Paul and Karin Johnsgard, Dragons and Unicorns: A Natural History (St. Martin's Press, 1982)

Dear _________,

Cleaning up after these humans is sometimes a real riot. I do not regret having taken the duty of cleaning up the staff break room for Green Man Review. Oh, the many interesting items I find there: Excalibur sitting in the back of the broom closet; Shakespeare's sequel to "Midsummer's Night Dream" being used by Wolf as a placemat; one of the seven dwarf rings is rumored to be lost behind the couch. I know Liath likes to keep as many of the books as possible in the actual library, but you know these mortals: their curiosity knows few bounds, and they're constantly bringing items into the break room and forgetting to put them back. But I just love cleaning up after them exactly because of the books I get to thumb through.

Take this example. Last week I discovered Dragons and Unicorns: A Natural History by Paul and Karin Johnsgard. That Winslow mortal had fallen asleep in the recliner and let drop this book, so I looked through it before nicely setting it on the table next to the recliner. As its title implies, this is an in-depth piece of non-fiction about two of the animals that mortals have pretty much eradicated from the mundane world. What a shame, isn't it, that the mortals have removed so much of the fantastic, and then write fantasies about it? It would have been so much better had they just left well enough alone to begin with.

But I wander. Anyway, this book. The Johnsgards have done a great job examining dragons and unicorns. It's chock full of wonderful information, such as the classification of dragons, from the hypothetical Protodraco to the three major divisions of lake, flightless, and flying dragons. Especially sad is the map on page 11 that shows where dragons can be found today. Such emptiness! I'm so glad that Drysi was able to find some rest in GMR's Great Hall for a while, especially since she gave us so much work to do! Cleaning up after a dragon! Every brownie's dream!

After discussing the physical aspects of dragons, the Johnsgards go on to discuss the social aspects of dragondom. You would think this would be a very short section, but the Johnsgards do an incredible job analyzing what I would consider an oxymoron: dragon socialization. Such incredible insights they have, though! I'd completely forgotten about the Fire-Breathing Avoidance Consensus Treaty (FACT) that controls what forms of fire-breathing are allowed and where. It's such a part of life now, I just don't think about it.

Other areas that the Johnsgards investigate are the dragons' relationship to mortal kind, including some of those common and nasty myths and preconceptions men have, such as dragons being children-stealers! Amazing what mortals will come up with!

As with the dragons, the Johnsgards do a great job with unicorns. I don't know about you, but I've always had a preference for dragons, since the unicorns are so tidy! Indeed! How is one to clean up after them? I mean, they don't even leave their horns lying around a whole lot, do they? Nooooo. Not at all.  That's why they're so hard to come by and mortals seek after them. Still, the section on unicorns was fascinating.

I think what is the biggest shame is that so many mortals are going to read this book and just think how quaint it is, two authors making up all this stuff about mythical creatures, and making it look like a reference book.  Mythical creatures, indeed! It really is quite tragic that they -- the mortals, I mean -- are so narrow-minded in general. I guess I'm one of the lucky ones, getting to clean up after mortals who still believe that we exist.  Even after that incident with the high priests and the stag beetles, they are still a pleasure to clean up after, especially because they leave me such treats as this book lying around!

I truly hope you can come visit me sometime. Maybe if we plan it right you can come after one of their big parties and we'll have tons to clean!  There's nothing I'd rather do than share that pleasure with you, especially since your mortals pretend you don't exist.

Affectionately yours,


[Transcribed into mortal script by Matthew Winslow]