This is the book I had been waiting for, during the past 25 years or more. I wish I could have read a book like this when I started to notice this urge to draw dragons as a 15 year old student, scribbling on her school books.
This may sound biaised since I am a long time fan of John Howe's art, but on the other hand it is exactly what drew me to his work. When discovering the black dragon sitting on the cathedral of Strasbourg in a book I was leafing through in 1994, I immediately recognised a fellow dracologist, one who knows exactly how a dragon ticks...
So, how does it tick? Is there such a thing as the anatomy of a myth? Not as such according to John Howe, who rather sees his dragons as the results of the wanderings of his pencil on paper. Nevertheless it requires a good deal of knowledge in animal anatomy. To make an imaginary creature believable you need to understand how bones and tendons and muscles interact. Only then can you come up with a diversity of dragons.
But this book is much more than an artbook. It gives us a summary of dragonlore through the ages and cultures, such as has been rarely seen before. Having read many publications on the subject, I was very pleased to see some themes introduced here that had never or seldom been tackled in previous works.
Allegorical or mystical, mythical or legendary, metaphorical or fantasmagorical, modern and ancient lore, every aspect of this vast subject is exposed in short but informative sections, accompanied by old and new art and seasoned with some insights into the creation of each piece of art.
If you have never read a book about dragons, this may be a bit too much information in one go. But don't let it deter you, you will have lots of pieces of information that you can go back to and that may give you new ideas on what to read next. And slowly get to be familiar with these creatures that none of us have ever seen but that we all know somehow.