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The Dragon: Fear and Power
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Martin Arnold
The Dragon: Fear and Power by Martin Arnold at Abbey's Bookshop,

The Dragon: Fear and Power

Martin Arnold


Reaktion Books

Religion & beliefs;
Folklore, myths & legends


256 pages

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Dragons are a global phenomenon, one that has troubled mankind for thousands of years. From the fire-breathing beasts of North European myth and legend to the Book of Revelation's Great Red Dragon of Hell, from those supernatural agencies of imperial authority in ancient China to those dragon-women posing a threat to male authority, dragons have a wide variety of forms and meanings. But there is one thing they all have in common: our fear of their formidable power and, as a consequence, our need to overcome them, to appease them or in some way to assume their power as our own.

How can this be explained? Is it our need to impose order on chaos in the person of a dragon-slaying hero? Is it our terror of Nature unleashed in its most destructive form? Or is the dragon nothing less than an expression of that greatest and most disturbing mystery of all - our mortality? Martin Arnold traces the history of ideas about dragons, from the earliest of times to Game of Thrones, and asks what exactly it might be in our imaginations that appears to have necessitated such a creature.

By:   Martin Arnold
Imprint:   Reaktion Books
Country of Publication:   United Kingdom
Dimensions:   Height: 234mm,  Width: 156mm, 
ISBN:   9781780238975
ISBN 10:   1780238975
Pages:   256
Publication Date:   June 2018
Audience:   General/trade ,  ELT Advanced
Format:   Hardback
Publisher's Status:   Active

Martin Arnold is Reader Emeritus in Old Northern Studies at the University of Hull. His books include The Vikings: Culture and Conquest (2006) and Thor: Myth to Marvel (2012).

[Delves] at length, and with admirable knowledge and insight, into contemporary media spins on [its] respective totems. . . . Thoroughly researched and richly illustrated chronicles of the folkloric and literary pedigrees of [its] subject creatures. . . . The Dragon features sumptuous color illustrations, a deep bibliography, and notes that invite the reader into independent excursions leading well beyond its pages. Author Arnold is clearly a world expert in dragon lore across genres and media. He guides the reader through a long and fascinating history of this mythical beast's appearances. . . . Simultaneously expansive and granular. . . . A rewarding, not to mention highly quotable, resource for browsers. If you are interested in any manifestation of dragon lore--religious, folkloric, literary, or artistic--this marvelous volume should be your point of entry. --Washington Independent Review of Books Arnold has set himself a vast topic for scrutiny: every culture across the millennia has conjured up fantastical fire-spewing raptors, perhaps as a projection of all that humankind most fears. This social history of dragons begins in the mythologies and legends that have come to us throughout recorded history and ends in the present day, with The Game of Thrones' Daenerys and her aggressive brood. --Sarah Murdoch Toronto Star From Norse mythology to Game of Thrones, dragons have soared through legend across continents and centuries. By turns scholarly and vivid (it's still hard not to be captivated by the stories themselves), this book travels from China to Scandinavia in a bid to track down the meaning behind the myth. Dragons, it seems, have at various times represented both authority and a threat to it. --History Revealed The Dragon offers a wide-ranging tour of dragons in different cultures, including readable summaries of a range of different myths. . . . Arnold writes in an engaging and vivid style, giving The Dragon the tone of an erudite conversation rather than an academic work. . . . Visually, The Dragon is impressive, with over eighty color illustrations featuring dragons from a wide range of different manuscripts and artistic sources. . . . An assured and entertaining survey of a legend that has continuing appeal. --Fortean Times The potency of dragons as symbols for human fears, weaknesses, and aspirations is the subject of Arnold's wide-ranging cultural survey. Beginning with classical mythology and ending with George R. R. Martins's Game of Thrones, Arnold explores the ways in which different eras and cultures have adapted an ancient, near-universal concept of terrifying, winged reptiles to reflect--and sometimes criticize--societal norms. . . . A thoroughly intriguing look at the symbol of the dragon and its powerful hold on the human imagination. Highly recommended for readers of cultural and literary history. --Library Journal The ability to write on esoteric matters in an accessible way is something that often (surprisingly) eludes scholars of literature, but that is not the case with Martin Arnold's The Dragon: Fear and Power. This exploration of dragons covers vast distances both temporally and geographically, and yet it seems neither laboured nor superficial. --Chris Bishop, Department of Classics and Ancient History, The Australian National University

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