Comparing 2008 to 2009, we've seen catastrophic declines in castles, glowy magic and swords. Unicorns have seemingly disappeared, and even formerly sizable populations of elves, wolves and horses are in sharp decline.

Dragons, obviously made from sterner stuff, remain unscathed.

Context? Fantasy novel covers. This news courtesy of Orbit Books (via Making Light). Their handy comparison chart is reproduced to the right, but really: go read the original article. Sample quote: "The number of dragons on covers held steady this year. The dragon population seems to be in perfect balance – but we can’t tell if that’s because new dragons are being born to replace old ones, or if last year’s dragons are just really healthy."

Update: from the same source, an insightful analysis of dragon coloration on said book covers. Once again, the original article is well worth the click-through. (PDF infographic linked via the image to the right.)

Not directly dragon-related but also from Orbit and amusing: fashion trends for fantasy heroines and tag cloud of title words.

Update: The thumbnail images now link to legible but quick-to-download bitmaps (which require no special software to view, and pose negligible security risk). If you want (local copies of) the original PDF sources, they are here:

[Updated 2010 Aug 23 by DGH to add link to dragon colors study.]

[Updated 2010 Aug 24 by DGH to make images link to bitmaps, and to add separate links to PDF documents.]