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- A Natural History of Dragons by Marie Brennan
At this point I don't plan on continuing the series if it does indeed turn into one , but I imagine people who really enjoy Lady Trent, might thoroughly enjoy this book. View all 7 comments. May 08, Beatriz Cunha Tavares rated it it was amazing. It was an easy read that really grabed my attention and was hard to put down. I loved the world, that was very "normal", with normal animals and a normal society ressembling the 19th century.
Sometimes it felt almost like I was reading a goood historical fiction I don't usually read a lot of books about dragons, but in this one they were nicely imagined and described and fit very well in the story. The prose was beautifully written and had rea 4. The prose was beautifully written and had really nice nature descriptions, like the forests or the night sky. The main characters personality, which most of the time felt "misplaced", was a really strong part of the story to me - she doesn't let society's chains keep her from doing what she loves to do, and ends up becoming a successful science woman.
I think that's a very important message. Also loved the fact that her brothers, father and then her husband were supportive of her "strange" hobbies and dreams, unlike her mother - society's prejudices towards women sometimes come from women themselves, and not always from men. Still, I think her character was very well developed while the other fell a little too flat sometimes; - The way the dragons and other wild life was sometimes killed almost casualy as if it were nothing bugged me a little, and I have to admit that's a bit of a down side to me.
But overall it was a very good book that i really enjoyed reading. Feb 14, TheBookSmugglers rated it liked it Shelves: You continue at your own risk. At the age of seven, Lady Isabella Hendemore discovers a lifelong passion for natural science.
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Luckily, Isabella finds a husband and kindred spirit in baronet Jacob Camherst, who is similarly interested in the winged creatures if not quite to the same degree. In these secluded, mist-shrouded hills, Lord and Lady Camherst discover dragons behaving strangely, attacking humans a frightening reality they face firsthand upon arriving at the village of Drustanev. The latest novel from prolific fantasy author Marie Brennan, A Natural History of Dragons is an engaging and entertaining book albeit one with some significant shortcomings—more on that in a bit.
Isabella is perfectly candid and recounts her many misadventures in wryly humorous fashion—everything from her childhood dissection of a dove, to the Incident with the Wolf-Drake a misguided adventure at the age of 14 , to being captured by smugglers in the middle of the night in Drustanev whilst wearing nothing but her nightgown and robe.
This becomes jarringly clear when Isabella meets her Vystrani maidservant for the first time, describing her thusly: If I was going to have a ham-handed Vystrani woman doing up my buttons, at least it would be the ham-handed woman I knew, rather than a stranger.
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Which brings me to a very significant problem—to me, personally—when it comes to A Natural History of Dragons. For all that the novel is set in a fantasy world with dragons, it seems to glorify a very real period in human history in which British Lords went to the African continent to hunt lions and elephants, and British might and imperialist views of the world dominated. The biggest question mark is the choice to set this novel in a fantasy world at all—in fantasy, you can create a world with entirely new rules, histories, and structures.
And THAT is a problem. Of course, the biggest problem when it comes to A Natural History of Dragons is the lack of actual dragons! The book comprises the narrated memoirs of Lady Isabella Trent as she grows up, and not so much any direct observance of or interaction with the eponymous beasts and the only ones that Isabella comes across, she or her party try to kill—not for trophies, mind you, but for science.
In Book Smugglerish, a tentative 6 sparklings out of You can find also find them at Twitter. I find it fascinating that so many people take exception to this [ View all 4 comments. Jun 28, Kaora rated it it was ok. I feel like this book is named incorrectly. A Natural History of Dragons? While it is a memoir of Lady Trent dragons hardly play into it. I was thinking that this might be a book much like The Resurrectionist: The Lost Work of Spencer Black, but perhaps a bit less mad scientist and more dragon biology.
Lady Trent is a woman born in the time where women are expected to attend and host dinner events, not to read books. But after developing a passion for books and dragons at a you I feel like this book is named incorrectly.
But after developing a passion for books and dragons at a young age, she is lucky enough to find a man that allows her to accompany him on an expedition to Vystrana to study rock wyrms. While I liked that Lady Trent is a fine example of a woman that broke society's norms and dared to push the boundaries of what was acceptable, I found her immature, and while highly intelligent she lacked common sense.
I suppose she is 19 so I cut her some slack but there is only so many chances. She constantly threw herself into dangerous situations without thinking but somehow managed to emerge unscathed, although those around her were not always so lucky. The men in this book contributed nothing, and while they are also there to study dragons, do not actually produce any original idea or thought that contributes to the story. It seems that Lady Trent with all her recklessness is the only one that is able to produce any kind of hypothesis or evidence.
I guess this is a refreshing change, it would have been more believable to have men that actually looked at the evidence they collected. Another issue I had with this book is that there was no actual science! In lands where wolf-drakes are still numerous, it is common knowledge that they prefer female prey. While I know I am arguing the biology of a fictional creature, I would like to know what evolutionary advantage there is to eating female prey? Are they softer and more tasty?
Easier to catch as babies slow them down? Does the hip width promote easier snacking? To someone who finds Biology fascinating, I was extremely disappointed that I didn't really actually learn anything useful or interesting about "dragons". But on the plus side the drawings were great so I'll give it an extra half star. Robin Hobb fans, Jane Austen fans.
I'll preface this review with something that I feel it's important to know. This book is not for everyone. If you read Fantasy for lots of action, wish fulfillment, badass overpowered characters, action scenes, battles, intricate plot and heavy world building, run. Run far, run fast, and don't look back. It's not for you, Jen. If you enjoy a good character piece, if you have an interest in science and natural history, if you enjoy classical literature in the I'll preface this review with something that I feel it's important to know.
In A Natural History of Dragons, a Victorian lady defies the rules of society and heads off into the wilds on an expedition to study dragons. It's written like an old timey adventure, something you might expect from the likes of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle or Rudyard Kipling. I have knocked off one star because it did get a little bit dry in places and the plot meandered just a touch too often, but there's a great deal to enjoy here and honestly, well done for doing something different.
Strong, mostly dignified, and very much her own person. View all 12 comments. The preface drew me in with its strong voice and promise to relate the adventure-filled career of a lady naturalist in an alternate Victorian age, studying dragons. The book itself is entertaining, but doesn't quite live up to that promise. A Natural History of Dragons is the first in what looks to be a long series of fictionalized memoirs of Isabella, Lady Trent, a dragon naturalist. In this book, Isabella briefly takes readers through her childhood, courtship and marriage, then moves on to spen The preface drew me in with its strong voice and promise to relate the adventure-filled career of a lady naturalist in an alternate Victorian age, studying dragons.
In this book, Isabella briefly takes readers through her childhood, courtship and marriage, then moves on to spend the bulk of the pages describing her first scientific expedition: Very little is known about dragons in this world, and Isabella and her companions seek them out with limited success, while meanwhile she must struggle against the restrictive gender expectations of her time.
This is a short, quick read, and an entertaining novel. It's not action-packed and the dragons' appearances are fairly limited, but if you enjoy historical fiction as well as fantasy, you and this book will likely get along well. The older Isabella, the supposed author of the memoir, has a strong and believably Victorian voice, and the world is interesting and grounded as much in historical fiction and anthropology as in fantasy, such that it feels more real than your average secondary world.
Isabella is a bold and active protagonist, always up for an adventure. And the book does a great job of making fantasy elements feel realistic; dragons here are just another species of wild animal albeit a particularly difficult one to study , and are given an entertainingly scientific treatment. But while the book is certainly competent, some problems hold it back. The character development is nothing special, and Isabella's adult voice is more engaging than her year-old personality; despite her interest in science, she tends to come across as a silly heroine who's always running off and getting into trouble.
The action elements toward the end feel rather forced, and the book brings little new to the treatment of its themes. Finally, filling the entire short book with only one of Isabella's many expeditions seems a little indulgent, and one wonders if a memoirist would really record so much minutiae in the story of her life. I'd happily have read a longer novel about her, but am not sure my interest will extend to the half-dozen or more books that Brennan will need, at this rate, to tell the complete story.
Which is too bad, because Isabella will likely only get more interesting as she matures. At any rate, an entertaining book, and worth a read if you enjoy historical fantasy or want to read about women scientists or a scientific treatment of dragons. If you like this, you will probably also enjoy Tooth and Claw , a similarly Victorian fantasy in which all the characters are dragons.
May 24, Jessica rated it it was amazing Shelves: I must have the second and third! This book reads exactly like a Victorian memoir, except for the fact that there are dragons. And there is also Isabella, Lady Trent, is not one to faint at the sight of a little dragon blood! Instead, spurred by a fascination with natural history in general and dragons in particular, s The lovechild of Lady Cottington's Pressed Faerie Book and His Majesty's Dragon, I can't believe I waited this long to read the thrilling tales of Lady Trent!
Instead, spurred by a fascination with natural history in general and dragons in particular, she relates the story of her girlhood, early marriage, and first experiences in learning about dragons.
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Cunningly illustrated her Ladyship is a skilled artist , the book is, quite simply, wonderful. An intrepid heroine who gets herself into all kinds of dangerous and precarious situations! No, it's not a Nancy Drew book, but it was just as much fun. It had a Victorian feel but because it was a fantasy world it was able to throw a lot of the straitlaced conventions to the winds whenever it felt like it.
I was expecting something a bit more dry but this was basically about having adventures and solving a mystery. It was good fun and I'm off to order Aventure! It was good fun and I'm off to order 2 now. I'm too giddy with excitement to write a proper review just now. Wow, I really liked this book -- everything from the story and the characters and the writing down to its stark yet elegant cover which first drew my eye to its spot sitting on a store bookshelf.
I blame my background in the biological sciences, since it seems I can't help but be intrigued by anything that looks like it has anatomical drawings on it.
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As indicated by its title, the novel is told in the form of a memoir from the venerable Lady Trent, leading research and expert on the ma 4. As indicated by its title, the novel is told in the form of a memoir from the venerable Lady Trent, leading research and expert on the matter of dragons. But in the time her story takes place, she was known simply as Isabella Camherst, a newly married year-old lady of Scirland in a society where women were still mostly restricted from taking up the scholarly pursuits.
This book is an account of how her love for dragons and science manifested at a very young age, and how a serendipitous opportunity to join an expedition to study dragons changed her life. How interesting could this book be, I initially thought to myself. Is this whole thing going to be about some fictional old lady waxing nostalgic about her life researching dragons? I think a part of me expected nothing but a collection of anecdotes.
I also might have had it in my head that this was going to read like a fantasy version of something like Jane Goodall's Through a Window, except with dragons instead of chimpanzees. In the end, none of what I thought came even close, because there actually was a plot, and a pretty good one at that. I was surprised to see there was a thread of mystery woven into the story: These are the questions that Isabella has to answer while their expedition is in the Vystrani Mountains.
Of course, there ended up being the anecdotes I'd been expecting too, but they mostly came near the beginning. I didn't like these as much as I liked the main story about the expedition, but they did give pretty good insight into Isabella's character and personality.
I didn't care much for some of her childhood experiences because often she came across as too much of a brat, but I did love the story of how she met her husband Jacob. It was such a sweet, awkwardly romantic scene that I swear my eyes practically started watering up along with Isabella's when she burst into tears of happiness. My favorite thing about the book, however, was its overall concept. I didn't think I was going to take to the writing style, what with the stuffy narration from the get-go, but it actually came across in a very natural way that was nowhere near as distracting as I'd expected.
What struck me is that you could also easily contrast the young, impetuous and excitable Isabella in the memoir to the older, more mellow and experienced Lady Trent who is "writing", and still get the sense she retained all that determination and humor in her personality. I thought it was a cool way of presenting the novel, and Marie Brennan pulled it off perfectly. Also, I've seen fantasy deal with the subject of dragons in many ways; sometimes they're the monsters for the heroes to kill, sometimes they're intelligent and have the ability to speak, forming partnerships with humans or even taking human shape, etc.
Like I said, perhaps it's due to my own educational history and interest, but this aspect of the book really appealed to me. This was just a great read all around, the experience made even better for me because it was such an unexpectedly pleasant surprise. A very good book featuring an interesting concept, engrossing plot, and a refreshingly strong female protagonist. See more reviews at The BiblioSanctum Dec 31, colleen the convivial curmudgeon rated it it was ok Shelves: Lady Trent reminded me a bit of Alexia Tarbotti and Amelia Peabody - those anachronistic women of modern pseudo-Victorian tales I enjoy.
Though this world is even more pseudo than the others as it's set either in a different world entirely, or, perhaps, in the far future - but the society and even writing style, complete with multiple chapter sub-titles, remains the same. Anyway - The voice of Lady Trent, the older lady writing 2. Anyway - The voice of Lady Trent, the older lady writing her memoirs, is a strong one, and I enjoyed the foray into her early, wild years and her relationships with the people around her, including her parents from which one of the more memorable lines of the book comes and is referenced in my status update , her developing passion for all things dragon, and into her growing up and the "grey years" in which she tried to be "a lady".
And I had thought, both when I picked up the book and continuing through these chapters, that this book was going to cover the entirety of Lady Trent's life, and if it had continued at the pace and voice that these early chapters had, I think I would have loved the story. Alas, it was not to be. The bulk of the story actually focuses on Isabella Camherst's first proper expedition into studying dragons, and a mystery which comes to the fore. And, unfortunately, much of this 'adventure' was kind of boring - from the overly detailed descriptions of the expedition, to the lackluster mystery.
I barely felt any sense of real suspense of urgency, or even any real depth from the characters. Camherst is more a woman of science than passion, which is grand, but that doesn't mean that the description of emotional bits of the story need be so, well, matter-of-fact. I've read many stories which deal with women of intellect and strength which still manage to portray actual people and emotions.
Aside from the two mentioned above, I'll add the Mary Russell series to the lot, and I'm sure there are more. Also, the I believe 19 year-old Isabella is just too naive and, well, kind of annoying. This isn't really mitigated by the fact that the memoirist's voice often comments on how she would've, at times, like to smack her younger self.
Honestly, between the elder voice and the child's voice, I had a really hard time reconciling this middle-aged voice as belonging to the same person, at times. I mean, it would be one thing to say it was a product of youth, but even her younger self seemed more capabale. But I digress - Ultimately, I just think the adventure was overly belabored and it didn't have much of a pay-off. I think it would've worked much better if it was a shorter vignette of a larger story - but it seems that the "memoir" of Lady Trent is intended to really be a series, each book devoted to a particular episode.
Frankly, there's just not enough meat to the story to deserve such treatment. Not to say it was all bad. As I said, I was prepared to love it in the first few chapters, and there were moments, even in the later chapters, that were interesting. I did like the idea of focusing on dragons as natural creatures for study and such - even if I didn't always agree with some of the methodology employed. Anyway - The real question - to continue, or not to continue?
I honestly don't know. I like the idea of the story, and it's not like the writing is bad, really. It's biggest issues seem to be owed to taking a thin story and trying to stretch it, creating horrible pacing issues - but this could be fixed in the next story.
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But, then, I'm not really all that attached to the characters, so it's not like I have any pressing need to know more. I guess time will tell Feb 19, Charlie rated it it was amazing Shelves: First of all, I love dragons so I hoped this book was going to be good and thankfully, I loved it.
Lady Trent is a wonderful narrator. I laughed and cried with her and I felt her frustrations. This was a mix of fantasy and historical fiction that worked so well and I can't wait to read the other books in the series. Jul 02, Becky rated it really liked it Shelves: Quite enjoyable, I thought.
That being said, I still liked this quite a lot. I don't really know what I was expecting, but I wasn't disappointed or bored b Quite enjoyable, I thought. I don't really know what I was expecting, but I wasn't disappointed or bored by what we got here. I found her to be a likable and identifiable character to me, not least of which because she went against the social norms of her time, and damn the consequences.
I wonder if one of the major developments in the story was done in order to further allow her to spread her wings, as it were That development really disappointed me. I do think that Brennan did a great job with the Victorian-esque setting of this book, and I would definitely be interested in continuing the series to see where it goes.
I like that, though it's obviously modeled on Victorian England, this is a fantasy realm, so the possibilities are wide open as to what to do with it. Regarding the dragons, I quite liked the scientific study bit, and how varied the dragon-kind, from tiny insect-like sparklings to wyverns to huge ice or fire or fume, etc-breathing dragons. I loved the concept of their bodies disintegrating, Skyrim dragon-like, upon death, and that being a major factor in the limited knowledge that exists about them.
Also, because one cannot mention Skyrim without it AND now I want to play Skyrim. Anywho, I listened to the audiobook, and it was fantastically narrated by Kate Reading. She managed slavic-style accents, and MEN with slavic-style accents, AND men with slavic-style accents speaking a secondary to them slavic-style language I usually hate when people "do the voices" but she is a goddamn voice wizard. D I think I'll probably pick up the next book in the series at some point I enjoyed this enough to continue, and I really would like to see where it goes from here.
I feel betrayed by this book. It was so good, has such an authentic feeling for a fantasy. There was beautiful Austen style romance and Indiana Jones adventure. Then Marie Brennan stabbed me right in the gut. She looked me dead in the eye and watched me bleed. I will not be reading Book Two. I hardly heard the end of the audiobook. View all 6 comments.
I received a copy of this book for free from Netgalley, in exchange for an honest review. Also posted on my blog, Rinn Reads. A Natural History of Dragons is what you get when you take the sort of memoir written by upper-class female explorers of the nineteenth-century, and add dragons. The writing style as well as the world which Isabella inhabits is not our world, but very similar. In fact, if it were not for the various countries named that Isabella visits or knows of, then I would assume it w I received a copy of this book for free from Netgalley, in exchange for an honest review.
In fact, if it were not for the various countries named that Isabella visits or knows of, then I would assume it was our world. I was completely enthralled from the start of the book.
A Natural History of Dragons by Marie Brennan
This is, of course, a most unsuitable activity for a lady of her station, but she finds ways around it until it is impossible to stop her pursuing her passion. To be honest, I have to say that I found the sections of the book before her first major expedition to be the most interesting — they built up the world and society, with a social system not that dissimilar from nineteenth-century Britain.
She also made a few questionable read: Overall, this was a really solid and fun fantasy read. I loved how Isabella followed her interests and her passion for dragons, even though it was entirely improper for a young lady of her standing. Defying all social expectations of her peers, she did not let them stop her or slow her down. I did lose focus on the story about two-thirds of the way through, but the beginning was just so wonderful that I felt it made up for it.
One more thing though… can we have even more dragons next time? Sep 15, Lea rated it did not like it Shelves: A Natural History of Dragons is a faux-memoir by an aristocratic lady scientist, a dragon enthusiast. The book had a very strong start, the chapters on her childhood are so promising, and the commentary on women's total legal dependancy on their husbands was very interesting. Unfortunately, the story goes downhill just when it's supposed to get more exciting: The dragons are tangential to the story, at best.
T A Natural History of Dragons is a faux-memoir by an aristocratic lady scientist, a dragon enthusiast. They shoot one, and then there's something about preserving dragon bones snooze. Mostly, we just read about Isabella complaining, doing stupid things, and behaving like she's better than everyone possibly true to the arrogance of old-timey aristocrats, but not so fun to read about. There was a mystery, I guess, but it wasn't about dragons, so I didn't care. All in all, disappointing. Jan 24, Nikki rated it liked it Shelves: The Boy saw a friend of his own age in the crowd and hailed.
Here was news indeed! The Boy felt that he ought to make quite sure for himself, and he wriggled himself in between the legs of his good-natured elders, abusing them all the time for their unmannerly habit of shoving. Once in the front rank, he breathlessly awaited the arrival. Presently from the far-away end of the line came the sound of cheering.
Next, the measured tramp of a great war-horse made his heart beat quicker, and then he found himself cheering with the rest, as, amidst welcoming shouts, shrill cries of women, uplifting of babies and waving of handkerchiefs, St. George paced slowly up the street. His fluted armour was inlaid with gold, his plumed helmet hung at his saddle-bow, and his thick fair hair framed a face gracious and gentle beyond expression till you caught the sternness in his eyes.
He drew rein in front of the little inn, and the villagers crowded round with greetings and thanks and voluble statements of their wrongs and grievances and oppressions. The Boy, heard the grave gentle voice of the Saint, assuring them that all would be well now, and that he would stand by them and see them righted and free them from their foe; then he dismounted and passed through the doorway and the crowd poured in after him.
But the Boy made off up the hill as fast as he could lay his legs to the ground. Of course you can lick him — a great big fellow like you! You must tell him to go away at once, please. Better get it over, and then we can go on with the sonnets. And you ought to consider other people a little, too. I leave it entirely to you. The Boy made his way back to the village in a state of great despondency.
George would most undoubtedly cut his head off. The villagers were straggling homewards as he passed up the street, all of them in the highest spirits, and gleefully discussing the splendid fight that was in store. The Boy pursued his way to the inn, and passed into the principal chamber, where St. George now sat alone, musing over the chances of the fight, and the sad stories of rapine and of wrong that had so lately been poured into his sympathetic ear. Is it a kind parent, then, of whom the tyrant has bereft you?
Or some tender sister or brother? Well, it shall soon be avenged. The fact is, this is a good dragon. Believe me, I do not in the least regret that he is an adversary worthy of my steel, and no feeble specimen of his noxious tribe. But the fact is, nobody can help liking him when once they know him. History teaches us that the greatest rascals often possess all the domestic virtues; and I fear that your cultivated friend, in spite of the qualities which have won and rightly your regard, has got to be speedily exterminated.
All they want is a fight. George sadly, resting his cheek on his hand. And yet — may not this wily beast have misled you as to his real character, in order that your good report of him may serve as a cloak for his evil deeds? Nay, may there not be, at this very moment, some hapless Princess immured within yonder gloomy cavern? The moment he had spoken, St. George was sorry for what he had said, the Boy looked so genuinely distressed. But what are we to do? What do you suggest? The dragon woke up with a start. George, let me introduce you to the dragon. George gazed for a while on the fair landscape around them.
Think what a picture it would make! Here, for instance, just behind your foreleg. They had descended the hill and were almost back in the village again, when St. Terror-stricken and chained to a rock, and all that sort of thing. The Boy was in the middle of a tremendous yawn. Next morning the people began streaming up to the Downs at quite an early hour, in their Sunday clothes and carrying baskets with bottle-necks sticking out of them, every one intent on securing good places for the combat.
This was not exactly a simple matter, for of course it was quite possible that the dragon might win, and in that case even those who had put their money on him felt they could hardly expect him to deal with his backers on a different footing to the rest. Places were chosen, therefore, with circumspection and with a view to a speedy retreat in case of emergency; and the front rank was mostly composed of boys who had escaped from parental control and now sprawled and rolled about on the grass, regardless of the shrill threats and warnings discharged at them by their anxious mothers behind.
The Boy had secured a good front place, well up towards the cave, and was feeling as anxious as a stage-manager on a first night. Could the dragon be depended upon? He might change his mind and vote the whole performance rot; or else, seeing that the affair had been so hastily planned, without even a rehearsal, he might be too nervous to show up. The Boy looked narrowly at the cave, but it showed no sign of life or occupation.
Could the dragon have made a moon-light flitting? The higher portions of the ground were now black with sightseers, and presently a sound of cheering and a waving of handkerchiefs told that something was visible to them which the Boy, far up towards the dragon-end of the line as he was, could not yet see. A minute more and St. Very gallant and beautiful he looked, on his tall war-horse, his golden armour glancing in the sun, his great spear held erect, the little white pennon, crimson-crossed, fluttering at its point.
He drew rein and remained motionless. The lines of spectators began to give back a little, nervously; and even the boys in front stopped pulling hair and cuffing each other, and leaned forward expectant. He need not have distressed himself, had he only known. A low muttering, mingled with snorts, now made itself heard; rising to a bellowing roar that seemed to fill the plain. His scales were glittering, his long spiky tail lashed his sides, his claws tore up the turf and sent it flying high over his back, and smoke and fire incessantly jetted from his angry nostrils.
The dragon charged with a roar and a squeal, — a great blue whirling combination of coils and snorts and clashing jaws and spikes and fire. The dragon sat down and barked viciously, while St. George with difficulty pulled his horse round into position. I can trust the dragon all right. What a regular play-actor the fellow is! George had at last prevailed on his horse to stand steady, and was looking round him as he wiped his brow. Catching sight of the Boy, he smiled and nodded, and held up three fingers for an instant. Wish it could have lasted a bit longer.
The dragon was employing the interval in giving a ramping-performance for the benefit of the crowd. Ramping, it should be explained, consists in running round and round in a wide circle, and sending waves and ripples of movement along the whole length of your spine, from your pointed ears right down to the spike at the end of your long tail. George now gathered up his reins and began to move forward, dropping the point of his spear and settling himself firmly in the saddle. Round Two evoked audible evidence of friendly feeling towards the dragon.
The spectators were not slow to appreciate a combatant who could hold his own so well and clearly wanted to show good sport; and many encouraging remarks reached the ears of our friend as he strutted to and fro, his chest thrust out and his tail in the air, hugely enjoying his new popularity. He swung himself into the saddle and took his spear from the Boy. George now shortened his spear, bringing the butt well up under his arm; and, instead of galloping as before, trotted smartly towards the dragon, who crouched at his approach, flicking his tail till it cracked in the air like a great cart-whip.
The Saint wheeled as he neared his opponent and circled warily round him, keeping his eye on the spare place; while the dragon, adopting similar tactics, paced with caution round the same circle, occasionally feinting with his head. So the two sparred for an opening, while the spectators maintained a breathless silence. The dust cleared away, the spectators whooped and ran in cheering, and the Boy made out that the dragon was down, pinned to the earth by the spear, while St. George had dismounted, and stood astride of him. As he approached, the dragon lifted one large eyelid, winked solemnly, and collapsed again.
He had backed the dragon, and naturally felt a trifle sore. At that magic word refreshment the whole crowd formed up in procession and silently awaited the signal to start. The time for talking and cheering and betting was past, the hour for action had arrived. George, hauling on his spear with both hands, released the dragon, who rose and shook himself and ran his eye over his spikes and scales and things, to see that they were all in order. Then the Saint mounted and led off the procession, the dragon following meekly in the company of the Boy, while the thirsty spectators kept at a respectful interval behind.
There were great doings when they got down to the village again, and had formed up in front of the inn. And he warned them against the sin of romancing, and making up stories and fancying other people would believe them just because they were plausible and highly-coloured. Then every one went off to get ready for the banquet. The dragon was happy because there had been a fight, and so far from being hurt in it he had won popularity and a sure footing in society. The Boy was happy because there had been a fight, and in spite of it all his two friends were on the best of terms.
On the contrary, every ten minutes or so he leant over towards the Boy and said impressively: At last the banquet was over, the guests had dropped away with many good-nights and congratulations and invitations, and the dragon, who had seen the last of them off the premises, emerged into the street followed by the Boy, wiped his brow, sighed, sat down in the road and gazed at the stars. Jolly little place this! Think I shall just stop here.
Boy had better do it then!