“The legend of Saint George and the Dragon is well known..”
I was provided an ARC of “The Black Swan Saga” in exchange for an honest review, which I have provided below.
“The Black Swan Saga” by Rod Giblett is an interesting read.
A cry for environmental preservation, a satire, a biting indictment of capitalism, expansionism, and more, Giblett pleads his case for protecting wetland marshes and other natural habitats worldwide in “The Black Swan Saga”. However, the author chooses to use the destruction of English wetland marshes as his prime example to draw the reader’s attention to the crisis he speaks about.
Touching upon what some might consider sacred legend, Giblett takes the myth surrounding St. George (patron saint of England and one of Christianity’s most lauded saints, whose iconic red cross forms the sigil of England’s flag) and the Dragon, and alters the tale to suit his narrative.
Giblett inverts the title of his tale to “The Dragon and St. George” to emphasize the “real” hero of the story, and lists them first. In Giblett’s work, the idealistic George seeks, fame, glory, and the hand of the “Princess”, daughter of Mr. King – mayor of the area where the wetlands in question are located. George is contracted to slay the Dragon, who is actually is the protector of the wetlands, and a friend of “Princess”. Princess wants nothing to do with the aspiring hero, and will team with the Dragon to ensure George’s mission does not go as planned.
Besides reversing the role of hero, whereby the Dragon is the good one, and George the bad, and changing the outcome, Giblett moves the legend considerably forward in time to a modern setting, where environmental activists, investigative journalists, and those with integrity battle greedy, affluent, sinister forces, and just plain apathy and ignorance.
For those unfamiliar with the canon version of the legend, tradition tells that a dragon was terrorizing the city of Silene, Libya. The citizens of Silene, to placate the monster, offered sacrifices of sheep, until the dragon demanded more than sheep to fill its rapacious appetite. The king’s daughter was then offered, but at this juncture, St. George, the questing knight, arrived in Silene.
St. George nobly risks death to combat the dragon. He succeeds, rescued the princess, and kills the dragon with his lance. In gratitude, the king offered St. George riches, but St. George declined and insisted the money be given to the poor of the city. Astounded at these events, the citizens of Silene converted to Christianity as a result.
Paralleling this, in Giblett’s version of the legend, many are converted to the cause of environmentalism after hearing the “true” story of “The Dragon and St. George”. It is also, evidently, Giblett’s aim to gain further supporters for this cause, and to raise awareness of the damage being done to nature.
Giblett uses extremely thinly disguised (or sometimes no thin disguise, instead simply blatant calling out by name) representations of famous people and organizations in his book, and the irony and wit can be very sharp and highly critical. But, Gibbet also writes with an eternal optimism, implying that even the worst environmental offenders can be reformed, through exposure and education.
The book is a quick read, funny, diverting, and has an important moral to tell. Giblett’s work will no doubt appeal to advocates for ecological preservation. Moreover, such an audience can potentially use “The Black Swan Saga” as an educational tool to advise and inform about environmental issues in an amusing, entertaining way.