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Dragonslayers: From Beowulf to St. George (Myths and Legends 2)

Dragonslayers: From Beowulf to St. George (Myths and Legends 2) [Kindle Edition]

Joseph McCullough , Peter Dennis
4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)

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If you have any passing interest in the subject I seriously recommend picking up a copy. --Bleaseworld

I can easily imagine that these books will grow into quite a wonderful collection. A series that I'm sure anyone who is a fan of ancient myths and legends would be pleased to own. It's the sort of thing that would appeal to bibliophiles of all ages.

This is a very useful resource book about dragons and their role in different communities and cultures. […] It is complemented by a bibliography of sources. The retelling of St George was one of the best I have seen. --School Library Association

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With its fiery breath, scaly armour, and baleful, malevolent stare, the dragon became the ultimate symbol of evil and corruption in European folklore and mythology. Often serving as a stand-in for Satan, or the power of evil gods, dragons spread death and hopelessness throughout the land. Only heroes of uncommon valour, courageousness, and purity could hope to battle these monsters and emerge victorious. Those that did became legends. They became dragonslayers. The list of dragonslayers is small, but it is filled with great and legendary names. Hercules, Beowulf, Sigfried, and Saint George all battled to the death with dragons. Other heroes such as Cadmus, founder of the city of Thebes, Dieudonné de Gozon, the Knight of Rhodes, and the Russian warrior Dobrynya Nikitch might be less well known to western readers, but also fought and defeated dragons. This book retells the greatest legends of this select group of warriors, while examining the myth of the dragonslayer in a historical, mythological, and even theological context.

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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Slaying the wyrm. 14 Dec 2013
By D. C. Stolk TOP 1000 REVIEWER
Format:Kindle Edition
With "Dragonslayers: From Beowulf to St. George", author Joseph McCullough has written a great second volume in the new Myths and Legends-series from Osprey Publishing. Each title in this series focuses on a specific legendary figure or a collection of myths about diverse topics, that have helped to shape our cultures. This lavishly illustrated volume provides, in 80 pages, a concise retelling of the myths and legends surrounding the Dragonslayers: the greatest heroes of myth and legend who faced mankind's most ancient foe, the dragon, the ultimate symbol of evil and corruption in European folklore and mythology.

The book is divided in the following sections: Ancient Dragonslayers (Cadmus and Hercules from Greek mythology and Daniel from the Bible); Norse Dragonslayers (Sigurd and Beowolf); Holy Dragonslayers (St. George, Pope Sylvester I, St. Carantoc and King Arthur) and Medieval Dragonslayers (John Lambton, Dieudonné de Gozon, Lord Albrecht Tut and Dobrynya Nikitich). Scattered throughout the book, are sidebars that depict lesser known dragonslayers from a wide range of European mythology. The author closes with a brief look at Dragonslayers From Around The World, through four dragonslayers from Native American, Maori and Japanese mythology.

Through these tales I learned a great deal about dragonslayers, many of whom I had never even heard of before, and the author narrates all of these stories in an engaging style. Many illustrations in both color and black & white enliven the text. Particularly the specially commissioned color plates by Peter Dennis are magnificent. I especially liked that the dragonslayers were depicted in armor appropriate to the period. For all of that, there are two reasons that keep this volume from being awarded the full five stars.
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5.0 out of 5 stars REVIEW: Myths and Legends - Dragonslayers 3 Jun 2013
By RHarris
Format:Kindle Edition
I've always been fascinated by dragons and have eagerly devoured any fantasy stories with them in. So this book really is the perfect book for a dragon lover like me. It explores in depth the myths and legends surrounding the beasts and their evolution throughout the ages in regards to their appearance and behaviour. It is an easy and quick read full to the brim with background stories and concise information. Each section also tells briefly the story of the particular Dragonslayer and his foe.

It begins with the tales of Ancient Dragonslayers such as Hercules and Cadmus. I particularly enjoyed reading about Cadmus, the founder of Thebes. I love Greek Mythology so enjoyed the references to the Greek Gods and how Cadmus fought and killed a great serpent. The book then goes on to discuss Norse Dragonslayers, Beowulf and Sigurd. Having recently studied Beowulf I appreciated re-reading about the dragon in that epic tale and how it greedily guarded a horde of treasure. As a lover of Tolkien it brought to mind the great dragon Smaug who sits upon a massive pile of gold and treasure in his story The Hobbit. My favourite tale of all within this book was Sigurd the Volsung. It is such a heart-wrenching tale of heroism and tragedy. It has made me want to read more about the epic tale and read Tolkien's The Legend of Sigurd and Gudrun. The book moves on to discuss Holy Dragonslayers and Medieval Dragonslayers. I enjoyed reading these sections but loved hearing more about The Ancient and Norse Dragonslayers. The last section on Dragonslayers Around the World was an added bonus as it was so interesting hearing about dragons in regards to Native Americans and the Maori tribe of New Zealand.
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars dragonslayers 28 Mar 2013
By susie
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
I brought this for my new kindle fire hd as has such lovely illustrations and the colour really looks superb on the kindle fire. I think it is still probably a book to buy in hard copy to really appreciate it. Having said that the accounts of the dragon slayers is informative - although you must read it as a mythological book and not too factual. It is however interesting to find out how the old myths and storys have come down through the ages and yes there is an element of truth in some of them, albeit minute! I purchased this because I am reading through the books of Tolkien and he used a lot of the storys contained in this book for his dragons in his books so that gave me an added interest. Yes a nice little book - maybe a little over priced but just a glance at the beautiful coloured illustrations will convince you it is worth it. I am glad I brought it and am enjoying the escapism - good to read about dragons, knights and princesses in this rather serious time we live in.
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A phenomenal tome, it should be on every shelf 28 Mar 2013
By poppet
Format:Kindle Edition
This is a lovely compilation of dragon slaying stories that remind you of tales you've read and mostly forgotten. It is a cultural smorgasbord of detail and hero.

The pages are really beautiful, the illustrations magnificent.

I smiled so much reading Cú Chulainn's snippet on page 18, because I forgot that once apon a time a man had to prove his worth before he would secure a maiden's hand in wedlock. Nowadays all you expect to do is buy her a drink and then 'work your magic', this certainly reawakens the fire of the imagination.

Being familiar with Norse mythology myself I was so happy to finally read someone else pointing out how Tolkien's writing mirrors Norse mythology (even the name Gandalf is Norse). He's hailed for his originality yet in truth all he did was take what already existed and put it into his own words. But then the proof of the pudding is how enduring and eternally popular these myths are. There is something in them which connects to humans like no other tale.

The adherence to originality, pointing out influences imposed on old tales is also something I relished in this. I totally agree with the author, dragon breath is a lethal gas (halitosis has never been so vile), but the idea of breathing fire is certainly a modern religious influence which is really a very sad addition for a traditionalist.

Oddly I found the Christian recounts of dragon slaying highly enlightening and hats off to the author on the subtlety employed here. Prior to the Christian tales of St George etc, we get a good background on how a dragon is evil personified, man turned beast, hoarding its treasure because its greed has mutilated its soul.
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