Day of the Dragon

Nationality: Spanish
Publisher: Naufragio de Letras
Pages: 340
Series/saga: ¿?
Translated: no

Sorry? What? Time to talk about the novel? Right now? Oh! The synopsis!
How much can we write? Less than two hundred words? How little!
Uf, uf. Alright, let's try...

Day of the Dragon is a delirious, epic, funny story! It's the best novel you'll read while you're reading this novel! Get into its pages and meet Fran, Carol and Kang Dae! They'll have to face unthinkable dangers to protect a very special egg! A dragon egg!
Join our heroes in an unforgettable trip through impossible worlds. They'll have to deal with fearsome wizards, hordes of monsters and a maleficent duke who intends to destroy the world! What, you want more? Well, there is! 
We've got alligators, giant robots, cockroaches in search of gods, mice on strike, dimensional travel, battles, magic and, of course, a dragon!

Are you going to miss it? 

This book contains the worst joke ever. If you are especially sensitive to bad jokes, read this book under the supervision of an adult (or two).

The Cambridge Dictionary defines humour as "the ability to find things funny, the way in which people see that some things are funny, or the quality of being funny".

And, by the way, it also categorizes the word into a B1 level in the Common European Frame of Reference for languages, so, if you are one of my students -who's landed here by mistake, as I'd never let my crazy teenage pupils find out who I am on the web-, or a native speaker of English, who would define it by writing their own name next to the word, you're in serious trouble. In serious trouble with sincerity, which will come to hit you in the head with a club, or something.

Why would you say that to your readers?
What's wrong with you today?

What's wrong with me? Right, before MiniMe has a break down (by the way, I'm still looking for a name for her, as she's already let me know that she doesn't like MiniMe, just in case someone wants to cooperate), I'll confess: I'm trying to continue with the humour in the book I'm introducing here. You mean I can't try to make you feel good? Looking at your faces, I take it I haven't helped you into reaching sublimation, catharsis, ehh... Yeah, right. But Gabriella Campbell and Antonio Cotrina do sublimate an awful lot in the first publication of Naufragio de Letras publisher: Day of the Dragon. And, by the way, many times they do it by means of bad jokes. I'm very happy, as these are not only my favorites, but also we'd been promised one (the worst ever!), and turns out there are lots.

Now, you see, I'd get down to writing a serious analysis of the book, but I wouldn't be doing justice to its character, because talking about Day of the Dragon means talking about, yes, you got it, humour. That was a tough one. Another issue to bear in mind is that I like to give examples of everything I say, and, obviously, this time I won't be able to do it -not as much I'd like to-. Why? Well, is there anyone out there who likes to have a joke spoilt? No, no, no, you better read them for the first time when you get hold of the book -either translated or because you learn Spanish-; otherwise, the essential premise of humour, surprise, will disappear. Or do you think I did myself a favour when I found a web with the funniest quotations from a saga I hadn't read yet? I assure you the dialogue "—I'm not going to ride on a magic carpet! I'm afraid of the grounds! —You mean heights. —I know what I mean! It's the grounds that kill you!" isn't so funny when you're waiting for it. That's why I'm not going to tell you the author of this one, although I'm sure you know by now (otherwise, what are you waiting for to catch up on this thing called fantasy?).

Anyway, what I can talk about is the different resources used to convey humour in Day of the Dragon, and explain why they work. Let's go.


And then, there is Spongebob, equally
delighting and horrifying since 1999.

Depending on what kind of public we are addressing, we'll make use of one type of humour or another. If the audience is composed mainly of children, we have clowns or cartoons resorting to something that we, as adults, may find simple, even if it isn't for those who are using it: blows and thumps. Make a guy bump into a wall repeatedly for no reason and sit down to watch kids laughing nonstop (well, maybe at some point they'll get tired of it).

As we grow up, however, we progressively need more context to make us laugh. The most extreme resource is black humour, which is usually based on contrasts in tragedy to prompt laughter; there's also sarcasm, which is a type of irony (saying the opposite of what you actually think) aimed at a person; sometimes, malice is "hidden" behind sarcasm.

The authors make use of quite a white humour instead of these two types in Day of the Dragon; for all publics and with no negative connotations. This is the first reason why it works: it is well targeted, since the youngest readers of this novel would be eleven-year-olds. 

The most evident and used here is absurd humour, supported by surrealist or incoherent situations. We find it, for example, in some insane dialogues between the characters. I love the silly comments Kang Dae and Fran make! 

Well, Kang Dae y Fran don't get intimate, but you get it, right?

Ridiculous as the dialogues may seem sometimes, they actually work because they not only make us laugh, but also give extra info at the same time without boring us; for instance, when we find out that, despite the extra large family he's got, he's never starved at home; or, for instance, that Carol likes cockroaches as much as they like her. Ok, sometimes the information doesn't seem to be so important (you tend to forget that, whatever the content, it's information anyway, and, so, power). By the way, Kang Dae makes me think of The Goonies; when he talks, he sounds in my head like a mixture of Gordi and Data. Does this happen to anyone else? And, was this intentional? Might be one of the references to real characters in the novel, about which I'll talk about later.

More examples of this absurd humour can be found in the characters themselves, either in their appearance or in their names;
above all, secondary ones. Heads tucked into fishbowls, villains who disturb each others or who wear "lamps" on their heads, ridiculous cloaks, or who fight with umbrellas as weapons; foul-mouthed chicks; burlesque chefs Lumiere style... All this, added to their ridiculous manners and their ever failed plans, contributes to caricaturing them. Above all, in the case of these villains, the caricature is the resource to denounce clichés.

And not only characters are parodied, but also some bad uses of literature, such as using complicated names for people or things: "¡A leaf of Strangenamusinlatinus!"

Names, as I was saying, help caricaturing or paroding. With the presentation "Lizzy Makeuneasy, PE teacher" -attempt of translation of a name in the book-, we wouldn't need much more presentation, right? Rhyming or alliteration -repetition of sounds- in a name work because they help us remember the characters better, at the same time that, sometimes, they can give us extra information about the characters. For instance, we also have chef Flamboyant Flambeau, or duke Disastermost, both characters with very ill intentions towards Wayry, the super adorable little dragon. 

Drop your puns!
Other methods, less used but still present in this story, are personification (attribution of human characteristics to an object) or hyperbole (exaggeration), and we can also find some pun somewhere.

Lastly, I'd like to comment on the cultural references present in the book. It gets complicated at this point, since there are some from the Spanish culture, such as chef Chicote, but there's also a reference to Gordon Ramsey, and also international fictional figures, such as Gandalf (I had a teacher who used to say: "good morning, you fools" whenever she came into the class); there's also some reference to Harry Potter (or so I understood): the crazy subject names, the sky race cheating... But there are also fenix birds that could come from a very famous Austro-Hungarian family of singers. And the recording of the spell cast upon the egg? That's epic laughter, yes!

And I am happy indeed! This was
real sublimation. A catharsis! Catharsis for all!

Shut up, MiniMe, no one understands you.

Well, I think I'm not leaving anything behind, but if I am, you'll be able to notice first hand in the book ;)

If you want to find out more about the authors, there's some information about their previous works on their personal websites. Here's Gabriella Campbell's blog, where you'll verify her liking for (bad) jokes and for helping other authors, and here's Antonio Cotrina, who abandons his blog every now and then in the most evil and cruel manner possible, but hey, everyone does as they can with the little time per day we're given, so, it's ok.

Will Day of the Dragon have a sequel? Truly, I don't know, but certainly, I can't wait to find out what Kang Dae, Carol and Fran will do with Wayry when he grows up!

Versión en español


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El día del humor, digo, del dragón. Sí, El día del dragón