Today’s trope – I’m not sure it counts as a trope. It’s more of a character and a setting feature all rolled into one. I’m talking (as the title of this post suggests) about dragons.
I’ve loved dragons for a long time. I think the earliest dragon I can remember reading about (or, perhaps we had an audiobook in the car) was the ice dragon from Noggin the Nog. I freaking loved that dragon (in fact I need to find and devour all the Noggin the Nog asap and see if it holds up).
That obsession bloomed as I got older, of course, there are the brief mentions of dragons throughout the Harry Potter series, who doesn’t remember Norbert? But it wasn’t until I read The Inheritance Cycle that things really kicked into gear. I remember buying a copy of Eragon in a Waterstones with my mum. It then sat on a shelf for a good year or so before I could actually bring myself to read past the beginning. So if you, like me, gave up on Eragon then I urge you to keep going because it gets so much better after a very slow start. I know some people don’t get on with this series (and I know why some people say it’s just Star Wars with dragons) but I absolutely love it. It’s probably one of my most often read books if I’m being honest. I may, in fact, have read them more often than Harry Potter.
The Inheritance Cycle has what I think of as one category of dragons. I think of them as ‘gigantic but sentient’, other examples would include the aforementioned Ice Dragon, Smaug from The Hobbit and Kazul from Dealing with Dragons. But there are other kinds of dragons, the likes of which we will explore here.
Next up on my list of dragons are the shapeshifters. Many years after I read Eragon, once I’d got back into reading for pleasure after university, I picked up a digital copy of Seraphina and was met by one of my favourite depictions of dragons I have found to this day. In that particular setting dragons can shift between human and dragon form and can live amongst people. That shapeshifting is obviously interesting but what I love more is the way that they are said to love maths and logic, they love to learn which is part of why they come and meet the humans. It’s a clever way of intergrating two different species in the same setting. Another example of shapeshifting dragons (though I haven’t read all of these so I can’t comment on the series as a whole) is in the Talon series by Julie Kagawa.
What is also nice about the world of Seraphina is that there isn’t just one kind of dragon, there are also smaller dragons who can’t shapeshift called the Quitgul. I cannot reccomend Tess of the Road enough if you want dragons and feminism and AMAZING things.
We’ve covered massive sentient dragons, we’ve covered shapeshifters and now I’m moving on to ‘beasts’. This is possibly the most traditional understanding of a dragon. The idea that a dragon is an untameable creature, no different really to a large lizard (except for the flying and the fire breathing). There are examples of this kind everywhere but my favourite is in The Memoirs of Lady Trent in which Dragons are a species which can be found all over the world, with different examples to be found all over the world who are adapted to their specific climate. This particular series does a phenomenal job of describing the dragons as animals but not making them feel invaluable. If you like dragons and you haven’t read these yet then I highly reccomend you get on that as soon as possible.
If a book has a dragon in it I’m pretty much guaranteed to want to read it, some other amazing titles include Moroda which has awesome dragons and skyships, Onyx and Ivory which has dragons who can only attack at night, and of course The Last Namsara which includes dragons who are drawn to stories.
What are some of your favourite dragon types? Or books with dragons in? Give me your recommendations I’d love to hear them!