What is it about dragons anyway?

Discussion in 'General Fantasy' started by S.J. Faerlind, Aug 10, 2013.

  1. S.J. Faerlind

    S.J. Faerlind Flashlight Shadowhunter

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    Dragons seem to be a universally popular mythical creature. If you're a fan of dragons, what do you think it is about them that people admire?
     
  2. Sparrow

    Sparrow Well-Known Member

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    I think it's because they so closely resemble dinosaurs and we all grow up loving those creatures.

    Hell, I still love going to natural history museums and am still amazed by dinosaur bones!
     
  3. Greybeard

    Greybeard Geezer

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    As much as I hate to admit it, Sparrow might be right. I, too, haven't outgrown my youthful fascination with dinosaurs.

    Part of it is likely sheer size. Part might be that they are alien, since we aren't used to 1. flying lizards, 2. active lizards, 3. intelligent lizards, 4. fire-breathing anything.

    We also have our choice of dragons these days. As writers and readers, we can choose of purely animal Western dragons, or the more intelligent and benign Eastern dragons, or (as I suspect we're increasingly getting) a cross between the two.
     
  4. Overread

    Overread Wolfing it up! Staff Member

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    Diversity is certainly very strong within dragons as a fantasy species - they are one of the most divers and are also not just diverse by being opposites of their original sourced them. They are also one of the fewer fantasy creatures that isn't a mammal or half human type creature, and yet many dragons share a very mammalian view and behaviour in the world (very few are really very lizardy unless they are very feral and "dim" dragons).
     
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  5. S.J. Faerlind

    S.J. Faerlind Flashlight Shadowhunter

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    ^^Good points all^^
    I always thought dragons were one of the most majestic of fantasy creatures. They are (or can be) darn powerful and dangerous, yet they aren't always villains. Some are quite wise and intelligent and they're certainly both beautiful and impressive.
    While I love the stories where dragons work with, rather than against humans (Anne McCaffrey's Pern series and Melanie Rawn's stuff for example), I always felt that dragons were treated a little too much like pets rather than partners in those books.
    I rather liked the dragon Ancaladar in Mercedes Lackey and James Mallory's Obsidian Trilogy - he seemed to be a little more autonomous than the Pernese dragons were. There was also an interesting society with dragon leaders in Legends of the Dragonrealm: Shade. Those dragons had made themselves into tyrant rulers. I think the most unusual concept of a dragon I ever read about was in Jennifer Fallon's Demon Child trilogy. Her "dragons" were very unconventional. :D

    All of those dragons had that powerful, dangerous, majestic image in common though.
     
  6. borgrel

    borgrel New Member

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    dragons are the great "what if"

    dragons are to big to fly according to physics but, what if they can? then surely we can tooo.
    what if dragons rly are magical, surely we could be magical tooo.
    dragons have natural armour, they huge strong and powerful they can kill a human in less than a second in 100 differant ways. what if ppl truely CAN kill dragons, is there anything we cant defeat??
    what if dragons rly do exist, does everything else from myths exist tooo?
    what if a person truely could tame a dragon like a dog and ride it, majestic flight.
    what if there truely was warehouse sized treasures guarded by said dragons.
    what if.....
    what if.....
    what if !!

    also, dragons r pretty and fire is awesome
     
    Last edited: Aug 11, 2013
  7. JIM

    JIM zombie Turncoat

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    flying dinosaur with breath weapons and a fear aura. what's not to like
     
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  8. S.J. Faerlind

    S.J. Faerlind Flashlight Shadowhunter

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    exactly! :D
     
  9. Druid of Lûhn

    Druid of Lûhn The Little Lamb.

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    They're probably one of the oldest mythical creatures, seeing as people believed that dinosaurs were dragons.

    There are few things cooler than dinosaurs (yes you're cool Greybeard [sorry about that :D]), but flying, intelligent and fire-breathing dinosaurs are definitely better.

    And redheads obviously like them! :devilspin
     
  10. S.J. Faerlind

    S.J. Faerlind Flashlight Shadowhunter

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    *glares*
    *reaches hand through the internet and smacks Druid in the back of the head*
    :nono:
    :D
     
  11. Druid of Lûhn

    Druid of Lûhn The Little Lamb.

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    *grins* :D

    Dragons are usually considered some of the most intelligent monsters in fantasy, with only very few weaknesses (often their vanity and greed), which allows the authors to give the heroes important challenges and clever monsters that people already know (I like the idea of not inventing too many monsters and using archetypes that people can relate to.).
     
    Last edited: Aug 15, 2013
  12. Greybeard

    Greybeard Geezer

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    In part, I think dragons also represent a perfect balance of greatest possible risk to greatest possible reward. They are as dangerous as any monster can be, their size alone makes them nearly unkillable, their destructive potential is vast. At the same time, they guard nearly unlimited treasures, often including magic, and there can be side benefits as well: Sigurd/Siegfried became invulnerable by bathing in Fafnir's blood.

    In Beowulf, to an extent, the battles against Grendel and Grendel's mother merely give evidence that Beowulf is worthy to battle the dragon, his greatest victory, and the one that costs him his life.
     
  13. Druid of Lûhn

    Druid of Lûhn The Little Lamb.

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    Dragons are also usually very important characters who are known to live somewhere but do not really leave their lair or cause too much trouble, being content with keeping their hoard and sleeping.
    There is an interesting thing in the death of Túrin Turambar (Children of Húrin), as he dies from the blood of the dragon, albeit in a way similar to Beowulf's death (which is by poison or loss of blood), whilst Sigurd/Siegfried becomes invulnerable.
    Glaurung, the dragon in the Children of Húrin, is also different in the way that he comes to fight: he is not staying in one place, but has been sent by Morgoth/Melkor to do as much damage to the men and elves as possible, whilst dragons like the Beowulf dragon, I believe Fafnir, the Farmer Giles of Ham dragon, Smaug and various other dragons from books such as the Drizzt books and other fantasy books.
     
  14. S.J. Faerlind

    S.J. Faerlind Flashlight Shadowhunter

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    I think the traditional image of the dragon is of a greedy villain: guarding hoards of stolen treasure, wreaking destruction upon the heroes and all that was "good". There was a movie released in 2002 called "Reign of Fire" that used this more traditional image of the dragon for example. I think people like Anne McCaffrey changed all that with her dragons... making them partners of the heroes. Personally I like that image of them better.
     
  15. ThePlatinumDragon

    ThePlatinumDragon Member

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    I know this topic is a month old but I thought for my first reply to a thread I would chime in for obvious reasons, lol. I love dragons, that much is obvious, and what I think is so special about them is they always, always, mean something. Dragons are either so rare in a setting or so diverse, that they are always special. It's always either a fear or respect thing. Some are graceful some devastating, it's just interesting. They're always something amazing and a lot of fun to see. They're usually a sign of something either good or bad depending, so it's almost like every story they're in we get a new or different type of dragon. All that and yeah, they're just awesome.
     
  16. S.J. Faerlind

    S.J. Faerlind Flashlight Shadowhunter

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    yup :)
     
  17. Druid of Lûhn

    Druid of Lûhn The Little Lamb.

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    What a great answer! Where have you been!? :D
     
  18. Sirius Orion

    Sirius Orion New Member

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    Aaaah, I expected you to comment on this thread, and you have delivered!!! :D (My psychic powers are growing---muaahhhhahahahaha!)

    I agree with your take considerably, as well as Druid's comment on Dragon intelligence. I think the greatest things about the use of Dragons in fantasy is that they are a personification of Great Power, which is why depending on the story, they can be either good or bad. Because power is neither good nor bad, but it is the way humans choose to use that power that gives it the value of good or bad.

    Yes, I think Dragons represent the neutrality of power, and how as humans, when we attain great power, we can choose to use it in ways that either hurt humanity, or help, depending on whether we identify as a villain, or a hero/heroine...
     
  19. ThePlatinumDragon

    ThePlatinumDragon Member

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    Lurking in the shadows...or something like that, and thank you. I hope I didn't come off like some know-it-all.

    Well said, the only instance I would disagree on is that Dragons, though on a far greater scale, can be considered animals so in some circumstances they aren't choosing to use their power for evil, perse, but following their instincts. Seems we can all agree they are fantastic creatures, great thread.
     
  20. S.J. Faerlind

    S.J. Faerlind Flashlight Shadowhunter

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    I think it depends on the story though. Some stories portray them as quite sentient and intelligent and they are anthropormorphised to a great degree. The dragon in the "Dragonheart" movie is an example. Others show them as basically no different than animals. "Reign of Fire" is classic for that. Then there are some where they're halfway in between: like Anne McCaffrey's Pern series. Those dragons are sentient to a degree but I think they're portrayed almost like pets more than anything else. Powerful, awesome pets, but pets nonetheless.
     
    Last edited: Dec 30, 2013