Elena Praggastis and her mother Brenda both read Michael Lotti’s new book, St. George and the Dragon. They agreed to read the book separately and write separate reviews, so that we could share with you both parent and teen perspectives on the book. Here’s Elena’s response to the book. Click here to read Brenda’s response.
St. George and the Dragon by Michael Lotti is an enjoyable and child-friendly interpretation of the great and courageous life of the saint and martyr St. George of Rome. The well-known dragon slayer provides a story that is full of contrasting good versus evil and themes of conflicting notions of slavery. The story is structured chronologically for thorough understanding as well as a pleasurable read.
Lotti does well by mentioning that there are many versions of St. George and the Dragon that are told in different voices with different elements. What rings true in all stories and interpretations (which Lotti recognizes) is that Marcellus becomes George when he becomes a Christian after serving in the army and slays an enemy of Jesus Christ, the dragon. Both of these events come to pass in Lotti’s story.
Lotti’s version takes place in AD Galatia, a region of Rome, when the main character George is still named Marcellus and is a successful, ruthless tribune in the Roman army. His famous encounter with the dragon takes place when George, then Marcellus, returns home from the army to fulfill his engagement to his naive childhood friend Regina.
The themes and symbols used are very reflective of Orthodoxy practiced and humility exhibited by both the persecuted peoples of ancient Rome and present-day Orthodox Christians. The humility of true slavery to Christ through faith is one of these themes well incorporated and appropriately defined by Lotti within the historical context of the war slavery of the Roman Empire in AD Rome.
As George comes from a wealthy estate and serves the glory of Rome before becoming a Christian, he has a distinct and rigid belief in slavery and servitude which he struggles with as he begins to understand Christianity further. His transformation from tribune to Christian and Marcellus to George provides the catalyst for the transformation of George’s interpretation and attitude towards slavery and who the real master, our Lord and God, really is.
Among other subtle symbols of faith and transformation is the loud character of the dragon. It comes as both a literal daemon of Satan and a symbolic form of temptation, as it seduces George’s fiance, soldiers of the Roman army, and almost even St. George. Its daemonic description of blood-red eyes and impenetrable scales, eating animals and humans alike, makes a distinctly evil contrast from the humble Christians in the story and the courageous heart of St. George.
With both sophisticated and age-appropriate language and style, Lotti’s writing is best suited for middle-grade and adolescent audiences, but can be enjoyed and internalized by all ages. I was able to complete the book in a short amount of time and feel a much more complete understanding of St. George. This is one of many interpretations of the martyr’s life, and it is one that does a good job of depicting the time period of ancient Rome and the transformation that Christian converts of all times must endure.
Editor’s Note: St. George and the Dragon is written by Michael Lotti and illustrated by Jennifer Soriano. This book is available through the OCN Webstore. Click to purchase a Kindle or paperback edition.
Posted by the Orthodox Christian Network. You can find the Orthodox Christian Network on Google+.