I love dragons and the subset of dragon known as “sea monster”. Despite all the debunkers and skeptics I like to hope that there truly is a Loch Ness Monster and that its existence is proof of something wonderful. We don’t like to believe in magic anymore, and we take comfort in science–more comfort than science deserves, I sometimes think.
I know I’ve mentioned this here before because the ponderence of dragons is one of my favourite pastimes. But I honestly believe that when the Bible talks about the Serpent who tempted Eve that the serpent was what we now call a dragon. I think Lucifer the angel of light breathed fire. I also suspect that’s where we get the myth of Prometheus.
I’m not quite sure why I’m so fascinated by all things dragon. I suspect it may have something to do with Walt Disney’s Sleeping Beauty. She was the villain who scared me the most as a child; as an adult she’s the Disney villain who most fascinates me. I don’t care about Scar or Shir Kahn or even the Wicked Stepmother. They all seem like weaksauce sisters compared to the primal green fire of Maleficent. And of course she transformed into a dragon, which when you think on it is much cooler than grounding someone from a dance.
I often puzzle over why dragons exist across so many cultures if they aren’t real, have never been real. It seems like too much coincidence for all of us to dream up what is essentially the same sort of mythical beast. Other mythical creatures are highly localised–the Chupacabra*, Bigfoot, Banshees, Selkies–but everybody has a dragon.
Oddly enough, with as crazy as I am about them, I’m endlessly picky about dracofiction. I won’t read just anything that sports some version of the firebreathers. Fantasy authors are overly fond of throwing dragons into their work sometimes, and it doesn’t always work. I find myself especially annoyed with hackneyed dracobits that are tossed into the story to spare the author from coming up with a more inventive villain or threat.
The best dragons are of course in George RR Martin’s A Song Of Ice And Fire series. He captures them just right–both as mythical totems of a lost magic and real creatures improbably reborn into a growing chaos. Martin’s dragons are great and terrible, as they should be.
Daniel Abraham’s dragons in The Dagger And The Coin series are headscratchers. They are the extinct creators of a world left behind for the genetically engineered slaves they created to serve them. The whole idea is strange, as it combines the traditional dracology with Ancient Aliens. I think it works, but I’ve only read the first book in the series so far.
The most adorable winged fellows are in the Dreamworks movie How To Train Your Dragon. It’s probably coincidental that Toothless looks so much like my dog Gob. I don’t have a lot of practice writing fantasy, but I often toy with the idea of having dragons that are less lizardlike and more canine. Warm-blooded, winged and four-legged, my personal brainchild would be a sort of giant batdragon. After all, dog-faced fruit bats look like Gob too.
There are several fantasy series I’ve not read that feature dragons, and I welcome input from anyone who has read them. The Dragonriders of Pern and Naomi Novik’s Temeraire series often tempt me but also make me nervous.
I think that dragons are a special treat for people of faith. Like God they are wondrous beings you can’t see but believe in because of their wondrousness. Now, I believe that God is real. I don’t know about dragons. But I like being able to fully cling to the faith of wonder.