Why am I so fascinated by dragons

Fire-breathing monsters and good-natured protectors

The dragons have occupied the imagination of the people for centuries. Big, powerful, beautiful beings, winged, breathing fire.

And of course they have become an indispensable part of literature. At J.R.R. Tolkien wants the dragon Smaug to kill the little hobbit and all the dwarfs, Michael Ende, the lucky dragon Fuchur, helps the hero to save the land of fantasies. And his wife Mahlzahn is transformed from a sinister, dreadful dragon into a wise, golden one. In Cornelia Funke's Dragon Rider, dragons remain petrified, but they still retain a bit of life - enough to feed the dragon fantasies.

Christopher Paolinis, "Eragon" books about the friendship between a dragon and a boy who fight together for good are bestsellers.

With Max Kruse's "Urmel aus dem Eis" (Urmel from the Ice), a little dragon, dinosaur creature had conquered the hearts of children.

The fascination for kites continues.

"There is no doubt that no other animal is comparable to the mighty dragon in respect of awe inspiring power and majesty,"

writes the dragon researcher Gildas Magnus in 1465.

"I've always had a great fascination with kites and I've done a lot of research over the years."

So Carole Wilkinson, Australian author.

"Dragons are very, very imaginative, that's also something that is more important for children to be able to create their own world."

Sylvia Heinlein, Hamburg children's author.

"Dragons are like people. There are good and bad dragons. In China, dragons are considered gods. In England, however, there was a dragon who wanted to scorch all land and devastate cities and villages."

Sherryl Jordan, New Zealand writer.

Four authors - four books on kites. Very different dragons

"Actually, when I started writing fantasy novels, I always said I'll never write about dragons because that's a terrible cliché. That comes right after the dwarves and the elves and the hobbits, etc. But when I myself then decided to write about China, I just couldn't get around it. "

Kai Meyer, Germany's best-selling fantasy novelist.

Four authors - four books on kites. Very different dragons

"The dragon as an object of longing"

Kai Meyer, who actually never wanted to make a dragon the subject of his novels, takes his readers off into 18th century China in his new novel "Silk and Sword". The Manchu invaders have conquered the Han Chinese empire. They are cruel and uneducated, they spread fear and terror. But there are beings who might be able to help.

The dragon king of the south, Yaozi, raises the little nugua. Far from any human habitation, she grows up, a human child among dragons.

The pointed mouth opened only imperceptibly when he formed words with it. His scales, each as big as Nugua's torso, were rust-red and bronze: they shimmered like a sunrise in the twilight of the mountain forests. From his forehead grew horns, shaped like deer antlers, and from the lips of his dragon's mouth curled two tree-long golden antennae like whiskers that he sometimes nudged Nugua to show her how much he loved her.

Kai Meyer: "The western dragon is actually more of a threatening creature, a creature that guards treasures, that is slain by knights and that burns villages. The Chinese dragon, on the other hand, is a creature that is above all an embodiment of wisdom, of a certain divinity. So it is a completely different approach to these beings than to us. "

In one fell swoop, all dragons disappeared in "Silk and Sword". One day Nugua woke up and found herself abandoned by the dragon family. Without a word, without a hint. Kai Meyer succeeds in writing a novel about dragons in which the dragons have already disappeared after three pages and do not appear until the last, seventh page. They remain objects of longing. Yet they are omnipresent.

"That actually corresponds to Chinese culture, where dragons are omnipresent. You can see images of dragons everywhere in China, the dragons are also worshiped, and in some cases even adored. The element of the dragon is very much in China, very present, without people constantly talking about it or believing in the physical existence of dragons. But they are always there. And that's something I've tried to implement to some extent. "

Dragons determine the thoughts and actions of the protagonists. Because of you, Meyer's heroes plunge into daring adventures and bloody battles. Nugua wants to find the dragons. She meets people who want the same thing. There is the young Niccolo from the people of the high air who wants to catch the breath of the dragons. Only when he finds the breath will his people continue to float on a cloud and survive.

You come across a man in a dragon costume.

The Tao master Li joins the three. He is one of the eight immortals, the link between humans and the gods. He quotes Taoist wisdom. The flying sword warrior Whisperwind saves the lives of the children Niccolo and Nugua more than once. Niccolo falls in love with another fighter, the beautiful moon child.

Each person has a secret that they carefully try to hide from others.

"That also makes the figure constellation interesting, also the way the figures come together, how they react to each other, how they deal with the wish of others to find the dragons. On the one hand, this creates common ground, on the other hand, of course, conflicts and Stories, of course, are also fed by conflicts between characters. "

Meyer's Chinese dragons are noble, beautiful and very wise. They live for thousands of years, they bring warm summer rain to people and they are worshiped. You are sacred and inviolable. They can be dangerous and look threatening with their bodies like fortresses, their teeth like razor-sharp towers. Who could dare to take them on?

"The classical Chinese dragon, a wise philosopher"

Carole Wilkinson presents the second volume of her dragon trilogy "In the garden of the purple dragon". The little quay is the last dragon. He lives dangerously. Dragon hunters seek his life, the emperor wants to achieve immortality with his help. Some who pretend to be friends turn out to be selfish, greedy enemies. Little Ping takes self-sacrificing care of Kai. She is the dragon keeper.

Ping had perceived her relationship with the little dragon as a one-sided affair. She had to do all the work and got nothing in return. Only now did she see the truth. Kai gave her life meaning.

Kai is the son of the wise and kind Danzi, whom Ping accompanied through all of China in the first volume of Wilkinson's trilogy until he flew to the island of the blessed.

"I've been fascinated by dragons for a long time and have done a lot of research. I just couldn't stop, had file upon file full of information about dragons, Chinese and Western dragons. And I believed it was time to do something with that knowledge . I learned a little Chinese, went to China a few times, and finally I decided to write a fantasy story about a Chinese dragon, but set it in a historically real scenario. So I made it as historically correct as I possibly could. "

The garden of the Purple Garden takes place in the 2nd century BC. Wilkinson shows the living conditions of that time unadorned: the omnipotence of the emperor, the arduous life of the peasants. Your fear of the authorities, of the emperor and his ministers. Emperor Liu Che, who plays an important role in the novel, is considered one of the most important Chinese emperors.

However, he went down in history not so much as a kind, wise philosopher, but as a military strategist under whose rule China expanded. Liu Che united China - also and above all with the sword.

Carol Wilkinson's fantasy story is set against this very real background. But Carol Wilkinson is not only familiar with Chinese history, but also with Chinese philosophy. The ancient dragon Danzi quoted the wisdom of the Tao de King, which Ping remembers when she doesn't know what to do next.

A thousand mile journey begins with a single step, "said Danzi. For the first time, Ping felt no regrets that she had left Huangling.

Kai and Danzi are very classic Chinese dragons. For Carol Wilkinson, dragons in China are symbolic, they stand for wisdom and a long life:

"I think they are the most important symbol that the Chinese have. It is noticeable that during the Cultural Revolution, when they tried to get rid of all the old things, all the" old "thoughts and" old "customs, that the dragons have never been forgotten. The dragon was and is always a symbol. You can still see it on tea packs or restaurant doors. That must be something that is deep in the Chinese subconscious. "

The bloodthirsty dragon, which is in the tradition of the Nibelung dragon

In Sherryl Jordan's novel "Jing-Wei and the Last Dragon" a young Chinese girl ended up in England. Once she was a high-born noble lady with bound feet, now she is displayed as a freak at fairs. Everything is different than in her home country. The winged beings, wise and kind in their homeland, are bloodthirsty and cruel in the west. The last dragon to live in England does not have a dedicated dragon keeper. He doesn't need them either. He burns down villages and brings death and ruin.

Justin loses his family, his village, everything he owns in such a hell of fire. He joins a group of jugglers. Jing-Wei lives there in a cage. Justin takes affection for her, frees her one day and flees with her to old Lan, a wise woman from China who everyone in the village thinks for a witch. She knows a cure for Justin's hopelessness, his depression. He should avenge his family. He is supposed to kill the last dragon and Jing-Wei is supposed to help him. Justin is anything but enthusiastic:

I can see it right in front of me, a fire kite being slain in front of a village idiot who doesn't even hit a barn from twenty meters away, and a crippled girl! And what should we do afterwards? Maybe conquer Scotland?

In addition to medicinal plants that restore Jing-Wei's feet, Lan also has gunpowder, which the Chinese have known for a long time, but which is still completely unknown in England. With this and with the help of a stunt kite - nobody in Europe knows anything like that either - the kite is to be lured out of its cave. Jing-Wei is not entirely comfortable with it, as she remembers the very different dragons in her native China.

Sherryl Jordan presents a local kite, one that is in the tradition of the Nibelung kite. And an England that is backward, as Justin still has to have his story written down by a monk with a goose quill, while in China they already know the art of printing.
Justin is not a hero. He shivers with fear and wants to retreat more than once. He scolds Jing-Wei.

You still rob me of my mind, and then I'm not only a weakling, but also a madman! This would not be a suitable state for a knight who wants to kill a dragon.

Justin keeps his mind, kills the dragon - and is silent about it, nobody would believe him anyway. Only the monks know their way around.

"Jing-Wei and the Last Dragon" is the story of two teenagers who grow up through dragon hunting. A story of terrible monsters, cruel people, magical swords - and a story about the power and strength of love.

The dragon as a beautiful dream, as a figure of identification

Sylvia Heinlein describes neither an eastern nor a western, absolutely no flesh-and-blood dragon in her novel "Drachenmädchen". Janne's parents are very busy and sometimes forget their daughter because they work too long or because they met old friends at the flea market. Janne dreams of being someone else, like that, says Sylvia Heinlein, many little girls do.

"At the age of eight to twelve, there are a lot of girls looking for an identity. This identity is very often given by such princess stories."

But Janne - unlike her classmates - doesn't want to be a pink-clad princess with a crown, but rather a veritable dragon. She knows all about it: with Chinese young dragons from the mountains, with blue water dragons that crouch in underground caves, with snow-white clinker kites from the North Pole. Dragons are noble and good, and they love poetry. She only shares her secret with a new friend.

"You can't just be a dragon like that". said Janne hesitantly. "That is only possible if you really feel like one. If you like to be alone. And you have to be forgetful and collect treasures and write poems."

Sylvia Heinlein: "Dragons are great creatures and have a few character traits that I think are great. On the one hand, dragons are forgetful, a trait that very, very many children of this prepubescent age have and which they often manage to create dramatically Then dragons are very, very imaginative, which is also something that is very important for children to be able to create their own world. "

"Dragons love to write poetry, but they are completely incomprehensible, as a dragon you are completely free in language and style. Dragons hoard treasures, everything that glitters is guarded. And dragons love to be alone. They have no problem withdrawing into theirs Cave to sit on your treasures and dream a little and otherwise let the world be the world. That offered me a projection surface for every girl who feels 'at times' alone and flees into a world in which everything is quite right . "

And then the girls turn into dragons, become courageous and self-confident and no longer allow themselves to be told by big brothers, rowdy classmates and bitchy classmates.

At Sylvia Henlein the dragons are a refuge for a dreamer who transforms into a mythical animal and thereby becomes brave and strong.

"I have described very clearly how the main character assumes different roles. This is also intended as a small, short developmental novel. These are girls who are looking for an identity. They all end up with some kind of princess and some of these girls completely notice quickly that this is not for them, that they are actually more of a robber baron. But as a robber baron you are very, very alone, there aren't that many robber barons. And then, like the main character in my book, you have to think about what I still have left. If I'm not a tender princess vying for a prince, and if I'm not a wild robber baron who goes alone through the world to conquer enemies, then what could I be? And then maybe it's a dragon who is allowed to be alone, to ponder, to look a little melancholy at the world, is then perhaps the right thing. "

Sylvia Heinlein's novel Dragon Girl is an ode to the imagination in which a little girl becomes a giant dragon. And with the help of this imagination, Janne develops into a personality. Because ultimately, whether Eastern, Western, kind, bloodthirsty, wise or vengeful or as a symbol of a pre-pubescent search for identity, ultimately the dragons come from exactly this: from the imagination.

Anyone who goes on a journey to see the dragons should not do so without taking a particularly magnificent book with them. A book by a certain Dr. Ernest Drake, who dedicated his life to dragons. "Expedition into the secret world of dragons" is the name of this beautiful, lavishly furnished book.

There is no doubt that no other animal can be compared to the mighty dragon in terms of awe inspiring power and majesty,

writes the dragon researcher Gildas Magnus in 1465, whom Dr. Drake quotes. His dragon primer "Expedition into the secret world of dragons" contains many drawings of different types of dragons and hinged display boards, just as if it were a scientific compendium about a real animal - written by a real dragon researcher.

Dr. Drake deals with the behavior, eating habits, life cycle of dragons, explains how they breathe fire, how and where you can find them and how you can communicate with them. Drake shows us his kite science laboratory and explains the differences between eastern, western and Australian dragons. The latter are marsupials.

"Expedition into the secret world of dragons" is an absolute must for every dragon lover. Here you can touch the skin of a dragon and do natural history studies on the biology and physiology of the dragon.You learn how to use kite dust properly - you can sprinkle it like rice or confetti at a wedding.

But Dr. Drake warns. Despite the intensive reading, very few readers will become masters of kite science. They are those who can be reflected in the eyes of the dragons. Your job is to protect the last remaining dragons.

And finally, the wonderful Dr. Drake also a very simple explanation why western and eastern dragons are so different.

Interestingly, western dragons are portrayed in legends as bloodthirsty monsters, while eastern dragons are largely considered friends and benefactors of humans. The reason for this may lie in the history of the relationships between humans and dragons. Some were just better neighbors than others.

Book list

Expedition into the secret world of dragons.
ArsEdition. 2005 32 p. With various effects & letters. 24.90 euros.
As an audio book. Hörverlag. Different speakers. 2006.1 CD 19.95 euros

The Secret Handbook of Dragon Lore.
ArsEdtion. 2006. 80 pages with stickers and letters 14.90 euros

Cornelia Funke: Dragon Rider. Unabridged reading.
Read by Rainer Strecker. 2006. 12 CDs. GoyaLit. 44.95 euros

Sylvia Heinlein: Dragon Maiden.
Carlsen Publishing House. 2006. 116 pages. 7.90 euros

Sherryl Jordan: Jing-Wei and the Last Dragon.
Translated from the English by Cornelia Stoll. 2005. Sauerländer 224 p. 14.90 euros

Kai Meyer: silk and sword.
Lion. 2006. 407 pages. 16.90 euros
As audio book: 6 CD's read by A. Fröhlich 2006. Hörcompany. 22.95 euros

Christopher Paolini: Eragon. The Legacy of the Dragon Riders.
From the American by Joannis Stefanidis. 608 pages. 2004. Cbj. 19.90 euros
or as paperback 2006. cbt. 736 pages. 9.95 euros
As an audio book. Unabridged reading. Voiced by Andreas Fröhlich. 17 audio CDs. 2005.
Random house audio. 39.50 euros

Christopher Paolini: Eragon - The Elder's Order.
From the American by Joannis Stefanidis. 800 pages. 2005. Cbj. 19.90 euros.
As paperback 2007. 800 p. 12 euros. cbt
As an audio book. Unabridged reading. Voiced by Andreas Fröhlich. 22 audio CDs.
Random house audio. 2006. 49.95 euros

Carole Wilkinson: In the Garden of the Purple Dragon. 2006.
Translated from the English by Peter Knecht. Dressier. 320 pages. 13.90 euros

Carole Wilkinson: Guardian of the Dragon. 2005.
Translated from the English by Peter Knecht. Dressier. 320 pages. 13.90 euros

J.R.R. Tolkin: The Hobbit.
The Hörverlag. 1994.4 CDs 24.95 euros

Urmel from the ice.
Audio book. 1969. Lighthouse. 2 CDs. 9.99 euros