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In the Eye of the Beholder

One of the first books I ever read about dragons was Jermey Thatcher, Dragon Hatcher by Bruce Coville, when I was in early elementary school.  This book still sits on my shelf in a place of honor, for it represents the beginning of my love for dragons.  Since then, I have added many, many more books about dragons to my library, because I am still amazed by these powerful creatures that, for some crazy reason, want to bond and communicate with humans (or at least do so in many books).

Right now, I am reading another book about dragons.  It is inspiring, as it is both creative and beautifully written.  The settings are well-described, and the characters are multi-layered and realistic.  But, I think it is the dragons that have pulled me into this story more than anything else.  There are pieces of this book that are written from their point-of-view, and the depth of both their pride and their agony as they struggle through their new lives is heart wrenching to read.

There are things about this book that make me pause.  It seems to break many of the “rules” about writing that I’ve come to accept very comfortably.  It repeats very, very frequently.  It also describes nearly every scene in great detail, regardless of whether the setting is important or not, or will ever be revisited.  Do these issues take away from the story?  Perhaps a little.  But I am still devouring this incredible story, and in the process, trying to learn and appreciate the things that make this story so remarkable.

One of the things that I I’ve learned the most about from this books is how powerful perception can be.  This book is written from multiple points of view.  One of my favorite characters describes herself multiple times throughout the book as unattractive and boring.  Another of the characters who interacts with her regularly describes her as almost grotesque and a nuisance.  Then, her path crosses with yet another character, and through his point of view, she is a lively and beautiful creature.  It startled me to realize how, rather than these characters contradicting each other, they are just creating a more realistic character.  Because isn’t beauty always in the eye of the beholder?  Aren’t people more complicated than simply “boring” or “interesting,” depending upon who is judging them?

So, I guess there wasn’t just one thing I learned from reading this novel.  Instead, it is another experience that will hopefully enrich my writing.

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