as fish swim in water. Seen from the earth, they look like slow lightning flashes. The most amazing thing about them is their song. Their voice sounds like the golden note of a large bell, and when they speak softly the bell seems to be ringing in the distance. Anyone who has heard this sound will remember it as long as he lives and tell his grandchildren about it.” The Neverending Story

Falkor is one of my favorite main characters in the story. Bastian makes too many foolish mistakes for me to love him, and Atreyu (a Fantastican boy who plays a key role in the story) makes too few mistakes. Falkor, on the other hand, is wise, powerful, joyful, and kind–and more convincingly so because he is not a person. He gives helpful advice, is a strong ally in trouble, cheers up those who are discouraged, and above all, holds on to hope. This luckdragon is the kind of friend that we all hope for.

*For those of you who missed my last post, I mentioned a “mystery book” that I had read while sick that I was going to say more about on Thursday. This is that book. Today is no longer Thursday, but some things came up before I finished my post, and I wasn’t able to finish it until today.

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