Much has been written of serpents and komodos in fantasy. Serpents come in many shapes and forms. They have been depicted in their most traditional form of a slithery reptile skulking on the ground. Surely, the most notable serpent in this form, is the serpent that tempted Eve in the Garden of Eden. When not in this common form, they are depicted in more monstrous ones. Sometimes they appear as giant komodos or, in their most terrifying, as dragons.
Whatever their shape or form, serpents are very prominent in the realm of fantasy. And for good reason. Serpents, komodos, and everything in between represent our most primal fears. They are the beasts that slither on the ground and bring bad tidings. But what makes serpents and komodos, dragons and fire lizards so menacing and intimidating in our eyes?
Their Foul Odor
Serpents have long been known for their foul odor. The scent of a reptile is often described as slimy and musty. However in most fantasy tales, their odor is magnified to much more intense levels. Gaelen, one of the protagonists in C.S. Marks’ excellent tale, Elfhunter, A Tale of Alterra: The World That Is, encounters a monstrous serpent that reeks of a strong and powerfully rank scent. The serpent’s odor was described as something between “rotten meat and sulfur.” Such a scent would surely make most of us vomit with utter disgust.
Their Menacing Appearance
There is little doubt that serpents and komodos do not necessarily look appealing. Even animal lovers would be hard pressed to say that they look cuddly and cute, at least in a traditional sense. Such reptiles often appear quite menacing and threatening. Lokai, the dragon that Gaelen encounters is no different. He is described as having “an ugly, blunt, snout.” With this description, there is little doubt that Lokai had a face only a mother could love.
Their Powerful Venom
There is something both terrifying and appealing about a beast that can kill with its toxic saliva or venom. Here again, Lokai delivers the goods. He is described as a beast with powerful venom that can give a warrior a painful and agonizing death. His venom is so potent, that his masters see fit to tip their warriors’ weapons with it. This proves to be an added edge for their forces in any battle.
Exceptions to the Rule
Although much has been said of the menacing and terrifying nature of serpents and komodos, there are also exceptions to the rule. Dragons have not always been depicted as nightmarish monsters of legend. Many children-friendly stories have also depicted them as friendly and loyal creatures that are actually cute and cuddly, like the dragon from Neverending Story.
As befits powerful creatures with far greater lifespans than humans, they are often portrayed as wise or even misunderstood. This ties in well with the serpent’s dual nature, healer and destroyer, as depicted on the Staff of Asclepius, the Greek god of Health.
If you prefer your lizards friendlier, this is the way to go. However, serpents and komodos are best remembered for their more devastating and intimidating depiction in fantasy. This is how they have established their reputation as fearsome and, ultimately, majestic creatures of fantasy.
About the Author
C.S. Marks is best known for her trilogy of high fantasy novels (Elfhunter; Fire-heart; Ravenshade). Her books have earned acclaim from a wide range of readers, particularly for depth of character development, compelling storyline, and writing excellence. The kindle versions have enjoyed top 10 seller status in epic fantasy in both the US and UK.
After a year of all titles being “out of print and unavailable”, Chris is now looking forward to the re-release of the newly remastered Elfhunter trilogy, to be followed by comic book and graphic novel adaptations. She is also hard at work on a new Alterran series, The Undiscovered Realms, and the first in a series of novellas, The Alterra Histories, has recently been released (The Fire King).
C.S. Marks holds a doctorate in Life Sciences, and is a Professor at Saint Mary-of-the-Woods College, where she has taught Equine Science for twenty years. She is a popular panelist, seminar presenter, and lecturer.Â Her no-nonsense, realistic, practical-yet-good-humored approach has benefited many aspiring authors. She encourages writers who strive for excellence, regardless of publishing path chosen.
Message from C.S. Marks:
OK, so that’s my “canned” bio. What can I share that’s really interesting? Well, I make longbows (and shoot them, too!); I ride horses (I am a retired endurance rider–I used to compete in 100-mile horse races over various terrain and in all weather); I have roamed the wilds of North America as a field biologist, and have ridden and roamed the Australian countryside as an equine scientist and endurance competitor. My husband and I love dogs and share our home with thirteen of them. Every now and then my Border Collie, Bob, sneaks onto my computer and posts in the Romance forums on Amazon–he’s such a romantic.
I’m extremely pleased to be getting up to considerable mischief at Parthian Press, thanks to a really great team of professionals including “A” list graphic novel artist Hope Hoover and 30-year veteran editor Leslie Wainger. I love interacting with my readers, so please join me on Facebook, Twitter, Kindleboards Book Klub, and Goodreads!
To know more about C S Marks and her works, you can check the following:
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