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Recap / A Thing of Vikings Chapter 56 "Perils Of Popularity"

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Book II, Chapter 25

Compared to the drama of dragon-dug underground canals and dragon-forged skyscrapers, the Financial Revolution in the century and a half after Hiccup Haddock's taming of dragons is generally overlooked, but is perhaps even more fundamental to an understanding of the economic structure he left behind. Prior to the taming of dragons, bullion currency was comparatively rare; while gold and silver coins were certainly in circulation, as witnessed by the famous bride price paid for Hiccup's wife Astrid, overall, the Europan economy was cash-starved and functioned primarily on the barter economy at the lower levels. After the taming of dragons, however, an even more scarce commodity currency entered the economy in the form of dragon scales.

As is common knowledge, dragons shed their skins each spring; prior to domestication, they used these materials for the construction of nests for newly hatched young. Under human auspices, however, the shedding amounted to the annual input of pure currency into the economy. Properly treated and cured, dragon leather and dragon scales can last for decades of use before wearing out. While the leather itself acted as a trade commodity, the single scales from hide that wasn't of sufficient quality to be made into leather were not worthless. On the contrary, they functioned as currency, quickly displacing bullion metals as the currency material of choice.

In this role, dragon scales offered numerous advantages, including being nearly impossible to counterfeit or debase, being easy to substantiate as genuine, and naturally removing themselves from the money supply over time as they wore out or were repurposed (such as for industrial use, decoration or even insulation). However, even with this removal, the most productive gold or silver mine could not hope to match the net output of dragon shedding, and the resulting injection of funds into Europa's economy—spread by the effects of the Dragon Mail and the existing trade network—caused rampant inflation, averaging between 3-8% a year over the next century. While this would cause problems to the modern developed economy, in the cash-starved environment at the time, it was an economic blessing, allowing for a rapid shift from the barter economy and feudal taxation system to a market economy and currency taxation system, giving even the peasantry access to funds with which to pay their expenses and taxes and receive payments. Increasing per-person productivity from Haddock's innovations and the agricultural impact of dragon labor pushed urbanization, as demand for labor—human and dragon alike—exceeded the available number of hands and wings for most of the next several centuries…

The Dragon Millennium, Manna-hata University Press, Ltd.

Tropes That Appear In This Chapter:

  • Birds of a Feather: Cami's dragon Skuggi and Merida's brothers Harris, Hubert and Hamish immediately take to each other.
  • Blood Knight: Dagur is flabbergasted that there are no blood sports involved in the festival.
    Dagur: What kind of stupid festival is this? No blood sports? And you call yourselves worthy before the gods with such... weakness being paraded about? What kind of glory can there be without a blood price to set on it?
  • Cold-Blooded Torture: The Romans are big fans of this trope, best exemplified by this quote.
    Kristoffer: If there is one thing that I find despicable about the Romans, it is this belief that mutilating a man is less evil than simply killing him. Feh. Of course, what can you expect from men so evil that they'll make half of their court out of eunuchs?
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  • Culture Clash: Cami at first assumes that Merida is married because her hair is covered and Norse women cover their hair when they're married. The latter quickly uncovers her hair to avoid giving the wrong impression.
  • Elopement: After finding out about Merida's Altar Diplomacy situation, Cami humors the idea of taking Merida back to her island, many of its honorary members having been women escaping similar situations, and even considers offering herself to marry her because it is allowed under both Bog and Berk Law and freeing Merida of all of the trouble.
  • Evil Overlord: Former emperor Constantine seems to have been this. He apparently ordered the mutilation of a sixteen year old boy just because he didn't look "deferential enough."
    Kristoffer: I make no claims at being a moral man. But Constantine ordered torture and mutilations for imagined slights... and did not care for actually managing the empire. No, not when there was another hunting trip to have!
  • The Friend Nobody Likes: With the amount of trouble he causes, none of his fellow lords like Dagur. Even Merida - who is ambivalent to politics by default - wishes they did not bring him, calling him "scum."
  • The Good Emperor: Emperor Basil is viewed as one since he brought much prosperity to the Roman empire during his reign.
    Jorn: Fifty-some years ago, Emperor Basil formally formed the Varangian Guard out of Norsemen and Rus'men, many of whom had already been fighting for him as mercenaries. Now, the thing you have to understand here is that Basil ruled for nearly fifty years. He humbled the great generals of Anatolia, subjugated Bulgaria, brought prosperity to the people, increased the army to hundreds of thousands, and grew the territory of the Empire to the greatest it has been in over four hundred years.
  • Has a Type: Camilla has her Love at First Sight moment when she sees Merida's fiery-red hair.
  • Love at First Sight: Cami becomes instantly infatuated towards Merida when she's takes her hair covering off.
    Merida didn't need any more permission than that, and ripped the hood from her head, sending a cloud of red curls cascading out from under it. With a happy sigh, she combed it out with her fingers as Cami watched, her heart doing funny jumps.
  • Might Makes Right: Dagur behaves like this, convinced that he could challenge Berk's champion and fight them for the right to take their dragon. When Elinor reigns him in, he then decides that he could make the challenge after winning the festival's contests.
  • Mood-Swinger: Dagur changes moods at the drop of a hat.
    Wulfhild: Was he serious, just posturing, or some mix of the two? And if one of those changeable moods was a pose, was the other real? Were both of them real? She couldn't tell.
  • Pride: Dagur demands that Stoick has his "peasants" give up their homes to them in an inflated sense that they are superior and deserve housing instead of a shack or tent to stay in, Berk having already reached capacity for housing with every other visitor there. Elinor reigns him in and makes sure he doesn't violate hospitality.
  • Refuge in Audacity: Some Romans believe that Snotlout/Sigurd is lying that Berk has tens of thousands of dragons, or at the very least he’s greatly exaggerating the number.
  • Stay in the Kitchen: Averted; Elinor assumes that Merida wouldn’t be allowed to participate in the archery contest because the listings don’t have women's archery as an option, not realizing that the Hooligans don’t do that sort of thing.
    Cami: The Hooligans don't have sex-separated contests, except for things like water-wrestlin', 'cause that could get, um... you know.
  • Wacky Cravings: Nothing too outlandish, but Stoick finds it hilarious when both Wulfhild and Astrid have mutually incompatible pregnancy cravings.


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