Such is the case in the new Dark Horse graphic novel “The Last Dragon” by prolific fantasy writer Jane Yolen and artist Rebecca Guay.
It’s a quick read, but you can attribute that to Yolen’s skill. At this point in her career, she’s written just about everything. She doesn’t waste a word, nor does she needlessly prolong actions. The words she does use are chosen with care, and you see lovely passages normally reserved for longer works of prose.
A couple favorites: “The dragons slept by the ocean’s edge, in the green shade of trees that wept their leaves into the water,” and “hills that the islanders called mountains though they were no more than a shoulder shrug.”
In Yolen’s world, man wiped out the last of the dragons 200 years ago, or so they thought. One egg was left, buried in a remote spot, and it hatches. Knowing nothing other than instinct, the dragon does was dragons will do — it eats. And it’s a small village’s healer who is its first human victim.
But that healer has a remarkably smart daughter, Tansy, and when a supposed hero, Lancot, is brought to the village to slay the beast, well, I’ll just stop there.
It does seem a bit light on character development, but given the space constraints, it works.
The art, especially, makes it all worthwhile. And while it may be a quick read, you’ll linger on Guay’s remarkable illustrations.
Guay’s paintings are simply stunning, bringing out the beauty of the human characters but, especially, showing the majesty of the dragons. Several two-page spreads give her artwork room to breathe — and take the reader’s breath away.
Is it Yolen’s best work? Not really, but it’s an enjoyable story, nicely told, with some interesting takes on literary archetypes of the hero and the damsel. It holds up well to any classic fairy tale.