Fantasy Faction

General Category => General Discussion => Topic started by: NedMarcus on June 25, 2018, 10:21:10 AM

Title: What is the nature of dragons?
Post by: NedMarcus on June 25, 2018, 10:21:10 AM
What is the nature of dragons? I've been thinking about the dragons recently  :) and have been trying to develop my dragon society.

Do you see the in a positive or negative light? Which are the best dragon stories? I've read and enjoyed Hobb's stories with dragons. Any other interesting ones?
Title: Re: What is the nature of dragons?
Post by: ScarletBea on June 25, 2018, 10:43:17 AM
Marie Brennan's Lady Trent books
Naomi Novik's Temeraire books
Anthony Ryan's Draconis Memoria books
 :D

I think their nature is whatever you'd like them to be. The books above, plus Hobb's, show extremely different dragons, both in types, personality, characteristics, ability and everything else.
The good thing about handling mythical creatures is that you're not stuck to rules ;)
Title: Re: What is the nature of dragons?
Post by: Eli_Freysson on June 25, 2018, 10:55:10 AM
I actually haven't read that many stories with dragons in them, but I do prefer them as monsters.
Title: Re: What is the nature of dragons?
Post by: JMack on June 25, 2018, 01:03:21 PM
Rare, powerful, terrible if crossed. That’s how I like my dragons.
Anne McCaffrey’s Pern dragons are basically horses with wings and flame.  :P
Title: Re: What is the nature of dragons?
Post by: The Gem Cutter on June 25, 2018, 01:57:26 PM
Traditionally in the West, dragons have represented the worst in human nature and a discordant aspect of society. Smaug and his ilk are manifestations of greed and symbolize the way society breaks down when gold is not permitted to perform its necessary functions of linking the rich with the strong. When this occurs, bad things happen, esp. in Northern European cultures. Gold is supposed to strengthen a society by being shared. When it is hoarded, inevitably there is strife. Tolkien's dragons follow this model, not only by being evil, but representing both a specific kind of evil and actually inflicting the damage that kind of evil inflicts.

Rebellion and strife destroy towns, and dragons do that. Hoarding leads the strong and capable to seek their fortunes elsewhere, and dragons do that. Hoarding invites invasion and destruction, by both presenting a tempting target and driving away those who can defend a region, and dragons' hoarding does that, too.

If you want your dragons to be appreciated on multiple levels, invest some depth in them and give them some symbolic meaning. My two cents.
Title: Re: What is the nature of dragons?
Post by: Eli_Freysson on June 25, 2018, 02:39:05 PM
Rare, powerful, terrible if crossed. That’s how I like my dragons.

Ah, yes. I forgot to mention the main thing: Rare. It's the same as with magic; something isn't interesting if it's all over the place.

And yes, a dragon should not serve as a mount for a tiny inferior creature.
Title: Re: What is the nature of dragons?
Post by: Neveesandeh on June 25, 2018, 09:31:08 PM
I like my dragons with four legs. Two legged dragons are overused. I know it's less aerodynamically feasible than the scaly bat model, but a dragon is too big to get off the ground anyway. If they can breathe fire, presumably that's a magical ability, so actually being able to fly should be as well and therefore four legs is fine. Or why not leave off the wings altogether? Wingless dragons are underused. Or legless dragons.

In all seriousness though, I'm not the biggest fan of dragons. I think they're a little overused, though not as much as zombies, and often too overpowered as well. But the dragons in the 'Silmirillion' are awesome. I love their origin story, I think they start off as fallen angels turned into giant snakes and Morgoth gradually upgrades them over time. And in spite of what I said earlier about them being overused, I think even the most overused tropes can still be awesome if done right.

My least favourite dragons I can remember are the dragons in 'The Wardstone Chronicles'. They're elemental spirits without bodies and they spend most of their time asleep. The only sign that they're even there is when you get an odd feeling. That's subversive, sure, but it's also really dull. That series has many strengths, but its dragons aren't one of them.
Title: Re: What is the nature of dragons?
Post by: Dark Squiggle on June 25, 2018, 09:59:32 PM
I like my dragons with four legs. Two legged dragons are overused. I know it's less aerodynamically feasible than the scaly bat model, but a dragon is too big to get off the ground anyway. If they can breathe fire, presumably that's a magical ability, so actually being able to fly should be as well and therefore four legs is fine. Or why not leave off the wings altogether? Wingless dragons are underused. Or legless dragons.

In all seriousness though, I'm not the biggest fan of dragons. I think they're a little overused, though not as much as zombies, and often too overpowered as well. But the dragons in the 'Silmirillion' are awesome. I love their origin story, I think they start off as fallen angels turned into giant snakes and Morgoth gradually upgrades them over time. And in spite of what I said earlier about them being overused, I think even the most overused tropes can still be awesome if done right.

My least favourite dragons I can remember are the dragons in 'The Wardstone Chronicles'. They're elemental spirits without bodies and they spend most of their time asleep. The only sign that they're even there is when you get an odd feeling. That's subversive, sure, but it's also really dull. That series has many strengths, but its dragons aren't one of them.
As an artist, I hate 4 legged dragons. There simply isn't enough room on a body for big breast muscles to drive wings and the shoulders and chest muscles for forelegs. Every 4 legged dragon drawing or painting I've ever seen omits muscle and joints and/or hides them. It doesn't bother me much when the have wings that sprout from the back like an angel or bumblebee sized wings, as these are stylistic anyway. My .02, and slightly irrelevant, I know.
Title: Re: What is the nature of dragons?
Post by: Eli_Freysson on June 25, 2018, 10:56:21 PM
And in spite of what I said earlier about them being overused, I think even the most overused tropes can still be awesome if done right.

You just summed up my writing style.

And it just so happens that the skeleton for my next series, once I'm done with the current one, includes a dragon. And it will be the terror of terrors.
Title: Re: What is the nature of dragons?
Post by: Lady Ty on June 25, 2018, 11:36:50 PM
Rare, powerful, terrible if crossed. That’s how I like my dragons.
Anne McCaffrey’s Pern dragons are basically horses with wings and flame.  :P

Exactly so. Also very intelligent, and do have a very wry sense of humour. Not to be outwitted by pitiful little humans or asked to answer silly riddles.  Their gold and jewel collections are merely trinkets to play with, that are indestructible through centuries, because dragons are long lived to thousands of years.

They can communicate through thought with the others of their species living in the universe, also other species if they absolutely must. But tend to be solitary and faithful to one mate.

NEVER  Wingless,  >:(

My first and best dragons were all those created by Paladine and Takhisis in Dragonlance.
Title: Re: What is the nature of dragons?
Post by: NedMarcus on June 26, 2018, 01:05:59 AM
Marie Brennan's Lady Trent books
Naomi Novik's Temeraire books
Anthony Ryan's Draconis Memoria books

Thanks. I'll check out the kindle samples.
Title: Re: What is the nature of dragons?
Post by: NedMarcus on June 26, 2018, 01:08:08 AM
Anne McCaffrey’s Pern dragons are basically horses with wings and flame.  :P

 ;D LOL. I also like rare, powerful and terrible if crossed dragons.
Title: Re: What is the nature of dragons?
Post by: NedMarcus on June 26, 2018, 01:12:35 AM
As an artist, I hate 4 legged dragons. There simply isn't enough room on a body for big breast muscles to drive wings and the shoulders and chest muscles for forelegs. Every 4 legged dragon drawing or painting I've ever seen omits muscle and joints and/or hides them. It doesn't bother me much when the have wings that sprout from the back like an angel or bumblebee sized wings, as these are stylistic anyway. My .02, and slightly irrelevant, I know.

How can they move about on land with only two legs?
Title: Re: What is the nature of dragons?
Post by: cupiscent on June 26, 2018, 04:13:08 AM
I tend not to like dragons. Often I think they just don't bring anything interesting to a story. So the question, really, is what you as the author think is interesting about dragons, and make sure to turn that up to eleven. :)

That said, dragon stories I have enjoyed:
 - Jo Walton's Tooth and Claw, which is Jane Austen except dragons, without sacrificing the core of either aspect (the Austen is officious and social, the dragon is brutal, the two fit together far better than one might expect).
 - Anthony Ryan's The Waking Fire, which keeps dragons as wild beasts but with a great edge of being the visible limit of a much deeper mystery.
 - Rachel Hartman's Serafina, one of those dragons-can-turn-into-people stories, where the politics of the other is really explored and has a lot of nuance.

There are a lot of things your dragons can do or be. It really is about deciding what purpose they serve. Like, y'know, any other fantastical or indeed mundane story element. ;)
Title: Re: What is the nature of dragons?
Post by: NedMarcus on June 26, 2018, 04:41:32 AM
I tend not to like dragons. Often I think they just don't bring anything interesting to a story. So the question, really, is what you as the author think is interesting about dragons, and make sure to turn that up to eleven. :)

Thank you, you've just set off a chain of ideas  :)
Title: Re: What is the nature of dragons?
Post by: Dark Squiggle on June 26, 2018, 03:12:59 PM
As an artist, I hate 4 legged dragons. There simply isn't enough room on a body for big breast muscles to drive wings and the shoulders and chest muscles for forelegs. Every 4 legged dragon drawing or painting I've ever seen omits muscle and joints and/or hides them. It doesn't bother me much when the have wings that sprout from the back like an angel or bumblebee sized wings, as these are stylistic anyway. My .02, and slightly irrelevant, I know.

How can they move about on land with only two legs?
Either like with their legs under them, like birds and dinosaurs, or by using their wings as legs, like vampire bats.

I find that you can have dragons without actually having them. Intelligent spaceships, anthromorphized trucks, men of war, \any real central monster are all dragons.
Title: Re: What is the nature of dragons?
Post by: NedMarcus on June 27, 2018, 12:41:18 AM
Either like with their legs under them, like birds and dinosaurs, or by using their wings as legs, like vampire bats.

Like a T-Rex might be good—can't really see them hopping about as birds though.
Title: Re: What is the nature of dragons?
Post by: The Gem Cutter on June 27, 2018, 01:21:41 AM
One thing I find most compelling about all of Tolkien's dragons is their ability to cast spells. Glaurung bewitched people leading to all manner of tragedies that hurt the heroes hearts in ways fire and claws never could.
Title: Re: What is the nature of dragons?
Post by: Dark Squiggle on June 27, 2018, 04:53:47 AM
Either like with their legs under them, like birds and dinosaurs, or by using their wings as legs, like vampire bats.

Like a T-Rex might be good—can't really see them hopping about as birds though.
More like an emu than a sparrow.
Title: Re: What is the nature of dragons?
Post by: Alex on February 13, 2019, 11:23:28 AM
I can recommend a good anthology that is all about dragons and has a variety of perspectives. It's called Dreamtime Dragons and edited by Nils Visser. The stories are well above par and the profits go to an animal sanctuary.
Title: Re: What is the nature of dragons?
Post by: Matthew on May 28, 2019, 11:32:17 PM
I love the dragons in Naomi Novik's series (they're bloody adorable but ferocious with all the draconian qualities that act as mirrors to our own).

If you're at all into shapeshifting and magic, I'd recommend the Heartstriker series by Rachel Aaron. Very full world.

Both of these are good because they incorporate dragons into the world rather than having them just tacked on as they so often are.

I recently read Dragon of Ash & Stars: The Autobiography of a Night Dragon. Really enjoyed that too.

In short, dragons should be possessive hoarders full of bloodlust in their early years (or centuries) who grow into their wisdom. I don't care what they look like or how they live, just that they can represent the best and worst in us.
Title: Re: What is the nature of dragons?
Post by: Bender on May 29, 2019, 02:32:21 AM
I like them in Eragon and Paolini's Inheritance Cycle. Also in Malazan.

They are ancient, knowledgeable and magical...not always good. Treasure hoarders.