The Dragon's Eye
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This issue’s cover shows Neil Gaiman (photo © Kelli Bickman) with his book The Comical Tragedy or Tragical Comedy of Mr Punch illustrated by Dave McKean. Neil Gaiman is interviewed by Nicholas Tucker. Thanks to Bloomsbury for their help with this November cover.
This is first of the Dragonology Chronicles, a curiously old-fashioned enterprise. There’s the 19th-century background of course, but even the typeface is part of the creation of the learned world of Dr Drake and The Secret and Ancient Society of Dragonologists. And then there’s the storytelling itself, something very like Enid Blyton in parts with a view of children (and people) from some way back except that they don’t actually say ‘spiffing’ – but you expect it. This is the world of fantasy, with dragons brought to life all around the British Isles, baby ones being looked after in the woodshed, wilder ones in the local wood and others revealed in their ancient burrows during the course of the escapades. There is a power struggle in the leadership of the Dragonologists and you know quickly that Ignatius Crook is not working on behalf of the angels. The story moves along at great pace, there are vivid scenes with the dragons and, once the travelling starts, through Sussex across to Cornwall and eventually into the north of Scotland, readers will feel they have had a good dose of adventure without any of the edge that they will associate with the denser fiction of Pullman and others. Easily accessible for younger juniors and the po-faced seriousness will attract non-fiction readers too. AJ