Wherever humans live, they tell stories of dragons.
Cultures on every continent in every era have dragon myths and dragon art – from the Mesopotamian creation myth of the dragon Tiamat around 5,000 BCE to Fafnir in the Icelandic Volsungasaga, and Saint George and Saint Michael slaying dragons in early medieval legends. In China, pictures of dragons date back as far as the Stone Age.
Yet dragons don’t really exist. With their reptilian, serpentine or mammalian torsos, four legs, giant mouths, long tails, scaly skin and bat-like wings, they resemble no real living creature. Artists’ and storytellers imaginations may have been fired by lizards, snakes and crocodiles, as well as by humankind’s instinctual fear of big cats, reptiles and giant birds – but how come these fantasy creatures have found their way into the imagination of every culture?
Could it be a residual memory from the days when dinosaurs walked on earth? But scientists tell us that by the time the first humans appeared, the last dinosaurs were already extinct. Or were they?
What if some dinosaurs survived longer than current science assumes?
What if the early stories about dragons were based on fact? What if Jason’s fight with the Colchian dragon for possession of the Golden Fleece, Beowulf’s epic combat of the monster Grendel and St. Margaret’s encounter with the dragon are inspired by actual events? What if the prehistoric people who painted dragons on cave walls had seen dinosaurs or plesiosaurs, or heard reports passed down from their ancestors?
The Bible mentions two monstrous creatures – Behemoth and Leviathan – whose description fits no known animal, but is a surprisingly close match to the brachiosaurus and elasmosaurus. Is it possible that, contrary to current scientific thought, those species were not yet extinct in Bible times?
Taking this speculation one step further, we can wonder if some of those ancient creatures are still alive on earth today. This thought is not as far-fetched as it first seems. Oceolanths, ancient water creatures, were believed to have died out 65 million years ago – until one was caught in 1938.
The Loch Ness Monster in Scotland might be a surviving plesiosaur, and who knows what ancient creatures might lurk on the seabed of the Pacific Ocean and in caves of the Barberton Mountains.
Ten authors invite you to suspend your disbelief and join them on journeys into a world where humans live side-by-side with dragons.
The stories selected for this book have different writing styles, from tongue-in-cheek humour to exciting frights, and they present ten different kinds of dragon. Some of these dragons are evil, some are kind, and others just want to be left in peace. But they all are dangerous, and they are formidable foes when their ire is roused.
The authors hail from different parts of the world and have set their stories in China, Japan, Russia, America and Britain as well as in fantasy lands.
Leave your disbelief behind and travel with us to lands where dragons roam.