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The Element Encyclopedia of Magical Creatures: The Ultimate A-Z of Fantastic Beings From Myth and Magic Paperback – Bargain Price, November 28, 2005


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Paperback, Bargain Price, November 28, 2005
$89.29 $14.31

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Product Details

  • Series: The Element Encyclopedia
  • Paperback: 704 pages
  • Publisher: Sterling (November 28, 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 140273543X
  • ASIN: B007PM08IK
  • Product Dimensions: 9.8 x 7.6 x 1.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 4 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (34 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,718,945 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

About the Author

John and Caitlin Matthews are two of the most well-respected experts in the area of mythology and legend. Best known for their work surrounding Celtic and Arthurian traditions, they also have a tremendously broad base of knowledge of cultures worldwide from which they have drawn on for this amazing work. Their previous books include The Encyclopedia of Celtic Myth and Legend, Walkers Between the Worlds and The Aquarian Guide to British and Irish Mythology and Hallowquest: The Arthurian Tarot Course. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Customer Reviews

I will say that this book does not have many illustrations (and the ones it does have are really just sketches).
Gypsy November
I would recommend this book to those who want to have a diverse reference book in regards to magical creatures and their connection to folklore.
Nathan A. Foy
Very informative and interesting, there are literally thousands of terms, characters, creatures, etc to glean from the pages.
Glenny40

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
"This book is a zoology of the imagination more than it is a natural history. It follows the myths of magical creatures wherever they show themselves, myths that are primal stories encoding understandings that we grasp by means of metaphor rather than with any literal-mindedness. Where will these creatures lead us?"

The Element Encyclopedia of Magical Creatures is a 682-page, flexibound compendium of fantastic beings from myth, magic, and urban legend. (Flexibound is somewhat between a hardcover and a paperback). Arranged alphabetically for easy reference, hundreds of entries are culled from literature, sacred texts, history, legends, cryptozoology, and movies. Mythical stories pertaining to animals, fowl, and insects are also provided. Entertaining and informative, this book sparks both imagination and curiosity. Indeed, it's hard to read "just one" entry in this unique book.

Some of the fantastical beasts, monsters, and demigods listed in this book include:

* Bunyip

* Lorelei

* Puck

* Sasquatch

* Chupacabras

* Thoth

* Quetzalcoatl

* Elves

* Bastet

* Leviathan

* Dryads

* Lilith

* Ouroboros

* Mothman

* Fire Drake

* Golem

* Banshee

* Satyr

* Basilisk

* Thunderbird

* Scapegoat

While many entries are familiar, I found the majority obscure--having never heard of them. I was intrigued to find that Dobby, the house elf from the Harry Potter books, is actually a genus of British house fairies--known mostly in the north of England. Supposedly, the Dobby/Dobie makes ridiculous mistakes or is easily confused.
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16 of 17 people found the following review helpful By Gypsy November on January 8, 2009
Format: Paperback
I give this vibrant and fascinating tome five stars simply because I can't give it more. I was hesitant to buy it because of the relatively low rating on Amazon...but I am so glad now that I went with my instincts. I can't understand how it came by such a poor rating, but I assure you that this book doesn't deserve anything less then a five. I am a fantasy writer and this is an invaluable resource, besides that, I love fantasy and the imagination in their own right...and this book gives wonderful homage to the magical beings all around us.

Have you ever heard of a Haikur (a water horse)? How about the Dev (a race of giants with seven heads)? Did you know that the Valkyrie are female spirits that carry away the souls of those killed in battle? This is just the tiniest taste of all you will read about in this wonderful Encyclopedia. Not only does this book cover the obscure, but it details well-known creatures, such as Centaurs, Vampires, Elves, and Werewolves. It even explains how animals we know well are magical in their own right (ants are believed holy in many cultures, such as China, where it is considered righteous and prized for its orderliness and patriotism).

I really am fascinated by this tome, and thoroughly believe it belongs on the shelf of anyone who is interested in the things we have to believe in to see.

I will say that this book does not have many illustrations (and the ones it does have are really just sketches). I did not take away in the rating for that because, first of all, the description of the book never said anything about pictures and secondly because most of these creatures, I think, are best seen by the minds eye...where they will never disappoint because they will look exactly as you think they should.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Shawn MacKenzie on May 13, 2007
Format: Paperback
a comprehensive research volume. Personally, I have found it extremely valuable in my work, and will even pick it up on occasion for an aimless perusal. It does cry out for a few illustration, though I am sure many of the creatures in the book are loath to have their likenesses set down.
Not for the very young, but a must for the serious cryptozoologist.

If you like this book I recommend The Dragon Keeper's Handbook (Llewellyn Worldwide, Spet. 2011)
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Lizzy on December 29, 2011
Format: Paperback
This book is a good reference for the writer, cryptozoologist, and interested laymen alike.

One of the best points is that it includes not only legendary and mythical creatures, but also references the mythical qualities assigned to well-known animals by various cultures. There are also short sections discussing various themes among mythical creatures such as Apocalyptic Beasts or Shapeshifters.

There are some areas where this book is very thorough (there is a separate entry for each of the four horses of the sun in Greek mythology), but there are also some omissions that seem almost arbitrary (there is an entry for Oberon but not Titania). I would have appreciated more cross-referencing. For example, the Midgard Serpent is given the alternate name of "World Serpent" even in its entry in this book, but there is no entry under "World Serpent," not even to direct the researcher back to Midgard Serpent. Another example is a later form of the Basilisk which takes on the head and legs of a cockerel and is often known as the Cockatrice in medieval legend (the Cockatrice entry mentions the Basilisk root, but the Basilisk entry fails to direct the researcher to the Cockatrice). In many cases if you don't know what name they have chosen to file the creature under you will find yourself completely stuck.

My main criticism for this book is that there is no index whatsoever. I would have expected, at the absolute minimum, some sort of index that would allow the researcher to look up creatures by region or mythology, and an index or at least a few lists of very closely related creatures. (For example there are several supernatural creatures which fall under the blanket description of "Black Dog" (Padfoot, Mauthe Dhoog, Skriker, etc.
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