When I first started writing fantasy, I swore that I would never ever include something so cliched, so stale, so overdone, as a dragon.
Whether I wanted them or not, dragons crept or stormed into my fiction anyway.
The sleeping dragon whose awakening would restart an ancient war. The cultured dragon who likes books and foreign travel. The continent-sized space dragon whose skeleton is home to humans and humanoid species.
And these are all in some way influenced by the dragons I have known, and fall in one of the categories below:
Force of Nature/Actively Evil
The dragons of Western literature dragons are seen as forces of nature–like a destructive storm–or actively evil. These are the dragons that Beowulf and St. George battle. These are the dragons from the movie Reign of Fire. The ones that are intelligent as well as malevolent are the most compelling and frightening of all–from Smaug in The Hobbit to the transformed Maleficent in Disney’s Sleeping Beauty.
Two words: Pernese dragons.
These telepathic dragons are genetically engineered to bond with human riders and fight Thread. They are sentient, but they are also totally, irrevocably loyal to and protective of their riders. These dragons fulfill a powerful human fantasy to command the utter devotion of such fearsome beasts.
They’re also from my grown-up perspective, a little boring. (I wonder what would happen if a genetic mutant in that sort of world didn’t bond with a human, didn’t die from lack of such bond, and grew up wondering what made humans so special that dragons had to obey them?).
Cute and Cuddly
These abound in children’s books, from the little kitten-sized dragon in There’s No Such Thing As a Dragon to the three, darling troublemakers in Good Night, Good Knight.
See, dragons just want to be cuddled and petted. Hmm, also sounds like Pernese fire lizards.
Just Like Us
They may have sharp teeth and be overfond of princesses and sparkly stuff, but they are like us. They talk, they give dinner parties, they form governments. They argue and form alliances. Some of them are inquisitive and question everything. Others would rather read poetry than fight. They are easy to identify with.
Who are your favorite dragons? Any dragon categories I might’ve missed?