A Writing Exercise to Overcome Writer’s Block

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Image Source: Pixabay

It is morning on a Saturday and I am having trouble coming up with the right words to put on paper. They dance cheekily through the halls of my mind, but for each step I take closer they simply dart away quicker. Rather than run them down, I have decided to turn my back and woo other words instead. This is an exercise I have occasionally used to bull my way through writer’s block, and I am happy to say it has worked more often than not.

1. Pick A Name. Any Name.

For you it might be Paul, or Joanna, or even Clarence. Any name is absolutely fine, it is meant only as a starting point. A point of focus to serve as an puzzle for more words to snap into. The name I am going with is Taenaran. What the heck? You read that right: Taenaran. This morning I am attempting to make progress on some Fantasy writing, and picking a fantastical sounding name like this will help get me there.

2. Describe This Person. In Any Way You See Fit.

Really, go crazy. Begin with the physical characteristics, like the eyes, hair, build, and any distinguishing marks. Give them soulful blue eyes or foreboding black ones. Give them wisps of white hair that the breeze playfully caresses or thick green dreadlocks interwoven with charms. Make them short and delicate like a foreign dancer or tall and stout like a blacksmith. If you want you can go even farther. What is their profession? What do they like to do for fun? What are their hopes? Their fears? The possibilities extend as far as you want them to extend. The description I am going with for Taenaran this morning is a youngish deep forest elf, with a mane of mixed shades of green to blend into the wilds he calls home. A hunter by trade, he is worried his people do not have enough to make it through the coming winter.

3. What Is A Challenge They Are Facing?

You are almost there, just one last component and we can put all this into a scene to getting your creative writing juices flowing in the direction of progress on your work. Now, come up with a challenge or issue that needs be resolved by the character you have just created. It can be something small, like picking out a restaurant to catch up with friends, or it can be big, like picking out the successor to the Kingdom your character rules. For me, the last part of the exercise actually fed into this one. And sometimes that happens. You might be writing one part of your plot or story and some other component will spontaneously emerge. Rather than disregard it, I make sure to keep a separate piece of paper or word doc to record it for me to come back to later. So, looking up to the previous point, I see that I mentioned he was worried about providing enough food for his people to survive a harsh winter. So, building off of that, I think an appropriate challenge is going to be hunting something dangerous. Let me see…

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Image Source: Pixabay

4. Now, Put It All Into A Short Scene.

Green leaves had begun to turn to bright colors in the past few days. Where before Taenaran’s mane would hide him amongst the foliage, now it only seemed to bring more attention to where he stalked. He did not have a choice. Winter was coming soon, and ever since the nighttime visit of the Kutharu raiders there had not been enough food for the survivors of his clan. They would be lucky to last through the week, nevermind the cold winter of the mountainous North.

Taenaran stalked quietly down the deer track. He looked down again. The blood was still fresh. Small spatters here and there as the wounded beast stumbled along. The gouges along the trucks he passed meant he was on the trail of a buck, and the distance between the spilled blood meant a long stride. It was big, maybe even the leader of its herd.

One moment he was carefully winding his way along the track, the next he was in an open clearing, lit by the soft light of a fall moon. Though dim, it was more than bright enough for his fey eyes. He hesitated, gripping his bow tighter as he went quickly still at what he saw.

The buck was waiting for him. And it was bigger than he thought it would be.

Jagged cuts, partially clotted, stood out along the beast’s flank. It was maybe twenty strides away, staring intently at the hunter that dared to track it. He had time for one arrow only before the buck charged. A long pause. The world held its breath, waiting to see who would make a move first.

Taenaran loosed an arrow. The buck charged, only to stutter step, perhaps due to injury or maybe even over an unseen hole. It did not matter, Taenaran’s arrow missed its target. Sinking into the side instead of the broad chest, the buck only charged faster, even more intent on skewering its attacker on its horns.

Cursing, Taenaran tried to jump aside, only to partially succeed. Today truly luck had turned its gaze from him. The left horn caught him by the hip. Bright, burning agony flared as the buck half-pushed half-carried him back into the trees. Slammed back into a trunk, he felt his belt knife fall free. Even more frantic now, Taenaran struggled to get a grip on the temporarily stunned deer before it could shake itself free. He fought hard against the buck and the fear that filled him.

Not able to throw the buck off, he finally gave in to panic. Opening his mouth wide, Taenaran sank his fanged teeth into the side of the bucks throat. Shaking his head as hard as he could, he tried to open as large a wound as possible to kill the beast. In seconds his sharp mouth did its job. Sticky blood covered every in reach, but most of all his face and chest.

He laid still, buck still partially on him, before bracing himself for new pain. With a surge, he pulled the buck’s horn from his hip. Bandaging the wound as best he could, Taenaran fumbled for his knife and set to work cleaning his kill. Predators more dangerous than him called this forest home. Better to be done and head back before they stumbled across the fresh kill. Though he was injured, he would be able to get himself and the kill home due to the resiliency of his fey nature. Even if Taenaran were more gravely wounded, he still would have had no choice. His clan needed the meat to survive.

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Image Source: Pixabay

That Is It!

Now, this reads a bit rough, but it is supposed to be like this. This scene was written quickly and constitutes a first draft. A lot needs to be changed: word choice, description, even some mechanics of how the scene unfolds. But that is ok. This exercise served its primary purpose: to get my creative juices flowing

I hope this was helpful, even if just in a small way. Writer’s block can be a difficult obstacle to overcome, but using exercises like this and simply failing to give up will mean that you will eventually find the words that eluded you. For myself, this character and scene might have some potential. I could see myself using Taenaran and his hunt in some future work. Until next time, happy writing!

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Censorship Removes South Park from China

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Image Source: Pixabay

If you have not heard by now, the TV show South Park has been banned in China following the airing of the episode titled Band in China. Through the course of the episode, attention is brought to bear by the writers on how Hollywood has tailored content to avoid upsetting Chinese censors. Given that the value of Chinese markets for media products continue to expand, its understandable that there is a lot of pressure to continue access for big media companies. In the next few years, internet advertising revenues in China are expected to reach $109.2 billion and cinema revenues to be $15.5 billion. All this money means when Chinese censors speak, companies around the world have a bit of pressure on them to listen.

Instead of caving to pressure, however, the creators of South Park released a apology tweet that reads: “Like the NBA, we welcome the Chinese censors into our homes and our hearts. We too love money more than freedom and democracy. Xi doesn’t look just like Winnie the Pooh at all. Tune into our 300th episode this Wednesday at 10! Long live the Great Communist Party of China! May this autumn’s sorghum harvest be bountiful! We good now China?” Needless to say, the show remains banned. Video clips and online discussions of the show no longer can be found online, and even the country’s most popular social network Weibo no longer has any posts even mentioning the show.

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Image Source: Pixabay

Other companies that have come under fire from China have not always reacted this way. Most recently the N.B.A. has tried to prevent blowback after a tweet (since deleted) by Houston Rockets general manager Daryl Morey posted in favor of protestors in Hong Kong. Though the N.B.A commissioner Adam Silver defended Morey’s freedom of speech, both the Houston Rockets and The N.B.A. itself distanced themselves from the comment in favor of Hong Kong, with Morey eventually tweeting an apology. Other recent events where companies have caved to Chineses pressure include:

  1. American, Delta, and United Airlines deleted references to Taiwan as its own country.
  2. Blizzard Entertainment suspended Chung Ng Wai, a Hearthstone player from Hong Kong, when he voiced support for Hong Kong Protests.
  3. A number of movie studios have worked to ensure their scripts are acceptable to Chinese censors.

Time will tell how practices of dealing with Chinese censorship continue to develop. One thing is for sure, however, so long as there is a lot of money to be made in Chinese markets, pressure from the Chinese government will continue.

Want to learn more about censorship in China? Check out these books:

  1. The Great Firewall of China: How to Build and Control an Alternative Version of the Internet – James Griffiths takes a look inside the Great Firewall and Chinese censorship. He looks at how internet giants like Google and Facebook are bowing to pressure and agreeing to compromise internet freedoms in pursuit of the burgeoning Chinese market. Importantly, Griffiths also shows how the spread of Chinese influence around the globe is tied to an increasing worldwide crackdown on online freedom.
  2. Censored: Distraction and Diversion Inside China’s Great Firewall – In this book, Margaret Roberts demonstrates that even censorship that is easy to circumvent can still be enormously effective. Taking advantage of digital data harvested from the Chinese Internet, as well as leaks from China’s Propaganda Department, this important book sheds light on how and when censorship influences the Chinese public.

This article contains some affiliate links to books that I recommend as references to learning more about censorship in China and the actions of countries that have economic interests there. If you choose to purchase these books via my affiliate links, you will help support my writing and research at no additional cost to you.

International Dilemma over The South China Sea’s Resources

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Source: Voice of America

Location, Location, Location

A stretch of sea encompassing an area of roughly 1,400,000 square miles, the South China Sea touches upon the borders of the People’s Republic of China, Taiwan, the Philippines, Malaysia, Brunei, Indonesia, Singapore, and Vietnam. Particular areas within this sea that have been disputed include the Spratly Islands, the Paracel Islands, and the Scarborough Shoal. In terms of the Spratly Islands, some or all of them are claimed by Vietnam, China, Taiwan, Brunei, Malaysia, and the Philippines. The Paracel Islands are claimed by China, Taiwan, and Vietnam. Lastly, China, Taiwan, and the Philippines all claim the Scarborough Shoal. With components of each of these features claimed by more than two actors, negotiated settlements can be difficult. This is only further complicated by the resources that any successful claimant might gain access to, should their efforts at control succeed.

Sources of Value

  1. Sea lanes: The second most important sea lane in the world is through the South China Sea, it sees large proportion of annual sea trade through its waters. Valuations in 2016 placed this amount in access of $3.37 trillion.
  2. Oil: The main fuel of our modern lives, some reports estimate as much as 11 billion barrels of oil reserves. This equates to roughly over $580 billion waiting to be accessed. (October 7, 2019 crude oil prices: $52.75 per barrel)
  3. Natural Gas: Estimates have placed natural gas reserves at as much as 266 trillion cubic feet. This equates to roughly over $890 billion in natural gas deposits. (July 2019 US natural gas prices: $3.35 per thousand cubic feet)
  4. Fish: Accounting for 12% of global fishing, the fisheries in the South China Sea are reported to be on the verge of collapse due to overfishing and development projects.

Why You Should Be Concerned

With resources assessed as having economic worth in excess of $1.4 trillion up for grabs, and a greater share of the wealth of the sea lane, there is a lot of incentive for the disputing countries to stake a claim that will see them net their piece of this appealing pie. So far the dispute has resulted in few casualties, and only limited clashes between countries with claims in the dispute. There is cause for worry however. China has acted to seize parts of its claims, and has even built up artificial islands to cement its control in the region. Other countries have taken actions to secure their claims as well, such as the Philippines over the Second Thomas Shoal. The major hope is that a major conflict won’t break out for fear of the trillions in trade becoming threatened.

While World War III might be unlikely, there is a significant threat to the world that is proceeding apace, one which may be even more costly to humanity as a whole. Given the overlapping claims in the South China Sea, and how each has industries that rely on fishing to varying degrees, there is incentive to take their piece of the valuable resource before it can be taken by the others rather than to cooperate in maintaining the fisheries they rely on. Much like in the Prisoner’s dilemma, there seems to be a lack of significant trust to pursue mutually binding fishing guidelines, so each state opts to defect and continue their policies of destructive harvesting.

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Source: US Navy

Further, China’s efforts building man-made islands in the South China Sea have a traumatic impact on the coral reefs in the area. Already thousands of acres have been destroyed. The loss of this biodiversity might well become irreplaceable if more is not done to reign in the actions of those disputing the South China Sea. As if this was not bad enough, loss of access to adequate fisheries will threaten the existence of a number of industries, hundreds of thousands of jobs will be at risk, and millions of people will have their food security threatened. If this scenario occurs, at the minimum we can expect significant upheaval and potential population displacement, which in turn might well spur more conflict in the region. To make a difference, effective solutions and an atmosphere of cooperation among the disputants of the South China Sea is needed, and soon.

Want to Learn More About the South China Sea?

If you are interested in learning more about the geopolitical context of South China Sea and the recent events surrounding it, there are several books I reference for my research that you might be interested in:

  1. Great Powers, Grand Strategies: The New Game in the South China Sea: In this book a dozen experts examine how the economic, diplomatic, and military strategies of major global actors have alternately helped find solutions and helped increased tensions in the South China Sea. Significant effort is also exerted to determine outcomes of the dispute, dependent on the strategies the great powers take.
  2. The South China Sea: The Struggle for Power in Asia: In this book, Bill Hayton brings clarity and understanding to the reader regarding the sometimes complicated history of the South China Sea. Unique of the books here, significant focus is put on the stories of individuals who have played a role in the current conflicts, such as scientists, businessmen, soldiers, diplomats and more.
  3. Asian Waters: The Struggle Over the South China Sea and the Strategy of Chinese Expansion: In this narrative examination of the South China Sea region, Humphrey Hawksley addresses numerous questions regarding the geopolitical context of the region for the future. For me, one of the most important questions was as to whether there will be a peaceful interaction between the US and China as the latter continues to expand its presence on the world stage.
  4. Asia’s Cauldron: The South China Sea and the End of a Stable Pacific: Robert D. Kaplan offers up an engaging critique of the geopolitical situation surrounding the South China Sea, paying particular attention to the place and role of the states involved in the dispute, and the implications of the dispute for the global peace in the decades ahead. Most interesting to me was the author’s engagement with the goals and motivations of the people and leaders of each state, with an eye towards assessing the trajectory of the dispute.

This article contains some affiliate links to books that I recommend as references to learning more about the South China Sea and the actions of countries that have interests there. If you choose to purchase these books via my affiliate links, you will help support my writing and research at no additional cost to you.

Why Dragons Appear in Mythologies Around the World

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Image Source: Pixabay

When people are asked about their knowledge of mythology, sometimes they will talk about the divinities from their region of the world, their country’s folktales, or even some story about a creature either good or evil that has some relevance to their ancestral history. Interestingly, when it comes to the creatures talked about, some version of the prototypical dragon can be found in every corner of the world. Even more amazing is the degree to which they have characteristics in common that transcend the vast distances and times between the cultures in which they were created.

As an American who is a fan of the roleplaying game Dungeons and Dragons and has seen the Hobbit movies and the fourth Harry Potter movie, the dragons were generally portrayed as large-scaled, serpent-like creatures that are rare, powerful and, most of all, dangerous to any man that might dare to cross them. In roleplaying games and stories like the Hobbit, dragons often have a benevolent or malevolent intelligence, though often the latter, and are generally integral to the campaign or story. Even in fiction like the Harry Potter novels, which portrays dragons as more bestial, passion-driven creatures than rational thinking beings, all seem to agree that these creatures should only be tangled with in the direst of circumstances.

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Image source: Pixabay

Much of these details are similar in folklore from around the world, though there are some differences by region. In Asia there are dragons found in stories in India, Tibet, Japan, Korea, and the Philippines among others. These stories in this part of the world even go as far back as the ancient cultures of Sumeria and Babylonia.

Perhaps the most famous are those dragons from China, which you might have seen at some point included in pictures of a Chinese Dragon Boat Festival.

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Photo by Lachlan Gowen on Unsplash

In the Chinese hierarchy of animals, the dragon stands atop them all as the highest ranking. Its origins can be traced all the way back to Neolithic pottery from thousands of years ago. So important are dragons to China’s cultural history, they even play a role in the inspiration of Fu Hsi to eventually turn a picture of a dragon with dots that he saw into the system of Chinese writing, which he eventually penned into the book I Ching.

The benevolence of some of the Chinese dragons stands in contrast to how they are generally portrayed in the cultures of Europe. Generally, these dragons are portrayed as living at the bottom of rivers or in underground lairs like caves, and they are characterized as being greedy and gluttonous, with appetites very hard to satisfy. The ultimate demonstration of the ill-will held towards the European dragon is how often they are identified with Satan in the Book of Revelation.

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Image source: Pixabay

Perhaps the most famous European legend of a dragon is from the Golden Legend story presenting the struggle between St. George and a Dragon. In this tale, a dragon is repeatedly pillaging the town of Silene in Libya, where it voraciously consumes all of the sheep it can consume. Finally, after a shepherd is eaten, the people of the town provide two sacrificial sheep every morning by the lake where the dragon resided. Over time the people were forced begin offering up their children once the sheep were all eaten. Much like many European legends, it was only once the King’s daughter was offered up to the dragon that our hero, St. George, comes upon the situation and acts to gallantly save the Princess. Eventually St. George subdues the creature by stabbing it with his lance and making the sign of the cross. Leading the rescued Princess to Silene with the beaten dragon in tow, he promises the people that he will slay the beast if they but convert to Christianity. Though this is one of the most famous stories, more exist about dragons from Spain, Great Britain, France, Germany, Scandinavia, and Poland to include a few examples.

North and South American dragons have received a bit less attention, but they are nonetheless impressive creatures in their own right. In North America one you have most likely heard of is Quetzalcoatl from the Aztec culture.

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Image source: Pixabay

According to the Aztecs, Quetzalcoatl is a deity whose name means “feathered serpent.” To the Aztecs, Quetzalcoatl was the god of wind, air, and learning. There have even been some scholars who speculate that a belief that Spanish conquistadors like Cortés were actually their people’s gods contributed to their being an easier target to be conquered, though this has been thrown into question in recent decades due to the almost exclusively Spanish origin of the original sources.

In South America is the Amaru of the Incan culture.

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Image source: Pixabay

For the Incans, the Amaru or Katari was a mythical serpent of massive size that dwells underground, often under lakes or rivers. Interestingly, it was often presented as having the heads of a bird and pumas, and said to be capable of traveling between the spiritual afterlife and the subterranean world where it lived.

The last region of importance to folklore about dragons are those from Africa. My personal favorite is the Ancient Egyptian serpent of chaos known as Apep or Apophis.

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Image source: Pixabay

This deity was said to embody pure chaos and stood in opposition to the solar divinity Ra who represented light, order, and truth. Apep was generally depicted as a giant snake stretching over sixteen yards in length and a head made of flint, though he is also sometimes presented as a crocodile.

Given the fantastical nature of these creatures, and exactly how much overlap there is across cultures all around the world, there are a number of theories about why these similar myths emerged at different times and in different cultures around the world in isolation of one another.

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Photo by Davina Schaetz on Unsplash

The first of the three explanations presents the possibility of ancient peoples discovering different dinosaur fossils and, without a frame of reference, extrapolating what would become dragon-like creatures from the physical evidence. Seeing the size of many of these fossils, particularly the vicious looking teeth in some cases, and it is quite possible this explanation has some merit.

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Photo by Hans-Jürgen Röttger on Unsplash

A second explanation ties in current animals as being the source of dragon stories. Diving into particular examples, this one carries some weight as well. For example, the Incan Amaru often shares some puma-like characteristics, while the Egyptian Apep has been found to be portrayed as having crocodile features.

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Image source: Pixabay

Lastly, the third potential explanation can be best encapsulated by a book by David E. Jones book titled An Instinct for Dragons which argues that evolution imprinted an innate fear of predators in the human mind as a means to increase the odds of the survival of humanity’s ancestors by encouraging wariness towards these creatures which, in the past several thousand years has been manifested in folklore as dragon myths.

Each of these three theories can to some degree explain why myths of dragons and dragon-like creatures emerged the way they did around the world independently from each other. For my part, I’m extremely glad they did since the stories dragons appear in make for such interesting reading that I think the world would be poorer for them never being imagined.

This concludes the first of many planned articles on creatures from mythology and folklore. I hope you enjoyed it! If you would like to learn more about Dragons, I recommend these books:

  1. Dragonology: The Complete Book of Dragons – A book with wonderful illustrations breaking down the biology of dragons as if they were real creatures. Especially fun for children interested in getting their feet wet in mythology.
  2. History’s Mysteries: Legends and Lore  – A National Geographic book on the place of  Dragons and other monsters in history. Again aimed primarily at children, but the historical accounts can be engaging for all ages.
  3. Giants, Monsters, and Dragons: An Encyclopedia of Folklore, Legend, and Myth – Conveying quite bit of information on monsters from around the world, in addition to stories of Dragons, you will get exposure to Hindu and Navajo religions, Scandinavian tales, Russian folklore, Lithuanian stories, Irish oral history, American tall tales, and Aztec myth. A great read and an excellent resource.

This article contains affiliate links. If you choose to purchase the recommended book via my affiliate link, you will be helping support my research and my writing, at no additional cost to you.

Stories of Dragon Slayers

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Image Source: Wikimedia Commons

When it comes to the mythologies from around the world, no creature has quite the prominence as the Dragon. Bestial creatures, they are almost universally treated in folklore as being evil, greedy, gluttonous predators of man and all he holds dear. However, they do have one redeeming quality. Their existence provides the perfect justification for Dragonslayers to come into being. Heroes of mythic, even divine origin, the classic trope is that these Dragonslayers must kill an evil dragon in order to save a helpless, woman of the upper classes (often a princess) that they might serve justice and receive an equally just reward. Sometimes even the Princess’ hand in marriage.

When the title of Dragonslayer is mentioned, most of you likely first think of the story of Saint George slaying a Dragon (which I discussed in my last article about Dragons in mythology around the world), but there are many other Dragonslayers of note that I was equally interested in learning about.

ERLANG SHEN

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Source: Wikimedia Commons

In Chinese mythology, Erlang Shen is a God known to possess an additional eye in the center of his forehead that has a truth-seeing capacity. At the root of several stories, my favorite is one where he is identified as Li Erlang, the son of the engineer who presented the Dujiangyan irrigation system. According to folklores, Li Erlang assisted his father in the building of this irrigation system in order to prevent the Min river from flooding, allowing the Chengdu Plain to be irrigated. For their efforts, the father and son duo were elevated to divinity by the local population. The most important story of their actions deals with a search to discover the source of flooding, bringing Li Erlang and his companions to a lonely cottage outside Guan County. In the small home, an old women is despondent over her grandson being taken to be sacrificed to an evil Dragon serving as the local river god. Devising a plan, Li Erlang was able to defeat the Dragon before it was able to claim its living sacrifice. By doing so, the region was forever freed from floods.

VAHAGN VISHAPAKAGH

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Source: Wikimedia Commons

According to Armenian myth, Vahagn Vishapakagh was an ancient god of fire, thunder, and war. Styled the Dragon Reaper, he was worshiped extensively in this part of the world before the coming of Christianity. Immortalized in songs now largely lost, Vahagn earned his title though epic struggles with dragons that threatened the people in Armenia and the surrounding areas. So potent were the tales surrounding Vahagn that he was often identified with the Greek hero-diety Heracles. Perhaps one day the missing components of the Dragon Reaper’s tale will be recovered.

BEOWULF

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Source: Wikimedia Commons

Of the four Dragonslayers, Beowulf is the one you have most likely heard about. A legendary Geatish hero, he is the central subject of one of the oldest surviving pieces of English language literature. Beowulf’s story kicks into high gear when he departs to assist King Hroðgar and his court against the terrible beast Grendel. In the night following his arrival at the court, Grendel attacked the sleeping Geats, only to have Beowulf valiantly drive the beast off barehanded, as no mortal weapon could hurt it. Having lost an arm in the fight, Grendel would go on to die of its wounds. Unfortunately, Grendel’s Mother learned of the death, and attacked the court to attain weregild. Beowulf would prove victorious here as well, though this time it would require an enchanted giant sword. Now, unique of the Dragonslayers talked about here, Beowulf would not actually encounter a Dragon until 50 years after the events that would see him claim his own kingdom. At a ripe old age, Beowulf tracked down a terrible fire-breathing Dragon that had been terrorizing his kingdom, but after failing to kill it once, pursued it back to its lair. There, Beowulf earned the title Dragonslayer with a dagger and the spilling of his own life’s blood.

SIGURD

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Source: Wikimedia Commons

Sigurd is the last Dragonslayer of this article. A legend in the Germanic mythology, he is famous for having killed a Dragon, bathed in its blood, and thereby received skin as hard as its horn that makes him invulnerable to harm. Sadly, this did not help him, as he eventually died in a quarrel between his wife and another women. Just goes to show, heroes need to fear more than Dragons sometimes.

Want to learn more about these dragon slayers? Check out these books and articles where I sourced my information:

Chinese Fables: The Dragon Slayer and Other Timeless Tales of Wisdom : An award-winning book of nineteen Chinese children stories meant to covey thee virtues of honesty, respect, courage, and self-reliance. The Dragonslayer story I think is especially well done. Suitable for both kids and adults, it is beautifully illustrated to mimic classical Chineses art.

Vahagn: The Armenian Dragon Slayer God and Bringer of Fire : An overall well presented article on the background and doings of the Armenian god Vahagn, who was a diety worshiped in the period prior to the arrival of Christianity.

Beowulf: A New Verse Translation : A new, updated translation of the millennium old story of Beowulf, the Scandinavian hero who successfully saves his countrymen from a vicious beast know as Grendel, and then later Grendel’s mother, only to die past his prime in an epic fight against a great Dragon. I recommend this version of the powerful tale.

The Saga of the Volsungs : A book based on the epic Viking poems from Iceland in the thirteenth century, this version combines mythology with human drama in recounting the heroic struggles of Sigurd the Dragonslayer against terrible foes. Both an enjoyable read and a wonderful glimpse into the northern folktales of the past.

This article contains affiliate links. If you choose to purchase any of the recommended books via my affiliate links, you will help support me and my writing at no additional cost to you.

Patreon: Shadowstalker of Zastava now free and open to Public!

Hello all! I just wanted to let you know that I have changed the status on one of my short stories on Patreon, so now any one can access for free by visiting my Patreon here: https://www.patreon.com/posts/fiction-of-14202747. The only thing I ask is that, if you like it, you reach out to tell me so and/or share it with a friend who enjoys fantasy as well!

Best Wishes,
Charles

Link to Patreon on The Aspiring Writer’s First Steps!

Hello all! I just wanted to let you know that I have embedded a link to my Patreon page to the right under the search bar for anyone who is interested in checking out my other works, and accessing other things that I am working on.

Best Wishes,
Charles

War Poll on Patreon Update

Hello everyone. The poll on which war you wished you knew more about will remain open on my Patreon (see: https://www.patreon.com/posts/what-war-are-you-14254266) until at least the weekend. I have a number of works in progress, but based on interest I will reorder how I will go about finishing them. Thanks in advance to any of you that participate!

Charles

Posted 1453: The Liberation of Castillon on Patreon

Hello everyone! Just wanted to let you know I’ve posted the second of my alternative history short stories on my Patreon page ( click here ) and I hope you enjoy reading it!

“After the fall of Bordeaux to the armies of King Charles VII of France in 1451, the fate of England’s presence on the mainland was all but sealed. Only the northern port of Calais remained under King Henry VI’s control after the grinding attrition of the Hundred Years’ War. In an effort to salvage this disastrous turn of events, the great war hero John Talbot, Earl of Shrewsbury, was dispatched to retake the Duchy of Guyenne.

Secure in his belief of the superiority of his English soldiers, Talbot soon reasserted control over much of western Guyenne by the end of 1452. His progress would not go unanswered, however, for the French soon returned to besiege the town of Castillon. Swiftly gathering his men, the Earl marched to lift the siege…”

I hope you enjoy reading it!
Charles