23 January 2012

The top 4 dragons in fantasy

Since this year marks the start of the Year of the Dragon, it is a perfect time to take a look at one of fantasy's most popular and feared creatures; used in literature, cinema, video games and more. Here is a rundown of my favourite dragons:

The Gringott's dragon from Harry Potter and the Deathly HallowsBooks
Hungarian Horntail, Welsh Green, Swedish Short-Snout, Chinese Fireball
from the Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling 

What I admire most about Rowling's dragons is that they are animals first and foremost. There is no real intelligence beyond that of a predator. They can't speak, and they do not hoard gold. They are every bit as dangerous as a wild animal, and rightly so. Extra kudos for creating variations in dragon species that weren't traditional (fire dragon, ice dragon etc.)





Toothless the Night Fury from How to Train Your Dragon
Movies
Toothless the Night Fury
from How to Train your Dragon

Look at that face. How adorable is that? The guys who made How to Train your Dragon combined a fire breathing monstrosity with a LOLcat and created quite possibly the cutest fantasy creature ever.





Alduin from The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim
Video Games
Alduin the World Eater
from The Elder Scrolles V: Skyrim 

Possibly one of the most terrifying dragons you can have the misfortune of meeting. Alduin is the son of Akatosh, the dragon god of time, and is responsible for resurrecting all dragons in Skyrim. Whenever you see or hear in, there is only one option - run. Run, and keep running. Run and hope he doesn't find you.



The Red Dragon, the national symbol of Wales
Mythology
Y Ddraig Coch
National symbol of Wales

Come on,  you didn't think I'd talk about dragons without mentioning this beauty? As one of the only countries in the world that has a dragon as a national symbol, Wales is quite unique. The dragon was said to be the battle standard of King Arthur (though it's more likely to have been a standard for one of the Roman legions that settled in Wales)

Why are dragons so popular in cultures all over the world? What's your favourite dragon?
 

44 comments:

  1. I'm the opposite of you. I prefer dragons that are intelligent. But not in the "take a dangerous mythical creature and show how it's really better than humans" way. I like Tolkien's dragons (Glaurung and Ancalagon and Smaug, of course) and also the way dragons are portrayed in the first three Earthsea books. Yevaud, from the short story The Rule of Names and from A Wizard of Earthsea, is probably my favorite individual dragon.

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    1. I'll have to check out Yevaud, thanks. I'm a fan of the intelligent dragon, just it seems to be the most common type in fantasy. It's a breath of fresh air for someone to portray them as animals rather than monsters or higher beings.

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  2. Dragons are sooo cool!! I'm a fan of Toothless. He is awesome!

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    1. Toothless is one of the cutest dragons ever. You wouldn't mind getting bitten by that thing.

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  3. Yay for the Welsh Dragon, and Happy Chinese new year too :)
    I have to go watch 'How to train your dragon' now - that dragon looks so cute!

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    1. Thanks :) I had to put the flag on there - it'd be unpatriotic of me not to.

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  4. I have one of those flags! I've not met Alduin in the game yet, though.
    Combining a dragon with an LOLCat - that's funny!

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    1. You have a Welsh flag? How come?
      Alduin is a nasty piece of work; you'll know when you see him.

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  5. For realism, how about the dragons in Reign of Fire (nasty, fast, and breathed napalm or the equivalent)? Definitely not your intelligent/mind reading McCaffrey type.

    There's usually a parade in Vancouver's Chinatown on Chinese New Year, and it draws quite a large crowd.

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    1. I was going to put in Reign of Fire, but I've not seen it all the way through (and that was years ago) so I can't remember anything about it beyond 'it has dragons'. Shall have to rectify that.

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  6. Great post! Dragons are awesome and I'm a fan of the Targaryan's 3 headed dragon. Maybe that baby will come back. :)

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    1. 3 headed? Nice! I really need to get stuck into some GRRM before the second season airs, I'm missing out on too much.

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  7. My favorite one is the one in the YA novel I'm writing, but I do love the dragon in Shrek.

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    1. I forgot about Shrek's Dragon. I should have put in the Donkey/Dragon hybrid kiddies from Shrek 2 - those things are slightly disturbing.

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  8. I love dragons!! My fave... now that's hard. I love Smaug of course, because he's so crafty and fat and has a bejeweled belly. I do love Toothless, too. My son is addicted to those books, and I find them fantastic as well. I am trying to think of my favorite majestic/good dragon, and am coming up blank. Oh well.

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    1. Smaug is a solid choice - he is awesome. I can't wait to see him in full glory in The Hobbit next year. And voiced by Benedict Cumberbatch too!

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  9. I figure Godzilla is like a radioactive dragon so that is my favorite.

    I think something like what we call dragons did exist in the past and they made such a huge impact that they've become ingrained folklore and a part of our subconscious mind--that's why they're popular.


    Lee
    Video memoir
    Wrote By Rote

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    1. I agree with you - it's more than a coincidence that cultures that have been separate for millennia have still come up with the idea of dragons, and they're a creature that appears in cultures across the world.

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  10. Toothless- without a doubt - my heart melts every time!
    Lx

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    1. Everyone loves a dragon who acts like a kitten. There is a temptation to get a pet lizard and glue wings to it in the hope that it acts the same.

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  11. Falkor from Neverending Story??? Or the Hydra in the old school Jason and the Argonauts.. Beowulf had a nice dragon too...

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    1. Beowulf is a good choice. That Golden Dragon was awesome!

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  12. Toothless was sooo precious :)
    I'm currently translating ERAGON, and Safira is also beautiful and lovely.
    There are dragons in the tradition of my people, but they are not bad and evil, but good and honourable like in Asian tradition.

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    1. I've not read Eragon, but I watched the movie *shudder*.
      I should really read the book to give me a fairer opinion of the story.

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    2. don't bother, Jamie, it's not a good one :) To drawn out and empty and rather pointless. But it has some cute dragons.

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  13. awww!!!
    i love it!
    there is just something so beautiful and majestic about the dragon. <3
    don't forget SMAUG- the year of the dragon's all about him!

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    1. Very true. I'm looking forward to seeing Smaug in The Hobbit next year. And being voiced by Sherlock, we are being spoilt!

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  14. Love that pic of toothless!!
    I read the books to my son, but I've not seen the film, will have to rectify that!

    temeraire is my current fav dragon :)

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    1. I've not read temeraire. Tell you what, well trade. You watch How to Train you Dragon, I'll read Temeraire. Deal?

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  15. Happy New Year! We need to get Skyrim. I loved all the previous Elder Scrolls games.

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    1. I must warn you, if you do, you won't leave the house for about 3 months. Pants will become optional in your day to day life. Eating spaghetti from a can will be a normal occurrence. But you'll enjoy it immensely.

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  16. I totally agree about Rowling's dragons. They're exactly the way I always thought "real" dragons should be.

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    1. Definitely. I wish that there were more written on them. Maybe this 'Pottermore' project that Rowling's doing will do just that ...

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  17. Thanks for this great post! I do love Smaug, Falkor, and Toothless. I also like Strabo from Terry Brooks.

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    1. I don't know about Strabo. I should take a look at Brooks.

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    2. haha. If I keep mentioning him in my comments, maybe you'll get curious enough to check him out :)

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  18. Would the South American myth of the Featheres Serpent count as a dragon myth? The global nature of the Dragon story certainly raises some questions, eh?

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    1. I'd say that it does. It's always interested me how so many vastly different cultures have similar myths, as if there is a shared common folklore.

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  19. Smaug is always the first named dragon that comes to mind for me. But I used to draw dragons as a teen and in my early twenties. For my 21st my mum comissioned a sculpture of a dragon from one of my drawings. Best present ever!

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    1. Awesome! I'd love to see the sculpture if you have any pictures of it. The sheer variety of dragon types make for interesting art.

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  20. I have yet to finish Skyrim. I finally checked the other day and I've finished just exactly half of the Main storyline quests. I'm almost embarrassed to admit that I have about 200 hours in since the middle of November. I've just been savoring the experience, often doing my own weird quests, like when I was trying to amass 100,000 in gold, or working to level a specific skill up to 100. Needless to say I am getting more than my money's worth out of the game. LOL!

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    1. I know exactly how you feel. I've barely touched the main plot, but instead I've been flinging myself all over the place doing side quest and beefing up my skills. I had another video game as a Christmas present, and it's not been touched since all I've played since November is Skyrim.

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  21. Let's not forget the dragon of Dragonheart. A lot of people didn't seem to like the movie, but I did.

    Another vote for Reign of Fire - excellent dragons (I wonder if they influenced the dragons of Skyrim; there are distinct similarities). The DVD Special Feature on how the dragons were made makes for interesting viewing - the designers studied real animals very carefully to make the dragons as realistic as possible - bats for flight, great cats for ground movement and spitting cobras for firebreathing. Skin/hide texture came from alligators. Taken all together, the resulting beast is very convincing as something that could actually exist (personally, I prefer my dragons to have forelegs *and* wings, but since no reptiles, birds or mammals have six limbs and RoF is supposed to be taking place in our world - postapocalypse with dragons - I let that slide).

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