A Diversity of Dragons
by Hans van der Boom
In 1997 Anne's
biggest book was published. Biggest book? Yes, A Diversity of
Dragons is definitely Anne's biggest book . Just look at the
first picture I put it in my computer chair and laid a (not too
common) mass market paperback of a UK edition of Dragonquest in
front of it to show you its size.
A Diversity of
Dragons was published by Simon & Schuster Ltd. and was
co-written by Richard J. Woods, a Dominican friar who teaches in
Chicago and Blackfriar's Hall, Oxford University. An unusual
combination at the least But take a closer look at what
interests our friar on his site Dragonthorn and you'll
understand a little better.
The two decided to
write a book about dragons. It became sort of a compendium or
reader's guide to dragons and dragon books in short story/novel
form and if that sounds strange to you I advise you to hunt the
book down and read it. If you love dragons you'll love it So far
so good. A special book if only the text was there, but no...
that was not enough.
In stepped John
Howe, a superb Canadian illustrator and artist, influenced by
Celtic and Northern Arthurian myth and legend, who has
illustrated many books and is most known for his illustration of
The Hobbit and Lord of the Rings. He was the ideal illustrator
and his participation made a super book on dragons into a
stunning-super book! On his own site John says about this book:
It's long been out of print, so snap it up... (the original
editor I did the book for went bankrupt ages ago, owing me a
truckload of money, so it will never be reprinted.)
And it is not only
dragons, although there are an unbelievable number depicted as
well as documented when the story evolves (no, I am not giving
away story details). I do feel I need to share a drawing by John
Howe of Anne as she looked when I first met her in person in
Nice huh? Dragons,
I hear you thinking... So, isn't there stuff in that book about
the Pern dragons we need to know? Well, not much as the book is
about dragons in general although Pern dragons are mentioned and
Ramoth is classified to belong in the group of the "Big to huge"
dragons A thing that might be special to Pern fans is the
drawing John Howe made, undoubtedly with instructions and/or
comments from Anne, of Lessa and Ramoth after Hatching:
Yes, indeed; the
book does not fit on the scanner glass For some odd reason the
dragon -- well, part of a dragon -- depicted on the front and
back end papers made a deep Impression on me and I couldn't
write this without showing you that, too:
A Diversity of
Dragons has the ISBN 0-684-82112-5 and as far as I know there
has been only the one printing. It has 96 full colour pages.
Its original price was 16.99 UK pounds (about $ 29.70) but
because it has been out of print for quite some time they could
fetch more than that if in top quality. However, there are
currently some cheap second hand copies (quality may differ) "up
for grabs" at Amazon, and a very good copy can still be bought
for about the original price. I can heartily recommend this book
and think it might increase in value over the years especially
because it is fairly sure (cf. John Howe quote above) that it'll
never be reprinted!
I'll end with
quoting the first paragraph of the book which will probably
bring a smile to your face (when you haven't read it):
"Are you the
lady who writes about dragons?" asked the male voice on the
other end of the phone.
Warily I answered I was. Warily, because, after the
Dragonriders of Pern series became well known, I was apt to
have some odd conversations with all sorts of folk. If the
voice sounds young, I'm apt to inquire if mother knows he or
she is phoning Ireland.
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