What is it about dragons?
The first dragon I fell in love with was Smog from J.R.R. Tolkein's The Hobbit. I read the book when I was about twelve and thought Smog was the coolest bad guy. He was massive, he loved gold, he could breath fire, and he could talk. But he had weaknesses, too, like he was really old and tired, and he had that missing scale that made him vulnerable, just like Achilles and his heel.
The next dragon to get under my skin was in the 1980's fantasy flick 'The Dragon Slayer' starring Sir John Gielgud and Peter MacNichol. Now that is one nasty dragon. In order to pacify it, the local king sacrifices a virgin to it once a year. But when his own daughter, the princess, discovers that her name has been left out of the lottery, she heroically steps in as this year's sacrifice. The scenes with the dragon attacking the previous virgin and the priest who accompanies her, and with baby dragons devouring the princess still give me the willies. It's still one of the best bad dragon movies ever made, in my opinion.
But then something went wrong. Books started writing about nice dragons. Dragons that are man's best friend, kind of like overgrown dogs. Cornelia Funke's Dragon Rider and Christopher Paolini's Eragon, and even that campy kids' movie 'The Neverending Story' and the Luck Dragon come to mind. I never liked these dragons (though the books are great!) Dragons that are pleasant and friendly just don't seem natural. Thank goodness for J.K. Rowling and Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire for bringing bad dragons back into good standing.
When I started writing The Rock of Ivanore I knew I wanted dragons in it. When the port city of Dokur is invaded by a fleet of Hestorian ships, the enemy's weapon of choice are dragons. They swoop over the city setting buildings a flame and scavenging on the dead and dying. In essence, my dragons are what dragons are meant to be--dangerous, vicious, and evil incarnate.
Dragons make a brief appearance in my next book The Last Enchanter. Dragons are not native to the Isle of Imaness, being found only on the mainland of Hestoria where they are hatched and trained for battle. One dragon, however, is being held in the Fortress prison in Dokur. We only see it once in the book, but dragons are an ever-present entity. We are also introduced to the dragon's nemesis, the gryphon, which is the guardian of the Seer. (More on that in a future post.)
Dragons will continue to be prominent figures throughout my fantasy series The Celestine Chronicles, in The Last Enchanter and beyond. And I can promise that my dragons will always be BAD.
What are some of your favorite dragon books/movies? Any memorable ones stand out for you?