Scaly monsters preen, glower fiercely, and soar grandly in this introduction to dragon kind and care.
Saxton (Book of Mermaids, 2005; Book of Fairies, 2009) mixes elaborately worked painted images with doses of dragon lore but not enough of either to provide more than momentary diversion. A promising opening scenario featuring a crusty old dragon hunter is abruptly abandoned. Following that comes a tally of dragon types by habitat (“Caelum Dragons” on mountains, “Terras Dragons” on sea cliffs, etc.) and then increasingly scanty notes on how dragons are recognized, slain, tamed, and used for medicinal purposes. (It’s no wonder they “went into hiding” some centuries ago.) Only fitfully are these factoids linked to the illustrations, which are not only placed more or less arbitrarily throughout, but tend to show dragon heads, claws, or other details rather than full-body views. Photographed or photorealistically rendered herbs, jars, and scraps of paper with notes or sketches serve as filler. Aside from a perfunctory section on “Dragon Whisperers” and some momentarily arresting visuals, there is little here to draw dragon lovers out of their lairs.
Though flashy at first glance, barely a glimmer next to Dugald Steer’s Dragonology (2003) or Graeme Base’s Discovery of Dragons (1996). (Informational fantasy. 10-12)