On 16th of March, 2013, Wales won with England 30-3 in Six Nations tournament.

Dailymash commented it this way:

ENGLAND deliberately lost the Six Nations to Wales as part of a plan to boost the smaller country’s morale, it has emerged.

Wales’s victory caused an upsurge in national pride for a country embattled by unemployment, inhospitable weather and the literary trend for shit books about talking dragons.

My question is, what books they are referencing to?

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    Harry Potter? Nae, that's Scotland (in-universe, at least) – DVK-on-Ahch-To Mar 20 '13 at 1:30
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    But were there any talking dragons in Potterverse? I don't think so. Let's ask. ;) – Darek Wędrychowski Mar 20 '13 at 1:55
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  • It's possible. I'm not the expert in Arturian mythology, so I remind the only talking dragon in Merlin, which is a TV series, not a book. – Darek Wędrychowski Mar 26 '13 at 23:23
  • It's possible that the correct answer is "no specific books". The Daily Mash is a satire site after all, so there doesn't need to be a specific reference. – user8719 Dec 22 '14 at 17:31

I think I've finally found out what that phrase means. Actually it became quite obvious when I stopped treating it in its literal meaning.

What if "literary trend for shit books about talking dragons" refers not to any specific book about dragon with ability to talk, but the fantasy genre in overall?

This way I believe it refers to works of 19th century writer, William Morris, who helped to establish the modern fantasy genre.

His books, such as "The Wood Beyond the World" or "The Well at the World's End" are credited as important milestones in the history of fantasy fiction because Morris's works were the first to be set in an entirely invented fantasy world.

"The Wood Beyond the World" is considered to have heavily influenced C. S. Lewis' Narnia series, also Tolkien considered much of his literary work to have been inspired by an early reading of Morris, even suggesting that he was unable to better Morris's work. Also such names as Gandalf or Shadowfax come from Gandolf and Silverfax which appear in "The Well at the World's End".

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There have been a number of fantasy novels set in imaginary lands based on Wales. Lloyd Alexanders Prydain novels, for example, or Katherine Kurtz's Deryni novels, for example. But I don't know of any fantasy novels set in Wales or lands inspired by Wales which have talking dragons.

I don't see why a news story would have blamed Wales for bad fantasy novels with talking dragons merely because the founder of the genre, William Morris, had a Welsh surname.

That would be like blaming Scotland for fat American children because the McDonald's chain has a Scottish name, or blaming the Netherlands for various US Railroad problems because Commodore Vanderbilt had a Dutch surname. It would be like Latin Americans blaming Spain for their oppressive government merely because their dictator had a Spanish surname. Etc. Etc.

As for the suggestion that Gandolfo in a William Morris story was the source for Gandalf, Gandolfo is actually a real name. I have often thought it would be funny if newswoman Cathy Gandalfo covered a story at the Papal summer retreat of Castle Gandolfo.

But Tolkien very likely encountered the exact name of Gandalf in Medieval Norse texts. For example, there was Gandalf, King of Alfheim, a small kingdom in southern Sweden which has a name meaning Elfhome.

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    "Gandalf" was taken from the catalog of Dwarfs in the Voluspa; see en.wikipedia.org/wiki/… (you may recognise some others here too). In the early drafts of the Hobbit "Gandalf" was actually the leader of the Dwarves (later "Thorin") and the wizard was named "Bladorthin"; see The History of the Hobbit for more: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_History_of_The_Hobbit – user8719 Apr 14 '13 at 22:39
  • You are right with Gandalf, that it wasn't taken from Morris. I've checked the source and there's only mentioned that such names appear in Morris' books, not that they were later adopted by Tolkien. – Darek Wędrychowski May 26 '13 at 2:05

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