Monday, March 3, 2014

Mythical Monday (39)


It seems there are many books based on or influenced by Myths and Mythological Beings.

There are so many different Mythology and Mythological Beings recorded. Some are very popular and well known, others not so much. There are many similar beings, yet different depending on the culture it’s based in.  The definition of Myth covers about anything in the Urban Fantasy/Fantasy realm to me.

I’ve invited authors to share briefly the Mythological being or Myth that influenced their character(s) or story, or what their character(s) are based on influencing their books.  Hosting here, one author and being or myth per week.


This week we have:
Young Adult Fantasy author Collin Earl
Talking of Dragons.



So the mythology...tough one really, because I don't think that I really want to pick one, but if I absolutely had to I think I would have to go with dragons. Hands down not even a contest. And now unfortunately for all of you readers in BlogLand, now I've started.

So dragons are interesting not only because they are giant scale covered walking fire spiters (though that too is the case), but because they are found in just about every culture and mythology on earth. There are two distinct cultural traditions of dragons: the European dragon derived from European folk traditions and ultimately related to Greek and Middle Eastern mythologies, and the Chinese dragon, with counterparts in Japan, Korea and other East Asian countries.These cultural dragons differ quite a bit, but at the same time share many traits as such dragon mythology takes many forms through out history, to the wise celestial dragon of Chinese to the spiteful demon/dragon of the Bible. All of these renditions are interesting, don't get me wrong, but if I were be completely honest I take the most amount of influence from what I've seen dragons become in today's modern story telling. I am going to talk about one aspect of this "inspiration factor"; I will try to keep it short.

So if you were to look at the Wikapedia page about dragons http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_dragons_in_literature#1990s you'd see many different versions of dragons there. For example, In Legon Awakening, by Nick Taylor, dragons represent not only the god figures of the humanoid societies (Elves, humans and Dark Elves equivalent call Agunmeta) but also the pinnacle of magical "power" evolution. (level 8 magicians, which in the scale of magical ability expounded in the Legon World is the highest attainable level, manifests itself with the ability to physical change shape and become a dragon, which is totally cool.) Power, magic, the ability to do stuff outside the norm are all functions of dragons in this series, which isn't that uncommon to the story telling versions of dragons, what is uncommon is the religious mythology surrounding dragons as creators of society, (the god figure in the Legon Series is actually a giant Golden Dragon.) I can totally understand where this dragon god creation concept came from and how easily Mr. Taylor adapted Dragons into their roles as deities. Power, wisdom, the ability to function outside society are all aspects of the traditional historical dragons of western and eastern mythologies. Take for that this creature filled the role of god quite nicely--it wasn't even that much of a stretch from a mythology concept.

Lets look at another series. one that is more main stream. The Inheritance Cycle by Christoper Paolini, Dragons in his four book series, while playing a central role, are no more godlike then anyone else, they do however have a lot of the traits that we, as readers/consumers, have traditional associated with these creatures--that of infinite life span, the ability to breath fire, unparalleled wisdom etc. The connection of the dragon and the rider in this series is paramount; its really what shapes the series and I would dare say that it would be difficult to establish this "Dragon Rider" plot point, with any other mythical creatures simply because of how familiar people are with dragons. (Think of griffin riders - seriously not the same thing.)

How does this inspire me you might ask? Well I am always looking for ways for tell old story concepts in new compelling ways. For example, the modern fantasy with mythological deities entering the modern world, I like to call it urban mythology, (Percy Jackson) seems to be a common subject matter of the masses these days. I currently have a series right now i'm actively working which falls right into this urban mythology genre, but where dragons will play a roll in connecting mythologies and pantheons of gods across the ages. I decided to use dragons as this all wise semi-godlike race, instead of making something up or using another mythological creature, because I feel like it was something that fans of the genre will recognize and "relate" to allowing their subconscious suspension of disbelief to takeover more quickly because of past exposure to the concept of the dragon.

You're confused. I understand. Allow me to explain it like this.

There is a current anime out called Nobunaga the Fool (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nobunaga_the_Fool) - this anime takes the "recognition" concept that I have been talking about with dragons and instead uses historical figures applied in a completely different mythology. In Nobunaga the Fool, the Western world of our culture and the Eastern world of Asian cultures are divided across two different planets or stars which are connected (or were) through a dragon pulse. To quote the Wiki page

"The Western Planet and the Eastern Planet. Once upon a time, the two sides were bound by the "Dragon Pulse" spanning the heavens. The civilization that once had prospered has now turned to a tale of dreams, as the inextinguishable flames of war tear the realm asunder. The two planets remain engulfed in endless battles. The return of the super technology known as "sacred treasures" could revolutionize the world order, but no one knows of them but one person—a "heretical girl." A girl from the Western Planet, Jeanne Kaguya d'Arc, saw heavenly visions of the birth of a "Savior King" who will save the world. She embarks on a journey to the Eastern Planet with Leonardo da Vinci, "the one who observes the world." They come across the heretic of the Eastern Planet and "the greatest fool of the day," Oda Nobunaga."

The main character is Oda Nobunaga a massively important figure from Japanese history. This isn't all however, Jeanne of Arc, Leonarado Da Vinici, King Arthur are all characters in this story. The authors/animators took historical figures and placed them in a steam punk fantasy providing name recognition that instantly helps you draw connections to characters. The simple act of placing a recognizable name allows you some insight into the character and how they should act thus enabling audiences to connect to characters more quickly.Brilliant really.

I believe that dragons have done this for me in my series (or will as the series with the dragons as a focal point isn't out yet). People who read fantasy with any amount of frequency will recognize that the dragons of my story will feed into some preconceived notions but at the same time bring something new. This combination of the old and the new, the recognizable and the distinguished will hopefully enable my readers to connect to my world faster and allow for that true immersion experience.

Or maybe I am just over thinking it...

I guess only time will tell.


Author Bio:
Collin J. Earl is an attorney, the CLO of Darkfire Productions and the writer of the House of Grey. Collin contributes his articles/post as one of his many “stops” for this 2012 House of Grey Promotional Blog Tour. Find out more on twitter/CollinEarl and at www.CollinEarl.com

Author Links:
Site:  Collin Earl
Twitter:  @CollinEarl

Books Currently Out:
(1st 2 books of House of Grey are FREE)


(1st book of Harmonics is FREE)

10 comments:

  1. Great post dragons are and forever will be amazing :)
    Rimsha@Ramblings of a Bookworm

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    1. Thank you Rimsha Salam. Glad you enjoyed the post! Hope you stop by to check out more Mythical Monday's each week. :)

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  2. I like dragons, in all forms :)

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  3. Does sound interesting and I have to say that it makes sense to use dragons to connect cultures. I'm always amazed that such differing cultures have dragons in their folklore.

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    1. Melissa (B&T) I'm really curious to see where this new story by Collin takes us. I've been enjoying his serialized story and there are so many elements in it! :) Thank you!

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  4. Oh I love dragons! It's difficult to find a good story with them. I haven't read a lot of them

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    1. Melliane, I'm curious to get a taste of Collin's dragons. :) Thank you!

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  5. Great post! I've always loved dragons, and am half convinced that they were real as why else would so many different cultures have dragon legends? ;)

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    1. Alexia, lol. I believe there was some sort of dragon at some time. What we think as dragons? Maybe not, but something. ;) Thank you!

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