April 30, 2019

Z is for Ziz

        My theme for this year’s April A-Z Blog Challenge is fantastical creatures, celebrating my upcoming book, On the Virtues of Beasts of the Realms of Imagination.  Please check out my Kickstarter Campaign to kick this project over the finish line!

        We’re ending the alphabet with a bang: the biggest creature in the skies!  No, it’s not a mere roc.  It’s even bigger…
        “The ziz is a bird so great that it can eclipse the sun, and standing in the deep ocean, the water reaches only to its ankles.  The ancient writer says: It once happened that travelers on a vessel noticed a bird. As he stood in the water, it merely covered his feet, and his head knocked against the sky. The onlookers thought the water could not have any depth at that point, and they prepared to take a bath there. A heavenly voice warned them: "Alight not here! Once a carpenter's axe slipped from his hand at this spot, and it took it seven years to touch bottom." The bird the travelers saw was none other than the Ziz.

        If it’s standing in the deep ocean, I can’t help but wonder what leviathan makes of its feet.  Does this mean leviathan is only the size of one of ziz’s toes, or are they more comparable in scale, with even deeper deepest ocean for leviathan to lurk in?  Behemoth, by the way, is the biggest land creature, although I haven’t included it in my bestiary.  It’s hard to imagine that any land creature could be as big as leviathan and ziz seem to be, so I think it must be a fair bit smaller.
        These head-to-head comparisons make me think of the age-old questions: Alien vs Predator?  Godzilla vs King Kong?  T-rex vs bantha?  Ninki Nanka vs dragon, troll vs isnashi, cherufe vs bunyip?  Certain animals in the medieval bestiaries were said to be deadly enemies of one another, including griffin and horse, basilisk and weasel, and dragon and ichneumon.  Of course not all monsters spend their time fighting cage matches, but it can be interesting to imagine what various mythical beings might make of each other.  Some fantasy creatures seem to fit into the same world logically, while others seem to be loners, wanting to keep their stories to themselves.  What creatures would you like to see appearing in a story together?

        We may be at Z, but there’s still  just a bit more alphabetic mythical creature goodness for you.  Click the link to read 


[Picture: Ziz Eclipse, rubber block print by AEGN, 2016.]

11 comments:

A Tarkabarka Hölgy said...

You saved the biggest one for last :) As for matches... I like a lot of creatures, but I'm not sure I'd enjoy watching them fight. Maybe a mythical match like the Uktena and the Thunderbirds?

Congratulations on completing the challenge! I loved your theme, and I'm looking forward to the book :)

The Multicolored Diary

KatyTrailCreations said...

Fascinating! I'm so glad you stopped by my blog so I could return here!! I'll be enjoying your theme I'm sure and I've got you on my todo list for the upcoming months. Congrats on crossing the finish line :)
Stephanie Finnell
@randallbychance from
Katy Trail Creations

Rob Z Tobor said...

Well that is a huge beast, but I am now curious to know how big its eggs are. I suspect one of them (OK half) could make a really cool house.

Dome sweet Dome . . . .

Rob Z Tobor


So that's it the A to Z is now complete . . . . Well done although we should always remember fabled beasts never rest.

Deborah Weber said...

Now that's what I call a big finish! If I'm voting for two creatures to share a story, I'll go with the qilin and the vegetable lamb - two of my favorites from your delightful series. Congrats on completing the challenge, and I can't wait for your book to be released.

Keith's Ramblings said...

a bit late to the party but I'm so glad I popped my head around the corner! Fascinating. I'll be back very soon.

Sue Bursztynski said...

That is an impressive bird! It must have very long legs, though! Well done on your A to Z bestiary! I am now following this blog and will look forward to hearing when your book is out.

Kristin said...

I don't want to see any fights. I'm at the ocean and I am so glad I saw no gigantic birds.

Congrats on finishing the challenge.

Anne E.G. Nydam said...

Yes, I agree with all of you that I wouldn't want to see any of my beloved creatures fighting with each other. On the other hand, as a writer, if you don't have conflict, you don't have plot! It's always very painful to introduce conflict when I just want everyone to be happy! =)
Zalka, I'll have to go look up the Uktena.
Rob, I agree that you could do some really cool stuff with the eggshells - houses, boats, swimming pools...
Sue, you make an excellent point. I was picturing it with the proportions of a rooster, but maybe it isn't quite so huge as I was thinking, but just has enormously long legs!
Thanks to everyone for stopping by and leaving your wonderful comments all through the challenge!

Geoff Maritz said...

Hi Anne, well done on your challenge accomplishment, it is something to be proud of.
A Ziz sounds like quite an interesting creature, very big. I think the biggest beast I've ever seen was also a water creature, a Blue Whale. Elephants are also big but nowhere as big as your imaginary Ziz. Fun post all round, well done and blessings from Geoff in Africa.

coach-daddy said...

I love the thought of a great bracket with mythical creatures. I'd love to see a fairy and mermaid arm wrestle. Or a leprechaun and centaur play rock scissors paper!

Glad to have found you through the A to Z Challenge.

Anne E.G. Nydam said...

Coach-daddy, that's an excellent point: who says the match-ups have to be violence? It could be troll vs wyvern at chess, gnome vs kasa-obake at basketball, yali vs Ninki Nanka at Twister...