Friday, July 4, 2014
This quote gives a faint hint of the unsettling and foul nature of the monster Marcellus must face in the book St. George and the Dragon, by Michael Lotti. As the author notes prior to chapter one, this book is a story of the legendary event, but not the story. Many different versions exist.
The book starts at the point that Marcellus, a well respected and highly promoted soldier, requests a leave of absence from the army so that he can marry. On his way home to his estate, the author plants seeds of unrest. Various characters whisper rumors about a dragon, along with much speculation about not only its existence but its purpose. Marcellus' curiosity about the dragon deepens when he is attacked by mysterious bandits who apparently worship the dragon.
We are also shown the general dislike of Christians by community leaders, as well as Marcellus' inner conflicting thoughts about the religion. He recognizes Christians' strong work attitude, and is amazed at the love and kindness they show, so he has a tendency to appreciate and support them, despite his lack of faith and the nay-saying of his leaders.
As the story progresses, the rift continues to grow. Marcellus' fiance is devoted to the dragon, and very insistent that he meet it. She makes it clear that if he does not submit to the dragon, the marriage is off. Meanwhile, Marcellus is greatly disturbed by how harshly his fiance's father beats his slaves, especially the Christian ones, which stands in sharp contrast to how his own father accepts Christian workers and treats them well. Yet, even though his has some misgivings, Marcellus ignores his inner warning signs and does as his fiance wishes: he visits the dragon. Though initially repelled by the dragon, after having a conversation with it, he finds a strange compelling draw to the beast and agrees to bring it a sacrifice.
The remainder of the story demonstrates the simple power of faith and good verses evil as Marcellus' Christian slaves slowly win over his heart... not by preaching, but by their faithful actions and attitudes. Eventually, Marcellus becomes a believer, is baptized, and renamed George. However, though he tries to ignore the dragon, the dragon will not ignore him. Instead, the dragon lashes out, wreaking destruction on George's life. It's then that George recognizes that just rejecting the dragon isn't enough. He must slay it.
Several simple black and white drawings accompany the story, created by artist Jennifer Soriano.
What I Like: In general, the book has strong writing and moves at a fairly fast pace. It's not preachy, but its message of faith is clear. There is an undertone of allegory to the wily aspect of the dragon, which makes it seem a bit more sinister. Overall, it's a nice blending of faith and fantasy. I also appreciated the one page epilogue, which quickly relayed the fate of the brave men who defeated the dragon.
What I Dislike: When it came to revealing character traits, I would have appreciated it if the author would have done a bit more showing instead of telling.
Overall Rating: Very Good (with a nod toward Excellent)
Age Appeal: None listed, but I suggest ages 8-12. However, children both younger and older than that age group who have a deep interest in dragons would enjoy it.
Publisher Info: , 2014; ISBN: ; Both Paperback and electronic books available, 162 pgs., $ 9.95 (PB) or $4.95 (Kindle)
This book is not available at Christianbook.com.
Buy it at Amazon.com for $8.96 or the Kindle version for $4.95