Dragons with Many Faces

Illumination of a 15th-century manuscript of Historia Regum Britanniae showing king of the Britons Vortigern and Ambros watching the fight between two dragons. Image courtesy Wikipedia.

In recent months I’ve continued to check out social media, but not in the ways or as frequently as I used to (which is a good thing). Over the last weeks I’ve been super busy and looking for a lot of lighter items, such as the snooty cat or book addict memes that brighten the days. These are so perfect because it only takes a moment to read them – often the only space of time someone has in a frantic day – but you can carry the good feeling away with you, remembering that spark of sunshine.

In the past month one meme I’ve seen a fair few times is the dragon one: take the opening line or some segment of a particular book/book you last read, &tc. and add the following sentence: “And then the dragons arrived.” I’d wanted to post my own the first time I saw it, but didn’t have time, and you know what happens to “saved” ideas, right?

That turned out to be ok, actually, that I forgot to do it, because when the weekend arrived, I was thinking of this line for a lot of books, including one I had been reading through. My eyes roamed over titles when I passed bookshelves, thinking, how would that line work with this one? Or that one? Then I began leaving tasks I was involved in to go get books whose titles popped into my mind. I began pulling books down solely for this purpose and ended up with a few I think are worth sharing, including at least a couple that could bend how events with these dragons and the characters’ particular situations turn out. It might not be as predictable as we first presumed *rubs hands together* Starting with my favorite book ever, enjoy!

“I am an old man now, but then I was already past my prime when Arthur was crowned King. And then the dragons arrived.”  Mary Stewart, The Crystal Cave

Part I – Emperor

Chapter One

“Four Princes of the World”

“The Balkan Hill town of Tauresium appears on no modern atlas, and was almost certainly absent from maps that were in use during the centuries that modern historians call late antiquity. The only reason that the village, in the Roman province of Illyricum, is remembered today is that, in the closing years of the fifth century of the Common Era, a boy departed it. Twelve years earlier, his mother, a peasant girl named Vigilantia, had christened him Petrus Sabbatius. Many years later, after his journey to the capital of what was still the world’s largest empire, he was known by the name he gave himself: Justinian.

And then the dragons arrived.”

— William Rosen, Justinian’s Flea: The First Great Plague and the End of the Roman Empire

Chapter One

“The Boy Who Lived”

“Mr. and Mrs. Dursley, of number four, Privet Drive, were proud to say that they were perfectly normal, thank you

very much. They were the last people you’d expect to be involved in anything strange or mysterious, because they just didn’t hold with such nonsense.

And then the dragons arrived.”

                 —  J.K. Rowling, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone

“First Day”

“Fairest ladies, whenever I pause to consider how compassionate you all are by nature, I invariably become awre that the present work will seem to you to possess an irksome and ponderous opening. For it carries at its head the painful memory of the deadly havoc wrought by the recent plague, which brought so much heartache and misery to those who witnessed, or had experience of it. But I do not want you to be deterred, for this reason, from reading any further, on the assumption that you are to be subjected, as you read, to an endless torrent of tears and sobbing. You will be affected no differently by this grim beginning than walkers confronted by a steep and rugged hill, beyond which there lies a beautiful and delectable plain. The degree of pleasure they derive from the latter will correspond directly to the difficulty of the climb and descent. And just as the end of mirth is heaviness, so sorrows are dispersed by the advent of joy.

And then the dragons arrived.”

                                    — Giovanni Boccaccio, The Decameron

Book One – Mistress of Magic

Chapter 1

“Even in high summer, Tintagel was a haunted place; Igraine, Lady of Duke Gorlois, looked out over the sea from the headland. And she stared into the fogs and mists, she wondered how she would ever know when the night and day were of equal length, so that she could keep the Feast of the New Year. This year the spring storms had been unusually violent; night and day the crash of the sea had resounded over the castle until no man or woman could sleep, and even the hounds whimpered mournfully.

And then the dragons arrived.”

                                    — Marion Zimmer Bradley, The Mists of Avalon

Preface

I. The Quarrel Between Agamemnon and Achilles

Sing, O Goddess, the anger of Achilles son of Peleus, that brought countless ills upon the Achaeans. Many a brave soul did it send hurrying down to Hades, and many a hero did it yield a prey to dogs and vultures, for so were the councels of Jove fulfilled from the day on which the son of Atreus, king of men, and great Achilles, first fell out with one another.

And then the dragons arrived.”

                                    — Homer, The Iliad

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