Fantasy, gorgeous art and a journal style. There’s very little I don’t love about this book and I can’t wait to get into reviewing it. Not like there’s much to review. I can see very little flaws with this book simply because it touched on everything I love. *Sigh* But I digress. Let’s tackle this beast—er, I mean dragon!
Book Blurb (Is there even one? *Searches on Amazon* Oh yes, there is. Here we go.)
On the trail of dragons forgotten, an intrepid illustrator and reporter journeys from Europe through the Middle East and finally to Saigon in search of the dark caverns and mountaintop perches where the elusive winged serpents dwell. With the gift of seeing the invisible, our explorer friend records each encounter in a journal of gorgeous, fully painted artwork, capturing every majestic and fearsome visual detail of the scaly behemoths, and accompanies his findings with snippets of local lore as evidence that these hidden beasts continue to shape the world in ways we may never expect!
What I Liked
What I liked! Oh man, where do I start? I was peering around a Chapters one day on a journey to a city where they actually have bookstores big enough to browse in when I stumbled upon the art section. Lo and behold, there was a book there with an illustration of a majestic dragon on the cover.
Little do you know, I am not a die-hard fan of dragons in any form or fashion. In fact, I’m pretty sick of seeing them in fantasy simply because I’m not fan and I can’t sympathize with fans of this great winged serpant. Dragons have been so overused that they bore me…with some exceptions (Dreamworks’ How to Train Your Dragon, for example.)
I was intrigued not primarily by the content, but by the artwork, so I flipped open the page. And turned the page. And turned another. And another. A wide grin struck my face as I marvelled at the incredible detail in each drawing, and what interested me the most were the pencil drawings.
I used to do a lot of drawing, mostly anime/manga style. My artistic weapon of choice is, you guessed it, the pencil. (The pen may be mightier than the sword, but the pencil triumphs with its word-filled depictions. 1000 words or more anyone? I think I’ll just gawk.) To me, the pencil work reminded me of my fascination with drawing and my pencilwork days, which occassionally creep up on me from time to time.
So the artwork is phenomenal.
The second thing that struck my eye was the journal entries. One thing I like to depict in my own work is a sense of wonder, and the journal style encompasses that. I loved reading the prose as well as the little notes about the sketches. These entries eventually weave a story that follow the journey of a reporter.
What I Didn’t Like
I’m going to get really nitpicky here. As fabulous as the dragon artwork was, most beasts were in similar poses. Whether facing you or three-quarter position, the dragons’ necks were curled, even in flight. And although each majestic beast had elements that matched its environment, most were structured the same. Sure, there may have been an added tusk or two, or vines or fins. But they were all the same. Same bone structure.
With the variety of places this reporter went to, I would expect a little more variation in these majestic creatures. Even the Asian ones seemed remarkably European, and though the reporter painted a lovely picture of the different cultures, he failed to produce dragons that resembled anything of Asian folklore. (I say Asian generously, realizing that the continent consists of several different countries and cultures, each with its own unique blend of legends and myth.)
And…that’s really the only disappointment. Seriously, there’s not much else I found wrong with this book.
I read a couple of reviews on Goodreads and realized with great dismay that people were disappointed. But that disappointment came from buying the ebook. And I can understand that. If I had bought the ebook, I wouldn’t be able to read the fine print no matter how much I squinted.
So, though I personally didn’t have that experience, I would say that another flaw would be that the ebook doesn’t capture the true essence of the artwork.
What I Learned
I’ve really got to draw more. I could stare at this book time and time again and never get bored because of all the overlaying textures and colours. But alas, drawing takes time and writing consumes most of it. The most I could ever get to was doing an illustration of Ninthalas and putting him on my newsletter header.
In Search of Lost Dragons is a learning experience for an aspiring artist, an inspiration for a journalist, and an overall good read. It makes me want to make my own journal, perhaps without such lavish illustrations, unless of course I was working alongside a professional illustrator or had developed the skills myself to produce such fanciful work.
In fact, that’s one of my plans…eventually. I’d like to create the Chronicles of Calladron or Tales of Narnin or something along those lines. I think it would be great to dive into the mind of an explorer and trek across uncharted lands which I so conveniently created on my master map.
Who knows? Maybe I’ll start sooner than later. But I also have to finish the compilations of the holy book, called the Fehlthan, and the Songs of Líran, as well as several book ideas, and keep up a blog.
But if I could make any suggestion, get the book in print. It’s definitely worth it.