Few can deny the might and majesty of the king of fantasy creatures, the dragon. To me, they are more than just another fantasy trope. They are an essential element, without which, the fantasy genre would be far less interesting. My love of dragons runs deep to my core, verging on obsession. As long as I can remember, dragons have been a part of my life and my imagination.
Welcome to the first part in a series I plan to do about my favourite fantasy creature, the dragon. To cover every aspect of dragons would require more space than one blog post can provide. This particular segment will be dedicated to dragon strength.
A Class All Its Own
Dragon strength is well known among those who regularly play role playing games, particularly Dungeons and Dragons where dragon strength has its own special classification. So mighty are these beasts that they defy the description that the normal numbers provide. The muscles in their wings are able to keep these massive beasts aloft, despite weighing thousands of pounds. Their jaws are capable of crushing bone, steel, and even solid stone, a prospect that would be enough to send me running if I were face to face with a dragon.
Games are not the only place where dragon strength is highlighted. Most places you see dragons, they are the top of the food chain. Anne McCaffrey's dragons were biologically engineered from a smaller species, but the finished product was large enough and powerful enough to carry a rider and a belly full of stone into the sky to fight Thread. J.K. Rowling used dragons in the Harry Potter series, in which they were the largest and most dangerous of creatures. Even going back to J.R.R. Tolkein, dragons were fierce and dangerous creatures.
In Chinese culture, dragons are the highest ranked animal in the Chinese animal hierarchy. Dragons also appear as large, powerful creatures in Russian, European, Japanese, Indian and Persian mythology as well. There is no disputing that these are the strongest of the mythical creatures.
What About Their Softer Side?
Okay, so I've made my point. But strength without control is terrifying, and not all dragons are like that. "How to Train Your Dragon" described a viking culture that was plagued by dragon attacks, with the fastest and most fierce of the dragons being the Night Fury. Turns out, this night fury, and all the others are real softies, and were just driven to attacks by... something else. I won't spoil the story for you.
Anne McCaffrey's dragons are intelligent, helpful, and work with humans to fight the Thread that falls from the skies of Pern and devours everything in its path.
Even D&D has balance, where the metallic dragons (gold, silver, copper, etc) are "good" dragons and the chromatic dragons (red, green, black, etc...) are evil. The metallic dragons are often helpful, wise, and gentle creatures unless threatened.
A Certain Impossibility
Debates have raged for years over whether dragons, as depicted, could actually fly or even function with the kind of muscle bulk that they carry. Their bodies are often so massive that it's inconceivable that a single pair of leathery wings could lift them off the ground. Not only that, but their hearts would have to be extraordinarily powerful to pump enough blood to those muscles to keep them moving.
Could they actually fly? I don't know. I prefer to keep them strictly in the magical realms where I can accept that they exist, and function just fine. Maybe it is magic that makes them function. In my book, The Time Weaver, Morganath, the gold dragon, describes the dragons' departure to earth as an event triggered by the fact that most magic left the world, and they could no longer live or function there. Thus, earth is described as a "dead" world. The implication of this is that dragons could not exist without the flow of magic around them.
Wrapping it All Up
There is little doubt or argument about the might of dragons. They are magnificent creatures and if it seems like I worship them just a little, well, they deserve it, even if they aren't real.
I hope you've enjoyed this first post in my series devoted to dragons. I'll write more in the coming weeks and months so that we can explore every aspect of them. Also, please do come back tomorrow for another great article in 29 Days of Fantasy! Coming up tomorrow is fantasy author Kevin Broden with an article on Fantasy and Mainstream Comic books. You don't want to miss this.
Thanks for reading!
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