Disclaimer: The article represents my view on the matter, which, of course, is perfectly arguable (indeed, feel free to discuss it if you so desire).

“Alas, poor Smaug! I knew him, Author: a fellow
of infinite spite, of most excellent fancy: he hath
borne no man on his back one single time; and now, how
abhorred in my imagination it is! My gorge rims at
it. Here hung those lips that have breathed death I know
not how oft. Where be your snarls now? your
lair? your hoard? your flashes of wrath,
that were wont to set the country on a roar? Not one
now, to shine your own grinning? quite chap-fallen?”

There was this old Chinese tale about a rich nobleman who collected all beautiful things that were in the known world. He had paintings and sculptures and poems and the like, he also had a garden with rare flowers and animals, and, in that garden, he had lured two dragons. First they had only descended to admire the place, but the nobleman honored them, offered them rich food and everything they could ask for, so, in a matter of years, the two dragons decided to remain permanently in the garden; they would pass their days heating their coils on a rock in the middle of an artificial lake, diving to shore only to eat, living in luxury and sloth.

Another dragon happened to pass nearby one day, to create a storm over the palace, and saw the two of them; he warned his kindred to leave the nobleman for those who lived with men would have died because of men, but the two dragons had forgotten how to fly, forsaken their nature and weren’t even able to answer to him. The third dragon flew away and, not long from then, a warlord sacked the palace, killed the nobleman and have the two pets slaughtered for their skin.

Of course the oriental dragons were embodiments of the primal forces of nature, divine messengers and sometimes, divine beings in their own right, while the western varieties, which we will consider in this article, followed a different path and were seen more as malevolent creatures opposing the protagonists in their legends.

And of course, as an antagonist of that magnitude, the only two epic things coming to mind that a man can do with a dragon is either kill it or ride it, and after two thousand years of stories of heroes doing both, it’s not surprising the old Dragon Archetype has crawled bleeding to moan into a corner.

And that is just sad.

Primal elements

What distinguishes a healthy standard European dragon? What tells us that it is a dragon, not a random monster? Now, I know there are different varieties depending on the country, we can have the poisonous French wyvern or the limbless English wyrm and others in between, but, as today, we can safely assume the heraldic form most commonly recognized as “dragon” is what could be described as a flying fire-breathing reptile. I would say a dragon should be more than just that, but let us remain on the physical properties for now. We are accustomed to this form, someone who reads, sees or plays fantasy fiction is likely to easily dismiss it as one of the more classic you’re ever going to find, but let us take a moment to analyze it with new eyes.

In fact, let us destroy and reconstruct piece by piece the Dragon and try to see what each and every element is supposed to add.

Reptile
Dragons are often depicted as reptile-like and with many of the stereotypical and sometimes wrong traits reptiles are described as having. Their skin is not soft, they’re covered by hard scales, and they can have horns and crests and big fangs protruding from their mouths even when they’re closed. Overall, our Dragon Archetype has a sharp line, it’s not something chubby, hairy or soft, by all means it has been built to have all the opposites of those traits that would define something as “cute”.

It’s also a carnivore and most likely an active predator. And it’s big. At least bigger than a human, unless we’re talking about a cub or some very special variety. I would say the closest real-life animals we could compare it to would be dinosaurs, that is, if we hadn’t discovered by now they were all covered with feathers (shivers).

We don’t have these kinds of predators in our current biosphere, in fact, the high-metabolism mammal-based food-chain does not allow such an occurrence to come to be in the first place. Humans never had to deal with a predator of our Dragon Archetype’s size, resilience and (supposed) speed. Our ancestors adapted to fight their natural predators either running away, climbing trees or creating tools to defend themselves. A dragon could beat a human in every one of those circumstances: it could outrun him, reach for the top of the tree just by standing nearby and stretching its neck and (even if it varies from work to work) is resilient to a lot of weapons and traps its prey could make.

Literature has accustomed us to see dragons die at every turn, but, even in the weakest incarnation, a dragon, if correctly written, by its physic alone should already be a sight to behold and be terrified of.

Maybe in its current form our Dragon Archetype probably wouldn’t last long roaming about in the 21st century, but in his more familiar medieval settings the whole jig changes.

Fire-breathing
Whereas fire has greatly helped man in the course of his history it is, just like reptiles, something not unusually met with instinctual repulsion and fear, and for good reason. Let us now add to our Dragon Archetype its second peculiar trait: it can breathe fire at will from its mouth. It isn’t just bigger, stronger and more resilient than humans, it can roast them, the land they walk upon, and the houses they hide in, with impunity.

For a medieval man that means everything short of the castle or some other stone-made building can be destroyed with ease by our dragon. There is little defense against an unchecked fire, especially if you lack the proper tools to deal with it; the historical methods are unlikely to work, because another spit from the dragon can dry out water or burn the land/rags used to try and put out the previous one.

From what we have rebuilt thus far, imagine the scene: the townsfolk hear the roaring, then the Jurassic Park-like thundering of the stomps of the creature closing in; some of them try to hide, others to run away. There is already chaos, and then fire comes and all the houses are lit, the smoke and heat blurring vision. People run and scream, as this monster just rushes in, crushing huts, roaring and spitting more columns of fire, snatching away men from the ground.

Flying
And finally, the feature to top it all, no matter its size and its diplodocus-like form, we put two bat wings to our Dragon Archetype and let it fly. I already saw there are two articles about the realistic aerial capabilities of a dragon, which I’ll recommend, but right now let us concentrate on the effect rather than the dynamic. This is a man-eating predator that can fly. Something against which man really has no defense whatsoever. Because there aren’t any others in nature, nor have there ever been, that could threaten humans from the sky, besides the occasional eagle. A human might try to run from a dragon on the ground, but how can he escape if it comes from the sky? There has to be this sense of unknown fear and vulnerability: whereas the sky is an open window which you cannot probe, the predator may fall from it to take you at anytime. The most similar situation I can think of is that one you can feel in the sea. You are swimming in very deep waters, you happen to hear something strange, you stop, you look around and see nothing; you try to look down, but you cannot see all the way through, you do not know if there is something coming (think of the Jaws movies). It should be the same, only, with the heavens instead of the sea, the situation is reversed.

How it is for a fantasy Middle Ages setting farmer to live in a world where there are dragons? Every day he leaves his home and hopes for a clear cloudless sky; he works the land and looks up, searching for forms or glittering of scales, then he looks down, searching for shadows; he knows that there, in the middle of the camp, alone, in broad daylight, he’s completely vulnerable and can be eaten at any given time. Think of the levels of paranoia a human society can live and evolve with under such a threat. Humans in a world like this may not even live in villages and cities like they are usually described in fantasy novels, perhaps they have dug out their refuges in the mountains, living like dwarves, perhaps they live concentrated in heavily protected fortress-cities, shielded with stone, metal or magic; going out would not be something you do lightly, or for long periods of time, and if you have to, you’d probably want to stay far from any open space. The sky will not be something to look up at and wonder about, it will be something scary, something that can rain fire and death at any moment; it could be a world where the gods all dwell in the deep abyss that the heavens never touch; the souls of the virtuous will go down to be safe forever, the souls of the wicked will be caught in a wind and dragged up.

The Magic Factor

We’ve rebuilt our Archetype, looked more closely to what makes it so special and fearsome, would this be enough to make this thing worthy of the name of Dragon?

There are no doubts that, if written correctly, a creature like the one described thus far can be a worthy being; I can think of the Reign of Fire movie: they were just beasts with those very three characteristics mentioned above, but they were treated with due respect and consideration, thus making them threatening, surrounded by a halo of mystery, fear, and awe, even when we knew that they were clearly just animals. We could see how their presence influenced a human world.

Now, this is my point of view, of course, but I think that is simply not enough yet.

The dragon, a proper dragon, is the figurehead of fantasy, it is that one magical being you are always bound to think about when pondering about fantasy, it cannot be just an animal, albeit strange or dangerous. It has to be something more, something inexplicable, something unknown. It has to be terrifying but, just like Magic, it has to tingle someone’s sense of wonder as well, which is the fundamental cornerstone of what fantasy is in the first place.

When I say wondrous, I don’t mean “Oh, look! Shinyscales! Isn’t she beautiful? Let’s play a song to show our happiness at her sight, yay!”, I mean that silent personal feeling that you may have gazing at the universe through a telescope or watching lightning strike a tree or an actual predator moving into the wilderness. It’s a sight to behold. But in silence. From afar. You don’t want to get close. Because you want to live.

Paolini tries to do that when he makes Brom say “Wondrous inexplicable things happen around dragons” (or whatever it was), but he fails in practice to deliver: the “magic” he grants to his dragons is only there as a plot device.

There is no need to make something excessive either, like the D&D dragons that can shoot spells like trained sorcerers, but, for what I believe, the touch of magic and unknown has to be there, it is part of what a dragon is, else it is only a monster which happens to look like a dragon.

The Temper

We have the physic and eventually the metaphysic, what is left to analyze is the psyche and we’ll have rebuilt our Dragon Archetype.

Now, for what concerns me, this is a point as important as the previous one, and it’s deeply tied up in it: it’s what says the thing we are seeing is a dragon rather than a random animal, or a monster, or a pet; the shape can change, there are different varieties both in legends and contemporary fiction, rearrangements of the same parts or rare new well-placed features, but those are details. You can hardly make them wrong, just fail to properly give them the importance they deserve.

But this is important.

Contrary to what somebody might believe at this point, this is not just about the dragon being or not being smart.

It’s mostly about the dragon being or not being a pet.

Personally, I prefer the Archetypical Dragon to be smart at least as much if not more than human beings, to the point of being able to communicate easily with them and shame their intellectual capabilities. This is because instinctively an average reader will think of the creature walking on four legs, with the tail and the long snout, and assimilate it instinctively to the “beast-not-man” category; making the dragon smarter than the humans shakes things back into a more proper perspective. A writer can make do even with unintelligent mute dragons, in older tales they more rarely talked, but it’s harder to make it work.

For what concerns the behavior of a dragon, intelligent or not, I feel it is to maintain a certain amount of freedom: the rebuilt dragon is supposedly an unstoppable force of nature/magic, an ancient unknowable being and massive predator; it should behave in a way that is consistent with its characteristics.

By a biological point of view, a giant solitary carnivore is going to have a very different set of values and instinctive drives than a small social omnivore (like, say, man?) or a middle-sized social herbivore (like the horse). Even if the writer wants to make an intelligent virtuous dragon, he still has to remember how the creature will instinctively see the juicy humans roaming at his feet.

We know the double standard mankind treats other animals with as opposed to its own species, a dragon should be likely to consider things in similar ways and feel little shame for eating men as a man would feel little shame for eating a chicken (even more, since a man can live without meat, whereas a dragon usually cannot). Since we place it higher in the food chain in our imagination, it should behave accordingly and this is independent from the amount of mental capacities it is disposed of.

By the poetic point of view, if we made our Dragon Archetype a symbol of wilderness and untamed, unknowable magic, the remnant of an old world we have forgotten (and the like), it would be unlikely to have it be meek and subservient to man, as it defeats the purpose of the previous statement.

The Riding-Bound-Thingy

Disclaimer II: the following section may contain spoilers for A Song of Ice and Fire (first book/season), Eragon, Dragonheart, The Iron Dragon’s Daughter.

And here we come to the sore point, the growing vibe of having dragons be ridden by humans and humanoids or tamed and bound to them or put another otherwise inferior position.

Someone may argue that the dragon isn’t always subservient, sometimes they are at equal level, sometimes the dragon actually has the upper pawn in the bond, but most of the time it isn’t so, even if it is said otherwise; and even when it really is, the dragon still remains the dependent party. Finally there is always a question of perception of the reader (or watcher, or player): he sees this man riding the dragon, he’ll automatically assimilate the image to that of a man riding a horse, one is the master the other’s the beast, even if he consciously knows that the dragon is an intelligent and proud being and the rider is its companion. The writer may have said so, but it wasn’t so in what transpired from his work.

On the other hand, with what has been analyzed about the dragon, it would be more likely to be assumed that the relationship between the two should actually be the opposite: a man trying to ride a dragon shouldn’t be more successful than a raccoon trying to ride a man.

In Eragon, a dragon cannot even come to life before finding its master for life (A.K.A. its Rider). For all its infancy it will be bombarded by the alien thoughts and passions of an already grown-up two-legged, mammalian omnivore, whom it shall protect and fly across the land the very moment its wings hold. It’s a pet; it never really had the choice to link itself to humanoids; the spell was cast on its egg before it was even born. You could hardly see such a creature as a fierce and dangerous predator with mysterious powers and capacities beyond human comprehension: it’s just a pet, a nasty guard dog at best, which its master can unleash if he feels like it or that he can train to make funny tricks for guests, nothing more.

What about the three cubs in A Song of Ice and Fire? They’re a powerful symbol, but they’re treated just like that: pets. They’re kept in cages, they’re taught tricks, the first thought of their mistress is “Awesome, I can use them as weapons,” shortly followed by “Hot damnity, I hope they grow faster, I really need to ride the little freaks.” It is the approach itself that diminishes the creature.

There are instances of successful stories with dragons chaining themselves to humanoids, but it is a characterization so easy to get wrong and demean the Dragon Archetype…

In The Iron Dragon’s Daughter, as a first example, it is justified because the mechanic beast needs a pilot to move itself; apparently the mammal is getting the position of absolute authority, but she soon becomes the enslaved one, the process is subtle and against the more immediate expectations of readers, but it works perfectly.

In Dragonheart, as another successful example, it isn’t out of the desire of becoming linked with a human that the dragon creates the bound: he only thought he could buy through his action his way to heaven. It was a selfish choice, which backfires on him.

In both of the examples we have always the dragon in the position of power, he is making the choice out of his personal needs and desires. The human may propose (as in Dragonheart), but he doesn’t have the power to impose, in fact he has to beg. The bond and its implications are explored with due importance, it’s not hand-waved, it becomes part of the plot. In the examples provided the two humans on the receiving hand of the business try to turn it to their advantage, but it’s far from easy, since they are dealing with real dragons, not huge lizard pets.

Conclusion

Well, we rebuilt it, hopefully not a mess. After all this writing, I would say, in conclusion, the Dragon is a species easy to add in fantasy, like elves and dwarves, with good premises to drum up success, but, since it has been so overused in the course of the history of fiction, just putting it in the setting doesn’t work anymore; there has to be the need to reconstruct the spirit of what a dragon was supposed to be in the beginning and how deeply its mere existence should influence a setting; the author has to be aware and be able to show the implications of its features and the consequences of its addition to the world. Else better try for something else, there are plenty of monsters that could suit the needs of other particular circumstances, letting the old sleeping dragon lie.

Tagged as: , , , ,

Comment

  1. Juracan on 30 June 2013, 21:09 said:

    We don’t have these kinds of predators in our current biosphere, in fact, the high-metabolism mammal-based food-chain does not allow such an occurrence to come to be in the first place.

    I was actually thinking to do an article on this particular subject. Well, body heat in regards to large scaled animals. I don’t know if it’ll ever be done, though, as I’m not sure I have the time to do research on all the science of it, though…

    For all its infancy it will be bombarded by the alien thoughts and passions of an already grown-up two-legged, mammalian omnivore, whom it shall protect and fly across the land the very moment its wings hold. It’s a pet; it never really had the choice to link itself to humanoids; the spell was cast on its egg before it was even born.

    Technically this didn’t apply to wild dragons in the series, but the problem remains that wild dragons weren’t depicted at all and were described as essentially animals who could send mental images to each other and breathe fire— the Riders’ dragons were the ones that were important, and were almost always subservient to the Riders (especially in the film version of Eragon, in which they were literally incapable of living past the death of their Riders).

    Overall, this is a good essay— I too am quite miffed at the treatment dragons have been getting in fiction recently, given that they’re supposed to be kind of a big deal. Just out of curiosity, what are your thoughts on how Rowling tackled the subject?

  2. WarriorsGate on 30 June 2013, 21:18 said:

    And of course, as an antagonist of that magnitude, the only two epic things coming to mind that a man can do with a dragon is either kill it or ride it, and after two thousand years of stories of heroes doing both, it’s not surprising the old Dragon Archetype has crawled bleeding to moan into a corner.

    Well, if we’re going to delve into archetype theory, then the dragon archetype is more than just an externalized friend or foe. It actually symbolizes the unconscious mind, the great unknown lurking just out of reach, occasionally bursting to the fore to consume us in a flurry of animal instincts. Medieval Europeans placed great emphasis on man’s ego and his willpower to make choices, and as a result the unconscious was rejected and thus somewhat alien to them. So their dragons were wild and feral, as the dragons were expressions of the Europeans’ failure to become psychologically whole. The tales of taming the dragon served to mark peoples’ quests to conquer their unconscious minds and rescue their feminine side (for the blokes, that is) symbolized by the damsel in distress, as a kind of primitive psychoanalysis.

    On the other hand, the Chinese lived with the I-Ching and Taoism/Daoism for thousands of years. As a culture they were generally more in touch with following intuition and coming to terms with their subconscious, hence their tales of dragons portray them as erudite sages.

  3. Asahel on 1 July 2013, 01:31 said:

    The tales of taming the dragon served to mark peoples’ quests to conquer their unconscious minds and rescue their feminine side (for the blokes, that is) symbolized by the damsel in distress, as a kind of primitive psychoanalysis.

    Ok… So what do the tales of slaying the dragon mean? Killing your unconscious mind? Or how about Beowulf’s great last stand against the dragon that kills him? Your unconcious mind kills you?

    And don’t even get me started on the Near Eastern connection of dragon = Satan. I don’t want to touch that one with a 10 foot pole.

  4. Sìlfae on 1 July 2013, 03:04 said:

    Technically this didn’t apply to wild dragons in the series, but the problem remains that wild dragons weren’t depicted at all and were described as essentially animals who could send mental images to each other and breathe fire— the Riders’ dragons were the ones that were important, and were almost always subservient to the Riders (especially in the film version of Eragon, in which they were literally incapable of living past the death of their Riders).

    Inheritance spoilers:
    As you say, we have very little information about wild dragons, but remember, they were the ones to make the deal, they were the ones who, after seeing the tamed breed being exterminated, entrusted another hundred eggs to the Riders with no charge; that didn’t strike me as particularly intelligent or free-spirited. If they were as Glaedr describes them, I think it would have been more likely for them to lay blame on all the hairless monkeys, regardless of the shape of their ears.

    Overall, this is a good essay— I too am quite miffed at the treatment dragons have been getting in fiction recently, given that they’re supposed to be kind of a big deal. Just out of curiosity, what are your thoughts on how Rowling tackled the subject?

    Thanks. Well, I will admit I have not deep knowledge of Rowling’s work, for what I’ve seen, for Harry Potter they were depichted only as very dangerous animals (the only magical feature being the fire-breathing). As I wrote in the article, sometimes I don’t think this is inherently bad, but in the Harry Potter setting where there is magic aplenty, easily accessible to men, they come out a lot less theatening (even if they are considered in-universe mage-killers).

    Well, if we’re going to delve into archetype theory, then the dragon archetype is more than just an externalized friend or foe. It actually symbolizes the unconscious mind, the great unknown lurking just out of reach, occasionally bursting to the fore to consume us in a flurry of animal instincts. Medieval Europeans placed great emphasis on man’s ego and his willpower to make choices, and as a result the unconscious was rejected and thus somewhat alien to them. So their dragons were wild and feral, as the dragons were expressions of the Europeans’ failure to become psychologically whole. The tales of taming the dragon served to mark peoples’ quests to conquer their unconscious minds and rescue their feminine side (for the blokes, that is) symbolized by the damsel in distress, as a kind of primitive psychoanalysis.

    Ok… So what do the tales of slaying the dragon mean? Killing your unconscious mind? Or how about Beowulf’s great last stand against the dragon that kills him? Your unconcious mind kills you?
    And don’t even get me started on the Near Eastern connection of dragon = Satan. I don’t want to touch that one with a 10 foot pole.

    Without going into sensitive topics, from what I remember of my readings, the dragon, along with other prehexisting magical creatures, experienced a slow decay and demonization in his representations. Taking into account the very arsh and chaotic background of ancient times (always talking about western society of course), dragons, elves, fairies and the like were all seen as embodyments of a nature perceived as unknown and inherently hostile to man. The Old World of monsters to be defeated so that the New World of man could arise. The history of the hero defeating a dragon was meant therefore to inspire the real man to overcome the foreign dangerous hard world he was actually in. The more man became hopeful of his success over the years(technological and social advancement, perceived dominion over nature and so on), the more the representations of dragons and other magical creatures assumed pathetic (sometimes even romantic) features: at the beginning they were in fact living embodyments of Chaos and could only be defeated by no less than gods or half-gods and, when they died, order arised (Marduk killing Tiamat to create the universe; Apopis defeated each night so that the sun might have risen, Ymir’s body used to build the world), after a time heroes could manage as well (Cadmus slaying the dragon to create Thebes). When nature was no longer a percevied mortal problem for men, its fictional representations where no longer feared and their powers and influence over the Plot was diminished. Think of elves and dwarves as well: in the original legends they were pretty much reality-warping amoral immortals, in the XV-XVI century depictions they had already turned into shy invisible house-slaves (no different from those of Harry Potter): man had won his fight against nature and subconciously represented his victory over the old world in his tales. The dragon happened to be a part of it.

  5. Epke on 1 July 2013, 07:29 said:

    Well, I will admit I have not deep knowledge of Rowling’s work, for what I’ve seen, for Harry Potter they were depichted only as very dangerous animals (the only magical feature being the fire-breathing). As I wrote in the article, sometimes I don’t think this is inherently bad, but in the Harry Potter setting where there is magic aplenty, easily accessible to men, they come out a lot less theatening (even if they are considered in-universe mage-killers).

    They’re also highly resistant to magic of all kind, practially all parts of them has magical properties (horns and blood and organs for alchemy/potions, the heart for wands, the skin for protective clothing, and the dung as a very powerful fertiliser) and unlike other fiction, cannot be domesticated.

    Think of elves and dwarves as well: in the original legends they were pretty much reality-warping amoral immortals, in the XV-XVI century depictions they had already turned into shy invisible house-slaves (no different from those of Harry Potter)

    Would like to make a distinction between Norse Elves, which are the ones we see in most fantasy these days, and other Elves here: the former, being various kinds of Álfar (not counted as gods, but distinct from humans: We have the Ljósálfar, who were brighter than the sun to look at, and the Svártálfar who were equally dark, and then the Dwarves, who are sometimes called both Svárt and Dökkálfar, though there is confusion about that), were perceived as species of their own and higher than Men – not counted as gods, but as close to the divine as could be.
    The latter is what we’d call the Fair Folk – the ones who steal babies, must not be spoken of and are ruled by the Courts. They would certainly be seen as the amoral reality-warpers that Man can overcome (but do note that while Scandinavians have “house spirits” (tomtar) that others would call “elves”, they have always been around – the Álfar didn’t degenerate to these, they simply faded completely).

    Excellently written article, by the way.

  6. Sìlfae on 1 July 2013, 08:58 said:

    Thank you, my pleasure.

    They’re also highly resistant to magic of all kind, practially all parts of them has magical properties (horns and blood and organs for alchemy/potions, the heart for wands, the skin for protective clothing, and the dung as a very powerful fertiliser) and unlike other fiction, cannot be domesticated.

    Oh, well, that I didn’t know; I suppose it adds something, at least to the Temper part.

    Would like to make a distinction between Norse Elves, which are the ones we see in most fantasy these days, and other Elves here: the former, being various kinds of Álfar (not counted as gods, but distinct from humans: We have the Ljósálfar, who were brighter than the sun to look at, and the Svártálfar who were equally dark, and then the Dwarves, who are sometimes called both Svárt and Dökkálfar, though there is confusion about that), were perceived as species of their own and higher than Men – not counted as gods, but as close to the divine as could be.

    Of course, but I would see more fit to assimilate the spawn of Tùatha and other tolkien-like elves to the ancestral heroic archetype, more than to the magical creatures ones (even if they are magical). They were more akin to greek heroes (all with divine ascendancy): they fought monsters and led men, they were examples to be followed rather than antagonists.

    Yes, I was referring to the original Fair Folk; of course, without going into particulars, I wasn’t referring to the degeneration of a very specific character as much as the degeneration of the type of creatures that that character is usually recognized into. Memory could fail me now, but I remember that hinstances of house spirits (elf-like, dwarf-like) became more common in modern times while stories with overpowerful malevolent Fair Folk reduced in number and scope, thus altering our perception of what we consider a dwarf, an elf, a giant and so on (in this case it doesn’t matter much whence the term elf came from as much as to whom it is applied and what is perceived as an elf by the public).
    The point would apply to dragons as well, so that writing and reading of a dragon as brute beast or a mule contributes in making the association between the dragon archetype and those specific features more likely, solidifing even more dragons in their new role as brutes and mules.

  7. swenson on 1 July 2013, 09:45 said:

    I really enjoyed this. I’ve always been a fan of dangerous fantasy, the kind where the elves aren’t dying out and the fairies aren’t friendly and, yes, the dragons still have very sharp teeth. I’ve never used “normal” dragons in any of my writing, but if I did, this would be the kind I want: the scary and strange kind, who have an actual impact on the world around them.

    On that note, I liked what you said about how a world would develop differently if dragons truly existed. I never thought in those terms before; you’ve got some very good points. I think extreme rarity could make up for some of that and allow a more “normal” development of society, but dragons would still be a factor.

    Finally, in regards to A Song of Ice and Fire: to avoid as many spoilers as possible, suffice to say that certain people’s ideas about how dragons work turn out to be very very incorrect.

  8. Bekah on 1 July 2013, 09:54 said:

    If you’re looking for a different sort of dragon, try out Seraphina; it’s a YA book whose author I forget. Don’t let the endorsement by CP scare you. Dragons here are magical, extremely intelligent, emotionless, and very fierce; their “religion” is Ard, which is basically the highest state of order possible, accomplished with higher mathematics and science. The main character states that the only reason humans are surviving is because the dragons find them interesting enough to study.

  9. Sìlfae on 1 July 2013, 10:25 said:

    I really enjoyed this. I’ve always been a fan of dangerous fantasy, the kind where the elves aren’t dying out and the fairies aren’t friendly and, yes, the dragons still have very sharp teeth. I’ve never used “normal” dragons in any of my writing, but if I did, this would be the kind I want: the scary and strange kind, who have an actual impact on the world around them.

    Thanks, glad you liked it.

    On that note, I liked what you said about how a world would develop differently if dragons truly existed. I never thought in those terms before; you’ve got some very good points. I think extreme rarity could make up for some of that and allow a more “normal” development of society, but dragons would still be a factor.

    I think that rarity and low birth rate (or high birth deaths) should be present in any case for a peak predator of that kind, else the habitat will not be able to sustain it. At least not earth-like habitats. Depending on the characteristics a dragon is given, yes, a very reduced number could allow the creation of a society more similar to ours, but, considering a non magical Medieval human society and standard big fire-breathing dragons, I don’t think you could have more than a handful per continent without influencing deeply the setting. People may live outside, but would still stand watch and possibly get jumpy on the migration period, when that single dragon might happen to cross their land and sea to search for one of the few mates he has on the entire world. Maybe, instead of the usual Dragonslayers Order, we will have a Watchmen Order, with chosen guards trained to recognize the signs in the sky, chosen among those with the sharpest sight.
    If we take Eragonland, there is no freaking way Alagaesia could have handled more than four-five living dragons at the same time, taking into account the world’s dimensions; even considering them as tamed peaceful Riders’ pets, a hundred of hill-sized dragons would have laid waste of everything before dying of starvation (or after eating each other) pretty soon.

    Finally, in regards to A Song of Ice and Fire: to avoid as many spoilers as possible, suffice to say that certain people’s ideas about how dragons work turn out to be very very incorrect.

    Oh, well, this makes me confident again, let’s hope so.

    If you’re looking for a different sort of dragon, try out Seraphina; it’s a YA book whose author I forget. Don’t let the endorsement by CP scare you. Dragons here are magical, extremely intelligent, emotionless, and very fierce; their “religion” is Ard, which is basically the highest state of order possible, accomplished with higher mathematics and science. The main character states that the only reason humans are surviving is because the dragons find them interesting enough to study.

    I’ve just read the premise; it seems interesting, maybe we shall see, thanks for mentioning it; although I do find a little contradictory for the dragons to be assimilated as the bastion of reason and logic, it kind of goes against their fundamental magical and unknownable nature, but of course, that’s just a first impression, I would not know how the book treats the issue.

  10. WarriorsGate on 1 July 2013, 11:29 said:

    Ok… So what do the tales of slaying the dragon mean? Killing your unconscious mind? Or how about Beowulf’s great last stand against the dragon that kills him? Your unconcious mind kills you?

    There’s another archetype called the Shadow Archetype, which symbolizes part of the unconscious and represents the undesirable qualities a person refuses to acknowledge in themselves. By rejecting these qualities, as early Europeans did, people create neurotic symptoms and complexes without being aware of them, effectively turning into “beasts” driven by animal instincts. The manifestation of a dragon archetype as feral and untamed is an expression of a society collectively in the grip of its shadow, so the tales of slaying the dragon are then metaphors for slaying the destructive power of an unintegrated shadow.

    SPOILERS FOR EARTHSEA BELOW

    Now, it’s been a long time since I’ve read Beowulf, but I seem to remember he was a very proud character, always boasting of how he could fight and fell any foe, until he comes face to face with a dragon he can’t conquer. So perhaps the story symbolizes how the unconscious complexes that lead to excessive pride are inevitably self-defeating. It’s similar to A Wizard of Earthsea, where Ged’s pride leads him to being chased by his shadow. He spends the entire first book rejecting it, but at the very end he realizes that that pride is part of him, and accepts the damage it can do and that he needs to come to terms with it.

    It’s important to note here that one of the tenets of archetype theory is that the mind basically knows psychoanalysis innately. Archetypes, and their conscious expression in stories, myths, and dreams, represent a path by which people become whole and integrate their unconscious.

  11. Sìlfae on 1 July 2013, 11:59 said:

    There’s another archetype called the Shadow Archetype, which symbolizes part of the unconscious and represents the undesirable qualities a person refuses to acknowledge in themselves. By rejecting these qualities, as early Europeans did, people create neurotic symptoms and complexes without being aware of them, effectively turning into “beasts” driven by animal instincts. The manifestation of a dragon archetype as feral and untamed is an expression of a society collectively in the grip of its shadow, so the tales of slaying the dragon are then metaphors for slaying the destructive power of an unintegrated shadow.

    I don’t know, as I was writing before, I would be more inclined to assume dragons in ancient Europe were mostly associated with the external threat of a yet unknown and hostile Nature over which society and man had to impose themselves, rather than a representation of self-doubts and vices of society itself. There were other creatures to which I would be more inclined to apply the “Shadow Archetype” roaming the old legends’ Earth. Werewolves to name one; ghouls and vampires too in some of their first depictions; actual doubles and shadows. The dragon seems to me more like the representation of an external and inhuman fear threatening all men alike rigorously from the outside.

  12. Tim on 1 July 2013, 12:21 said:

    I always heard that it was straightforward evolutionary holdovers, since dragons typically combine features of snakes, birds of prey and / or lizards, all of which eat monkeys. The dragon represents a deep ancestral idea of a supremely powerful enemy or force, not some magical autopsychoanalysis.

  13. Sìlfae on 1 July 2013, 12:31 said:

    I always heard that it was straightforward evolutionary holdovers, since dragons typically combine features of snakes, birds of prey and / or lizards, all of which eat monkeys.

    I guess that yes, it could have been a factor in the creation of the characteristic physical form, although it is possible the bat-like wings connected him also to night and darkness, which was also another primal fear for men.
    Yes, I’ll see it as a powerful and violent representation of Nature, but also as an embodyment of the fear for the unknown (think about the unmarked spot on old maps, so often decorated with images of lingering dragons).

    I would dare to speculate the Dragon was in fact the precursor and Middle Age equivalent of the lovecraftian Eldrich Abomination.

  14. WarriorsGate on 1 July 2013, 12:39 said:

    I would be more inclined to assume dragons in ancient Europe were mostly associated with the external threat of a yet unknown and hostile Nature over which society and man had to impose themselves, rather than a representation of self-doubts and vices of society itself.

    Well, hand in hand with the theory of archetypes comes the idea of projection. Mankind projects its own mind, and the archetypes it possesses, not only onto others, but also onto the environment itself, as a way to make sense of it and give it a recognizable meaning. There’s no such thing as “the outside”, merely an externalized, projected inside. Both psyche and environment are inexorably linked together, and you can’t consider one without taking the other into account.

    There were other creatures to which I would be more inclined to apply the “Shadow Archetype” roaming the old legends’ Earth.

    Man and His Symbols, which was the brainchild of the man who pioneered the theory of archetypes in the first place, states, “The battle between the hero and the dragon […] shows more clearly the archetypal theme of the ego’s triumph over regressive trends. For most people the dark or negative side of the personality remains unconscious. The hero, on the contrary, must realize that the shadow exists and that he can draw strength from it.”

  15. WarriorsGate on 1 July 2013, 12:54 said:

    The dragon represents a deep ancestral idea of a supremely powerful enemy or force, not some magical autopsychoanalysis.

    “Magical autopsychoanalysis” is pretty much exactly what archetype theory is, and in analytical psychology an out-of-control unconscious is actually the most dangerous enemy and force imaginable, both for the possessor and for those who have to deal with it.

  16. Sìlfae on 1 July 2013, 12:54 said:

    Well, hand in hand with the theory of archetypes comes the idea of projection. Mankind projects its own mind, and the archetypes it possesses, not only onto others, but also onto the environment itself, as a way to make sense of it and give it a recognizable meaning. There’s no such thing as “the outside”, merely an externalized, projected inside. Both psyche and environment are inexorably linked together, and you can’t consider one without taking the other into account.

    Ah, yes, sorry, I see the problem now, there has been a misunderstanding: by Dragon Archetype I mean the stock type of a particular breed of character with standardized and recurrent features as depicted in fiction (that is, the smarter cousin of the Stereotype), not the Jungian archetype. Although I find it another interesting take on the matter.

  17. WarriorsGate on 1 July 2013, 13:22 said:

    Ah, yes, sorry, I see the problem now, there has been a misunderstanding: by Dragon Archetype I mean the stock type of a particular breed of character with standardized and recurrent features as depicted in fiction (that is, the smarter cousin of the Stereotype), not the Jungian archetype

    Oh, I understood what you were saying. What I was getting at was that archetypes as stock characters evolved from the study of Jungian archetypes, and analyzing that evolution helps shed light on why, exactly, they have those standardized and recurrent features.

  18. Sìlfae on 1 July 2013, 13:47 said:

    I see; well, if we resend everything back as a projection of the human subconcious I would personally acknowledge it as more plausible, but I would still say it is particularly vague for the dragon. I mean, it can be applied to it, sure, but it is not something exclusively characterizing it. Being ‘the projection of unlikable qualities a man sees into himself’ would be a shared trait with a lot of other monsters. As I was saying before, the werewolf, representing the hidden link with a brutish uncontrollable nature, sleeping inside; the giant, who is in fact a grotesque human-like projection (even in its form) of arrogance, eccess, pettyness and bullyism I would say even more could be considered as representing that particular jungian archetype you were describing.

  19. WarriorsGate on 1 July 2013, 14:25 said:

    Strictly speaking, a Jungian archetype is an underlying mental pattern governing how humans process experience. They are unconscious and cannot be known except through their manifestations in stories, cultural motifs, and dreams. We use “archetype” to refer to those manifestations, which is technically incorrect but a common shorthand. So dragons, giants, werewolves, et cetera, are all different permutations generated by the same master archetype, which is then shaped by particular cultural and psychological forces. These crystallized manifestations then come down to us through the years like variations on a theme.

    In essence, this is also what the Hero’s Journey is, which is also an archetype.

  20. WarriorsGate on 1 July 2013, 14:56 said:

    Mankind projects its own mind, and the archetypes it possesses, not only onto others, but also onto the environment itself, as a way to make sense of it and give it a recognizable meaning.

    I thought of the perfect literary example for this: In a Song of Ice and Fire, when the red comet appears, all the characters who look at it proclaim what it means. But it’s just a comet, it most likely doesn’t mean anything. They can’t all be right, but they treat it as such, and none of their proclamations match each other. Instead, the reader looks at the psychological process going on inside their heads, and how they project it onto the world around them.

    Just one of the many delicious Jungian ideas in Martin’s work.

  21. Sìlfae on 1 July 2013, 15:00 said:

    I understand, thanks, now it is clearer. But yes, as I said before, it’s another legitimate interpretation.

  22. Asahel on 1 July 2013, 15:28 said:

    Now, it’s been a long time since I’ve read Beowulf, but I seem to remember he was a very proud character, always boasting of how he could fight and fell any foe, until he comes face to face with a dragon he can’t conquer. So perhaps the story symbolizes how the unconscious complexes that lead to excessive pride are inevitably self-defeating.

    The main trouble with that idea is that boasting was a virtue in Beowulf’s culture. A man that boasted because he could back up his boasts was a hero. His death to the dragon was more about his willingness in old age to go out and face the monsters even though he was no longer able. Sort of a “do the right thing even if it kills you because it’s the right thing” moral.

    I always heard that it was straightforward evolutionary holdovers, since dragons typically combine features of snakes, birds of prey and / or lizards, all of which eat monkeys.

    If that were true, I suppose it would mean the Chinese didn’t evolve from monkeys since their dragons are often benevolent.

  23. Sìlfae on 1 July 2013, 15:55 said:

    If that were true, I suppose it would mean the Chinese didn’t evolve from monkeys since their dragons are often benevolent.

    I would like to point that, besides for some mixed depictions, there was an aknowledged symbolism in the chinese dragons’ body parts (the carp’s scales, the camel’s head, the deer’s horns and so on), their authors knew excatly to what animal each part belonged to and why it was represented as a portion of the dragon’s body. They were very meticolous in their representation, even to the point of making the dragons have different functions according to the number of their fingers. So we have a conscious process of creation and composition linked with theology, whereas the western category I think was more a representation of instinctual fears (which would also explain why european dragons come in so many varieties while oriental ones follow a distinct pattern).

    Also I would argue that, while not hostile or agents of destruction, chinese dragons were still supernatural unknownable forces beyond man’s reach (even more so, since they were divine). They were beneficial because they were charged with the balance of the universe (power over sky, sea and earth), but they were also keen on turning against men who stranded away from the correct path, raining apocalypse over them to teach the moral lesson in their stories. Saying that they were mostly beneficial does not imply that they weren’t unknownable or threatening.

  24. WarriorsGate on 1 July 2013, 18:01 said:

    The main trouble with that idea is that boasting was a virtue in Beowulf’s culture. A man that boasted because he could back up his boasts was a hero.

    The more important question is not what values Beowulf’s culture possessed, but whether it was a functional or dysfunctional culture. A dysfunctional culture with unhealthy and anti-holistic values like Nazi Germany will naturally engender neuroses and complexes in its citizens which is then reflected in its collective psyche, dreams, stories, et cetera.

    I don’t know enough about Beowulf-era Denmark to say whether it was functional or not, though.

  25. Juracan on 1 July 2013, 20:24 said:

    We could also point out that Asian dragons are barely like European ones at all, and could quite easily be their own class of creature altogether, only referred to as ‘dragons’ in English because of awkward transition of ideas, depending on who you ask.

    I mean, Asian dragons are often the messengers of Heaven, if not outright gods themselves. I don’t know if it’s a fair comparison.

  26. swenson on 1 July 2013, 20:49 said:

    Don’t confuse the time period Beowulf was written in with the time period depicted in the poem, which was set several much earlier than when it was written. At any rate, the usual interpretation of Beowulf as a whole is that it’s basically about Christianity triumphing over the pagan ideas of the past—Grendel is a descendant of Cain, etc. You can read more into that if you like, there’s obviously more going on there, but that’s the foundation most people build off of.

  27. Tim on 1 July 2013, 23:47 said:

    If that were true, I suppose it would mean the Chinese didn’t evolve from monkeys since their dragons are often benevolent.

    Hence pointing out they’re shown as dangerous or powerful. They’re always something to be treated with respect.

    In essence, this is also what the Hero’s Journey is, which is also an archetype.

    Yeah, but the Hero’s Journey is just a bunch of guidelines so vague that you can back-fit them to almost anything. Most archetypes are like that, you can’t really make predictions with them, just back-fit them to things you’ve already seen by selectively ignoring parts that don’t fit. They’re about as useful for actual analysis as the prophecies of Nostradamus.

    Also

    Now, it’s been a long time since I’ve read Beowulf, but I seem to remember he was a very proud character, always boasting of how he could fight and fell any foe, until he comes face to face with a dragon he can’t conquer.

    The Vikings despised the idea of a “straw death” in one’s bed, away from battle. The dragon he can’t conquer is a foe worthy of ending Beowulf’s life, not some expression of his pride.

  28. Tim on 2 July 2013, 06:41 said:

    Incidentally, by archetypes I mean specifically the Jungian versions, not the more useful sort that aren’t slathered in quasi-mystical nonsense, stereotypes, gender essentialism and east-west generalisations that reek of occidentalism.

  29. Potatoman on 2 July 2013, 08:00 said:

    Yeah, but the Hero’s Journey is just a bunch of guidelines so vague that you can back-fit them to almost anything. Most archetypes are like that, you can’t really make predictions with them, just back-fit them to things you’ve already seen by selectively ignoring parts that don’t fit. They’re about as useful for actual analysis as the prophecies of Nostradamus.

    Major lulz. :D But true though. Maybe somebody should write a real hero’s journey that includes non sociopathic characters, useful friends and NPCs and a good old fashioned evil villain. Anybody seen the 1997 movie Hercules? That one was a doozy, wasn’t it? That’s because the guy had flaws. FLAWS. He was not a Gary Stu with an amazing invulnerable spirit that could only be enhanced with make-up and sparklezz. He fell out with his mentor and strayed from the path that had been revealed to him along with his magical powers (him being the son of Zeus and all), began to focus on things that weren’t really that important, leading to his eventual growing up. Sure it had a happy ending, but SEE WHAT KIND OF CRAP THE GUY HAD TO GO THROUGH?? That is what a real hero’s journey should be. Tell me if Edward Cullen could stand one tenth of the shit that Hercules had to put up with in order to achieve his happily ever after.

    That’s what I really don’t appreciate about some of the more popular novels that get thrown my way in my high school library. They are too superficial and lack substance. Just a sparkly skeleton to hold things together, some thesaurus abuse for good measure and YAY! We’re a teen phenomenon.

    Yuck.

    Anyways, sorry for the long rant, just something I had been steaming over with for quite some time and I just had to say it. Great article by the way, it’s great to hear your views about dragons, Silfae. Nice.

    P.S. I’d lurve to join the website and post stuff, etc. How do I do that? Any advice is greatly appreciated. :D

  30. swenson on 2 July 2013, 09:47 said:

    For the comments, we don’t have accounts, so just post as you like (but use the same name so we know who you are :)). If you mosey over to the forums, you can apply for an account there and someone should get around to approving it pretty quickly. As for posting articles, here’s the relevant information. In short, submit your article to the submissions e-mail and either Kyllorac or NeuroticPlatypus will get back with you, because goodness knows I avoid real responsibility like the plague.

    cough I mean…

  31. Pryotra on 2 July 2013, 20:23 said:

    In Dragonheart, as another successful example, it isn’t out of the desire of becoming linked with a human that the dragon creates the bound: he only thought he could buy through his action his way to heaven. It was a selfish choice, which backfires on him.

    I would like to thank you for adding this example. I really, really thought that this was an interesting examination of the whole dragon/human bond, and while there were a lot of flaws in the movie, I really enjoyed that.

    Another example that does a pretty good human dragon bond are the Temeraire books. They don’t pretend that, for most people, the bond between human and dragon is anything but unfair, and one of the major points in the books is how Temeraire and his rider begin to try to change that.

    Over all, this is an excellent rant. It’s kind of annoying to watch dragons being turned into glorified horses for idiot heroes all the time, when they’re not stupid monsters, and you really showed that, for their time period, a European dragon would have been positively terrifying.

  32. WarriorsGate on 2 July 2013, 23:32 said:

    Incidentally, by archetypes I mean specifically the Jungian versions, not the more useful sort that aren’t slathered in quasi-mystical nonsense, stereotypes, gender essentialism and east-west generalisations that reek of occidentalism.

    Considering Philip K. Dick, Alan Moore, and Guillermo del Toro (just to name a few) were all heavily inspired by Jung’s ideas and also have a ton of critical acclaim for their storytelling, I’d say Jung’s “quasi-mystical nonsense” has its uses as well.

  33. Tim on 3 July 2013, 02:02 said:

    The fact that something inspired something else doesn’t make it valid in itself. Jung just took the ideas of universal human experiences and stuck a layer of his weirdo mystical beliefs on top. The man believed his dreams had predicted World War One, FFS.

  34. Sìlfae on 3 July 2013, 02:13 said:

    Anyways, sorry for the long rant, just something I had been steaming over with for quite some time and I just had to say it. Great article by the way, it’s great to hear your views about dragons, Silfae. Nice.

    Thank you.

    I would like to thank you for adding this example. I really, really thought that this was an interesting examination of the whole dragon/human bond, and while there were a lot of flaws in the movie, I really enjoyed that.

    You’re welcome; well, yes, the example of the bond is the only part considered in this case, the value of the movie as a whole is another matter. It is interesting to consider that the story is seen as if the fault is only in the King twisting the gift, where, in a world of magic, it cannot be hard to think that the dragon also twisted the gift when he made it while thinking it would buy him immortality. The whole point of the movie is his journey to acceptance of death as a form of redemption: if he did want to stop the antagonist he could have done so at any time, but he didn’t want to sacrifice himself and lose all (yet).

    Another example that does a pretty good human dragon bond are the Temeraire books. They don’t pretend that, for most people, the bond between human and dragon is anything but unfair, and one of the major points in the books is how Temeraire and his rider begin to try to change that.

    The point in this kind of fiction is that yes, man would try to take advantage from the dragon if the dragon appeared in a post-medieval setting, the problems are: would the dragon let him? And: would man have this idea if the dragon had been with him from the beginning of culture? We may find interesting or even normal (albeit exstraordinary) the ability to ride a dragon, but if dragons were actually in our world, we’ll consider it as absurd as riding a lion or a shark (and this still considering an unintelligent dragon). It is true symbiotic bonds create between different species, like pilot fish and shark or bird and crocodiles, but the fact is, dragon has nothing to gain from man and everything to lose, it is a parasitic bond and I’d see no reason why a dragon wouldn’t want to get free of it the first moment he can, especially if he’s sentient.

    Over all, this is an excellent rant. It’s kind of annoying to watch dragons being turned into glorified horses for idiot heroes all the time, when they’re not stupid monsters, and you really showed that, for their time period, a European dragon would have been positively terrifying.

    Thank you again, I hope the next one is put on Live soon.

  35. Fireshark on 3 July 2013, 13:36 said:

    The fact that something inspired something else doesn’t make it valid in itself. Jung just took the ideas of universal human experiences and stuck a layer of his weirdo mystical beliefs on top. The man believed his dreams had predicted World War One, FFS.

    A lot of people predicted World War I.

    Carl Jung developed a lot of important psychological concepts. He was arguably more influential in the long term than Freud, and probably had more accurate ideas. You can’t dismiss him for his mysticism any more than you can dismiss Sir Isaac Newton for his obsession with alchemy and secret codes in the Bible.

  36. Tim on 3 July 2013, 14:03 said:

    A lot of people predicted World War I.

    Jung was one of the ones who realised he’d predicted it after it had already happened. You know, like Nostradamus who predicted, well, everything if you’re willing to BS enough.

    You can’t dismiss him for his mysticism any more than you can dismiss Sir Isaac Newton for his obsession with alchemy and secret codes in the Bible.

    Newton’s theories on gravitation weren’t explicitly grounded in alchemy and secret Bible codes, whereas a lot of Jung’s ideas about archetypes and dream interpretation are very clearly grounded in mystical beliefs.

    You would be better comparing him to the Greek philosophers who also got things right but were equally fond of broad generalisations and magical thinking.

  37. The Drunk Fox on 6 July 2013, 11:44 said:

    Nice article! I’m kind of curious about what you’d think of my dragons (in the settings that have them, anyway…)

  38. Sìlfae on 6 July 2013, 12:12 said:

    Thanks.
    Well, I wouldn’t know, where can I find them?

  39. The Drunk Fox on 6 July 2013, 12:38 said:

    I have a little bit about one setting’s dragons on my dA, but sadly not a whole lot (maybe I should do a journal about ‘em over there…) If you want, though, I could tell you here, or via e-mail, or private message, or what have you.

  40. Sìlfae on 6 July 2013, 12:47 said:

    If it’s just an URL, you can post it directly on the wall of my account here, no problem.

  41. Juracan on 6 July 2013, 22:11 said:

    Jung was one of the ones who realised he’d predicted it after it had already happened. You know, like Nostradamus who predicted, well, everything if you’re willing to BS enough.

    Or if you follow History Channel.

  42. Mánagarmr on 2 August 2013, 18:01 said:

    This is a good article and a nice reminder of why it sucks when writers treat dragons as pets. It sparked a lovely discussion on how we write dragons and how our favorite authors write them with a close friend of mine, too.

    On that note, it’s why I like the dragons of Earthsea in particular. They are neutral and positive, but not benevolent, and they are extremely dangerous, especially if you look them in the eye. They cannot and will not be controlled by humans. In the Earthsea stories, a dragonlord is merely “one the dragons will speak with” [as opposed to getting eaten on the spot]. And when they do speak, they only speak the Language of the Making, which is a language no human can fully master [although it’s implied that they ARE the language, and that it is not something they learn but that it’s a part of their powerful, inherently magical natures].

    Really, if more writers took this sort of approach, I’d be happier.

  43. Far Voyager on 29 May 2014, 04:01 said:

    Very cool stuff. I totally agree with the main focus of the article, to stop considering a dragon a, in D&D terms, a sack of XPs and loot and that’s something I tried to avoid at all costs.

    Even if this should not go here, dragons, especially the big ones, think D&D wyrms and great wyrms, or the Dragon Aspects of Warcraft, have their issues such as that a creature so big would be unable to fly, no matter the size of their wings, unless they had some kind of propulsion, a dragon powered by the equivalent of a jet engine or a rocket looks cool. Same as the way they’ve to obtain energy (they’d have to eat a lot, so maybe they’ve another ways to obtain their energy such as being powered by the equivalent of a matter-antimatter reaction, zero-point field energy, magic, or whatever, their predatory look being a heritage of past times). You can get rid of them saying it’s a fantasy world, but are worth to consider.

    On the topic of a medieval world where dragons existed, unless there’s magic to counter them, another thing that could happen is the invention of technology to fight them. Maybe not flak guns or SAMs, but rockets, powder, and the like. Stuff with low or very low propabilities of killing one except being very fortunate but enough to scare them. Or, simply, dragons could see humans as something to use in their plans and not just their meals (think the Castle Falkenstein RPG)

  44. steve on 15 February 2018, 08:08 said:

    This post is probably where I got the most useful information for my research. Thanks for posting, maybe we can see more on this. lightweight waterproof camping tarp

  45. johnsmith on 15 February 2018, 08:38 said:

    The article you share about Dragon Archetype on this website is very interesting. I like this type of article. It is very interesting and informative. I must visit this website to read more interesting articles. Thanks for sharing this. I must share this with others.
    top suppliers of caster wheels in uk

  46. Dwayne on 15 February 2018, 08:38 said:

    Thanks for sharing good information that there was this old Chinese tale about a rich nobleman who collected all beautiful things that were in the known world.Carry on it. To get heavy duty shelving go to this website

  47. baby names on 9 August 2018, 23:45 said:

    I would like to thank you for adding this example. I really, really thought that this was an interesting examination of the whole dragon/human bond, and while there were a lot of flaws in the movie, I really enjoyed that.