I first heard of Gordon R. Dickson’s, The Dragon and the George, in middle school after watching The Flight of Dragons, an animated classic based on the novel, though with Peter Dickenson’s ideas on dragons incorporated into the story. The novel’s far less sciencey, but our hero, Jim, shares his counterpart’s scholarly nature. Due to a friend reminding me of the book recently, I finally decided to pick it up. So, off I went to my favorite book stores only to find that no one had it. Odd, I thought, as I could have sworn I had seen it every time I wasn’t looking for it. Eventually I had to order it used. I have an old hardback copy from the 70s with a delightful painting by Boris Vallejo, who’s done every fantasy piece you’ve ever seen.

note: Actual knight cannot summon castles from his lance.

It begins in the modern world and for a while feels like a fantasy version of The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. Dickson and Adams seem to share a similar sense of humor. Eventually Jim’s better half, Angie, is victim to an experiment that sends her away to a fantasy world. Jim follows, but when he arrives, he finds out he’s ended up in the body of a dragon. And so begins a quest to learn just how the heck to be a dragon, and somewhere in there rescue Angie from the forces of evil.

Along the way, Jim meets others who tag along on his quest, including a dragon slaying knight and a giant talking wolf who does his best impression of a honey badger. While everyone has their moment, the latter was my favorite due in part to his no nonsense nature. The others tended to ramble at times, especially Jim. We spend a lot of time in his head and he doesn’t always take the quickest path to his point. It’s this wandering nature that bogs the story down. There was even a side plot involving the nemesis of Sir Brian, our knight friend, that took away from the adventure. I didn’t feel invested enough in him at the time to care much about it. It suffers from excess descriptions too. Dickson tries too hard at times.

I did want to like the novel more. It’s a unique set up with a man stuck not only in a different world, but in the body of a dragon, but I never felt gripped by it. It was enjoyable to see the basis for one of my favorite fantasy films, including so many of the characters who were lifted directly from it, and at least from that I’m glad I read it, I just wish it had a little more to it. I’ll have to give the nod to the movie as my favorite.

This is a book I’d have definitely loved as a teenager, and likely finished the series, but for now I don’t feel compelled to do it. Yet.

After being bogged down the past few months, it’s time to start catching up. Feels great to be back at this again.