I was sent this book to review after reviewing Shaun Tan’s Tales From Outer Suburbia. It was a bit of a surprise, as it’s hardly comics related. But, if Templar are kind enough to send me the book, the least I can do is have a look.
And to be honest, flicking through it quickly I couldn’t really see much point to it – just another one of those -Ology books that seem so popular right now, except this time concerning itself with Dragons in all their many shapes and sizes. It looked entertaining enough, has some nice illustrations and that’s about it. Or so I thought.
It’s written in pseudo-scientific style, designed to look a little like an old fashioned naturalist’s handbook. Part 1 concerns itself with “A Guide To Species”, with full page illustrations of the species in question and copious details of the species characteristics. The rest of the book deals with Dragon Biology, habits and habitats, human-dragon interactions and practical dragonology.
I started off by quickly flicking through, but as I got a few pages in a couple of nice layouts and pictures caught my attention and I stopped to read the accompanying text. And that was it – I found myself warming to the book, it reminded me of similar books on outer space and alien species I used to pore over from the local library when I was a child.
(A typical double page spread from Drake’s Compendium; Dragon habitats – Volcanoes and Aquatic environments are favoured, although the Gargouillle species is perfectly capable of blending into any city environ. From Drake’s Comprehensive Compendium Of Dragonology, published by Templar Publishing.)
Since I work in a primary school (what – you’re surprised this isn’t a full time job here on the blog? – oh, if only I could earn enough reviewing comics) I figured the children there might find it enjoyable, especially the fantasy fans in the Warhammer club.
That was a total understatement. Like it? They loved it, pounced on it, devoured every page, read every detail, every picture, every text piece, found so many funny bits hidden in the text and absolutely couldn’t put it down. It’s now pride of place on their Warhammer bookshelf and is already looking a little dogeared through continual use. So perhaps I shouldn’t have been so quick in my somewhat dismissive initial attitude of Dragonology – perhaps I’m just not quite the target market?
One interesting feature of this Dragonology book is the augmented reality 3D feature. Install a quick plug in on your computer with a web cam and suddenly it looks like there’s a dragon alive on the page. I thought it would a bit of a cheap stunt. But it seems I’m wrong again – to be honest I thought it was pretty cool and the Warhammer Group loved it so much they insisted we showed the rest of the class. The rest of the class loved it so much that they ask to see it every day and we had a great lesson on what makes 3D work and how augmented reality may really affect their lives. So, yet again, I’m wrong and the Ology people are right. And just in case you’re wondering, it’s not just boys who love it either – my daughter Molly was very annoyed that I’d taken it into school as she wanted to keep it for herself.
It’s a lovely looking hardcover, packed with details and illustrations of all things dragon, that will be absolutely beloved by any child with even a passing interest in fantasy or roleplay. I’m sure many of you know a child that fits that bill – might I suggest then that Drakes Comprehensive Compendium Of Dragonology would make a perfect Christmas present?