Tropic of Serpents

These Are a Few of My Favorite Dragons

Tropic of Serpents by Marie Brennan

Written by Marie Brennan

It’s a little embarrassing to admit that I’m not obsessed with dragons. Sure, I read Pern at an impressionable age, and I think fire lizards sound like awesome pets (empathy! fire-breathing! teleportation!), but dragons are just one of many awesome things in fantasy that I find interesting. Had the sources that inspired me to write the Memoirs of Lady Trent been a Unicornology calendar and the Unicorninomicon, I might be writing about very different beasts today.

Having said that, I have my favorite dragons, just like many people. In no particular order, they are:

The Wawel Dragon, from the folklore of Kraków, Poland. This is your classic dragon story…almost. The dragon hangs out in a cave at the foot of the Wawel hill, eating peasants and terrorizing everybody; knights try to kill it and fail; the King promises his daughter’s hand in marriage to whoever can save her from being the next maiden sacrificed; you know the drill. The hero of this tale is a suitably humble cobbler’s apprentice—but does he slay the dragon with a sword? Nope. He stuffs a lamb’s skin with sulfur and leaves it as bait for the dragon. Who, upon eating it, develops a terrible stomachache and goes down to the river to try and ease it, but ends up drinking so much water that he explodes.

And then the apprentice marries the princess and everybody lives happily ever after, except of course for the dragon.

Maleficent, from Disney’s Sleeping Beauty. I have my fingers crossed that Angelina Jolie does justice to the role, because Maleficent is one of Disney’s best villains ever. How can you not love a wicked fairy with that sense of style, especially when she turns herself into a @#$&! dragon? Sure, okay, she doesn’t start off as a dragon, but when I have a stuffed animal of her in dragon form sitting in my bedroom, I think I have to count her as one of my favorites.

Toothless, from How to Train Your Dragon. (The movie; I haven’t read the book yet, though I intend to.) I feel almost as if I’m cheating here, because Toothless is basically a cat in a dragon’s body—just look at his behavior, and the way that he moves. He even looks a great deal like my friend’s cat Thrace. And given my fondness for cats, that goes a long way toward explaining why I love Toothless so much. He’s adorable, and also awesome.

Kazul, from Dealing with Dragons by Patricia C. Wrede. The Enchanted Forest Chronicles skewer a lot of the fairy tale and legend tropes; the protagonist, Cimorene, runs away and volunteers to be a dragon’s captive princess so as to escape her expected role in life. Most of the dragons think this is absurd, but Kazul takes her on, because she needs somebody to catalogue her library and organize her hoard. I have a deep fondness for pragmatic characters, so Kazul is precisely my speed.

The fire lizards, from Anne McCaffrey’s Pern books. Because like I said: empathy! fire-breathing! teleportation! I also love a lot of her full-sized dragons—Ramoth, Ruth, Path, and so on—but it would be hard to take care of one in a San Francisco Bay Area townhouse, whereas a well-trained fire lizard would make a great pet. And I don’t think my husband is allergic to lizards; sadly, I can’t say the same for cats.

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17 thoughts on “These Are a Few of My Favorite Dragons

  1. Toothless is definitely a most feline dragon, and I think I read an interview/article where the designers make that connection explicit.

    I am a Griffinophile, myself, more than a Dracophile, but I appreciate a good Dragon, too. Similarly to Maleficent, I like the dragon-transformed Queen Narissa in ENCHANTED

    How can you say no to a dragon voiced by Susan Sarandon?

  2. “People who deny the existence of dragons are often eaten by dragons. From within.”

    Ursula K. LeGuinn

  3. Toothless certainly has a lot of feline characteristics, and most especially in his appearance. But watch the end of the movie again. He acts a good deal like an excited puppy when Hiccup wakes up. Definitely my favorite dragon! Second favorite? Vermithrax. Yeah, we’re all about the extremes here.

  4. I have adored dragons from an early age. While all of my young girlfriends were oohing & ahing over their stuffed Pegasus & Unicorns & various combinations of the two I coveted my older cousins stuffed sea monster from an old animated Saturday morning cartoon (Beanie something). I also would love to have a fire lizard as a pet. Either one of Dame McCaffrey’s or one from the Earthsea series. Toothless is a new favorite (considering I only got around to watching How to Train Your Dragon in the last month or so) but what I’d really like to have is a flock of my very own Terrible Terrors!

  5. I love Kazul. Any dragon who has so many books she needs a librarian is the perfect dragon for me. G.A. Aiken’s Dragon Kin are also awesome, but for the adult audience rather than the young adult. ^_^

  6. How can anyone not put Temeraire on their list? The very beginning of the first book is something I re-read often, where the dragonet chooses his person. He is such a character, all through the series, brave, naive, a little bit greedy for glittery jewelry, and a philiosopher of no mean strength.

  7. I’m partial to Night Dragons myself.
    Here are a few legends
    “It is said that as fledglings, night dragons are sustained only by the tears of distraught unicorns.”
    “It is said that if you bathe in the blood of a night dragon, you will be invincible at caber tossing.”
    “It is said that the most hated natural enemy of the night dragon is the lemur, which is a very bad deal for the lemur.”
    From The Shadow War of the Night Dragons Book one The Dead City by John Scalzi

  8. Lester — delighted to hear it! I love those books, and I think Cimorene was a role model for me growing up (though I never learned to like cooking). I’m glad I could interest somebody else in them.

    As for all the other suggestions, oh, believe me, I had to work to restrict myself to only five. 🙂 (I could have chosen five from the Temeraire series alone.)

    1. How can you not mention “Tea with the Black Dragon” when talking about dragons. Also, “The Dragon and the George” Gordon R. Dickson.

  9. I have a soft spot for Asian dragons since that’s what I grew up with. My favorites are Haku from Spirited Away and Hakuryu from Saiyuki. Haku isn’t just a dragon; he’s also a river spirit and the boy whom Chihiro befriends, and I love how all of these are aspects of his identity. Hakuryu is a little dragon that turns into a Jeep… what’s not to love about that.

  10. I think I would have to add to this list with Tolkien’s Smaug, Robin Hobbs’ huge collection of these magestic beasts in her Rain Wilds Chronicles, and my personal favourite, Varwraker from my novel, Under the Dragon’s Claw. Varwraker is a bad-ass red dragon drake who escaped from the warlock’s clutches, but fell under the spell of Theo. Basically, our lucky sorcerer’s apprentice, gave the dragon the option of teaming up with him as dragon strider and dragon steed, or being slain by a Forest Nymph Commander’s spear.

    Naturally, Varwraker chose life, even if it means sharing it with his Dragon Strider as master.

    Alex George
    Author of Under the Dragon’s Claw
    http://www.authoralexgeorge.com

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