As you know, I kind of like dragons. Not only writing about them but reading about them. To me they are the ultimate mythic beasts, almost God like in their influence over us mere mortals; however, anyone who is widely read in fantasy, or even science fiction, knows that dragons come in many forms. They can be brutish beasts who’s only objective is to wreak havoc. Or maybe, they are long-lived creatures full of wisdom to impart unto us lesser beings. Or better yet, they are something in between.
I am currently re-reading Barbara Hambly’s “A Knight of the Demon Queen”, which features one of my favorite dragons Morkeleb the Black. He is first portrayed as a force of nature that wreaks havoc on the kingdom of Bel in “Dragonsbane” but later you realize that he and his kin are immortal star travelers whose names are literally music. After nearly being killed by John Aversin, the dragonsbane, he is rescued by Aversin’s lover and witch Jenny Waynest since he helped her save John. His interaction with Jenny unlocks a hidden power within her that draws her to him. Thus, for a time she decides to leave John and her children to become a dragon and explore time and life as a dragon does.
She later rejects this gift in favor of a human life and love. You would think that was it; however, in a new trilogy of books started with “Dragonshadow” we encounter a changed Morkeleb who shuns the company of his brethren. Like Jenny, he is haunted by the changes his contact with the her has opened within him or as he would say “Not a Thing of Dragons”. As the story unfolds, you will see Morkeleb change from an aloof archmage to reluctant friend to a curious student of what it means to be human. A depth of caring for those that have become surprisingly important to him will emerge as the trilogy unfolds.
Wow, multiple styles of dragon all wrapped up in one creature. But this is only the tip of the iceberg for dragons in the fictional realm. Take for example, Anne McCaffrey’s Pern dragons from the series of the same name. They are genetically altered native creatures that were created by colonists to help them survive a devastating otherworldly attack. They are at once intelligent and animal like in nature, more akin to very smart pets and just as loyal.
Then there are the dragons found in Melanie Rawn’s “Dragon Prince” and “Dragon Star” trilogies. Creatures of immense power and moderate intelligence, they become mostly wild companions to several key figures in the series after first contact is made through magic. They are unpredictable because of their more animal view of the world, but when harnessed, they are devastating weapons.
Finally, I give you the dragons that appear in Tad Williams’ trilogy “Memory, Sorrow, and Thorn” that are totally mysterious yet unavoidable. We are never given clear insight into their intelligence, nature, or role in the world. They are long-lived yet dormant most of the time. Key figures in the world’s past and present have suffered grave damage from battling them; however, nothing more is revealed. Oh what a tantalizing web left dangling before our eyes. As for my own dragons, I tend to make them a mix of all these gnarly beasts. They are cunning and shrewd and unknowable for the most part. Then something happens to throw everything up in the air. What could be more fun?