Realm: Kippernium, England (9th Century)
Featured in: Jane and the Dragon
Voiced By: Adrian Truss
Things are getting obscure now, folks. Jane and the Dragon was a television series that ran for a total of twenty-six episodes on YTV in Canada and Qubo here in America for close to six years and having only recently been taken off the scheduled programming. The series itself was based on a series of books by Martin Baynton with the first two having been written as far back as 1988 and ’89 respectively before the third was put to print in 2000 and books four and five in 2008, well after the series premiered in 2005. While I’ve only been able to judge the book by its cover so to speak, I for one was greatly appreciative that the series stayed true to the illustrations of the titular characters, particular Dragon himself.
That’s not to say that there aren’t elements to the series that I didn’t question or like. While I applaud the use of CGI animation, the human cast was animated via motion capture and many of the “first” season episodes can be a jarring sight to see, particularly the facial expressions. It’s actually rather strange how it can go back and forth between looking like an animated series to a video game cutscene at times, particularly in certain scenery like Dragon’s cave.
That… and darn it, I have to explain why the kingdom is called “Kippernium” don’t I? Sigh… It’s called that because its chief export, to which the king will and has bragged about many a time, is kippers. To those lucky few that don’t know what a kipper is, it’s a small herring split in half down the middle in a butterfly-style fashion and is gutted, salted, and/or seasoned before being cold smoked over smoldering woodchips. Back in the day, it was quite the popular high tea or supper treat.
Unfortunately, this trend of naming convention is not limited to just the kingdom itself. In point of fact, the only ones that are spared from having names that are far too ironic is the castle blacksmith and the royal family and even that’s a bit of a stretch. Don’t believe me? Well we’ve got the titular Jane Turnkey who was initially being trained to be a lady-in-waiting mind you, Drake “Rake” Gardener who is the castle gardener, Verbena “Pepper” Salter who is the head cook, and Jester the… jester… Actually, now that I take a moment to look at it, I just now realized that aside from Jane’s parents, whom we see rather rarely, most of the castle’s inner workings, that is to say the gardens, the kitchens, and the smithy, are all run by kids no older than fourteen and no younger than twelve.
As said by the March Hare, I’ve a brilliant suggestion: let’s change the subject. Rather, lets return to the subject proper.
Dragon, as explained in the series opening intro, had gone and kidnapped the young prince of the kingdom of Kippernia and Jane, a young girl being trained to be a lady-in-waiting with dreams of becoming a knight, set off to rescue the young royal. Though the circumstances are never quite explained fully in the cartoon, Jane and Dragon somehow become the best of friends with Dragon himself being pardoned by the king and Jane herself being granted apprenticeship to one of the kingdom’s knights, Sir Theodore Boarmaster.
Dragon is, by his own admittance, likely the last of his kind and was initially born about three hundred years prior to the series and had been to teach himself how to fly and breathe fire entirely on his own. Unfortunately, most of his childhood was actually spent as… I hesitate to say it but really there’s no better word for it, as “property” for he had been kidnapped and sold about various people before he eventually escaped back to his ancestral home in the mountains near Kippernia Castle.
In fact, it was promptly upon his return to his childhood cave that Dragon discovered a series of draconic runes, one of which he was able to translate as meaning “child” and thus set off to find the one child he thought the rune was indicating. That being the local prince who happens to be all of eight-years-old… Yeah, three hundred years old or not, Dragon himself is likely still young by the standards of his kind, quite possibly a teenager given his love for toilet humor and general teasing about the castle staff both the young and the old.
What I found particularly refreshing about Dragon’s character is that despite his being able to speak English remarkably well, and to sing in a surprisingly falsetto voice, Dragon is more scientific than magical in his make and function. That is to say, the series actually goes on to explain both how he can fly with relatively small wings and how he’s able to breathe fire using the very same methods introduced in the book The Flight of Dragons. Basically, Dragon eats materials that allow his stomach to create methane gas that fills up a pair of air sacs akin to lungs that make him lighter than air but also grant him a fiery breath that can reach temperatures that were all but impossible in that century’s time.
In point of fact, there’s something once mentioned in the series that really intrigued me when I first watched it and to this day, I still wish that the series had kept going to solve this mystery. For you see gentlemen and ladies, young Jane had been granted a gift by Dragon, a sword that happened to be amongst the small and meager hoard of treasures deep in his cave.
A sword that can actually pierce Dragon’s tough skin while most other weapons cannot and bears a remarkable resemblance to one belonging to Jane’s teacher, Sir Ivon. The knight would later confess to Dragon himself that he is a descendant of dragonslayers and that his sword, much like Jane’s, was forged ten lifetime’s past with the fiery breath of a dragon so that it may pierce a dragon’s skin.
Now, think on that a moment folks.
A sword forged in dragon’s breath and used to slay dragons somewhere about ten human lifetimes ago.
Contrary to popular belief, the average human lifespan back then is not the same as it is now. In point of fact, if the average human lived beyond the age of fifty at best. Considering the profession of Sir Ivon’s line, and Sir Ivon himself, I’d say that perhaps they are close to around forty if they were lucky and proficient with the sword, against man and dragon alike. That would mean that the sword had to have been forged roughly a hundred or so years before Dragon was hatched and more to the point, that it is was a dragon that helped to make it.
The world will never know…