In honour of St. George’s Day today – the national day of England – I wanted to talk about dragons! Why dragons, you ask? If you don’t know the story of St. George, in its most condensed form it is the traditional tale of a brave knight rescuing a princess from a dragon. Of course that’s not the whole story, and if you want to read it in more detail, you can do so here, but I won’t go into it on the blog. So, to celebrate this day I wanted to talk about dragons in fiction. I’ve marked spoilers, so please only click ‘view spoiler’ if you’ve read the book (or in the case of A Song of Ice and Fire, watched past series one of Game of Thrones).
Smaug, from The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien – Smaug is the main villain of J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Hobbit, a huge red dragon who captured the dwarf kingdom of Erebor, along with all of its treasure, one hundred and fifty years before the main events of the book. It is not until the latter half of the book that the reader meets Smaug – and realises just how clever he is. He toys with Bilbo Baggins, rather than killing him outright (it is for this reason that I’ve given him four for ferocity – he doesn’t just kill on sight). Like traditional dragons of lore, he loves gold and sits atop his treasures in the halls of Erebor. He is also known as Smaug the Magnificent or Smaug the Golden. [spoiler]Despite his terrifying appearance and cunning, Bilbo notices a weak spot, a bare patch on his chest, that Bard the Bowman later uses to bring the dragon down.[/spoiler]
Drogon, Rhaegal and Viserion, from A Song of Ice and Fire by George R.R. Martin – the ‘children’ of the Mother of Dragons, aka Daenerys Targaryen, these three are the first known dragons for at least one hundred and fifty years. Three hundred years earlier, dragons were used by House Targaryen to conquer the world, but were believed extinct by the time of the War of the Three Kings. [spoiler]Daenerys Targaryen, in a state of grief and after dreaming of their birth, walks into the funeral pyre of Khal Drogo with petrified dragon’s eggs and causes them to hatch.[/spoiler] They grow throughout the series but as of book five (A Dance with Dragons) are still not fully grown. They can be commanded by Daenerys, but are still wild beasts at heart.
Hungarian Horntail from Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire by J.K. Rowling – this is the dragon that Harry Potter has to evade during the first round of the Triwizard Tournament. Harry really drew the short straw here – Hungarian Horntails are notorious for their ferocity and are considered to be the most dangerous breed of dragon. It has both a spiked head and tail, able to use the latter like a club. Not only is it huge and deadly, but also very fast – proved by how easily it was able to keep up with Harry on his Firebolt.
Saphira from Eragon by Christopher Paolini – at last, a slightly friendlier dragon. Saphira may have a human companion, and she may not attack people on sight, but in the heat of battle she is vicious and strong. Bonded to Eragon Shadeslayer, she was one of the only known female dragons of her time. Her name comes from the blue colour of her egg, and her surname (Bjartskular) means ‘bright scales’.
There are so many more dragons I could discuss – books like Seraphina, Anne McCaffrey’s Dragonriders of Pern series, games like The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim, Dragon Age and Drakan come to mind – and so many more.