Siegfried: Dragon Slayer
Siegfried: Dragon Slayer
Siegfried: Dragon Slayer is a graphic novel retelling of the Norse mythic Völsunga saga. Although a basis of Norse mythics is not required to enjoy this book, readers familiar with Norse mythology will recognize the name as being the inspiration for Tolkien’s The Hobbit. As a reader, I had watched the film but not read the novel, and I still found Siegfried: Dragon Slayer accessible and interesting to read. While having a small amount of context from the film enhanced my reading of the graphic novel, I do not think it is an absolute for enjoying this book.
Fantasy lovers will dive right into this graphic novel which starts with a sword fight training scene before cutting to a dream of treasures and a dragon. The art style of this graphic novel—which is done in coffee-painting by Jasmine Redford, as mentioned in an author’s foreword—may cause new graphic novel readers to stumble. While stylistic choices such as dreams and flashbacks being presented in greyscale to distinguish from the current storyline offer a clear distinction between characters and plotlines, when there were multiple characters or intricate scenery in the coffee-style art, it occasionally became hard to decipher separations between details. Readers who have a keen eye for detail won’t struggle to differentiate between a tree trunk and hair, for example, but readers new to graphic novels may find the lack of colour scale hard to decode. In panels with one character against a grey background, the coffee-painting is really quite beautiful and a unique feature of the book.
The story of Prince Siegfried will resonate with trail-blazing teenagers looking to forge their own path to greatness. Siegfried is curious, prideful, and often goaded into action by those around him. His actions seem less influenced by his desire for riches and more for his desire to be acknowledged as a powerful and respected Prince. This, of course, doesn’t stop him from starting a war with a neighbouring country or trekking to find a dragon sitting atop mountains of gold, all aided by an untrustworthy companion named Regin.
This retelling of an ancient story was created so more readers could delve into the Völsunga saga, and this graphic novel achieves that goal. The text is easy to read and has an appropriate pace for the fantasy story (“You insult me! I’ve razed entire kingdoms to the ground, melted whole armies with the poisonous spray of my fangs... ...and you think you, a mere boy, can simply walk in to my domain and kill me, the great Fafnir, with nothing more than a knife.”) while still challenging readers to expand their vocabulary or perhaps their understanding of the mythology.
Siegfried: Dragon Slayer includes treasure, murder, cooked dragon meat, and more in a neat graphic novel format. Fantasy lovers and mythology buffs alike will enjoy this read but are cautioned that some of the panels of art will require a thorough inspection to truly understand all of the pieces.
Lindsey Baird is a high school English Language Arts teacher in Lethbridge, Alberta.