I love dragons. I love the way they look, I love the lore behind them, I love that almost every culture has a dragon myth of some kind, and I love the myriad ways they’ve been represented throughout the history of fantasy books. This beautiful book was given to me for my birthday by my youngest son (he also gave me a stuffed dragon because he is convinced that I don’t have enough stuffed animals and it’s been his mission to fix that serious problem).
The Art of the Dragon is different than some of my other dragon books (I have quite a few). It doesn’t discuss the “anatomy” of the dragon, or what breath weapon each color dragon has (because only having fire is so passé). Instead, it has paintings of dragons from some of the preeminent dragon artists as well as explanations from them regarding their inspiration and process.
And, good gravy, this book features an amazing group of artists! From John Howe to Michael Whelan, Clyde “Make it Sexy” Caldwell (yes, my husband and I have given him a nickname) to Julie Bell, The Art of the Dragon includes a broad range of styles and several years’ worth of contributions to the fantasy genre. I was especially pleased to see Larry Elmore, since his art is synonymous with the series that made me a lifelong fantasy lover.
The thoughts each artist gave about their art and the reasons why they paint them the way they do is what pushed this book over the edge from beautiful to epic for me. Little explanations, like how one artist thinks about the “behavior” of each dragon he is painting, to Elmore’s thoughts on how his contemporaries paint their dragons (“I painted my dragons one way, and Keith [Parkinson] painted his pretty similar to me, and Clyde [Caldwell] did his more serpentine and Jeff [Easley] did his more as a pit bull”), each feature made me understand and appreciate each artist even more.
Something else that makes The Art of the Dragon stand out is the sheer number of paintings in the book. Some dragon art books only have a few paintings or only feature paintings that are incredibly popular and have already been added to many books. While there are some of those ubiquitous pieces in here, there are several that I haven’t seen before or haven’t seen in years. That’s quite the feat, what with how many dragon books I own.
The Art of the Dragon is a gorgeous book, perfect for anyone who loves dragons or appreciates fantasy art.