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The Flight of Dragons

4.27  ·  Rating details ·  726 Ratings  ·  48 Reviews
Combining fact with fantasy and science with romance, the authors set out to prove that dragons really did exist. First published in 1979, The Flight of the Dragon presents a riveting thesis on how so great a creature as the dragon actually managed to fly. 140 illustrations, 100 in color.
Hardcover, 128 pages
Published February 1st 1998 by Overlook Books (first published 1979)
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Jan 27, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fantasy
I loved this book as a kid, and not just because it had naughty boobie pictures that had nothing to do with the text. Dickinson takes the position that Dragons actually existed, then goes from there to ask questions like: why are they not in the fossil record? how could a creature that is generally depicted as huge and armoured supposedly fly? what's the deal with the fire-breathing? why are they often depicted as speaking and/or telepathic creatures? how come the accepted method of killing them ...more
I love love love stories of dragons. Cimorene is one of my favourite female characters of all time. Aerin is my hero. I filled up the entire library slip on my school's copy of Dragon's Blood singlehandedly. I spent a childhood reading heaps of wildly inappropriate books by Anne McCaffrey. My copy of Dragon's Milk and its sequels are so well thumbed they barely have covers left. And when Tamora Pierce featured a baby dragon in her Immortals quartet... oh the excitement! So to read a book which t ...more
Oct 15, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fantasy, dragons
I saw the movie The Flight of Dragons as a child and loved it; Dickinson even came to my school where he laughed at the idea of making him this gallant hero that he was in the movie. I have wanted for many years to get the books the movie was based on; finally I was able to get them.

Peter Dickinson starts with a premise, that dragons really existed. He then goes on to explain how they would work in the real world and goes about this in a logical and believable way. He brings together many repea
Andree Sanborn
Dec 27, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2012, december
I've never been much of a fantasy reader, but my husband has wanted me to read this one for a couple of years. I was motivated to finally tackle it because of an autism spectrum student who enjoys dragons. I want to get him engaged in something and thought this book could be the ticket into his soul. And I am amazed by what I have read and by the magnificent illustrations within the book.

I honestly think now that dragons in some form actually existed. The author makes no bones that his research
Dec 29, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: fantasy
A fantastical, fictionalised study of dragonlore. Dickinson, a Cambridge university professor, examines the dragon's place in the human psyche and explains the feasibility of dragon biology and flight mechanisms with such ease that you feel almost as though you could allow yourself to believe what you have wanted to believe all along - that dragons are not mere myth but were flesh and blood animals that lived among us and are very much a part of our cultural past...perhaps even a part of what ma ...more
Jul 24, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
A delightful book. With illustrations by Wayne Anderson, Peter Dickinson describes the history of dragons. Not as merely mythical beasts, but as real creatures. He gives a rationale for the features of dragons, flight, hoarding, fire-breathing etc.
He builds a picture and makes the case for their reality. While it is clearly nonsense, it is done with such affection and thought that the whole package is hugely enjoyable.
Apr 19, 2012 rated it did not like it
This was an odd book. Usually, books will assume the reality of dragons or be an obviously fictional fantasy story. This book is more of a Q&A dialogue between the author and the readers and it is an argument for the existence of dragons, based on science and history. I didn't care for it.
Brenda Clough
Dec 20, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Now this is the way that fictional non-fiction should be done! A truly delightful book that hangs tightly together and makes perfect sense. Every factoid about dragons is tied in to form a perfectly logical picture. An imagination tour de force!
Jd weber
Jan 19, 2017 rated it really liked it
This was really fun to read.

You always hear conspiracy theories about Bigfoot, or Loch Ness, and for the people that believe them, the evidence is irrefutable. This book is that evidence for Dragons and it is wonderfully presented and thought out.

Not to mention, I learned so much about the 'history' and 'lore' of dragons. If you're trying to write a story with dragons in it, here's were you start looking for tropes. It was excellent.
Sep 20, 2008 rated it really liked it
With this highly-illustrated nonfiction text, Dickinson intends to prove the existence of dragons: gigantic, firebreathing, flying reptiles. Through popular and historical descriptions of the beasts, he theorizes everything from dragon lifecycles, to dragon slaying, to the necessary connection between a dragon's form, firebreathing, and flight. He often draws on quotes from his sources, and Anderson's illustrations provide visual interest and help depict the mechanics of the dragon body and flig ...more
Sep 14, 2012 rated it really liked it
Delightful! Charming! Inventive! I flew through this book because of time constraints, so I did not get to fully appreciate the whimsical illustrations and the deftly-chosen quotations. However, I did digest the meat of the book: a carefully constructed rationale that explains the existence of enormous, flying, fire-breathing beasts we know as dragons. As a biologist, I LOVED Dickinson's approach and his scientific explanations to all the anatomical impossibilities, and the way he ties the trait ...more
Jul 01, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Peter Dickinson's The Flight of Dragons is a delightful blend of scientific thinking and whimsy. It starts from the basic questions of dragon biology, such as: how can a dragon have 4 legs and wings, when all legged vertebrates have 4 limbs? and how can a reptile as big as a dragon fly? Then it extrapolates from there to explain other key dragon features, like fiery breath, living in caves, hoarding gold, etc. The book is gorgeously illustrated, peppered with quotes from classic litererature and ...more
Jennifer (aka EM)
Feb 07, 2011 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Elizabeth, Ceridwen
For Elizabeth and Ceridwen and all the dragon-lovers out there. I have no idea where this is still available - or if - but if you can find it, pick yourself up a copy. It's a truly beautiful flight of fancy wrapped around a "scientific" explanation of dragon flight. And the illustrations are just stunning.


ETA: I just re-read this and it is as delightful as I remembered it -- although not 5-star delightful, and there is a truly upsetting effect/affect mis-use that I cert
Jul 14, 2010 rated it really liked it
Charming and inventive book theorizing that dragons did exist, and explains why there are no dragon fossils and how dragons evolved from dinosaurs! Dickinson researched widely in fantasy and history and explains how each quoted account can be explained in light of his theory, including Beowulf (using his own translation of certain passages--I love a man who can translate Ango-Saxon). The whole thing is very tongue-in-cheek, and very delightful. The only less than wonderful thing about the book i ...more
Mar 08, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: dragon-fun
This is one of my favorite dragon books in my collection. The author starts with a simple premise and then proceeds to discuss and in many cases show how that premise can be used to explain a number of dragon myths. Conveniently he even has a way to explain why there are no dragon fossils around for folks to see. :)

I remember reading this book when I was much younger, and it remains one of the treasures of my collection even today. I apparently have an earlier edition as it does not include a pr
Mar 21, 2007 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is a great book exploring the possibility of dragons as an actual physical creature and the anatomy, physiology and behavior thereof. It was the basis for a Rankin-Bass animated movie, although the movie also drew heavily from "The Dragon and the George" by Gordon R. Dickson.
What realy sets this book apart from others like it is that not only was itthe first--to my knowledge--of its kind, but it also exudes a sense of child-like wonder on the author's part as he attempts to piece together d
An Odd1
Nov 10, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fantasy, fan
Dragons are definitely real. Believe, buy, adore. Biology, chemistry, architecture - facts change fantasy to history. Absolutely amazing astonishing elegant powerful hypnotic fierce depictions nearly every full page.

Descended from dinosaurs, light bones separate compartments of hydrogen. Gas inflates for buoyancy. Chemical sulfur reactions flame breath. Soft gold metal cushions rock bedding. Human worship sacrifices submissive maidens. Sensible reasons for every mythical memory.
May 27, 2007 rated it really liked it
my mother has had this book ever since i can remember. and ever since i can remember, i've loved reading it. the illustrations are an interesting mix of medieval and fantasy art, and the 'science' behind the flight of dragons is actually quite fascinating. also an interesting history of dragon-lore, from virgin sacrifices to st. george.
Jan 19, 2016 rated it really liked it
Love this book. For me this was the first type of manual/storybook where the author was presenting something fantastic as if it was real.
Grew up in love with the movie of the same name. However the movie "Flight of Dragons" also draws on the book "The Dragon and the George" by Gordon R. Dickson.
I randomly found this book at my high school's library long long ago. I don't remember much of it except that it was beautiful and profoundly compelling. At times I was even convinced it was non-fiction. Sigh! I Would love to re-read it and even own a copy someday... Looking back, I probably just should have "lost" it in the first place...
Mar 11, 2008 rated it really liked it
If you ever saw the movie in the 80s (?) this is the book that the character Peter writes and tries to sell to the pawn shop (and the board game too). I think the movie was written to create a story around the book by using the "science" discussed in it. I had a lot of fun reading it.
I really liked this book because it proposed an explanation to what dragons would be like if they existed for realsies. Some of it was a little boring, but I liked the idea. It was clever. And also, the pictures in this book were awesome. Yay, dragons.
May 03, 2014 rated it really liked it
Be warned: this book is not a storybook. It is more like a field guide to dragons. That said, I found it really inventive, fun, and interesting. The artwork is compelling and the science is clever. If you liked the Rankin Bass movie, or if you just love dragons, you'll enjoy this book.
Alicia Wright
Apr 18, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Brilliantly thought out thesis on dragons as real creatures. I read the whole thing in only two sittings. Really interesting notes on dragon folklore and literature and lavish illustrations throughout. Highly recommended to dragon lovers everywhere!
Oct 01, 2007 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Anyone who loves Dragons
This book is beyond awesome, the Holy Grail of literature on dragons. and i had to go on a damn knightly quest to get my hands on it, but now i am the VERY proud owner of a first edition copy. if you can find it, GET IT
Oct 11, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Can be somewhat hard to find at a reasonable price, but if you do find it!!! Fantastic book filled with great ideas and thoughts about dragons. They just don't write books like this anymore. Kind of reminds me of "Gnomes", except about dragons instead. Great book!
Oct 04, 2011 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fantasy, dragons
I have wanted to read this book ever since I saw the film when I was... 6? Well, at least for 20 years, now. I must admit it, it wasn't what I expected, but it was interesting to see the author prove th existence of dragons through fiction!
May 27, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fantasy
I watch the cartoon of flight of Dragons endlessly as a child and loved it. As an adult, reading the book was all the better as it wasn't the childish storyline, but an interesting scientific discussion of dragons . Extremely unusual fancy book and highly recommended (if you can find it) .
Mar 04, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2010, fantasy
Beautiful artwork. What I was really enjoying, though, was being able to see what had been extracted from the book to create the movie. The next time I see the movie, I think I'll be able to appreciate it that much more.
Scott schluter
Aug 19, 2014 rated it it was amazing
I want my own copy of this!
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Peter Malcolm de Brissac Dickinson OBE FRSL was a prolific English author and poet, best known for children's books and detective stories.

Peter Dickinson lived in Hampshire with his second wife, author Robin McKinley. He wrote more than fifty novels for adults and young readers. He won both the Carnegie Medal and the Whitbread Children's Award twice, and his novel The Blue Hawk won The Guardian Aw
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